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Lesson Plan

Using Pictures to Build Schema for Social Studies Content

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Maureen Martin

Worcester, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Looking to help students practice "reading" images for a variety of contextual meanings while engaging in content area study? This lesson uses images of the Boston Massacre to deepen students' comprehension of both the event and the effects of propaganda. Students begin by completing an anticipation guide to introduce them to Boston Massacre, propaganda, and British/colonial reactions to the massacre. They then complete an image analysis to make inferences about various images of the massacre. The culminating activity-a presentation about students' observations and inferences-demonstrates students' knowledge of the Boston Massacre and propaganda in a variety of ways. This lesson benefits English-language learners (ELLs) and struggling readers because it involves viewing images, participating in discussions, working with peers, and listening to a read-aloud that reinforces the lesson content and vocabulary.

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Anticipation Guide: Boston Massacre: Have students use this printout to determine what they know about the Boston Massacre, propaganda, and reactions to the massacre.

4-Square Project Template: Students can use this template as a guide to complete their posters about their observations of the Boston Massacre.

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Villano, T.L. (2005). Should social studies textbooks become history? A look at alternative methods to activate schema in the intermediate classroom. The Reading Teacher, 59(2), 122130.

  • Meaning is communicated by illustrations in texts. Art can extend meaning beyond the words, and illustrations can help convey the mood of the text.

  • Not only are illustrations useful for addressing all ability levels in the classroom, but the conversations that occur because of these pictures also provide the opportunity for a greater dimension of understanding to all children.

  • Picture books provide meaning because the illustrations tell the story, clarify and define advanced concepts, and set the tone of the text.

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