Reading Strategies and Visuals


This is the visualization/infographic I created to have my students use before, during, and after reading the various print texts in my disciplinary text set (see previous blog post).

How did you select the images and digital platform for your project?  

I wanted to create an infographic for my students to use while reading the print texts included in my disciplinary text set, so I decided to use an infographic creation tool (that Karah showed me) to create a reading strategies checklist. Most of the images are simply clipart-type images that help to remind students what the words mean. In theory, ELLs would have a better understanding of what is on the strategies handout when there is text along with images that all mean the same thing. I also found an image of a number of books that I included to represent the large number of texts that can be approached using these strategies. The images that I included in my infographic were all images from the infographic creation tool’s collection.

Bio                articles-content-featured

In what ways did creating the visualization deepen your understanding of the topic in ways that reading alone might not have?

Creating a visualization really helped me to step into my students’ shoes. Just reading about reading strategies does not necessarily provide a good way to teach them, but creating a visualization, especially something like the checklist that I created, can act as a step in the right direction. I think simply reading about the strategies mostly provided me with a number of various lists of strategies to try to teach students before setting them free to read print text. However, by creating this handout, I can give students the freedom to start reading on their own with this handout as their guide. I also thought a bit more about order and process while creating this visualization. Before putting things together on a handout for my students I was not thinking too much about the different strategies that are best used at different stages in the reading process. For instance, there are specific strategies that work best before reading, others that work well during reading activities, and other types of strategies that work well in bringing everything together after reading. Overall, creating this visualization somewhat deepened my understanding of my topic and tasks, but it mostly helped me think of this type of knowledge and learning in a new and different way.


How has the process influenced your thinking on visualization as a vehicle for learning and/or how might you use visualization in your future teaching?

I really like the idea of using visualizations in my future teaching. There are so many different ways to go with visualizations, and creating them does not have to be difficult, as this creation tool allowed me to see. I think that allowing students to use these types of materials (as well as to create them for various projects) would help reach more types of learners, such as visual learners. I also have not always thought of visualization as its own vehicle for learning, but rather, a companion or different representation for the ‘main’ learning. However, creating my own visualization has shown me that different things can be learned through the creation of a visual project that cannot be learned through other means. I would like to have my own future students do something like this. I would maybe ask them to create an infographic and/or graphic organizer to summarize what they learned in a particular unit. This project could be both a summative assessment and a study tool for themselves and their classmates. Hopefully they would also learn something new about the topic along the way. 🙂

See Reading Strategies and Content Area Reading Strategies for more information.


Text Set for Biology

This is a (likely partial) disciplinary text set for a Biology classroom, and a unit (or, mini-unit) on cell division. This text set could potentially be used for my practicum students, as one of the classes I observe is a 10th grade Biology classroom with many ESL students. The collection of texts I have gathered might be used to decidedly supplement a textbook unit on cell division, including meiosis and mitosis. Used in conjunction with textbook materials, these materials would provide additional information and additional practice with reading information that is already somewhat familiar, multiple means of representation by including some videos (including some more ‘culturally relevant’ music videos), and a quick look at a recent news article on Down Syndrome, the result of a cell division error.

Collection of Texts

Print Resources:

  • Shyamala, I. (2014, February 3). Building blocks of life. ASU – Ask a Biologist. Retrieved March 12, 2017 from
    • This text is written around several key questions/concepts associated with cell division, such as ‘how do cells know when to divide?’ or ‘mitosis cell division.’ This text provides some nice summaries of the key concepts of such a cell unit, as well as an example video of cell division and a number of graphics. The article provides a nice introduction and/or review to the topic.
    • Text complexity: One of the quantitative measurement tools puts this text at about a 9th grade level, for students between the ages of 13 and 15. I believe, with the proper support, this text could be accessible to 9th or 10th grade ESL Biology students. I think the measurements given are mostly accurate; I might have placed it at a bit of a lower grade level due to the helpful graphics, but because the target audience includes many ESL students, I think it would work out well. In terms of qualitative complexity, following one of the online measurement rubrics would place this text at about a moderately complex level. This placement would be due to such article features as supplementary graphics that support understanding, the need for some discipline-specific knowledge, a generally sequential order, an explicit purpose, and mainly contemporary vocabulary. Overall, I believe, quantitatively and qualitatively, this text would be well-suited to 9th or 10th grade Biology students (those who are language learners and those who are not).
      • Vocabulary that should be supported before and/or during the reading of this article: trillion, skin (as in, skinning your knee), regulate, replicas, maintenance, chromosomes, genetic diversity, daughter cells
    • I believe this text could easily be used for either an introductory activity to cell division, or a way to review most of what has been learned in a unit on cell division. This task is a bit complex, as the introduction to a topic (as well as a review activity) is very important. Because of this, having a more accessible text may end up working out well in the end. Using this text as an introduction would make it serve as background knowledge, and using it as a review activity would spark background knowledge learned throughout the unit. This is also where my inquiry blog topic comes in: content-area reading strategies. With this in mind, I would work to model reading strategies of purposeful highlighting/underlining and writing summary sentences before having students read on their own.




