Synopsis of the first article
This article by O’Neil (2011) is a guide for teachers to enable them to assist their students in attaining visual literacy skills. The article has placed attention on picture books that make use of both pictures and text to convey information. It shows that the use of pictures is important, especially for children, because it helps in better understanding and interpretation of the conveyed message. The different parameters of picture books have been discussed in this text to help the reader gain insight into picture book information. According to Wolf (2003) cited in O’Neil (2003), the tone, meaning, and interpretation of a picture is attributed to the culturally constructed meanings of color, composition, and stylistic approach. Different interpretations can be derived from a single picture text based on different cultures. For example, Western culture places certain meanings with different colors: red signifies heat, excitement, and danger, while blue is used to indicate calmness, coolness, and iciness. Picture and text interaction is deemed important in picture books, and the following models are used: reinforcing, describing, establishing, and reciprocal. The colors can depict various things like the mood, tone, and atmosphere of a place.
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This article also shows that composition is important in interpreting picture books. The positioning, personality, and behavior of the different characters displayed in any picture help in building the plot and roles played by the different characters. The nuances of any picture books can be recognized through shared discussions between students and their peers, students, and their teachers as well as students and their parents. Social interaction and observation are proposed as ideal ways of understanding the various elements in picture books and related literature. It is important to engage in a thorough study of visual literature. Children understand better when images and signs are used as noted from Lewis (2001) cited in O’Neil (2011); the world of children is filled with images that are in varied hybrid combinations with text and sounds.
Synopsis of the second article
This article by Halladay & Neumann (2012) shows the need for an interdisciplinary approach towards learning and teaching. This is meant to enhance the students’ learning experiences because certain elements emerge across certain disciplines. For example, comprehension strategies are used while reading and solving mathematical problems. In both areas of learning, students are required to “make predictions, make connections, determine the importance and monitor understanding” (Halladay & Neumann, 2012). Making of predictions is governed by the details of the content as well as prior background personal knowledge. Monitoring strategies are used as a means of solving comprehension problems such as word recognition errors, vocabulary usage errors, and errors while making inferences. The rationale is that it involves examining the text again and critically going through the interpretations made out of reading. Another strategy that has been discussed in reading and mathematics is determining importance. This entails picking the most important parts of a text and separating them from the appealing and extraneous details. Making connections entail relating a text to that which revolves around the reader (s). In all these strategies, the teacher is seen as a bridge to good comprehension. Learning is centered on the students by giving them room to familiarize themselves with their experiences and belief systems. The use of more than one comprehension strategy is deemed more beneficial compared to just using a single strategy. The strategy of flexibility applies in this case. A teacher can pose questions covering various strategies at once. In order to strengthen children’s understanding of literacy, the use of a common language across subject areas is necessary. This way, children will develop their language since a single word can be used in multiple contexts across the subject areas.
Comparison of the two texts
In both articles summarized above, there is a connection between objectives used in the two. In both, an integrative approach is advocated. Whereas the first article aims to use an integrated approach of pictures and text to reinforce and help in the understanding of literature, the latter uses mathematics and reading in illustrating the integrative approach. In both reading and mathematics, strategies used to interpret and solve problems are the same. This helps to reinforce the understanding and comprehension of both disciplines.
Also, in both texts, critical and creative thinking is emphasized. Whereas in the former article, pictures are used in the generation of the plot, students are asked to monitor comprehension by detecting areas of concern and filling gaps. In both articles, making inferences is important to help in understanding the problems in the pieces of literature. Questions are shown in both articles to be a guiding criterion in the interpretation of texts and pictures. In the case of picture books, questions like “what is the position of the character” are used while in the case of comprehensions, questions like “What does this figurative language connote?” are used.
