What’s New?

We are grateful to be the recipient of an American Rescue Plan Grant through the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. This funding has been used for the development and installation of our new website.

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts

(If you are wondering about this portrait of Beth, it was created by her granddaughter Haley for the “N page” in her Image-Making alphabet book.)

New Instructional Resources

New Picturing Writing Setting Techniques Poster

Picturing Writing: Setting Techniques

Check out our new Picturing Writing: Setting Techniques Poster! This new, slimmer poster will take up less space in the classroom while still offering 18 different examples of simple texturing techniques that can be used to enhance crayon resist paintings. The poster examples, arranged by techniques that can be used for images of sky, land, and water, include examples of watercolor & salt, plastic wrap prints, sandpaper rubbing, scratch technique, sponge and splatter painting, tempera & watercolor dabbing, straw painting, and an all-time favorite among students, tissue clouds.

“Why bother using these additional art techniques?” one might ask. The answer: the more detail students put into their paintings, the more access they have to descriptive language.

Find this new poster on the PW Animal Trifold and PW Animal Story pages.

New PW Mentor Texts Aligned with Social Studies & ELA Standards

Created at the request of South Dakota Principal Jennifer Knecht at the Platte-Geddes Elementary School, Beth developed a Picturing Writing South Dakota Landforms Unit and Workshop for fourth grade teachers. To support teachers and students, she created two different mentor texts, each aligned with fourth-grade Social Studies Standards, English Language Arts Standards, and Art Education Standards. Each book contains crayon resist images of well-known South Dakota landforms and bodies of water. Each painting is accompanied by a poem as well as a Did you know… informational text section.

If You’re From South Dakota… offers a continuous poem that runs through the entire book. Using a repeated refrain, each page focusing on a different special place in South Dakota. Each poem, written to accompany a crayon resist painting of that place, is rich with sensory description. This serves to draw readers “into the picture” so they can experience each place “as if they were there.” South Dakota Landforms provides examples of several different student-friendly poetic forms that contain both factual information and descriptive language. On the About the Artist/Writer page at the back of each book, Beth writes, “By creating this book, I discovered what a special place South Dakota is.” Beth hopes these books will inspire students to create their own Picturing Writing books about special places in their state.

Check out the new If You’re From South Dakota and South Dakota Landforms books.

South Dakota Landforms ... Original Paintings and Poems by Beth Olshansky

New Image-Making Fourth-Grade State Regions Project

This year, once again, Beth worked with a local fourth-grade team to further develop an Image-Making integrated curriculum unit that addresses social studies, science, and language arts standards in a NH Regions Project (transferable to any state).

If You’re From the Seacoast Region… by Beth Olshansky offers an example of a social studies, science, and language arts integration appropriate for fourth grades across the country. Incorporated into a study of the regions of any state, this Image-Making trifold includes fact-based collage images of a region as well as an animal found in that region. The written text includes a stanza poem, rich with sensory description, designed to enable the reader to experience that region, and informational text about the animal. Two versions are available: Version 1 (v1) includes bulleted facts and version 2 (v2) includes straight informational text in paragraph form. The About the Artist/Writer page on the back panel offers an example of a reflective piece of writing.

Check out this new seagull trifold along with the loon trifold.

New Image-Making Research-Based Animal Trifold Teacher’s Guide

We are happy to announce the completion of a brand new Who Am I? Research-Based Animal Trifold Teacher’s Guide, written to align with the instructional video by the same name. This comprehensive manual provides teachers with step-by-step instructions for creating Image-Making Within The Writing Process® research-based animal trifolds in classrooms K on up. It includes lessons on how to: conduct visual as well as written research; build community word banks; create a portfolio of hand-painted textured papers; design simple, compelling collage images; and embed facts into both image and text as students create their Who Am I? guessing trifolds. This manual includes all the writing masters as well as a list of recommended mentor texts. It will be distributed to those attending a hands-on workshop or as part of the instructional video package.

Who Am I Research-Based Animal Trifold

Check out our new Image-Making Research-Based Animal Trifolds that are now available as mentor texts for this unit!

New Image-Making Research-Based
Animal Mentor Text

“Every summer we go to the lake to visit Nina and Grampy. Last summer Nina handed us clipboards and told us to write down all the animals we saw at the lake. We made a list and then we chose the animals we each wanted to learn more about.”

That was the very beginning of how At the Lake… came into being. This foldout guessing book by Ayla and Haley Pignataro contains 22 collage images made from hand-painted textured papers. Inspired by the work of Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, each page offers visual and written clues about an animal at the lake, in this case, a collage of the animal’s habitat and a fact-based I poem. After reading the final “give-away clue,” the reader is invited to guess. Open each foldout page to find a carefully crafted collage image of the animal in its habitat. Each animal collage is accompanied by either a magic poem or an acrostic phrase poem. Experience for yourself how words can make the animal appear to “come alive!”

Updated PW Time of Day Manual

Our Picturing Writing Time of Day Unit teachers manual has been updated to include new informational text pieces about why we have day and night and how the lengths of day and night change with the seasons. These new additions (taught through pictures and words) align with English Language Arts Standards for informative writing as well as the Next Generation Science Standards. With the inclusion of these new informational text pieces, the Time of Day book now includes 3 genres of writing: descriptive, informative, and reflective (opinion piece). The updated manual also includes new masters for teachers of kindergarten and first-grade students.

Picturing Writing Time of Day Unit Teacher Manual

New PW Time of Day Mentor Texts

We now have several new Time of Day mentor texts to help teach the updated Picturing Writing Time of Day Unit. The Sun’s Day and the Seasons by Beth Olshansky provides a model for using strong verbs in order to make each picture “come alive.” It also contains examples of the new informational text pieces in both pictures and words.

The Sun’s Day and the Seasons by Jackson Tongbua provides a student example of the updated time of day unit. While Jackson created his book during first grade, the writing level is more closely aligned with second- or third-grade writing.

The Sun's Day and the Seasons by Jackson Tonghua

The Sun’s Day, created by Haley Pignataro, offers a well-crafted example for kindergarteners and their teachers of the time of day book with its simplified text (which focuses on “doing words” or strong verbs and simplified informational text piece and opinion pieces).

Painting the Sky, created by Callie Barnea, provides a strong example of a first-grade time of day book, appropriately adapted for that grade level. Callie’s vibrant art and well-crafted descriptive sentences do indeed make her paintings come alive!

Painting the Sky

Time of Day Mentor Texts and Posters Translated into Spanish!

When Holyoke School District decided to offer Picturing Writing as a key part of its summer school program, we were excited for those 256 students. When we found out that a portion of the program was to be offered in Spanish as a part of their Spanish Immersion Program, we rolled up our sleeves to work with them on translating some of our time of day mentor texts and posters. Thanks to Holyoke Public Schools’ Jenn Albury, we now have several time of day mentor texts available in Spanish. Check them out at https://picturingwriting.org/picturing-writing/time-of-day-unit/.

Time of Day Spanish mentor text covers

PW Mentor Texts and Posters in Many Languages

We now have time of day mentor texts available in English, Spanish, French, Lakhota, and Inuktitut. This serves as a reminder that because pictures are a universal language, the Picturing Writing process can be adapted to any language, any culture.

A Day on the Prairie
The Suns Day Mentor Text in English, French, and Spanish
Times of Day Northern poster

Instructional Videos Now Available Online!

While many of our instructional videos were originally produced as DVDs, we now have them available for purchase electronically. (DVDs are still available for most of our units.) Check out our selection of instructional videos at https://picturingwriting.org/videos/.

New Image-Making and Picturing Writing Instructional Videos

After three years in production, the Who Am I? Image-Making Research-Based Animal Trifold Instructional Video is finally complete! Filmed in Victoria Hanson’s third-grade classroom at Newmarket Elementary School, this video invites viewers into the classroom to watch the entire process unfold. With over 6 hours of content, this instructional video contains a comprehensive overview as well as every lesson necessary to facilitating this project in the classroom. It is available as part of an instructional video package that also contains a teachers manual, sample trifolds, Image-Making station labels, and additional support materials to insure successful implementation.

Watch Video Clip: IM Research-Based Animal Trifolds

In a continuing effort to provide quality instructional materials to teachers, Beth has created a 30-minute narrated visual overview of the Picturing Writing Research-Based Animal Story Unit. Drawing from a wide range of photographs of students engaged in the PW animal story unit, Beth walks teachers step-by-step through the entire research-based narrative process which combines informational reading and writing with narrative reading and writing. This new visual resource is available as part of a Picturing Writing Research-Based Animal Story Instructional Video Package.

