ACTION! Make your own Mental Movie!

movie

Laura Ruth Langham

Reading to Learn

 

Rationale:  A good reader is able to decode and recognize text.  Then, good readers must make sense of the words they are reading and remember what the author is trying to tell them.  According to the Alabama Reading Academy publication, which contains information from the Alabama Reading Initiative, comprehension is "an active and purposeful process that leads to understanding and remembering what was read."  That means that the reader will interact with the text and connect what they are reading to prior knowledge of the world around them and the use of comprehension strategies to breakdown what they are reading from meaning.  As a teacher, you must teach the comprehension strategies because comprehension is a process not a product.  Explicit instruction on how to make sense of the text is necessary for the students to gain an understanding of what they should do when they are reading individually.  One strategy for comprehension is visualization, using mental imagery to understand the text.  Visualization is important because it allows the student to see in their mind what is happening in the story.  The student is able to create a movie in their head to help them understand what they are reading and connect to the text to their prior knowledge.  In this lesson, I will demonstrate instruction for teaching visualization.  I will show how adjectives and descriptive phrases and sentences add volume to the story.  I will show how to take words and chunks of text and create a mental picture.

 

Materials:

- Overhead transparency with following text: As I wake up on the hot, damp sand, I am confused about where I am.  I don't want to open my eyes because I fear that I am lost.   I smell the salt from the ocean water, and I know something went terribly wrong.  The last things I can remember are the cracking of the thunder above me and the crash of the waves over the side of my fishing boat.

- Paper with the following text: The young boy decides to follow the small, colorful bird into the dense woods.  He follows the bird around trees and bushes until the bird perches on a low-lying branch in front of him.  The small bird lets out a huge, loud screech that startles the young boy.  He turns and runs from the bird that once held his interest.  Once he is a few yards from the bird, he realizes that he is not in danger of the bird, but something else is much worse.  He does not know where he is.

- Class copies (per student) of The Tale of Despereaux (Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press: 2003. Illust. by Timothy  Basil Ering.  ISBN-10 0-7636-2529-9.)

- Piece of paper (per student)

- Crayons, color pencils, markers

- Overhead projector

 

Procedures:

1. Say to the students: "Today we will learn a new comprehension strategy.  Remember that comprehension strategies help us understand what we are reading and remember what we read.  I want everyone to close their eyes and thing of their favorite thing to eat.  Now that everyone is thinking of a food, I want you to picture yourself with a plate in front of you.  On that plate is a large portion of your favorite food.  I want you to think about reaching down and picking up that food.  Now you put that food in your mouth.  You are chewing it. Can you taste it?  Everyone open your eyes.  Did that make you hungry?  What you were just doing is visualizing yourself eating your favorite food.  Visualization is a comprehension strategy that you use to create a picture in your head of what you are reading.  It places your eyes into the story and allows you to create a movie in your head of the book."


2. Briefly review other comprehension strategies (summarization, story grammar, etc.) that the students have learned and how those strategies aid in the understanding of the story.  Explain that you will use the visualization strategy to aid in the understanding of the story also.  Review the rereading strategy.  Explain that rereading helped the students with decoding and, now, it can help students check their understanding.  The students can reread and excerpt from the text to see if their visualization works with what the author is trying to portray.


3. "Remember how we picked important words or phrases out to create a summary of the text.  We cut out a lot of the fluff from the story, the adjectives and descriptive, supporting sentences.  We just want the cold, hard facts.  Well when we are visualizing, we want to pay attention to the fluff.  The fluff is what adds excitement to the story.  It helps us create a picture of what the place setting looks like, what the people in the story look and act like, and many other things.  You will look at the adjectives, or the words that describe the nouns in the sentence.  Also, you will look at sentences that follow a main idea to see how those sentences build upon that idea."