However, there are some contradicting elements in the two articles. Whereas in the former article, students are required to identify certain nuances, students are required to think aloud and make predictions in the latter article. In the former article, trying to understand the different messages being communicated by the style, colors, and composition used is essential. In the latter article, however, the emphasis is on trying to picture what cannot be seen. Interpretation of text is based on knowledge gained from the story and personal knowledge concerning the text at hand. Also, in interpreting the meaning of pictures, there is no need for predictions because a picture will communicate fully by just looking at it. In other words, a whole chapter can be summarized by a single picture. The two articles conflict in the perspective of the essence of personal knowledge in making predictions, whereas this is not the case for visual literacy. Visual literacy uses standardized denotations like red for danger.
In the former article, discussions are deemed important for decoding and for the explicit understanding of pictures, but this has not been proposed to be the case in the later article. Pictures make use of color, shapes, style, and composition to delineate what the author wants, as indicated in the first article, words and vocabulary are used in comprehensions according to the second article. In just the same way existing knowledge is used to understand new knowledge in reading and mathematics, existing meaning attached to usual shapes and color help in obtaining new knowledge from pictures. The difference, however, is that whereas existing knowledge is always taking a new form each time, existing knowledge does not change. This is why, according to the former article, pictures have been recommended for children. Red will always signify danger or joy. Therefore, the meaning will never change. It all depends on the style and composition used.
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Comparison of the two texts to Roe/Smith/Burns Text
Roes, Smith & Burns (2011) indicate the various processes in reading and the reading product, all of which have been applied in both articles. Sensory entails the use of the senses, and in the two articles, observation is evident. Visual literacy entails looking at a picture and interpreting it based on one’s perception. Reading entails reading through and interpreting the text based on their perceptions. By Roe et al. (2011), both articles have shown that visual literacy and reading and mathematics employ the sensory, perceptual, thinking, experiential sequential, learning, association, affective, and constructive aspects.
The teacher has been shown in both articles functioning as a mere facilitator. This is by Roe et al. (2011) emergent literacy. In the two articles, the teacher is presented as trying to communicate through the students’ thinking processes, whereas in Roe et al. (2011), the teacher provides opportunities for continued growth in trying to understand literature. The use of multiple forms of literature is deemed important in language development. This is the case in both articles because an integrative approach is sought to reinforce learning. Pictures are used in addition to the usual texts, while mathematics and reading are both used to help towards language development.
The two articles augment Roe’s et al. (2011) perspective on word recognition. The use of pictures, which are easy to understand, helps a reader in understanding the meaning of texts used together with the picture. Also, the use of unfamiliar words together with other words help the reader to make out the meaning of the unfamiliar words. The same applies when words are used in some peculiar way, like “Jane beat herself up.” The word beat herself up seems preposterous.
Vocabulary development is one aspect of reading and mathematics that is deemed important. However, worth noting, as detailed by Roe et al. (2011), the vocabulary used should be iterated. The latter article has attempted to propose the essence of using the comprehension strategies in all disciplines, which would be ideal in vocabulary development. The difference between the use of comprehension strategies and not using these strategies is that the use of these strategies helps students to think beyond the surface level, but to critically think about each and every word. This is in comparison to not using comprehension strategies because students tend to skip the difficult words as they are a headache.
Background experience and one’s belief system play a great role in how an individual comprehends text because literature tends to share thematic ideas. Certain forms of words are used concerning particular themes, and depending on their own’s background experience with such words determines how well this individual will comprehend texts better. This also holds true in the case of pictures and illustrations. Individual experiences determine how these individuals interpret different situations and circumstances.
A new style of literacy learning has been adopted in each article in accordance with the use of technology by Roe et al. (2011). In one article, visual literacy is used to help understand the content better while in the other one, connections with other disciplines are used. The use of mathematics also entails visual representation but in the form of numbers. This is also following what has earlier been referred to as forms of literature (multimedia products).
Halladay, J. L., & Neumann, M. D. (2012). Connecting Reading and Mathematical Strategies. The Reader Teacher, 65 (7), 471-476.
O’Neil, K. e. (2011). Developing Visual Literacy for Greater Comprehension. The Reader, 65 (3), 214-223.
Roe, A., Smith, S., & Burns. (2011). Teaching Reading in Today’s Elementary Schools (11th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.