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Analyzing Visual Text

Life Skills:

  • Thinking & Reasoning

Curriculum Tie:

Time Frame:
1 class period that runs 30 minutes.

Group Size:


Students individually consider a visual text and draw conclusions based on what they see. They write about their conclusions and explain the evidence used to make that determination.

Main Curriculum Tie:
English Language Arts Grade 9-10Reading: Informational Text Standard 1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

A visual text such as the following: graph, political cartoon, photograph, or illustration. Thought-provoking visuals are the most helpful.

Intended Learning Outcomes:
Students will be able to analyze a visual text. Students will be able to develop and support a claim about the visual text based on evidence found in the text.

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Choose a visual text or texts (graph, political cartoon, photograph, illustration, etc.) that relate(s) to a topic that will be introduced in class.

  2. Give each student one visual text to consider.

  3. Have students consider the text and write for 3-10 minutes. They should answer the following questions: What conclusion do you draw from this text? What evidence points to that conclusion? Use the following to help structure your response:

    - Focus on specific details.
    - Imagine you are writing to someone who has never seen this visual text.

    - Record initial reaction.
    - Identify important details.
    - Consider context and history of image.
    - Consider the medium (photo, political cartoon, etc.) compare/contrast to other visual texts.
    - Reconsider first impressions: reinforce or challenge them.

    - Present a specific claim about image.
    - What is the significance or meaning of the image as YOU understand it.
    - Interpretation moves beyond stating the obvious.

  4. Students then discuss their responses either in small groups or as a class.

    This is a good way to get students to consider a topic before having it introduced in class. Students use visual evidence to draw conclusions, and use writing to explain that evidence.

Strategies For Diverse Learners:
Simpler texts can be used for struggling students, and more complex texts could be given to gifted/accelerated students.

This can be extended to introduce argumentation and/or an inquiry project.

  • Different students could be given different visual texts that present different sides of an issue.
  • Once each student has written about his/her text, the class can discuss the issue based on what they have seen to that point.
  • Students could then see multiple texts and draw conclusions that synthesize the information from all texts.
  • Additional, non-visual, texts could be added to the process at this point.

Assessment Plan:
Informal assessment/participation grade works well for this activity. Ensuring that students have completed and understood all three aspects (describe, analyze, interpret) is the most important concept.


Created Date :
Feb 11 2013 18:44 PM

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