Comprehend information from multiple representations (Inclusive Big Idea #7)

What are students learning?

Reading Literature

Grade 1: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #7: Comprehend information from multiple representations

Standard: Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events. RL.1.7

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • Anchor Text: Use an anchor text, such as Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean. Ask students to describe Pete’s shoes using details and illustrations after each time Pete steps in something. Learn more about accessing grade-level text in this TIP Sheet.
  • Venn Diagram Study: To create a deeper understanding of the difference between how a story is presented in text versus pictures, use a Venn diagram to compare what is presented through the story and what we learn through pictures. Students can use Post It notes, highlighters, or other digital tools to make comparisons. Learn more about graphic organizers in this TIP Sheet.
  • Puppet Theater: Using a felt board, create props from a familiar story. The props should include the story’s setting and characters created as puppets- so students can see how the details are described in words, felt, or other illustrations. As they reenact the story, students should be encouraged to express what information was gathered through the details of the story and what was learned from the illustrations.
  • Grand Conversations: To delve deeper into the relationship between an illustration and the words in the story, conduct a grand conversation with a small group or whole class. Pair visuals with tactile supports (outline the picture with glue or puffy paint). Questions might include:
    • What do you see in this illustration? How could you describe this image to someone?
    • Look at the illustration of the character. What does it show? Let’s listen to the words from the text. How does the author describe the character?
    • What does this illustration show us about the setting?
    • By looking at the illustration, how do you think the character is feeling?
  • Think Aloud: As you read texts aloud, model your comparisons of the illustrations of the text with the words from the story. Use sentence stems and talk aloud about what you see in each illustration and how each illustration gives you additional insight into text about the characters, setting, or plot of the story. Talk about how in picture books, the author/illustrator will sometimes use illustrations, rather than words, to show problems/solutions, settings, and characters.

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier is the amount of information that a student needs to hold in mind.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • connect information from pictures and the text to the student’s experiences or interests
  • as the student looks at or feels images, have them record what they notice (e.g., using sticky notes or digital options)
  • provide templates or graphic organizers
  • role-play the story and match it to the illustrations. Record it so students can reference it again as needed.

 Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • What are "Story Elements"?
    • Story elements are, essentially, the parts of a story. These elements develop the actions or events in the story in a logical way to enable readers to easily follow the text.
    • Students can compare the presentations of a story through different media, such as illustration or words.
  • What are Some Essential Elements?
    • characters- the individuals in the story.
    • setting- the location and time period where the story takes place.
    • plot- what happens in the story; a clear beginning, middle, and end.
    • conflict- the problem in the story; the plot in a story should be centered on the conflict.
    • resolution- the solution to the problem or conflict.
  • How Can I Incorporate Multimedia Storytelling?
    • Readers can gather information about a story through multiple forms of media.
      • Text: The words in a story describe characters, settings, and events. 
      • Illustrations: Represent story elements through drawings, pictures, or other forms of artistic representations.
      • Audio: Uses sound effects, music, or lyrics to help convey information about the story.


Looking for more suggestions?  Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Go beyond the specific standard! These examples can spark ideas to generalize related skills from the content to real-world experiences for all students.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Story Elements: Students often miss aspects of story elements when summarizing a text. They also may not think of illustrations or other media as having key details to describe characters, setting, or events. In addition, some texts are considered “inconsiderate” texts and do not provide enough to allow students to fully understand all story elements and must fill in the gaps with prior experiences and personal preferences, leading to problems with comprehension.
  • Characteristics of Different Media: Stories can present the same information in different ways from other media. While stories use words to describe aspects of characters, settings, or events, these elements can be represented visually through other media.
  • Social Studies: Students can use illustrations, including maps and graphs, to describe the text
  • Science/Math: Students can use illustrations, including charts, graphs, and diagrams, to better understand the text.

Everyday Connections

  • On the Phone: Invite students to think about different ways they express words, such as using emojis, gestures, or expressions to convey an idea.

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

First Grade: Comprehend information from multiple representations (RI 7)

Second Grade: Comprehend information from multiple representations (RL 7)

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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