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Making Meaningful Visualizations


In this activity, adapted from Kelley & Clausen-Grace’s Comprehension Shouldn’t Be Silent (2013), students will evaluate their visualizations and determine which ones were effective in improving their comprehension. The purpose of this activity is to help students make more meaningful visualizations.

Learning Strategies 

  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring
  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing
Interacting with the Text

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Academic Vocabulary
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline
  • Metacognition


Select a text and divide it into sections.

Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce Making Meaningful Visualizations.

    Meaningful visualizations include the main idea and important details from the text. This activity asks students to be more thoughtful with their visualizations.

  2. Create a t-chart.

    Students will create a t-chart. On the left side students will draw their visualizations and on the right side they will evaluate them.

  3. Read the text.

    Students should read one section of the text independently.

  4. Write visualizations.

    Students will write their visualizations based on the section of text they read.

  5. Discuss as a whole class.

    As a whole class discuss the main idea and important details from that chunk of text.

  6. Evaluate visualizations.

    Students work in pairs to evaluate their visualizations for evidence of the main idea and important details. Remind students that there could be more than one right answer and the focus is on connecting the visualization to the main idea and important details.

  7. Share out.

    Ask student pairs to share their visualizations and evaluations. “Was your visualization meaningful? Explain using evidence from your visualization and your evaluation.”

  8. Repeat steps with remaining sections of text.

    1. Read the text independently. 2. Write visualizations. 3. Conduct a whole-class discussion of the main idea and important details. 4. Evaluate visualizations. 5. Share out.

  9. Reflect.

    Students can reflect individually or as a group, orally or in writing. · Did you change anything about the way you visualize after evaluating the visualizations? · Do you notice a difference between your first visualization and your last? · Did your visualizations become more meaningful?

Downloadable Resources 
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