Strategies for Empowering Students


  • To encourage students to use their critical thinking skills
  • To enhance students' creative skills
  • To enhance students' comprehension skills

  • Use of higher-order thinking skills
  • Use of knowledge
  • Use of reading skills
Integration of Content/Subject Areas

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Science

Students will use their knowledge and experiences to create stories in pictures ("wordless stories"). Give students the option of working individually, in pairs, or in teams.

Direct the students to first write a story on any topic they choose. Next, direct them to rewrite their story, using only drawings, pictures, stick figures, and so forth. They may use words such as the, then, next, my, etc. But all nouns, adjectives, and verbs must be represented by pictures.

After completing their stories, students are to give them to another student or team, who will attempt to "read" the picture story using the picture clues provided. After students have read the pictures, give them the story in words and ask them to compare their version with the actual story in words.

Discuss with the class how it was that some students were able to read or infer what the story was about. Ask them what skills they used in doing so.


Story in words

The dog chased the cat down the street. The cat ran into a house, but a lady with a broom chased the cat out of her house.

Story in pictures


  • How did students use their knowledge or experiences?

  • Did students demonstrate an ability to create stories that had a beginning, middle, and end? How?

  • How did students demonstrate their use of higher-order thinking skills?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.