Seeing is Understanding
Reading to Learn
Liz Copenhaver



The goal of reading is comprehension.  One strategy that has been proven effective for aiding in reading comprehension is visualization.  Visualization is seeing a text that you are reading come alive in your mind.  In this lesson, the students will learn to use their imagination to create mental pictures as they read sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. 



            Class set of Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.  NY:  HarperCollins,,1985.





1.  I will first review with the students how to read silently and then introduce the visualization strategy.  Say:  Today we will be reading silently.  Can anyone tell me what it means to read silently?  That’s right.  You read the words and say them in your mind instead of out loud.  Can anyone hear you when you are reading out loud?  No, because you read the words in your head.  Today we are going to learn how to picture what we are reading in our head as we read silently.  By using our imagination and picturing what’s happening in the story, we are able to understand the story better and this comprehension is our main goal when we are reading. 


2.  Say:  When books had pictures in them, it was easy to picture the story in our minds because you could see them.  You are going to be reading lots of books, though, that do not have pictures in them.  When you are reading these books, you must create your own mental pictures to help guide your understanding. 


3.  I will hand out the class set of Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I will model how to visualize the first two sentences of the book.  Say:  I am handing out the book Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.  I am going to read the first two sentences of the book and demonstrate for you how to visualize them in your mind.  “Did Mama sing every day?’ asked Caleb.  ‘Every-single-day?’  He sat close to the fire, his chin in his hand.”  After reading those two sentences, I am going to close my eyes and think about what I just read.  I see a young boy sitting on a chair inside a house.  He’s hunched over in the chair with his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand.  It’s dark and cold outside because there is a fire in the hearth in the background.  He’s talking to someone about his mother.  If we keep reading and visualizing, I’m sure we will see who he is talking to, but right now, I just see a person.


4.  I will finish reading the page and have the students close their eyes to visualize what’s happening.  Say:  Now I want all of you to close your eyes.  I am going to finish reading the first page, and I want you to visualize what I am saying in your minds.  READ.  I will have the students share the pictures that they created in their minds. 


5.  I will read the next page and have the students follow along as I read and have them try to visualize.  Say:  Now I want all of you to keep your eyes open and read along as I am reading and try to visualize what’s happening in the story.  It might be a little bit harder to visualize because you are reading the words, but that is why we are practicing together before you do it silently on your own.  READ.  The students will close their eyes and visualize, and then I will have them share the pictures that they created in their minds. 


6.  The students will read the first chapter silently and then discuss with their reading buddy what they visualized as they read.  Say:  Now I want you to read the rest of the first chapter silently.  When you are finished, I want you to get with your reading buddy and discuss the images that you saw as you were reading.  If you finish before your partner, reread the chapter or sit with your eyes closed to visualize even more.


7.  The students will read the second chapter silently and then draw an illustration that depicts the chapter.  I will assess this drawing for an accurate depiction of the chapter.  Say:  Next you are going to be reading and visualizing on your own.  I want you to read the second chapter silently and then take out a sheet of paper and a pencil.  I want you to draw what you visualized for that chapter and turn it in.  You may draw several scenes from the chapter or choose your favorite one.  You will then explain your drawing on the back. 



Mizzell, Lindsey.  “Shhh!  I’m Reading


MacLachlan, Patricia.  Sarah, Plain and Tall.  NY:  HarperCollins Publishers, 1985.

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