Watch Video Clip: PW Research-Based Animal Stories

Virtual Picturing Writing Workshops Receive Positive Feedback!

In response to COVID-19, we began offering virtual Picturing Writing workshops and weeklong summer institutes in June of 2020. During 2020-2021, we have offered virtual afterschool workshop series in several states as well as a virtual summer institutes in South Carolina and North Dakota. We have received very positive comments on the virtual workshop experience.

What Teachers Say About Our Virtual Workshops

I can’t thank you enough for such an excellent workshop. It was honestly one of the best I have ever participated in, a beautiful combination of art and writing. The high quality mentor texts, vocabulary and writing development, embedded content, and S.E.L. make this a highly useful project-based learning approach suitable for a wide range of learners. The remote format worked very well. The instruction was high quality as were the materials shipped prior to the workshop.   – Sara, EL K-5, Rutland, MA


I thought it worked wonderfully remotely! I loved how you modeled both the art and writing workshop so we could experience the power behind the process ourselves. I am very excited to try integrating your ideas with other subjects for my class next year.   – Breanna, grade 3, Tacoma, WA

This program is exceptionally well-crafted. I was impressed with how organized the materials were, and how well the activities worked to pair art and writing. I am not always a big fan of virtual classes, but this was very convenient and as meaningful as if in person. It was great to get to work directly with Beth!   – Derek, grades 9-12, Kindred, ND

This has been AMAZING!! I am so extremely excited to do this with my students this coming school year! I cannot wait to share what I have learned. My EL students will definitely be engaged in this process and it will be so valuable for them.   – Stacey, EL K-5, Fargo, ND

Honestly, I loved the virtual format. It was nice to see everyone’s piece in the gallery walk and I really liked the breakout rooms!   – Louise, grade 2, Bismarck, ND

I liked the interactive art and writing opportunities. Also, I appreciate the online learning format as it allowed me to attend in a much more economical way in comparison to attending an in-person workshop outside my local area.   – Tiffany, grade 3, Springfield, OR

I felt Beth did a really nice job navigating between the different views and settings in zoom to make this virtual workshop very interactive.   – Natasha, K-8 EL, Eau Claire, WI

LOVED this professional development! My favorite in all 10 years of my career. It taught me strategies to engage my students in writing. I feel more confident in my artistic ability!   – Sarah, grade 4, Dorchester, SC

Beth Has Been Zooming Into Classrooms!

Picturing Writing professional development can include hands-on teacher training as well as follow-up support during classroom implementation. During  the pandemic, Beth zoomed daily into several classrooms—some completely remote and some hybrid—to facilitate art and writing lessons with the students. Feedback from teachers, students, and parents has been very positive, many commenting on the importance of hands-on learning to support students’ emotional well-being.

Funding Opportunities

Funding Available for Picturing Writing and Image-Making Professional Development and Materials through ESSER I, II, lll Funds.

Because Picturing Writing and Image-Making are evidence-based literacy models, schools and districts can use ESSER l, II, or III FUNDS to cover costs of professional development as well as all art and instructional materials needed to address learning loss or unfinished learning. Take advantage of this unique funding opportunity for training teachers in these engaging standards-based, integrated curriculum units of study that also align with many Social-Emotional Learning Competencies. These proven, art-based literacy models offer fabulous summer school and after-school programming as well as rigorous, engaging learning throughout the school year. Our research demonstrates that a wide range of students, especially at-risk learners, make significant gains when regularly participating in these hands-on, highly scaffolded interventions.

Additionally, professional development and materials can be funded through ongoing Title I, II, III, IV-A, and V Funds.

For those whose districts offer graduate credit course reimbursement, our graduate credit options through Southern New Hampshire University create the opportunity for teachers to take Picturing Writing and Image-Making as a graduate credit course. Credit is available for hands-on training as well as classroom implementation and coaching. Email Beth at [email protected] to learn more.

Ten-Minute Video Overview

Prepared for the National ESEA Conference, Beth offers a 10-minute narrated overview of the Picturing Writing and Image-Making processes using a montage of classroom photographs interspersed with video clips of students speaking about their experiences.

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