Standard Lesson

Doodle Splash: Using Graphics to Discuss Literature

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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As students read a short story, they “doodle,” either in a journal or using an online tool, responding to the text through images, symbols, shapes, and colors. They must be sure to represent all of the elements of the short story (setting, plot, character, point of view, theme) in their doodles. Students then work in small groups, to construct a graphic of their story on a sheet of newsprint with crayons or markers. When all groups have completed their graphics, they will present them to the class, explaining why they chose the elements they used. Finished graphics can be displayed on a class bulletin board, on walls, or scanned in to a Web page.

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From Theory to Practice

Claggett (1992) states that "the use of graphics will help students make meaning as they read, write, and act, [which] is firmly rooted in current thinking about how the mind works." She adapts "Jung's concepts of the four primary ways that we make sense out of the world" (paraphrased as "observing, analyzing, imagining, and feeling") to describe aspects of a balanced approach to learning. Claggett further states that "through the use of graphics, students have opportunities to experience all four functions as they interact with the books they are reading and the essays, stories, and poems they are writing."

Teaching students to visualize what they are reading and create graphic symbols helps them develop as readers. Furthermore, sharing their individual responses in cooperative group activities deepens their understanding and skill as readers and writers.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Four copies of several short stories by a common author (e.g., Poe, Crutcher, Soto, Walker) either in text or online for each group of four students (see the Websites for links to online short story collections).
  • Journal for each student to doodle in
  • Large sheet of butcher paper or newsprint for each group
  • Crayons and markers
  • Access to the Internet




  • Review the elements of fiction (setting, plot, character, point of view, theme) and/or prepare mini-lessons on them.
  • Preview the Doodle Splash student interactive.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • indicate personal preferences by self-selecting a short story from a teacher-provided list of stories by a common author.
  • demonstrate understanding of the elements of the short story.
  • work in cooperative groups to create a graphic display of their story.
  • present their group graphic to the whole class to demonstrate knowledge of the elements of fiction.
  • participate in whole-class discussion of the themes developed in the various stories.
  • [for the extension] write cooperative group essays analyzing the themes developed by the author studied.

Sessions One and Two: Reading and Journaling

  1. Introduce students to short stories by a common author. Have three to four copies of each story available.
  2. Allow students to self-select stories.
  3. Put students in groups of three to four according to the story they have selected.
  4. Hand out the Doodle Splash handout and give them an overview of the final project.
  5. Review the elements of fiction with students.
  6. Introduce the Doodle Splash student interactive either through an LCD projector or at each of their computer stations if available.
  7. Have students practice doodling online, individually and in groups, for a short time before beginning reading.
  8. Give students the rest of the class and another class period to read their story and complete their online doodles or doodle journals.

Sessions Three and Four: Constructing Group Graphics

  1. When students have completed reading and doodling, have them meet in groups to construct their Doodle Splash.
  2. Students compare doodles and decide which doodles will best tell their story. Each student must be represented on the Doodle Splash. Each element of the short story must be covered on the Doodle Splash as well.
  3. Using butcher paper or newsprint and crayons or markers, groups create their Doodle Splash graphic.


Session Five: Publication and Summation

  1. After all groups have finished their graphics, have them take turns presenting their Doodle Splash to their classmates, emphasizing how the visual representation connects with the elements of fiction, particularly theme.
  2. Display students Doodle Splashes on a bulletin board or a wall, or photograph them with a digital camera and publish on the class or school Website.
  3. End the lesson with whole-class discussion of the themes that the author developed in the short stories.


Have students write group essays analyzing the themes the author developed in the short story they chose.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Students should self-assess using the Student Reflective Assessment. Each student should do this individually.
  • Groups can self-assess using the Group Reflective Assessment.
  • Teachers can choose whether or not to assess this activity, but they could evaluate the process and the final Doodle Splash by keeping anecdotal records of students' participation. They may also wish to use the Participation Checklist.

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