Visualizing the Plan Part Two: Drawing Lessons

Sometimes when students visualize an elaborate plan it is frustrating when that doesn’t just happen on the page. Here are some tips to get students closer to their vision.

Start with a drawing lesson.

It is important to teach students some basic drawing steps to help them bring their visions to life. Drawing people is one of those techniques that is difficult for almost anyone. Giving students tips on how to come close to what they imagine their story to look like is helpful and can ease the frustration.

Here is a picture of Graysen’s work from two days ago. He wanted to draw the “eagle” he saw flying over the school (probably a crow, but we’ll let him live his dream). He got frustrated and decided to just draw circles and scribbles.


I often find when students are frustrated or don’t see what they want to see in their picture they will color over it or scribble a “tornado” because there is suddenly a “storm” in their story. However, this tornado is often not a part of the story, it is a reaction to frustration and tied in to avoid embarrassment. It can also just be a result of not knowing how to begin a drawing. I often model drawing parts of my picture that are hard. Students laugh and we talk about the fact that even though I can’t draw a picture of my kitchen exactly the way it looks I give it my best try. My words are what will determine my story for the reader. The next day we did a small group drawing lesson with two other students who were doing the same circular motion on their page. You can see that I am listening to each story and we are visualizing together what the illustration might look like. I did a drawing lesson for each student and we worked together to craft each other’s stories verbally.



I then touched base with each student. Here I am with Graysen again demonstrating his drawing to be sure he has the basic shapes and ideas we talked about. I want this lesson to carry over and it is important to check in with these three students following my model. My purpose is that these three will be successful and the lesson will stay with them not only today but tomorrow as well.


I have charted and posted methods for drawing people (since often there are people in our stories) as well as the steps that take us to our drawing. Last week we talked about visualizing our story. You can see that this is a step on my chart and possibly the most important means of planning our pictures. I refer to this chart everyday to remind students how important this visualization can be in their plan.

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Next week I will check in with these three students again to share their progress in both their drawings and their writing!