Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chicken or Egg?

Readers of this blog know that my Second Grade niece, Amelia, is a budding author. In reviewing her first grade writing folders with her this summer, I came across an entry that had text but an incomplete picture to accompany it. I asked Amelia what happened and she said they ran out of time in class to finish it. I asked her why she draws the pictures last in school, when she always draws them first at home. Her answer? "Because that is the way we are supposed to do it in school."

In sharing that story with teachers this week, we entered the great debate of drawing to help inspire text. One camp believes that drawing pictures helps the students visualize what they want to write about and thus, provides richer text. The other camp believes that if the students are allowed to draw first, they will spend so much time on the drawing that the text won't get written.

There is some evidence of a strong link between drawing and writing. After a five month observation study in a kindergarten classroom Dyson found that as children's drawings become more elaborate, so do their texts. DaSilva writes about her own experiences connecting drawing to writing and reminds us that when drawing is a part of the reading and writing process, "it can help give ideas for writing and teach skills of observation, skills that encourage reading the world and reading the image. It can help propel thinking and revising."

I think about the details in Amelia's picture above - from the circles in the tree stumps to the multi-colored grass - and how powerful her writing would be if she captured them all in text. Is it worth the class time to allow students to develop those pictures and then conference with them to develop the details in writing?

1 comment:

Anna Suranyi said...

In my Kindergarten classroom I encourage the students to draw first, as a form of early brainstorming. I always make sure they know that we're all different and need different things. Some students like to write first and others like to draw for inspiration and clarity before writing.