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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It's been a few weeks, I'll admit.  Teaching full-time, PLUS weekend teaching, the MEAP (Michigan standardized tests) at school, parent-teacher conferences, report cards, family illness, a family wedding, volunteering at my kids school...well, you get the picture.

Regardless, I hope to catch up on my reading lessons.  So tonight I'll talk about visualizing.

Whatever skill level my readers (skill level tonight is defined as a Running Record score) I spend a few days covering the strategy of visualizing.  I feel that this is the most critical and basic skill.  Every other strategy is difficult without the ability to visual the reading.  Visualizing is defined as painting pictures in the mind, running a movie in your as you read the book, activating the senses, and being able to "see" the story.  (Sources:  Strategies That Work, Mosaic of Thought)

I believe it's important to reteach this skill each year, to make the kids aware of it once again so they are practicing the skill deliberately.  We began by practicing to music.  We listened to a song twice, the first time listening with our eyes closed to visualize the song in our minds.  Tanny McGregor recommends using the song, "Grandma's Feather Bed," by John Denver.  We used this song in our classroom and shared our images using the class document camera.  It's a great song for the activity!  Everyone's interpretation was different and unique.  Next, students practiced with their own song over the weekend.  Everything from AC/DC to classical came back the next day!

From there we listened and visualized to our class read-aloud, 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies.  Once again, everyone shared their unique mental images.  We finally moved to practicing the strategy with our own independent reading books.  From there, the visualization strategy became a strategy we could independently choose as a reader's notebook response.

What if your students struggle to visualize?  Use songs more often and also poetry.  Do the strategy WITH your students and share your images, thus teaching your students how you see a story.  Pull out key words from the song, poem, or story and tell how they would assist in creating the mental image.  When your students are more proficient, move to practicing this strategy with non-fiction.  It's important to make this move (when they're ready) since students are exposed to more and more non-fiction as they progress through the grades.

Finally, teach your students to visualize and create mental images.  It's a critical skill!

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