Technically Invisible

Technically Invisible: Skills and Strategies for Reading

I have been exploring the use of Pinterest – a visually engaging website where members post “pins” (images) onto “boards” (pages) on topics which interest them.  Pin + Interest = Pinterest!!  I have been collecting and sharing ideas with other teachers for a few months, now – but recently I expanded my thinking to include a pin board on the reading skills and strategies taught in our curriculum.  (See TWO updates, below)

I use these images in my classroom as warm-up/morning work – students see the image on the big screen, and then complete the activity in their reading journals. On this board, you’ll find images used to practice the skills of Activating/Using Prior Knowledge, Visualization, Questioning, Predicting, Drawing Conclusions, Cause & Effect, Generalizing, Comparing & Contrasting, Fact & Opinion, Main Idea & Details and Sequencing (for now, lol). By the time I’m “done”, I’d like to have at least 180 pins – one for each school day 🙂

Here’s our routine:

1. I choose pins that match our Reading Skill and/or Reading Strategy for the entire week.

2. Each day, I choose only one pin, and set aside about 10 minutes to complete the lesson.

3. I pre-load the image with the projector off, while I review the skill or strategy of the day.

4. I remind students to date their journal page, and label the heading with the skill or strategy.

5. I turn on the projector to reveal the image for about 3-5 minutes.

Students are required to write a 1-sentence description of the image (great practice for Main Idea!!), and then they answer the question on the pin, relating to the skill or strategy. I circulate while they are writing to clarify directions, and redirect as necessary. Time permitting, we do a whole-group share, otherwise, I am able to do small group shares during their leveled reading groups.

Students are better learning the names and definitions of the skills and strategies, and they are getting better at practicing them as well. See the example we did online, with the photograph of my son doing his Summer Reading, and you’ll see the student responses, listed below in the comments.

If you have any questions, comments or connections, feel free to share!!

Click the Pinterest logo to return to my pinboard!!

QUESTIONING: What questions come to mind when you see this image? List your questions in your reading journal.

UPDATE (May, 2012)


As the year has come to a close, I had started having students analyze an image as part of their weekly reading assessment.  This is the photograph I chose to illustrate as an example here on the blog:

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS: When you look at this image, can you decide what these people are doing, and why they are doing it?

Students had a paper copy of the image (though it was displayed on the SMARTBoard for about 10 minutes during their assessment).  We have been using images to practice this reading strategy, among many others.  This was our 7th photograph used for Drawing Conclusion lessons.  Students are always required to write a descriptive sentence to show the main idea.  They then have to demonstrate examples of the reading strategy for that specific image.  Below are sample student responses from this particular assessment:

Descriptive Sentences:


I see a few people with blue helmets and red life preservers in a raft and a person is falling off.


I see a family on a deflatable boat and someone is sliding head-first into the water and someone is saving him.


I see four people on a raft in very rough water and one person is falling off.


I see four people on a crazy river riding a raft and one is diving into the water.


I see Mrs. Brooks with her family riding on an orange raft in foamy water with someone falling off the raft.

Drawing Conclusions

Conclusion How You Know

I think the raft might be slippery because they are wet and the person looks like she is slipping off the side.

Mr. & Mrs. Brooks are trying to save the woman because their faces look very worried and I see they are both grabbing her foot..

They are wearing life jackets and helmets for safety. I know because it is a very crazy and wild river.

One person looks knocked out. I know because someone is slipping off the raft and she can’t help herself get back in.

Drawing Conclusions is a lifelong skill, and can be applied to reading as well as conversations and observations.  Students did a nice job learning this tricky skill!

UPDATE: October, 2013

This year, instead of students just describing what they see in the image as the “main idea”, I am asking them to write a “picture story”.  I tell them to imagine the photo being a page in a book – if I were to plop them into the story at that given point, what things might be going on…. It has raised the level of our writing already!  I am thinking as the year goes on, that I will have them write in different genre styles to match the photo.  Here are some examples that go with the skateboarding picture above:

One day I was walking down the street and a boy came up to me and said “Can I see that book?”  I gave it to him, then he started riding on his ripstick away from me without saying thank you…

Tom is quietly reading a very exciting book on his skateboard.  He is so into his book that he doesn’t realize that he’s heading straight toward a huge…. tree.  Luckily, he falls into a big clump of soft green grass.

One day Steve was riding on his skateboard when he saw a book on the ground. He looked around the park but he didn’t see anyone around. He picked up the book and rode away, reading the book. He flipped to the back of the book and saw a name. It was his sister’s book!!

James was riding his skateboard and suddenly… someone threw a book at him!  He grabbed the book and surprisingly started reading it. “Watch out for the tree!” yelled his mother. James turned, and did not get hurt.



47 thoughts on “Technically Invisible: Skills and Strategies for Reading

  1. Jenn

    I love this idea. I’ve been following your postings on Pinterest and am thrilled you shared out your procedure.

    Thank you!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Thanks, Jenn- I’m going to have my students do this activity here on the blog on Monday while we are in the computer lab, to share how they are growing in their ability to practice these skills and strategies. I appreciate the comment!!

        1. Suzy Brooks Post author

          Hi Renee – I have the hardest time searching for names in the site itself – so instead I’ve started searching for the word pinterest and people’s names in Google. Some people set their Pinterest settings so they aren’t searchable -but sometimes it works! Here’s a link to my page 🙂 I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you 🙂

          Take care and thanks for stopping by!


  2. Shawna

    THANK YOU!!!! This is an amazing resource and is sure to capture the kiddos interest much more than worksheets or me droning on and on about each skill. Your efforts are SO appreciated and I am going to start using this technique TOMORROW!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Thanks, Shawna – My students have enjoyed it, let me know how you make out!!!

      Take care, and thank you for your comment!!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Hi Cathy – you can download the images into your computer for access later – either in a folder, or in Powerpoint, or whatever works for you. I’m sorry you are finding websites blocked – it makes teaching difficult when you find valuable resources!!!! Good luck, and hopefully things will change the future! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment – I appreciate it!
      Take care,

    2. Regina

      It is important that educator’s speak out against this kind of censorship. We need to be able to take advantage of free materials. I requested that my district unblock some sites that I use professionally and they were able to do so. I believe, as educators, we need to continue to speak out against censorship. I’m on a crusade, can you tell 😉

  3. JACK

    I see a boy reading on a scatebord with a red crock and a blue crock.

    Why is he reading?
    What is he reading?
    Why are he’s shoses mich matched?
    Why is he riding and readin at the same time?
    Where is he?
    Is that safe?
    Is that a scatebord?
    That’s all my questions bye!

  4. Lily

    I see a blonde haired boy skateboarding down the street while reading a book.

    1. Why hasn’t he crashed yet?
    2. What book is he reading?
    3. Where is he?
    4. What is his name?
    5. What time of day is it?
    6. Whats the name of the company that the skateboard came from?
    7. Why are his shoes mitch matched?
    8. Are his glasses pink?


  5. Caitlin

    I see in the picture a boy on a skateboard reading.
    What is he reading?
    Where is he going?
    Does he have any brothers or sisters?
    What kind of skateboard is it?
    Is he going home from school?
    What color are his glass?
    What book is he reading?
    Where is the picture taken?
    Where in the world is it taken?
    Does he live in the USA?
    What is his name?
    Where does he live?
    What kind of tree is that?

  6. RONAN

    i see a boy reading on a skateboard.

    1.Where is he?

    2.Why is he reading ?

    3.What kind of skateboard is that ?

    4.What page is he on ?

    5.What book is he reading ?

    6.Is it summer?

    7.Why is he not whering a helmet?

    8. Why is he wering two diffrent color Crocs?

    9.Is he doing a book talk prep ?

    10.Is he on his drive way ?

  7. Willam


    The picture shows a kid reading on a skate board.

    Why is a kid reading???
    Why is he on a skateboard?
    What is he on?
    Why is he in the middle of the road?
    Why is he whereing to different crocks?
    Why is he on a ribstick?
    Is he hurt?
    Why is he next to a tree?
    Why does he have glasses?

  8. Elliot

    I see a boy ridding on a flipscooter he is also reading a book.

    Why is he riding a scooter while reading?
    What book is he reading?
    Is he acting safe or will his mom catch him and ground him?
    Why does he were two diffent colored shoes?
    Is it summer?
    Does he like that book?
    Is it a real book?
    Did he stop ridding?

  9. Mark

    In the picture I see a boy reading a book on a skate board.

    Where is he going?
    Who is it?
    What kind of skateboard is it?
    What book is he reading?
    Is it Summer in the picture?
    Doe’s he know that reading on a skateboard is dangerous?
    How old is he?
    What year is it?
    Is he having fun?

  10. Maisie

    I see a boy reading a book while he is on one of those 2 wheeled skateboard thingies.

    1. Doesn’t the boy know that not watching where he’s going is dangerous, let alone doing it on a skateboard?

    2.What is the boy reading?

    3. Where is he going?

    4.What is his book about?

    5.Where is he?

    6.Is the boy riding on the skateboard, or is he just standing on it?

    7.What is the boy’s name?

    8.Is he going to the library?

    9.What season is it in the picture?

    10.In the backround, what kinds of trees are those?

  11. Kyle D

    In the picture I see a boy reading a book while riding a thing that looks like a skateboard.

    What is the boy riding?

    Is the boy going to fall off?

    What book is he reading?

    What season is it?

    How old is the boy?

    What month is it?

    Is it Sunday?

    Is it Summer?

  12. Trevor

    I see a boy reading a book while skate boarding outside

    Is that Carson?

    What is he reading?

    What time of year is it?

    How is he doing that?

    Is it easy to read while skate boarding?

    what type of skate board is that?

    Is anyone with him?

    How long has he been doing that?

  13. Tierney

    I see a boy on a rib stick reading a book.

    1.What book is he reading?
    2.Is he going to get huart?
    3.Why is he is wereing two differnt crocs?
    4.Is it summer that day?
    5.Is he in his drive way?
    6.Is he in his neithbor hood?
    7.Dos he like to read?
    8.Dos he now he is not wereing the same color shoes?

  14. Natalie

    Hi Miss. Brooks
    In the picture i see a boy reading and standing on a rib stick.
    How does he stand up and read at the same time?
    Is it easy to do?
    Is it Carson?
    What book is he reading?
    What year is it?
    Where is he?
    How old is he?
    what time of year is it?
    where did he get the thing he is standing on?
    Where did he get his cloths?
    who is taking the picture?
    What day of the week is it?
    Where did he get his glasses?

  15. Cameron G

    I see a boy reading a book on a skatebord.

    Is that Carson?

    What book is that?

    What chapter is he on?

    What season is it?

    what type of skatebord is it?

    Is it in sumer?

  16. kyle r

    I see a boy looking at a book.
    What is he riding?
    What is he on?
    Where was this picture taken?
    Is it in the after noon or morning?

  17. cameron L.

    I see a kid on a skateboard reading a book.

    1. what is the name of the book?

    2. how old is the kid?

    3. were is the kid at ?

    4. is he at his house?

    5. what time of day is it?

    6. what is his name?

    7. what time is it?

    8. Is it summer or spring out?

    9. Is he moving or not?

    10. Is he at his friends hous?

    11. what nabor hood is he in?

    12. what chapter is he on?

    13. what kind of skate board is it?

    14. what is his favorite color?

  18. Hailee

    I see a boy riding a skateboard reading a book.

    1.What book is he reading?

    2.Were is he ?

    3.How old is the kid?

    4.What is the boys name?

    5.Is he at his house?

    6.Is it summer?

    7.What day is it?

    8.What time is it?

    9.Is he moving?

    10.Is he at his friends house?

    11.What nebornhod does he live in?

    12.What chapter is he on?

    13.What kind of skate board is it?

    14.Whats his favorite color?

  19. Paige

    Hi mrs Brooks I see Carson riding on a skateboard but while he’s skateboarding he’s reading.

    What book is he reading?
    What type of skateboard is that?
    Where is he?
    Does everyone where glasses?
    How old is he in that picture?
    Is this in Summer or Spring?
    Why is he whereing two different types of Crocs?
    How many pages are in this book?
    What is the book about?

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Thank you, Dana – be sure to come back and let us know how you’re using it – I’m always looking for new ideas, myself!
      Thanks for saying hello!
      Take care,

  20. Cecile Pelaez

    Excellent idea! I actually use an I-Phone/Television connector to show my class several PINS that I want to share with them, but are blocked from by our school’s servers. Love! Love!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Thanks, Cecile – great idea – connecting your iPhone. I’m a bit jealous – no iPhone for me, :(. Somedayyyyyyy!!!! Take care and thanks for stopping by and saying hello!
      Take care,

  21. Cindy

    Hi Suzy, Pinterest is blocked at my school as well, so I had to make a ppt for the pictures. I loved your idea but I am using it a little differently than you next year. I am using the pics as writing prompts for morning work. Our big assessment in 4th grade is writing in FL. After 2-3 weeks of modeling, I will post a picture and the kids will have a choice; write a descriptive paragraph or a narrative story using the picture. Then they can use that journal all year to inspire free writing.
    Thanks for all your inspiration!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Hi Cindy, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I love the idea of using the photos as writing prompts – students sometimes have a difficult time coming up with ideas, it should help them when they see the images. My friend Sharon Morris – her boards are HERE: has some visually-based writing boards that you might want to check out also. After seeing mine, she created some using the Empowering Writers strategies. I’m being trained in Empowering Writers later in the summer, and can’t wait to put her boards to use!

      I’m sorry Pinterest is blocked at your school! I hope that changes for you at some point. Good luck with your new fourth graders, and keep me posted!

      Take care,

  22. Sandra B

    Thanks for sharing this idea. I often use these kinds of pictures to inspire quick-writes (which the kids and I LOVE doing/sharing), and for writing descriptive paragraphs, but I find your use of the images for reading comp. strategies very intriguing. . . a must-try!

    Have you seen good transference of the skills/strategies in their responses to “texts” after doing the picture practice? I’m thinking you may have come up with a missing link here…. a way to build the skill in a slightly more concrete way before (while?) moving onto texts where they will need to build their own mental images on which to apply the comp. strategies.

    Now, through writing my response to you, you have me thinking about the “visualization” strategy in new ways. I may have taken it for granted before, but if kids can consciously build the types of images in their minds that you model via this activity when they are reading texts, they’ll have something more concrete to which they can apply the other strategies.

    Hmmmm….. Thanks for getting me thinking!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Hi Sandra, you’re quite welcome – and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

      I think the best part of this whole journey, is that for the first time, we have developed a much better understanding of what the reading skills and strategies are, AND how to apply them. The images absolutely take the (sometimes tricky) strategies to a more concrete level. They are engaging, and less intimidating for my students than a reading selection. When it comes to facing these same strategies in a reading assessment or activity, my students are better able to understand what is being asked of them.

      For example, we just had our end-of-year assessment for Reading Street. The question asked what generalizations the student could make about something in the story. Because we’ve done Generalizations with these images so often, my students were MUCH better able to understand and answer the question as compared to years past. Additionally, it has allowed me to become more effective in my teaching, because removing the reading from the lesson makes it easier to teach the skill and/or strategy. Some of them are VERY challenging – so using visual images makes it much more attainable for students.

      I have also been able to see some of these skills and strategies transfer over to my students’ writing. Using the Visualization strategy, for instance, I’m able to tell students to consider what they are visualizing in their mind before they write. They answer the same questions about what they see, hear, and would do when they draft their piece.

      The COOLEST part has been the last two weeks, when we really haven’t had the same opportunity to do this every day (the schedule gets crazy at the end of the year). I’ll show them a photo that I’ve taken, and ask their opinion as to what reading skill or strategy the photo could portray. The best part? There are so many acceptable answers for each photo, and the students are understanding this! It really sank in. I’m SO excited to start the year off doing this in the fall (I started in January this year). I’m getting ready to add about 80 more images (as soon as I can figure out which Skills & Strategies need more photos) in the coming days.

      Again, thanks for saying hi! I appreciate your insight and enthusiasm!

      Dream Big,

  23. Lauren

    I had another teacher share this with me today in his classroom, and I loved it! I cannot wait to implement it Monday! I am following you on Pinterest! I repinned these for easy access. Is that ok with you? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Awesome, Lauren! Pin away! Let me know how it works out in your classroom! Take care and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Take care,

  24. Sue

    Love this idea! I am not able to access pinterest from school, either, so I am going to use this opportunity to take my own pictures and let the students know more about me, or just use random pictures in life. I love the way you incorporated reading skills into this. I was thinking that the students could then use their main idea and details to create a writing piece. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Sue, you are very welcome – students have responded very well to this method – it has been very exciting!! I appreciate your stopping by and leaving a comment. Good luck and have a great school year!!
      Dream Big,

  25. Kim Figgins

    I found this site with the reading skills on it last year. I wanted to send it to a friend and cannot find the link to the pictures. Am I just missing it? I love the idea and.

  26. Patty

    I love this idea! Do you have a particular place to find images that work well with the different strategies?

    1. Suzy Brooks Post author

      Thanks for checking it out, Kylie! I just swung by your blog and loved the reading resources you have reviewed! Thank you for stopping by and for leaving your link! Happy New Year to you :).

      Dream Big,

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