Currently junior elementary school students are exposed to language learning materials with brief articles and short sentences for teaching reading and writing. Unfortunately, this approach seems to be rather fragmented. In this research, the researcher tries to use picture books for a variety of purposes. Picture books present a complete episode of combined imagery, beautiful words and sentences. The biggest advantage of picture books is that the imagery can lead students through a natural progression of language use, speaking first, and then asking questions, and writing sentences. The text of picture books tends to be organized into sections made up of smaller essays, which can be followed step by step, constructing a natural language learning ladder.
In this action research project, the researcher also serves as the main instructor, but team teaching was part of the approach used. Based on a selection of 12 picture books a sequence of twenty lessons was carefully designed. A single class of 26 second-graders in the Tamsui area of New Taipei City served as the research participants. From the materials available in the classroom, appropriate lessons were developed to suit the
second-graders. Two cycles of teaching, collecting teacher’s journals, feedback, observations, quizzes recording, other files and then adjusting the lesson design were completed in this research, in step with the spirit of the Action Research model ("plan, action, observation, reflection, correction"). Journals and recordings of the lessons were used for observation. A question-based approach was taken to entice student interest, and encourage students to use oral communication skills. This coincides well with the stated goals for second grade the Nine Year Curriculum of Taiwan. This approach also embraced the humanistic idea of presenting children with complete story episodes, rather than fragmented language texts, in hopes that it could stimulate the students’ creativity and critical thinking skills.
From the documents of this Action Research project, the researcher found that picture books served as an intermediary between reading and writing skills, improving the students’ oral response and writing skills. This research also improved the researcher’s own teaching effectiveness and tacit knowledge base. This has been a great way to enhance this researcher’s professional ability.