Last year I started a new morning work procedure for my students called “Picture of the Day”. I first learned about this from a coworker who found the idea from a Raleigh based teacher named Jen Jones. She has a blog called Hello Literacy (blog here) and I now follow her on twitter @Hellojenjones.
When I first learned of this I was scared by how this would look in my classroom but I wanted to give it a try. I saw the positive effects my coworker had experienced from doing this on a daily basis.
So what does a picture of the day entail? Every morning when my students come in they see a new picture of the day projected onto the SMARTboard. After they get unpacked they take out their morning work journal and study the picture of the day. Students are expected to look at all aspects of the picture. What do they see in the background? What do they see in the foreground? What surprises them about the picture? What does the picture make you think of? After the students study the picture they must write three observations about the picture and two inferences about the picture. To keep this organized students have a “picture of the day” notebook. Students write the date on the top and split the paper into two sections. On the left hand side they write their three observations. Students have learned that observations are things that you see or notice. I encourage students to either start their observation sentences with, “I see _____ or I notice_____” or to write their idea in a complete sentence. On the right hand side students must write their two inferences about the picture. At the beginning of the year we discuss what an inference is and what makes a quality inference. We talk about how a good inference should have evidence and in this case there should be evidence from the picture. Students are encouraged to start their sentences with “I infer_____ because_______”. I expect students to explain every inference they write with because. After students have completed the activity they can choose an observation/inference they would like to share during morning meeting. Students get very excited about this as they love to have a “unique” idea to share.
The specific example showed from the picture above was when the students had a picture of the day that showed a man doing a cannonball into a lake. Some observations were “He is jumping into the water.” “A man is jumping off a boat.” I stress to students that observations should be TRUE and that anyone would be able to see. Some inferences for this picture were “I infer the man might hurt his legs because the water could be shallow.” “I infer there is a shark in the water because there is a dark spot.” I encourage students to be creative when writing inferences as long as they can “back up” their answer with the picture.
During the first week of school I model this every day and we do a picture of the day together. I keep our anchor chart posted about the picture of the day throughout the year for students to reference. Doing this activity has changed the way my students approach inferences in literacy. Before this when students were asked to share an inference about a book I would often get the response, “What is an inference again?”. I now have confident students who can make educated textual inferences when reading and writing. This activity also helps to develop/reinforce inferencing skills and main idea throughout the entire school year. One thing I have learned from this activity is that students enjoy sharing and that this shows students there can be a different form of literacy other than reading. It creates a classroom community as it gives students something to talk about and share.