In Pictures and In Words Book Study

I am linking up with Mrs Wills Kindergarten for her book study on "In Pictures and In Words"

I am so so so loving this book. My experience reading it so far has been excitement and "ah ha" moments, sprinkled with "why did I never think of that" and "WHAT THE HECK have I been doing all this time??" haha. This is why I love teaching blogs...I am ALWAYS learning.

I LOVE teaching math, and common core is starting to make me really excited about teaching reading as well, but teaching writing is probably my weakest area, which is ironic because I do consider myself a writer. But I have NEVER considered myself an illustrator. Maybe that's why my perspective on writing has always been so word-based.

Before I get started I have a few confessions:
-I am DEFINITELY guilty of teaching OUT of illustrations.
-The whole concept that illustrations can convey meaning much deeper than my students words could   makes absolute total sense, but completely blew my mind when I first read it.
-When I first started reading Deedee's blog and saw that she was having her kids compose books I was completely overwhelmed by the thought and kind of dismissed the idea.

Am I the only one that feels like they were completely missing the mark with writing instruction up until now?? OK that's enough confessions from me LOL. Here's some of my thoughts and reflections from some of the chapters. 

Chapter 1: Why Illustration Study Matters
I really texted my teaching partner before I had finished page 3 and told her our lives in teaching writing had just changed haha. The concept of making writing a form of playful exploration really resonated with me. The kids can "take on the roles" of author and illustrator by exploring the writing process and creating their own compositions. When I read this I immediately started thinking about common core. I have been totally immersed in the math side of CCSS and am now only starting to get ready for ELA, but I can already see how as students become writers as authors and illustrators; as they become communicators, they will become much more capable of recognizing and discussing things like author's purpose, tone ect. Brilliant!
I also really loved the examples of writing in this chapter. The flaps in the bat book were GREAT!

Chapter 2:
On thing that really struck me in this chapter was the idea about 2 kinds of work and writing being an open ended task - to just sit and create something from nothing rather than completing a task. I realized in reading this part that I have almost always approached writing activities as "scoop the poop" work (for lack of a better term haha). By that I mean, I would give a topic, and they would write a sentence and color a picture until we were all done. Ugh I cringe just thinking about it's ok! We are moving onward and upward!!! :)

The other thing that stuck out to me in this chapter was this quote "The goal of writing instruction is for students to become proficient communicators" I think is really the foundation for this new kind of thinking about writing. This is why teaching INTO illustrations can be so powerful. It allows students to communicate ideas and thoughts so much better than if they were relying only on their ability to spell words. My kids this year came to me all across the board when it came to letter-sound knowledge. I love how teaching through illustration provides an equal entry point to the writing process for all my students.

Chapter 3:
Writing and illustrating as a parallel process.This highlights my first thing that I want to change about my writing- to teach my students to compose a whole piece that communicates and idea. Again, there is so much freedom in the idea that even my lowest students can communicate their thoughts through their illustrations and that they can do it with such deeper meaning than if they were just relying on their ability to transcribe words.

Chapter4: I loved the idea of letting the students see pictures of illustrators and authors to help them connect the idea that they are real people. In chapter 3 she talks about how readers can't see the process that a writer went through, they only see the end result. But within the context of an illustration study students can start to derive ideas about the process because they have had their own experiences of being IN the process.

Chapter 5:
If someone had said to me 3 days ago "you are going to teach Kindergartners about author's tone in text" I would have laughed out loud. But this whole section highlights the brilliance in Ray's approach to writing and the value having children become the author's of their own books. Tone can so easily be conveyed through illustrations, and as our students take on the role of author and illustrator, they can more easily understand and recognize tone because they utilize it. Again, hello common core!! LOVE IT.

I am just itching to get back into my classroom and pour through all my books with new eyes and see what gems I have waiting for me. I did start thinking about this book a lot as I was reading. I absolutely LOVED Harrold and the Purple Crayon as a child. I would "read" it over and over. There is so much in this book that could be used in an illustration study.

I am so happy that I decided to participate in this book study and eagerly awaiting what other great ideas are still to come :)


  1. I love to doodle...this sounds like a book that I may really need to get my hands on! Thanks for your insight and for linking up! :)

    Mrs. Dwyer’s A+ Firsties

  2. I am so glad to hear those confessions! I am so with you! I am so weak at teaching writing! And I'm guilty of teaching out of illustrations! The concept of creating something from nothing is huge!!! Right!?! Thanks for your great insights!


  3. I have award you The One Lovely Blog award. Stop by my blog to pick up your award.

    Queen with Class

  4. Yep! Writing is hard to teach. I feel like it's the area I'm always working on. My artistic abilities are a bit lacking, but my students are so encouraging and always saying how talented I am...So it makes me keep trying!!

    Owl Things First

  5. I love your reflections on this section of the book. I am amazed at how much I am always learning from the various teacher blogs that are out there! I just became your newest follower. =)

    The Daily Cupcake…A Kindergarten Blog

  6. I am so glad we have talked you over to the "other side!" Yay! Thank you for linking up!

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten