Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Considering "Charles": Pictograms, Annotations, Reading Strategies, and Multimodal Responses

Literacy Practices

K20 Center, Jane Baber, Gage Jeter, Jennifer K. Lubke, Lesli Dabney | Published: July 18th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 90 minutes


In this lesson focused on literacy practices, students engage in a variety of reading strategies. Students consider their reading processes before discovering annotation techniques, and then read and annotate a short story and craft a multimodal response.

Essential Question(s)

How do readers make sense of texts? 



Students create a reading pictogram concerning how they make sense of what they read.


Students explore annotation strategies, including Beers's and Probst's Signposts.


Students examine pictograms for evidence of reading strategies: clarifying, evaluating, connecting, visualizing, predicting, and questioning.


Students read and annotate Shirley Jackson's short story "Charles," applying Signposts and other reading strategies.


Students write, design, and share multimodal responses to "Charles" and reflect on their reading processes.


  • Charles by Shirley Jackson (attached; 1 per student)

  • Writing materials

  • White copy paper


Ask students the following question: How do you make sense of what you read? Ask students to think and respond briefly in writing, and then share their thoughts with a classmate.

Next, ask students to define the term/concept pictogram, relying on their prior knowledge and experiences. Students should have an idea that pictures will be involved.

Distribute white copy paper and ask students to draw pictures of what goes on in their minds as they read. Provide them with art supplies and allow some time for students to draw.

Encourage students to share their ideas with you, their peers, and the whole class.


To transition into the Explore section, ask students, "What does it mean to annotate?" After a brief discussion, ask, "Why is it important to re-read or re-visit text?" Encourage students to share their responses.

Visit Brent Peterson's "Notice and Note Lessons" video playlist:

If devices are available, students can explore these videos individually or in pairs/groups. If not, you can show the videos to the whole class.

Utilizing the I Notice, I Wonder instructional strategy, ask students to take notes on what they notice and wonder as they watch the videos.

After watching, students should have a surface-level understanding of the following Signposts:

  • Aha Moments

  • Contrasts and Contradictions

  • Again and Again

  • Memory Moments

  • Words of the Wiser

  • Tough Questions

Assure students that they will use these Signposts later in the lesson when they read a short story.


Have students revisit their pictograms from the Engage section.

Ask students, again, what reading strategies they use. During the conversation, guide students toward the following strategies that many readers use:

  • Clarifying

  • Evaluating

  • Connecting

  • Visualizing

  • Predicting

  • Questioning

Ask students to consider if any of these strategies showed up in their pictogram (or now), how, and why (or why not).


Have students read and annotate the short story with the handout Charles by Shirley Jackson. Students can read individually, in pairs/groups, or as a whole class.

As students read, encourage them to look for signposts and annotate to clarify, evaluate, connect, visualize, predict, and question.


Students will write, design, and share multimodal responses to the short story using the following list of prompts:


  • Today I learned something new. I learned that...

  • I didn't understand what I read today because...

  • What I read doesn't make sense to me because...


  • What I ready today makes me think about...

  • If I were ___ (name the character) at this point, I would...


  • What I read today was mostly about one character. This characters is a(n) ___ kind of person. I can tell this because...

  • I'm not sure I really like this story. The reason I'm unsure is that...


  • I predict...


  • I wonder why...

  • One question I have about the story is...


  • An image that stands out in my mind is...

Encourage students to share their responses with their peers and, also, to reflect back on their initial pictogram to consider if/how their reading processes have changed.