Additional Print Resources:


Cell Division Graphic

Multimedia Resources:

  • Amoeba Sisters. (2016, April 14, 2016). Mitosis: The amazing cell process that uses division to multiply! Retrieved from
    • This video provides an introduction to the cell division process of mitosis. There’s also a brief mention of cancer being uncontrolled cell growth, and the video contains many helpful graphics. The video discusses the full cell cycle, not just the mitosis process, but it also goes into detail about all the stages of mitosis, including practical visual representations.
    • Text complexity: Due to the video nature of this source, it is rather difficult to comment on the quantitative complexity of this resource. Focusing on the qualitative complexity, though, this text would likely be found somewhere between slightly complex and moderately complex, looking at the online rubric. The order is fairly predictable, most language used is common vocabulary, the graphics are helpful and go along with the spoken words, there are mostly straightforward, simple sentences and concepts, and much background knowledge is not needed, due in part to the introductory nature of this resource. There is also closed captioning available with this video, which could be a great support to ESL students or other students who struggle with solely auditory input.
      • Vocabulary that should be supported before and/or during the viewing of this video: damage, nucleus, chromosomes, duplicate, centromere, acronym, cytoplasm
    • This resources could be used at any number of times in a unit on cell division, but I think it would be especially helpful for students to view this on their own or in a very small group to connect prior learning. Because this text seems to be fairly accessible, especially to 9th and 10th grade Biology students, they should be able to use knowledge learned in the unit so far to fully understand this video, mostly on their own.

Additional Multimedia Resources:


3 Copies of Chromosome 21 – Error in Cell Division

Culturally Relevant Resources:

  • Crosta, P. (2016, July 4). Down Syndrome: Facts, symptoms, and characteristics. Retrieved from
    • This article provides a recent news discussion of Down Syndrome and its symptoms and characteristics. There is an explanation of the causes, as well as a brief discussion of characteristics a person with Down Syndrome will be likely to have. A ‘fast facts’ section toward the beginning provides key concepts for readers to take note of during the rest of the article.
    • Text complexity: One quantitative measurement tool put this article at a 12th grade level for 17- to 18-year-olds (excluding the final section on testing). This is a bit high, but because it would be used toward the end of the unit and would have lots of support, I think it could still be do-able for the target audience. I personally might have ranked this article a little lower than a 12th grade level, due to the number of terms defined inside the article. However, there are a number of unfamiliar words, so I do agree it is complex. In terms of qualitative complexity, according to the rubric, this text could possibly be classified as ‘very complex.’ In terms of text structure, it might only be ‘moderately complex,’ as the organization is very logical and well-laid out. However, much of the vocabulary is academic, even if much of it is defined in the article. The purpose is fairly straightforward, but much background knowledge is required to properly understand this article (it is my hope with having students read this article toward the end of a unit on cell division that they would have that needed background knowledge). Overall, this text is rather complex on both quantitative and qualitative accounts, meaning much support would be necessary for this text to accessible to 9th or 10th grade Biology students.
      • Vocabulary that should be supported before and/or during the reading of this news article: impairments, genetic material, sperm/egg cells, cognitive development, profile, indicative, abnormalities, diagnosis, miscarriage, fetal
    • This article would likely be used toward the end of a unit on cell division, as a kind of culturally relevant connection to what we have been learning in class. This would also serve as a sort of introduction to various abnormalities cell division errors can cause. (Note: I would potentially choose to eliminate the final portion of this article on diagnostic testing/screenings, as there are a number of vocabulary words that would be rather difficult, and this section does not directly pertain to our unit topic of cell division.) I would have students read this text in small groups, and circle any words they didn’t know (outside of the vocabulary words we would have discussed prior to the reading of this article). Students would discuss those words and try to work together to figure out their meanings. The class would discuss all these words after every group has finished reading the article. This activity, along with reminders to write summary sentences and highlight/underline with purpose, connects well with my blog topic of reading strategies. Because the activity with this text is aimed at being well-supported, the greater complexity of the text should end up working out alright.

Additional Culturally Relevant Resources (music videos):


Thank you for reading my blog post, and I hope some of these resources are helpful! 🙂


Where I Am, and Where I Want to Go

For this inquiry blog, I will be exploring various reading strategies for adolescent ELLs to use when reading content-area literature. I believe this is important, as ELLs often struggle with content area literacy and learning. We have learned in TESOL methods that ELLs have a hard time with things like academic vocabulary; and the intense load of learning a new language, a new culture, and new content material all at the same time can be rather overwhelming. I wish to discover ways to help my future students navigate content area texts in order to have higher success rates in content area classes.

First, I already know a bit about reading strategies. I know that pre-teaching key vocabulary terms and re-reading the text are both useful strategies. Much of what I know at this point are strategies for elementary ELLs. Some of their strategies include reading text aloud, processing it in groups, and creating visual representations of the text. While some of those strategies, along with the use of graphic organizers, could probably transfer to adolescent education, I believe there are strategies out there that will be especially beneficial to older ELLs. I do also know that, as hinted at above, ELLs struggle with content area knowledge and literature, and those are often areas where success could have great impacts on what these students choose to do with their lives.


I would most like to learn reading strategies for ELLs to use in adolescent content area classes. I also have the following questions: How can I use these strategies in my own classroom? What are some examples of practical implementations of these strategies? How might these various strategies positively impact my students’ experiences in content area classes and what might those positive experiences mean for their futures?

Collection of Resources:

Reading Strategies

Reading Skills

TESOL Strategies

Struggles in Content Areas

Strategies for Middle School ELLs

Welcome to My Professional Blog

My name is Ella Hotchkiss and I am currently studying to be an ESL teacher at Houghton College. In reality, I am a TESOL and Spanish double major, and  I wish to possibly be able to use both of my majors together by working with Spanish-speaking students who are learning English. Even if that does not end up happening, though, I would say that having learned a second language will be helpful for me in teaching students who are likely learning English as a second language (or third or fourth, etc.).

One of my goals is to become more confident as a teacher. I already love working with kids and seeing them finally grasp that concept that had been escaping them. However, I am not yet that confident in delivering a lesson. I hope to gain more confidence during my second practicum placement this semester. I would also like to learn how to better connect with all my students and love them for who they are. In terms of career goals, I would like to become a culturally relevant ESL teacher who works to connect with all my students. The following resources are helpful in starting to think about culturally relevant pedagogy.

 Culturally Relevant Pedagogy