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Lesson Plan

Captioning the Civil Rights Movement: Reading the Images, Writing the Words

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Captioning the Civil Rights Movement: Reading the Images, Writing the Words

Grades 2 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time One 60-minute session
Lesson Author

Kristy Brugar

Kristy Brugar

Norman, Oklahoma

Kathryn L. Roberts, Ph.D.

Detroit, Michigan


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students are surrounded by visual materials that provide information and insight to the world around them. In this lesson, students explore historical content through visual literacy, reading, and writing. Using a scaffolded process and moving from whole group to individual work, students will explore iconic images from the Civil Rights Movement and create captions that summarize the features and ideas in the images. To publish their work, students can use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press, Trading Card Creator, or Stapleless Book student interactives. This lesson uses the topic of the Civil Rights movement, but can also be done with other thematic sets of images.

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Picture This!: This sheet guides students through the process of creating their own captions

Civil Rights PowerPoint: The iconic images in this PowerPoint presentation will be analyzed by students and then captioned.

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Text features, including captioned images, fill the pages of students’ content-area texts and trade books and play an important role in overall text comprehension (Roberts, Brugar, & Norman, 2014). However, many children do not understand the relationships between text and graphics and how individual graphical devices contribute to the overall meaning of the text (Roberts, Norman, Duke, Morsink, Martin, Knight, 2013). Because reading and writing have a reciprocal relationship, it is important that we not just expose students to high-quality examples of these devices and teach explicitly about them (Kelley & Clausen-Grace, 2010; Roberts, Brugar, & Norman, 2014), but also engage children in the creation of text features (Gabriel & Gabriel, 2010).

Gabriel, R., & Gabriel, M. (2010). Power in pictures: How a schoolwide photo library can build a community of readers and writers. The Reading Teacher, 63(8), 679–682.


Kelley, M. J., & Clausen-Grace, N. (2010). Guiding students through expository text with feature walks. Reading Teacher, 64 (3), 191-195.


Roberts, K. L., Brugar, K. A., & Norman, R. R. (2014). Evaluating texts for graphical literacy instruction: The graphical rating tool. Reading Teacher, 68 (4), 3112-318.


Roberts, K. L., Norman, R. R., Duke, N. K., Morsink, P., Martin, N. M., & Knight, J. A. (2013). Diagrams, timelines, and tables—oh, my! Fostering graphical literacy. Reading Teacher, 67 (1), 12-23.

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