A Literacyhead is someone who is intensely serious about exercising creative literacy, making connections across multiple literacies, pursuing thoughtful literacy as an individual and as a teacher, and constantly searching for ideas. Literacyheads may have expertise in different areas of literacy, but all are committed to children's literacy, passionate about the arts, incessant thinkers, and display a propensity for having fun.
Literacyhead combines reading and writing research with visual art to create online lessons that are as instructionally sound as they are beautiful. Literacyhead includes lessons to support students during read aloud, writing workshop, tier two vocabulary instruction, and more. From original comic strips written to illustrate mini-lesson topics during writing workshop to read aloud lessons featuring interior illustrations from new and classic picture books, Literacyhead can help you teach the standards with less work and more student engagement.
We wanted to help teachers nurture their creative lives while they meet the demands of high accountability to which they are subject.
We saw that art naturally differentiates lessons leading to more student engagement and less time planning.
We love children's books and art, and the connections between the two make us positively giddy.
We believe that the arts are a basic component of a healthy life, not an afterthought or a bonus if there is time or funding.
We needed to engage ourselves in work that is original and about which we are passionate.
We wanted to help teachers take care of themselves by lightening their lesson planning load a bit.
We enjoy the challenge of camouflaging solid literacy research in lessons that appear to be just looking at and talking about art and literature.
We believe that art is the most promising catalyst for social change.
We wanted to make something beautiful.
We want children to begin to think that they need and deserve beauty in their lives.
We want to give teachers a springboard for extending their own creativity.
We wanted to do something hard and scary.
A lot of people told us we couldn't do it.
Literacyhead is not a straightjacket. It is not limited by our ideas, but a place for you to run with your own creative interpretations and applications. We offer you some places to start as you think about the resources we assemble, but we invite you to discard all our suggestions and break all our "rules." If you disagree with some aspect of this magazine or some application we have suggested, please vary our work in ways that align with your philosophies of teaching, literacy, and life. Our "lessons" are intentionally general; we do not offer step-by-step guidelines for teaching with our content. You fill in the blanks with what you know about yourself as an educator and your students as learners.
Each Literacyhead Writing Lesson brings you a complete writing workshop. We feature four images as mentor "texts" that illustrate the focus of the lesson, along with conversation prompts and text excerpts to support you as you connect the parts of the lesson throughout your writing workshop.
Each Literacyhead Reading Lesson is designed around a featured picture book, which you can read aloud to children or let children read in shared, guided, or independent reading contexts.
We carefully develop reading comprehension lessons that present a theme that pushes students to think deeply about the story. The questions invite conversation around a particular big idea, but the articulation of the theme or the focus of your classroom will vary based on the experiences students bring to the dialogue. We select a theme to anchor a conversation, but this does not imply that our focus theme is the "only" or the "best" theme to explore. Our intent is for you to have thoughtfully designed, instructionally sound, highly engaging comprehension lessons without spending hours working on lesson plans.
"Before Reading" invites students to engage with four images, or "Art Activators," and accompanying discussion questions. These images and questions activate student background knowledge and initiate thinking related to the theme the book presents.
The "During Reading" portion of the lesson includes a series of illustrations from the text with specific questions to prompt student discussion during the encounter with the story. We thoughtfully craft comprehension questions that can further student understanding of the ongoing theme, with each question taking student thinking deeper.
Finally, "After Reading" presents four more images that extend the book's theme even further and pull together the student explorations during the previous discussions.
Literacyhead's graphic artists create custom tools designed to make your teaching life easier and more beautiful. These tools include materials such as graphic organizers, posters, and sketches from feature illustrators, and more. Literacyhead members receive access to pdf files for downloading and printing to share with students.
In our "Visual Vocabulary" we select five words from a featured book in our Reading Lessons and provide four images that illustrate the meaning of each word. In accordance with vocabulary research, three of the images are examples of the word's meaning and the last one is a "non-example." In addition, we present a definition simple enough for students to remember and really "get" what the word means. We intend for the definitions to be exceedingly student-friendly, a far cry from dictionary definitions filled with other unfamiliar words or defined in alternative contexts. Finally, we offer three sentences that illustrate how the word may be used in context. For added engagment, you can use the View/Hide toggle to reveal the definition after students have inferred it from the sentences and the images.
Each Literacyhead Comprehension Lesson teaches a particular comprehension strategy by first illlustrating the strategy through visual art. For example, to teach prediction, teachers can first introduce the term by letting students look at a series of four pieces of art which invite students to predict what will happen next. Next, each lesson includes four picture book text excerpts which also illustrate or offer practice opportunities related to the strategy. Practicing comprehension strategies with visual art first can make it easier for students to apply them in texts.
Coaching Articles: Designed with literacy and instructional coaches in mind, our Coaching Articles present a book review, protocol, activity, video, or other "text" that supports your work with teachers. These articles offer coaching suggestions that are relatively quick to implement and will give you a steady source of fresh ideas that will expand your repertoire of strategies for supporting teachers' job-imbedded professional learning.
Book Reviews: Literacyhead's themed Book Reviews present ten children's books that connect around an idea. We want to recommend books that invite you and your students to think about books in new ways. Each book in this section has an "Order" button for one-click access to vendors outside Literacyhead. Literacyhead is an Amazon Afiliate Site, which means that we get a small percentage of any purchases you make from links in our site.
Writing Prompts: Our Writing Prompts are individual pieces of art from different artists. Sometimes, the images are narrative. Other times, we push students to stretch their thinking by offering them opportunities to write in response to abstract art or other art that does not obviously lend itself to narration. Often, our Writing Prompts include images that support writing in different genres. As with all the lessons on Literacyhead, our intent is for you to adapt your use of these images in whatever creative ways you need to support your writing instruction.
Teaching Articles: These articles offer you the opportunity to think of your creative self outside the classroom. These articles present grown-up books, movies, product reviews, and other offerings that invite you to think about the ways art influences our lives. This is your varied source for information that will help you nurture your creative side, whether you are crafting lesson plans or writing a sonnet.
Comics: We have two regular comic strips, "Pen & Ink" and "According to Charlie." Both will help you explore with students various dimensions of the writing process. In most comics, the cartoon characters are immersed in writing that relates specifically to a Writing Lesson on Literacyhead. Always, their explorations represent the Yin and the Yang of the thinking work and the writing work that writers seek to balance in their writing processes. We designed our cartoons to present a little literacy content without being didactic. We assume that you will use the comic strips to launch further classroom conversation about the theme the cartoon explores. We hope that you will make Pen, Ink, Charlie, and Henrietta regular guests in your writing workshop mini-lessons.