Turn on the
in Your Brain!


Reading to Learn
Lauren Long

Rationale:  The main goal of reading is reading text for comprehension and learning.  As students begin to read more advanced text, the text has fewer pictures.  Because of this, sometimes it becomes difficult for them to comprehend what they are reading.  Teaching students techniques and strategies in visualization can help them to "turn on the TVs in their heads" and picture the story they are reading as they read it.  Not only will this technique help students to comprehend what is happening in more advance text, but also it will help reading more enjoyable for them.


-Copy of "Messy Room" poem by Shel Silverstein
-Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (one per student)
-Colored Pencils
-Drawing paper
-Visualization assessment checklists for teacher:

_____ yes   _____ no   Did student take assignment seriously?

_____ yes   _____ no   Does drawing accurately describe a scene from ch. 1?

_____ yes   _____ no   Did student pay attention to detail?

_____ yes   _____ no   Did student note the page number their picture


            _____ yes   _____ no   Does drawing portray student comprehension of text?


1.Review what it means to read silently.  "Today we are going to learn how to visualize what we are reading while we read it!  But first, we are going to review what silent reading is.  Does anyone know what silent reading is?"  (Wait for students to answer).  "That's right!  We read silently when we read a book in our heads to ourselves so no one else can hear us.  It's the opposite of reading out loud!  Everyone grab your silent independent reading book and turn to a random page." (Pause for students to turn to a page).  "Now, all at once, everyone start reading the page they have chosen out loud!"  (Allow this to happen for 10-20 seconds).  "Ok, stop.  Now I want you to flip to another page in your book.  Read that page silently, and look at me when you're finished, so I know when everyone is finished".  (Allow time for students to read quietly.)

"Very good, looks like everyone is finished reading their page silently.  Which time was easier to remember what you had read?  When everyone was reading out loud, or when you were reading silently to yourself?"  (Allow students to answer - reading silently was easiest).  "That's right.  When everyone was reading out loud and it was so noisy in here, you had a hard time focusing on and remembering what you were reading because you were so distracted, right?  That's why learning to read silently is so important.  It gives you a chance to understand and visualize what you're reading as you're reading! This leads us into our topic for the day."

2.Introduce the lesson.  "Today we are going to learn how to visualize when we're reading.  Who knows what the word 'visualize' means?" (Allow time for answers).  "Very good!  Visualize means to picture something in your head, kind of like a movie in your head.  When we read, it is important to us to picture what we are reading in our story in our heads so we can understand and remember what is happening.  It's kind of like turning on the TV in your brain!"  "Let's practice how to visualize something we read.  I'm going to read a poem to you, and I want you to picture what I'm reading to you in your head.  Now close your eyes!"

3.Read "Messy Room" to students for visualization practice. 

 Messy Room
By: Shel Silverstein

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!


After reading the poem, ask students to open their eyes. "Ok, who can raise their hand and tell me what kinds of movies they pictured in their heads while I read that poem?" (Allow time for students to answer.)  "Great visualizations! 

4. Personal visualization activity. "Now, I want you to close your eyes again and picture your own bedrooms!   What does it look like right now?  Where is your bed?  Are there any clothes on the floor?  Do you have any windows?"  Allow them to visualize for about 20-30 seconds.  "Very good.  Got your movies in your head?  Ok, I have given you paper and colored pencils!  Quietly, I want you to draw a picture from the movie that was in your head while you visualized your room. These are your movies, and your movies might be different from someone else's, and that's ok!"  Allow ample time for students to finish drawings.

5. Visualization with advanced text.  Give each child his or her own copy of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  Give a book talk about the book.  "We are going to start a new book called Tuck Everlasting!  The book is about a girl named Winnie Foster who wants to run away from her stuffy life, so she runs into the woods near her home.  She doesn't get very far, and then she sees a boy drinking water from a little spring by a tree.  She is so thirsty and wants a drink too!  But the boy, named Jesse Tuck, won't let her drink the water and gets really squirmy about it.  Something is mysterious about the water!  Suddenly, Jesse's family rides up on a horse, and he explains to them what has happened.  Before Winnie can even think about drinking the water, she is whisked upside-down onto the horse, and they ride off into the wood!  Will Winnie ever make it back home?  Who are the Tuck family?  And what is mysterious about the water in the spring?  Let's read and find out!"

Give students more drawing paper.  "Ok, now I want you to read the first chapter in Tuck Everlasting.  Be sure to turn on the TV in your brain, and visualize what you're reading while you're reading the first chapter!  After you're finished reading the first chapter, I want you to draw a picture of one of your mental movies.  This picture should be a snapshot from a page in chapter one.  Make sure you write down which page number your mental movie is from!"  Allow time for students to read chapter one and draw a scene from what they visualized.

6. Assessment.  Have each student stand up and share what they drew.  Use the "Visual Assessment Checklist" to assess understanding of visualization and student comprehension.



Babbitt, N (1975). Tuck Everlasting. New York, NY: Sunburst Publishing.
Silverstein, S (1981). Messy Room. In A Light in the Attic. New York: HarperCollins.
Tew, Melanie.  "Do You See What I See?  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/persp/tewrl.html.

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