Graphical literacy: Tips for teaching with maps, timelines and flowcharts

In a recent article from The Reading Teacher about fostering graphical literacy, Kathryn Roberts and five of her colleagues share instructional practices to support children in their understanding of graphics. “Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables—Oh, My!” discusses the important role of graphics (including flowcharts, graphs, insets, and maps) in children’s literacy development and acknowledges the emphasis on this in the Common Core.

Here are a few of their suggestions for helping students notice and understand graphics as they read:

  • Select books with clear, persuasive, and engaging graphics. During read-alouds and shared reading, talk about graphics and model how good readers pay attention to them. Discuss why the illustrator chose to include graphical devices, emphasizing their value and the meaning.
  • Have students create their own graphics and plan for the purposeful use of graphics in their compositions. Provide opportunities for students to give and receive feedback on the clarity, accuracy, and impact of the graphics they create.
  • Make your classroom a graphic-rich environment by filling the walls with high-quality graphics.  Within your school, develop a plan for teaching students to understand and compose graphics, which should include using consistent language.

Any other strategies you use to support graphical literacy? Let us know in the comments below!