Explain how information from multiple representations of a topic contribute to understanding of the topic (Inclusive Big Idea #7)

What are students learning?

Reading Literature

Grade 5: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #7: Explain how information from multiple representations of a topic contribute to understanding of the topic

Standard: Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel; multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, or poem). RL.5.7

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 Frindle by Andrew Clements which includes illustrations for each chapter. Discuss why the illustrator chose to draw each specific scene and its importance to the main idea and theme of the story. 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 the performance. Learn more about graphic organizers in this TIP Sheet.
  • 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. Questions might include:
    • What do you see in this illustration?
    • Look at the illustration of the character. What does it show? Let’s listen to the words. 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. Talk aloud about what you see in each illustration and how each illustration gives you additional insight into the characters in the story. Talk about how in picture books, the author or 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 when information is presented so students cannot see or hear the information.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • offer digital formats so the size of text, contrast, or other visual content can be adjusted.
  • offer alternatives to text such as objects, partial objects, tactual representations
  • use text alternatives such as captions or automated speech-to-text or text-to-speech
  • software
  • follow accessibility standards (NIMAS, DAISY, etc.) when creating digital text

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 and should 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
      • Dramatic performance: a play of film representing the events of the story, characters are represented by actors and costumes, settings must be recreated by scenery


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. 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.

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?

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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