Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Picture This!

Stephanie Humphries


Given a prompt, the student develops a theme using four sequential pictures with words that correlate to the pictures.


The student writes stories about experiences, people, objects, or events.


- Dry erase board or chalkboard
- Overhead projector
- Dry erase markers
- Felt-tipped pens
- Pencils (class set)
- Class set of four-blocked writing template (See attachment.)
- Class set of First Grade Writing Rubric. (See attachment.)


1. Select a subject in which students have had direct experience, or attach this writing activity to an available learning experience.
2. Make one transparency of a response sheet divided into four boxes.
3. Copy a class set of the four-box response sheet. (Students can learn to make their own response sheet by folding a letter-size paper lengthwise, then widthwise.)
4. Copy a class set of the scoring rubric.


NOTE: This lesson uses a writing format and rubric designed to provide an orderly flow in writing instruction from kindergarten through fifth grade. Kindergarten uses pictures only. First grade adds phrases and then sentences to the pictures. Third grade eliminates the pictures, moving them from the paper to the -mind's eye.- This sequence, as well as the approach described under -assessment,- is designed to lay a foundation for level 2 writing using the Six Traits of Writing developed for -Florida Writes!-

1. The teacher provides the students with experiences related to the theme. This ensures that students have experienced actual hands-on material from which to draw their responses. For example, our school had a school-wide -living history- festival which allowed children to see and participate in many kinds of pioneer skills and crafts.
2. The teacher and students brainstorm ideas relating to the theme through a simple -word web- which the teacher draws on the board.
3. The teacher reads aloud a prompt relating to the theme.
4. Using the overhead projector, the teacher models the four-point organization format, drawing from the class-developed word web for examples.
5. The teacher begins modeling by pointing out four key words for organization - -First,- -Next,- -Then,- -Last.- These words are used at the primary level because they work for both narrative and expository responses; therefore, students will readily be able to transition naturally to intermediate writing experiences which distinguish between narrative and expository.
6. The teacher then uses drawings and words to explain ideas, using her own verbal language to model expressive skills for students.
7. The teacher poses questions to elicit responses from the students which analyze the teacher's writing using the First Grade Writing Rubric (in File).
8. The teacher hands out the four-block format to the students (can be as simple as folding a page in four parts).
9. As the students work on their own papers, the teacher reviews and points out the four key organization words.
10. The teacher reminds students to express their ideas using both pictures and words.
11. The students draw and write independently.
12. Collect students' writings.
13. Evaluate work using the First Grade Writing Rubric. (We have stick-on miniatures that go right on the paper as shown in the attached sample papers.)


1. The first graders will be assessed on their organization of expressive language (-writing-) using the First Grade Writing Rubric.
2. The rubric is designed to assess appropriate first grade skills that will translate to success with intermediate writing rubrics which measure voice, development, organization, conventions, word choice, and sentence fluency (-Florida Writes!- and -Creating Writers- rubrics).
3. Students receive 1-3 points for each of three skills:
a. Writing shows sequence of events or continuity between ideas (prelude to organization and voice)
b. Inventive spelling is used (prelude to conventions and word choice).
c. There is a correlation between pictures and words (Prelude to development and sentence fluency).
4. Each of the three criteria is assigned a 1-3 and all are totalled. Representative scored papers are attached. Overall scores are determined as follows:
8 - 9 points = 3
5 - 7 points = 2
2 - 4 points = 1
0 - 1 points = 0

5. Anchor papers (sample graded papers) are included in the File. Teacher assessments for these papers are as follows:
Paper A: Score 3. All topics in the pictures relate to things that early Americans did. Spelling is inventive and accurate. There is a strong correlation between the pictures and the descriptive words in all four cells.
Paper B: Score 3. The four pictures relate to the topic, although some verbal questioning was needed to define the subjects drawn in cells 1 and 2. Spelling is inventive and generally accurate.There is a strong correlation between pictures and words.
Paper C: Score 1. With questioning, the student was able to describe the four pictures, but without distinction between cells 2 and 3. Inventive spelling is poor. Writing does not correlate to the pictures.


This writing format and scoring rubric are part of a K - 5 writing program specifically targeted to success on the Florida Writes! test as it exists as of December 1999. The K - 5 sequence will be available after 4/30/00 at

Web Links

Web supplement for Picture This!
Northwest regional Educational Laboratory, Six Traits of Writing

Attached Files

Anchor papers (three scored papers)     File Extension: pdf

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