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Visualization or Mind Movies

For: Students


Reading Study Skills & Tools Universal Design for Learning Middle/High School Strategy


Working Memory Verbal Reasoning Abstract Reasoning

Visualization or Mind Movies

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt.
— Helen Keller

Create a mental picture in your mind while you are reading, listening or solving a problem to help you understand and remember the details.

How To Apply It!

  1. Practice first by reading a familiar story aloud.
  2. Stop at an interesting point and describe what you "see", using all five senses.
  3. Draw your mental picture on paper if it helps.
  4. In your mental picture, think of similarities to familiar people or places. For example, the city in the story might remind you of New York.
  5. After you are comfortable doing this with a story you know well, apply it to a new story.
  6. Dr. Erica Warren's Mindful Visualization for Learning offers practice visualization activities.
  7. Don't push it too hard. While this is a very effective strategy, not everything you read or need to learn will lend itself to visualization. If it's very hard to visualize, ask your teacher or a friend if they can think of something. If that doesn't resonate with you, there's a reasonable chance it won't help you remember it. Move to another technique to help your understanding or retention.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Learning to create a vivid mental picture is a proven way to increase retention. Developing detailed mental pictures actually takes time but once you learn how to do it, this technique can help you effectively remember specific details of what you're read, seen or heard. This active learning approach helps students stay engaged with the text and make sense of and remember complex story lines, sequences of events and factual information.