Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables-Oh, My! Fostering Graphical Literacy

Roberts, Kathryn L., Rebecca R. Norman, Nell K. Duke, Paul Morsink, Nicole M. Martin, and Jennifer A. Knight. 2013. “Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables-Oh, My! Fostering Graphical Literacy.” The Reading Teacher 67 (1): 12–24. doi:10.1002/TRTR.1174.

Argues that young children need to be able to understand graphics found in informational texts and points out that the Common Core makes references to graphical literacy. Compares graphical literacy to reading literacy by explaining how graphical literacy requires an ability to know what graphs are and “how they work”. Defines several “concepts of graphics” and explores at what ages kids demonstrate an understanding of each concept. Concepts of graphics include: “action, extension, importance, intentionality, partiality, permanence, relevance, and representation”. Suggests that teachers encourage graphical literacy using similar techniques to teaching general literacy, such as thinking out loud. Details a research project where they showed graphics to students and asked them to explain what they could know from looking at the graphic. Researchers note that some kids could understand a lot and interpret a lot from a graphic, but that most kids do not understand important concepts of graphics.

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