When you think about reading a book, more than likely you default to the concept of reading words on a page. However, there is another technique to support literacy that ENL (English as a New Language) teachers have been utilizing for years – wordless books. Teachers and students look at pictures, talk to each other and create the narration from what they see. Second grade teachers and Dual Language teachers at Sleepy Hollow’s W.L. Morse School received a series of wordless books to assist all learners.
“Wordless books foster creativity and call for students to make inferences, predictions, and understand character development,” said ENL teacher Janese Flecha who introduced these skills to her students last year. “Students build upon what they know and learn from each other.”
Morse Principal Torrance Walley and his ENL team attended a three-day institute at Columbia University’s Teachers’ College last year and returned to the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns fueled with ideas and goals for the entire student body. Principal Walley secured funding from his school budget to purchase the materials.
Flecha and the ENL team plan to conduct professional development with a broad group of classroom teachers this month so that they can introduce the books to all students. Then they will create a book with narration based on their discussion together, reading each portion daily. By becoming the narrators, the students will improve their language skills, predictions, inferencing, and comprehension of character development.
“All students can benefit from a wordless book to improve their oral skills. This is a vital tool for native speakers and English language learners and can be developed throughout their years in school,” said Flecha.
The wordless books also add more diversity to the classroom libraries as they touch upon real world topics and social and emotional learning. During Black History Month, Flecha will read Unspoken: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole.