Reviewed by David Gillam
They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words. In an age in which our students are exposed to an ever-increasing number of images in the media, visual literacy is an important skill to teach.
In textbooks, students are exposed to a variety of images from photos to diagrams, graphs, and tables. These images often convey critical content. Students also have access to images in the popular press, on the internet, and on television. Beyond just reading and understanding images, students must develop skills in creating visual images for themselves that will help them learn and remember new information.
Beginning with a chapter that acts as a primer on visual literacy, this book introduces readers to the basics. The manner in which the brain processes visual images is explored, and some initial strategies for using different types of images are presented. Ideas are also shared for helping students develop their own visual organizers (such as shutter-shutter fold organizers). The next two sections focus on interpreting photographs and diagrams.
The authors use images that are labeled in a foreign language to show that, although we can’t read the words, we can still use prior knowledge to build meaning. Following these chapters, ways for students to create their own tools are examined in more depth. The authors then explore how visual literacy can be used in life, Earth, and physical science. One of the examples is a layered foldable for information about Earth’s biomes. Each tab has a biome name and a description. This same format could be used with star types or planets, with key identifiers for each star or planet.
This book would make an excellent addition to a school's professional library. Written for K–8 teachers, many of its ideas could be translated for use at the high school level. The strategies can be used in a variety of different settings, and readers will see many ways to extend them into their own grade level and discipline area.
Review posted on 2/1/2011