Standard Lesson

Graffiti Wall: Discussing and Responding to Literature Using Graphics

9 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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This lesson is used for discussion of a novel read by the whole class. Working individually and in groups, using symbols, drawings, shapes, and colors, alongside words and quotations, students construct a graphic of their section of the novel using an online tool and on newsprint or butcher paper 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 on a Web page. Finally, students will write an individual essay analyzing one element of the novel.

Featured Resources

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.
  • 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).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 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

  • Graffiti journal for each student

  • Large sheet of butcher paper or newsprint for each group

  • Crayons and markers

  • Links to online writing labs with suggestions for ways to develop essays. A few are suggested in the Websites section.




  • Prepare minilessons on the elements of fiction (setting, plot, character, point of view, theme, symbol). This Elements of Fiction resource provides interactive examples of each element that students can refer to.

  • The class should have chosen a novel and be well into it when this lesson is introduced.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • indicate personal preferences by voting on a novel for class study from a teacher-provided list.

  • demonstrate understanding of the elements of fiction by creating a graffiti journal to guide their discussion.

  • work individually and in cooperative groups to create a graffiti graphic over their section of the novel.

  • present their group graphic to the whole class as a way of sharing their section and connecting their graphical representation to the text.

  • participate in whole-class discussion of the character development, plot line, themes, and symbolic structure developed in the novel.

  • write an individual essay on a topic related to their described literary element.

Sessions 1–2: Reading and Journaling

  1. Hand out the graffiti journal and the Graffiti Wall handout, and give students an overview of the project.

  2. Introduce the Literary Graffiti student interactive either through an LCD projector or at each of their computer stations if available. Allow them to practice doodling online if they have access to computers.

  3. Review the elements of fiction with students.

  4. Give students approximately five class periods to read the novel and complete their graffiti journals and their work using the online interactive. Some reading will have to be done outside of class.

Sessions 3–4: Constructing Group Graphics

  1. When students have completed reading and journaling, have them meet in groups to construct their graffiti graphic.

  2. Assign each group a different section of the novel.

  3. Students use their journals and printouts from the Literary Graffiti tool to discuss their section of the novel and decide which graphics, words, and quote will best explain their section of the novel. Each student must be represented on the graphic. Each element of fiction that is developed in their section must be covered on the graphic.

  4. Using butcher paper or newsprint, and crayons or markers, groups create their graffiti graphic.

Session 5: Publication and Summation

  1. After all groups have finished their graphics, they take turns presenting them to their classmates. They should be prepared to connect what happens in their section of the novel to what has been presented before and to answer any questions from their classmates.

  2. Display students' graphics on a bulletin board or a wall (the Graffiti Wall), or photograph them with a digital camera and publish on a Website.

  3. After discussion and for homework, students will write individual essays analyzing the development of an element of fiction in the novel.


Have students develop a Website about the novel by posting graffiti graphics in chronological order and hyperlinking student essays to their particular graphics.

Student Assessment / Reflections