Can You See What You are Reading?


Reading to Learn

Bembry Smith


Rationale: A student reads fluently by reading quickly and automatically, but the difference between a good and an expert reader is the ability to comprehend what is being read. Comprehension allows readers to understand what they are reading.  Visualization, or representational imagery, is a comprehension strategy that takes place when a reader creates mental pictures in their head about the events taking place in the text. This lesson will teach students to use the visualization strategy in order to improve comprehension. They will be creating visual images in their heads from sentences and narratives and then using these images to convey what they read through drawings and explanations.




-A copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

-Class set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl

-Copy paper


-Notebook paper


-Poster with vocabulary words on it: cavity, surprised, terrible, and emotion.



1.First I will review reading silently. “ Who can tell me what silent reading is? Yes! Silent reading is when we read to ourselves so no one else can hear or be distracted. When we read no sounds should be coming out of our mouths. Let’s try!” I will have a sentence strip that I will model reading aloud and then to myself. “Now you try!” Have the student read a sentence strip first all together, and then afterwards silently in their heads. Aloud: “This weekend I will go to the beach and swim in the ocean and build sand castles.” Silently: (silence).


2.Now I will introduce visualization. “I want everyone to put their heads down and close their eyes. Listen to the sentence that I’m going to read to you very closely. ‘It’s was raining outside and the sky was gray. All I could do was sit inside my house and watch the rainfall, I couldn’t have been any more miserable. My baby sister was crying, my dad was yelling at me to set the table, and my mom was cooking some yucky tuna casserole for dinner. Today could not get any worse.’ Now I want you to picture this story in your head. What are the characters doing? What do they look like? How are they feeling? What do you hear? Smell? See?” Have students open their eyes and then I will model what I visualized. “ In my mental picture I saw a sad boy sitting next to the window, frowning. He just wanted to be outside playing on his swing set. The baby was behind him with tears streaming down her face. I could hear the dad yelling and the dishes clanking. I could smell that fish tuna coming from the kitchen too. What I just did there was called visualizing. Visualizing is taking what you hear or read and making a picture in your head so you can almost see what you are reading. By visualizing you get a better understanding of what is going on and it also makes reading more fun! When you read I want you to pretend that you are drawing a picture in your head of what you are reading so you can comprehend the story. Now you try.


3.”Now we are going to talk about some of the vocabulary words that we will find in our book that we are about to read.” Hold up the poster with the vocabulary words and read them aloud to the students (Cavity, surprised, terrible, and emotion). Then have to students read them back to you. Next explain what the words mean, in simple language, so that they are able to understand.  Model how to use each word by describing what each word mean and also doesn’t mean. Have sample questions ready for the students to answer about the vocabulary words. “If you ate too much candy and you tooth begins to hurt, why might be wrong with your teeth? For Christmas you get a toy that you never thought you would ever get, how might you feel? Can someone give me an example of an emotion?” Once some basic vocabulary has been discussed, now introduce the book that you will read.


4.”I am going to read to you the first few pages of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day but I am not going to show you the illustrations. Instead of me showing you the book’s illustrations, you are going to have to create your own pictures in your head. Listen closely so you know what is going on. Think about Alexander and what happens to him when he wakes up. Why is he having such a bad day?” Read the first 4 pages of the book. After reading ask the students what they visualized. “Raise your hand if you can tell me what you saw in your mind. What did you hear?”  Have a discussion with the class about the different visualizations and explain that every one can picture different things while they are reading. “I am going to pass out paper and crayons and I want you to think about what you visualized in your head and then draw it out on paper. These visualizations are helping you understand the story by picturing the characters, places, and events.”


5.Pass out a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, paper, pencil, and crayons to each student. “Now you are going to try visualizing on your own. I want you to read the first chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, silently like we practiced. After you are done with the first chapter, use the pictures that you created in your head and then draw them on your paper with crayons. Under your drawing I want you to write a short paragraph explaining what you visualized and drew. Don’t forget to remember those things that you saw, heard, and smelled in your visualizations.


6.”When you are done I want you to get in groups of 3 and talk to each other about your drawings.  Go around and explain what you drew and also read the paragraph that goes along with your drawing. See if you can find the similarities and the differences among the 3 drawings. I will walk around to see what is being discussed.


Assessment: I will use the student’s drawings to assess their visualization and comprehension abilities. I will check to make sure that their pictures match the stories and that major points are being depicted. I will also read the paragraphs that go along with their drawings to make sure that they are accurate in explaining what they visualized.








Anderson, Katie. Picture This! The Reading Genie. 2006


Dahl, Ronald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Penguin Books, 1964.


Voirst, Judith. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Aladdin Paperbacks, 1972.





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