Two female students write at their desks.
Teaching Strategy

Sketch to Stretch

Ask students to visualize a passage of text and interpret it through drawing with this reading comprehension strategy.

Published:

At a Glance

Teaching Strategy

Language

English — US

Subject

  • English & Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Grade

6–12

Overview

About this Teaching Strategy

Sketch to Stretch 1 is a reading comprehension strategy where students visualize a passage of text and then interpret it through drawing. The strategy encourages creative thinking, welcomes diverse perspectives, and fosters discussion of various interpretations. It is important that when using this strategy, students understand that the expectation is for them to “sketch” and not for them to produce works of art. 

It’s long been known that drawing something helps a person remember it. Results of a study published in 2018 show that drawing is superior to activities such as reading or writing because it forces the person to process information in multiple ways: visually, kinesthetically, and semantically. 2 Across a series of experiments, researchers found drawing information to be a powerful way to boost memory, increasing recall by nearly double.” 3

 

  • 1J. C. Harste, K. C. Short, and C. Burke, Creating Classrooms for Authors: The Reading-Writing Connection, (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishers, 1988).
  • 2Fernandes, Myra A., Jeffrey D. Wammes, and Melissa E. Meade. “The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 27, no. 5 (2018): 302–8.
  • 3The Science of Drawing and Memory published by Edutopia, March 2019.

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Lesson Plans

Steps for Implementation

  • Read a chapter, scene, or passage out loud to the class, or have students read in pairs, groups, or to themselves. Then ask students to represent what they read in a visual, incorporating words, phrases, and/or quotations into their drawing. Students can be literal or symbolic in their thinking. They might focus on a particular moment or represent what they read more holistically. Or you can provide guidance that works for your text and goals for the lesson. Then in the pair, group, and/or whole class discussion that follows, have students explain their choices, going back to the text to support their thinking.
  • Read a chapter, scene, or passage out loud to the class, or have students read in pairs, groups, or to themselves. Then ask students to visualize a response to the question: What is the most valuable idea in what we just read? Have them represent their answer in a visual, incorporating words, phrases, and/or quotations into their drawing. Then in the pair, group, and/or whole class discussion that follows, have students explain their choices, going back to the text to support their thinking
  • Read a chapter, scene, or passage out loud to the class, or have students read in pairs, groups, or to themselves. Have students choose a “golden line”—one or two sentences that resonate with them for one of the reasons listed below. Then have students copy their “golden line” in their journal and represent it visually in a sketch.
    • Because of something about myself (my identity and experiences)
    • Because it teaches me something about the world (other people, other places, other times, other ways of being and feeling)
    • Because it of how it is written (how the author uses language)
  • As an alternative to a written journal reflection, students sketch and label (with quotations from the text and their own ideas) a response to a prompt. Then they can share their drawings with a partner, small group, or class.

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