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Teach Students to Visualize While Reading

Tags

ELA: Reading Elementary School Strategy

Skills

Auditory Processing Working Memory Verbal Reasoning Abstract Reasoning

Teach Students to Visualize While Reading

If your elementary student struggles with reading comprehension, particularly if visual reasoning is stronger than verbal skills

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will visualize or make a mental picture when reading to support their understanding.
  2. Instruction and Practice: a) Discuss how thinking of a picture in your head, or drawing a picture, helps us understand and remember what we are reading or listening to because it brings the material to life more vividly. b) Read a familiar story out loud to the class. Stop at an interesting point and have students describe what they "see", using all five senses. Give students the option to draw their mental picture on paper. c) Note, not every topic lends itself to visualization. If there's not an obvious connection to what a student knows, don't work to create one.
  3. Student Activity: Have students describe their mental pictures or drawings to each other so they understand that these visualizations are unique to the individual. Have students discuss any similarities to familiar people or places in their real experiences. (i.e. A city in the book might remind a student of a city they have visited.)
  4. Ongoing reinforcement: Continue to model the use of visualization techniques when reading together as a class. Incorporate language, such as, "In this paragraph, I am seeing..." or, "The setting in this chapter made me think of that farm next to our school. What did you see when we read?" For extra practice, Dr. Erica Warren's Mindful Visualization for Learning offers practice visualization activities in a workbook format.
  5. Connections to Math & Science: Visualization is important in math and science as well. Click here for specific math teaching strategies.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Learning to create a vivid mental picture is a proven way to increase comprehension and retention. Developing detailed mental pictures actually takes time but once students learn how to do it, this technique can help them effectively remember specific details of what they read, see or hear. 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.