A Picture is worth a Thousand Words,
But a Word Can be worth a Thousand Pictures!


Reading to Learn

Morgan Spires


Rationale:  As students become better readers, they are able to picture what they have read inside their minds.  We call this reading strategy visualization.  Visualization allows readers to see what they read, which gives the reader visual devices for comprehending the text.  Because the reader must understand what is read to be able to picture it, the reader must pay close attention to detail in the text.  In this lesson, students will visualize images to correspond with text and then transfer these thoughts onto paper for explanation.

-picture of the beach,
-copy paper,
-Elephant Observations (One man touched the elephant’s side and said, An elephant is like a wall.  Another man touched the trunk and said, An elephant is like a snake.  Another man touched a tusk and said,  An elephant is like a spear.  Another man touched a leg and said, An elephant is like a tree.  Another man touched an ear and said, An elephant is like a fan.  The last man touched the tail and said, An elephant is like a rope.),
-Winter Wonderland Handout (Winter Wonderland written at the top, a line to separate the top half from the bottom half of the paper, Beach Winter written in the top half, and Forest Winter written in the bottom),
-rubric (Did student illustrate visualization?  Did student include details?  Did student explain where the ideas for the visualization came from?  Did student stay on task during assignment?)

1.  When we use our vision, we see things.  Similarly, when we use visualization we see things.  When we use visualization we create the pictures that we see, in our minds.  Look at this picture of the beach:  you see the water, the sand, and the towel on the beach.  Now close your eyes:  picture the beach.  You may see the same scene that I just showed you, or you might see other things that you might find at the beach.  When you think of the beach, you will think of things that you have seen at the beach or near the beach, like on tv or in a picture like this one.  If I tell you that a ball is pink, you might think of a pink ball that you have seen, even though I haven’t told you what size or what kind of ball.  We use our prior knowledge and details to create images in our minds, or in other words, visualize.

2.  As you begin to read more difficult books, there seem to be fewer and fewer pictures.  Do you know why?  As you advance in your reading your are also getting older and having more experiences, so you have seen more things and heard about more things, so you know what is being described without having to see it.  As if you had never seen some object before, you would use other clues, like details or what it is like, to visualize it.  Today we are going to practice visualization by reading a variety of texts and creating images that correspond.

3.  Teacher will pass out white copy paper to each student.  As I read Elephant Observations, I want you visualize exactly what the text tells you, so pay attention to the details.  You will need a pencil, and when I give you permission to pick up your pencil, you will illustrate what I read.  Let’s begin. Six blind men live together, but none of them had ever seen an elephant.  When they heard that an elephant was being kept nearby, they went to go feel it.  But each of the men touched a different part of the elephant, so they all thought an elephant was different from what the next man felt.  Let’s see what they found out.  Teacher will read Elephant Observations.  After reading each man’s description, students will add to their illustration, to reveal an image that only slightly depicts an elephant.  Now look at your illustration:  as you pictured what each man said, you visualized something totally different and then drew it, first a wall, then a snake, and so on.  Just as you thought of a picture in your mind when you heard the story, the blind men made a mental picture based on what they felt.  How did you know what a wall looked like as I read the text?  (background knowledge)  In the same manner, the first blind man must have known what a wall was in order to compare it to the elephant.  Both you and the blind men used their prior knowledge to visualize the elephant.

4.  Now I would like you to take this Winter Wonderland Handout.  For the top half, visualize:   beach winter.  For the bottom half, visualize:  forest winter.  Take your time:  really picture your own original details.  Pick either the beach or the forest to visualize first.  Whichever you choose to do first, make sure that you think about the two descriptive words, beach winter, and what winter would be like there, and then draw it out on the appropriate half of the paper.  The beach is on the top, and the forest is on the bottom half.  After you complete one, then complete the other. 

5. Assessment:  Each student will explain one of his or her illustrations.  Students need to explain what they thought of and drew for that particular picture and why they think that picture formed in their minds for that description (what prior experiences conjured up these ideas?).  Students will display their visualizations on the class bulletin board.  Visualizations are individual, so none are incorrect unless student copied neighbor, illustrated inappropriately, or either cannot or will not provide explanation for visualization.

6.  Follow Up:  With just two words you have associated a phrase with objects and places that you have heard of, or seen, or experienced.  Books are filled with details and descriptions, and by engaging your background knowledge, you can create a whole movie by visualization.  Your visualization will help you to understand situations and characters, and in such a manner your visualization will expand your comprehension ability.

Roehm, Sara.  Do You See What I See?  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/insp/roehmrl.html

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