Visualizing the text is such an important strategy used for building your students’ reading comprehension. It is very versatile as it can be used in different ways with students of all ages and reading levels.
I follow the 7 Keys to Comprehension (Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003) in my classroom. Of the seven reading strategies (Visualize, Use Background Knowledge, Ask Questions, Make Inferences, Determine Importance, Synthesize Information, & Monitor Comprehension), visualizing is always the first reading strategy I teach. I feel it is the most concrete for my students to grasp.
INTRODUCE THE VISUALIZING STRATEGY:
To introduce this reading strategy to my students, I first go over a Visualizing Poster/Anchor Chart that describes what visualizing is, how good readers visualize, and gives a brief example.
Then, I use a think aloud technique where I read part of a text aloud and then stop to verbalize what the text makes me picture in my mind. In my think-aloud, I describe how the author’s use of adjectives and sensory details helps bring the text alive to the reader. To practice this strategy, I first choose a book with tons of descriptive language. If it is a picture book, I do not reveal the actual illustration until the end of the lesson. I like to begin by simply having students close their eyes as I read a part of a story aloud. This is also a great way to practice listening comprehension.
I like to read the passage twice. After reading, I do one of two things:
- Have students turn and talk to a neighbor about what they saw in their minds, along with what words from the text were helpful in allowing them to create this visualization.
- Have students each draw their own illustration on a blank piece of paper.
I check in on students as they are finishing up their visualizations, or have them present them. This helps me learn more about how the minds of my students’ work and how they are comprehending the story, or passage. I might ask them,
- “What did you see in your mind, or visualize, as you read?”
- “What words in the text made you visualize that?”
- “Did your visualization change at all from the first to the second reading?”
ONGOING PRACTICE VISUALIZING:
I make a reusable anchor chart for visualizing as a whole class or in small group lessons. For the excerpt from the text, I use a plastic sheet protector (cut in half) where I place whatever quote/passage we are using to visualize. From that text is a giant thought bubble for students to put post-its with their visualizations.
I personally don’t have students write their names on the front, although sometimes with the whole class (rather than a small group lesson) I will have them write their names on the back so I can be sure to know if anyone was way off with their visualization.
Here is a closer look at how I make the anchor chart reusable:
MORE WAYS TO PRACTICE:
- Both students in a pair choose a short passage to read to their partner. While one reads, the other draws their visualization. Then, they switch.
- Teacher passes out a short excerpt from a book, or a passage, to each student for them to create their own visualizations. Have students highlight words or phrases that were helpful to them in creating their image.
- Students independently read texts, recording their visualizations on post-its, a reader’s notebook, or in graphic organizers.
- Another idea for having students respond to reading in a more hands on, interactive format is through visualizing comprehension crafts.
- These Visualizing Reading Passages are a super concrete way to practice visualizing both fiction and nonfiction texts. They are differentiated for two reading levels, and come with graphic organizers and comprehension activities that break down visualizing.
All resources pictured above can be found in the Visualizing Reading Instruction Bundle in my TpT shop!
Looking for more resources for teaching Reading Strategies? Read this blog post on 5 Steps for Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies!