A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

By: Alyson Jones

Reading to Learn

Rationale: There are many strategies that you can use to teach children how to become better readers. One strategy that readers can use to increase comprehension skills is visualization. Visualization is when readers make pictures in their heads about what they reading. Teaching students how to visualize text, when reading is an important key strategy to teach when reading text. When students learn to visualize text in their mind it will help them be able to comprehend the text, because they will remember what they read. In the lesson, students will learn how to better visualize text to help them comprehend text. The student’s will discuss how we visualize when reading. The student’s will be read the book My Teacher is An Alien and write a journal entry to reflect what they were visualizing during the story.


Notebook paper for each student


Copy of You are old, father William by Lewis Carroll for every student (Poem)

Enough copies of the book “My Teacher Is an Alien” by Bruce Coville for each student

Drawing paper

Colored pencils



Student’s Journals


  1. I will discuss visualization with the students. I will ask them what they think it is. That’s right! It means to hold a picture in your head. Can you tell me when you have ever visualized something? Oh those are all good things to hold a picture in your head of. What about when you read? Have you ever let the words paint a picture in your head when you were reading a story or a poem? That’s good! That’s what it means to visualize text. It’s when you let the words paint a picture in your head.
  2. Let’s practice visualizing. I want you to think about your favorite hobby to do. I would like for you to write a few sentences that describe your hobby and then we are going to guess what it is. I will give the children time to complete this activity. The students will share their writings with the class. I will ask the students what we were doing when our friends read us their clues. You are exactly right! We had to visualize what they were saying to figure out their favorite hobby. This is what we need to do when we are reading. We must let the words paint a picture in our head.
  3. Now, the students will read a short poem silently. I will give them time to finish reading the poem. Then, I will read the poem out loud and have them close their eyes and let the words paint a picture. Ok students, I want you to close your eyes while I read this poem out loud to you. I want you to visualize the text as I read it. When I am finished reading open your eyes, and we are going to draw a picture of what you have visualized in your head. When they have completed their pictures the students will hang them on the wall to display.
  4. The student’s will be given another short poem to read on their own. After the student’s are done reading, they we be instructed to write down on a piece of paper what they were visualizing while they read.
  5. The students will be divided into 4 small groups where they will each read the 1st chapter silently in their groups. The student’s will be asked to discuss what they have read and talk about what they have visualized in “My Teacher Is an Alien” by Bruce Coville.
  6. Book Talk: Sixth grade is just out of this world. Susan Simmons can tell that her new substitute teacher is really weird. But she doesn't know how weird until she catches him peeling off his face -- and she realizes that "Mr. Smith" is really an alien! At first no one will believe her -- except Peter Thompson, the class brain. When Peter and Susan discover Mr. Smith's horrible plans for their classmates, they know they have to act fast. Only they can get rid of their extra-terrestrial visitor -- and save the rest of the sixth grade class from a fate worse than math tests!
  7. The student’s will be given ample time to read the 1st chapter together and discuss what they have read. When the students have finished, they will return to their seats and write a short essay about what they have read as their journal entry.

Assessment: The student’s will do a journal entry about chapter one. The student’s will be expected to talk about their visualizations to summarize chapter one. The student’s will come to the front of the classroom and share their vivid summaries of the first chapter.

You are old, father William... 
You are old, father William," the young man said, 
"And your hair has become very white; 
And yet you incessantly stand on your head 
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

"In my youth," father William replied to his son, 
"I feared it might injure the brain; 
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none, 
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before, 
And you have grown most uncommonly fat; 
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door 
Pray what is the reason for that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks, 
"I kept all my limbs very supple 
By the use of this ointment one shilling a box 
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak 
For anything tougher than suet; 
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak 
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law, 
And argued each case with my wife; 
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw, 
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose 
That your eye was as steady as ever; 
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose 
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough," 
Said his father. "Don't give yourself airs! 
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff? 
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs. 

The Ballerina and the Girl by Osmer Eder Balam

(This poem is for the student’s to read alone)

A ballerina dances in a Victorian golden music box;
She dreams and dreams and dreams of raffled bits of cobalt.
But today, the ballerina is sad.
Her small feet are tired of musical melancholy.
She wonders why God did not make her into a human instead.
Everyday, a girl looks at the ballerina.
She talks to the ceramic doll because Mommy says
That at night the ballerina becomes a blue-haired fairy.
The little girl says she wants to be a ballet dancer.
The ballerina wants to tell something to the girl.
But her small porcelain mouth traps her voice.
The girl paints her green earth with pink and purple.
Secretly, the ballerina is reinventing the alphabet;
She wants to teach the girl how to write and how to speak.
The girl loves to look at the ballerina’s smooth pink face.
The ballerina wishes she had a face.
The girl no longer likes to see the ballerina in her room;
She tells her Mom those things are for little silly girls.
It’s 6:00 a.m. New York time.
The girl is hurrying to reach her rehearsals on time;
Adam, her choreographer, is very demanding.
And the ballerina doesn’t know if she still wants to be human.


Picture This Reading to Learn by Katie Anderson

 Do You See What I See? Reading to learn by Melanie Tew

 You are old, father William poem by Lewis Carroll

 Book Talk for My Teacher is an Alien (Aladdin Paperbacks, 2005)

The Ballerina and the Girl by Osmer Eder Balam
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