Browsing through a lesson and picture walks aren’t just for our youngest students.
Upper elementary and middle school students can use these strategies with non-fiction tradebooks and textbooks. It doesn’t hurt to preview the material by flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures. Often students complete this activity with a partner so that they can share and feed off each others thoughts.
Encourage students to pay attention to the picture captions and graphics such as charts and maps. Many standardized tests now ask questions about information found in these areas.
Students often have to be trained to look at the whole page instead of just the columns of text. So often than not our upper elementary and middle school student arrive at our classroom door lacking skills. Many times I have to model picture walks and lesson browsing for them so they can see exactly what it is I want them to do.
Even when a science or social studies text is being used it doesn’t hurt to get students to flex their inference muscles by inferring or predicting what the lesson will tell them by using hints from the pictures and digrams as well as the headings and sub-headings. Another strategy that I like to use is asking students to connect personally with the events in the story or lesson. Personal connections help with scaffolding the material and retention rates are increased.