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Spotlight on Strategies:They said what?!?!

Select an image for the unit of study that has at least two characters/animals. Create speech bubbles for them using post-its or annotating on the IWB. Ask students what they see, know and wonder about the scene, explaining that you want them to infer what the characters may have said to each other about what was happening. Students fill in speech bubbles and share in small groups to look for similarities and differences between the dialogues. Each group should share their favourite dialogue.

Big idea

If you ask a student what it takes to do well in a subject like history, they will probably say a good memory. Historians disagree. It's much more than that. "To historians, history is an argument about what facts should or shouldn't mean. Even when historians are able to piece together the basic story of what happened, they rarely agree about what an event means or what caused it." (Thinking Like a Historian - Wineburg). How do we help change students' perspectives? We can do that by putting them in a picture.

Overview of strategy

  • Ages:Early years, Primary & Secondary
  • Media type used:Image
  • Preparation time:Medium
  • Download strategy PDF


one image (with at least two characters/animals), paper, pen/pencil

  1. Select one image that corresponds with your topic, that contains a minimum of two characters or animals.
  2. Within the image, create speech bubbles through drawing or use post-it notes.
  3. Display the image to students and have them share what they see, know, and wonder about the scene.
  4. Explain that they will be inferring what the characters may have said to each other or in their minds about what was happening.
  5. Provide time for students to fill in the speech bubbles.
  6. Ask students to share their work in small groups looking for similarities and differences between the dialogues.
  7. Each group will select what they feel is the best dialogue representation to share with the whole class.
  8. Have designated students share with the whole class.
Sum it up

This strategy requires students to demonstrate understanding of the content using speech bubbles to provide context to an image. Students must use supporting evidence from their unit of study to make their inference.

More ideas
  • Have students take on the role of a character in the image and re-enact it using dialogue from speech bubbles.
  • Have students uses a series of images or their own drawings to create a comic strip.

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