4. "I want you to watch how I take a brief descriptive text and turn it into a movie in my head.  I will lead you through my thoughts aloud, so everyone can see how I use the visualization strategy." Display the overhead with the following text:

 As I wake up on the hot, damp sand, I am confused about where I am.  I don't want to open my eyes because I fear that I am lost.   I smell the salt from the ocean water, and I know something went terribly wrong.  The last things I can remember are the cracking of the thunder above me and the crash of the waves over the side of my fishing boat.

"As I wake up on the hot, damp sand.  I see myself laying at the water's edge on an unfamiliar beach with the foam from the waves splashing onto my legs.  I am confused about where I am.  I see a look on my face that shows confusion.  I seem slightly out of it like when I hit my head on something.  I don't want to open my eyes because I fear that I am lost.  I see the look of confusion go into a look of despair.  I smell the salt from the ocean water.  I think about being at the beach and the smell that comes with the ocean breeze.  And I know something is terribly wrong.  I picture a small tear going down my face because I'm scared.  The last things I can remember are the cracking of the thunder above me and the crash of the waves over the side of my fishing boat.  I am experiencing a flashback to a scene with high winds, thunder and lightening.  I see huge waves crashing onto my small fishing boat, and I am all alone trying to battle this storm.  Did everyone see how I took that text and broke it down?  I created a movie in my head of what was happening in the story.  It adds interest to the story and helps me etch what is happening into my mind.  It helps me remember the story and understand what the author is trying to portray.  Also, it makes the story more enjoyable because you can see what you are reading.  You open up your senses to the story.  You see, feel, smell, hear, and taste what the characters of the story do.  You become part of the story.  I took the descriptive words and phrases and created pictures out of them."

 

5. "Now it is your turn to visualize the story.  I am going to read a short text to you, and I want you to visualize what is happening in the story. Close your eyes, and think about the text." Read the following text, but take a short 3 to 5 second break between each sentence to allow the students time to visualize what is happening.

The young boy decides to follow the small, colorful bird into the dense woods.  He follows the bird around trees and bushes until the bird perches on a low-lying branch in front of him.  The small bird lets out a huge, loud screech that startles the young boy.  He turns and runs from the bird that once held his interest.  Once he is a few yards from the bird, he realizes that he is not in danger of the bird, but something else is much worse.  He does not know where he is.

Allow the students to share their images of the story.  Let the students compare what they saw.  Tell the students that "Everyone creates their own movie in their head.  It is what you see when you read, but I want you to notice something.  Everyone had certain things in common.  Those are the things that the author wants you to remember and feel for the character and story.  The author wanted you to feel the fear of the boy and realize that the boy is in trouble."


 

6. Tell the students that it is their turn to visualize as they read a story.  "You are going to enter into the word of Despereaux, a young, curious, little mouse.  Despereaux is an unusually small mouse, but he has unusually large ears!  He also has an unusually large need to be around the beautiful Princess Pea.  You are going to read The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo to find out what happens to young Despereaux and his curiosity.  You will read Chapters 1 through 4 of Book The First.  They are short chapters.  I want you to visualize as you read the story.  Create a movie in your head.

 

7. After the students have completed their reading, split the class into four sections.  Assign each section a chapter from 1 to 4.  Pass out a piece of white copy paper to each student.  Have each student draw a picture that illustrates what the author was saying or showing the reader in their assigned chapter.  "Draw a scene from the movie in your head.  Show me what you think about Despereaux from the chapter that you assigned.  I want to see what you visualized on a piece of paper."  Allow the students to discuss and explain their picture and how they used visualization to help them create the picture.  Evaluate the students' interpretation of the text and check to see if they are accurately portraying what the author wanted them to portray.  If a student seems to struggle with this assignment, have the student reread a section of the story with you and help the student look for key words to help create a mental picture.

 

Reference:

- Alabama Department of Education. Alabama Reading Academy: Summer 2006 Packet.

- DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux. Candlewick Press: 2003. Illust. by Timothy  Basil Ering.  ISBN-10 0-7636-2529-9.

 - Lewis, Heather. Reading to Learn.  Creating Images to Fill in the Holes. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/hlewisrl.html

 
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