What do you see?


Reading to Learn

Courtney Nims


Comprehension is an essential component of reading.  Students must be able to understand what they are reading.  One strategy that readers can use to increase comprehension is representational imagery, also known as visualization.  When the students read, they must visualize in their heads what is happening in the story.  This lesson will help students develop their visualization by asking them to form an image in their head while reading a poem.  After everyone has read the poem we will discuss as a class the images that they formed while reading the poem.


Class set of Sarah Plain and Tall

White Paper



Assessment checklist for me to assess each student (included at the end of the lesson)

Overhead with poem on it



Today I Had a Rotten Day

Today I had a rotten day.

As I was coming in from play

I accidentally stubbed my toes

and tripped and fell and whacked my nose.

I chipped a tooth. I cut my lip.

I scraped my knee. I hurt my hip.

I pulled my shoulder, tweaked my ear,

and got a bruise upon my rear.

I banged my elbow, barked my shin.

A welt is forming on my chin.

My pencil poked me in the thigh.

I got an eyelash in my eye.

I sprained my back. I wrenched my neck.

I'm feeling like a total wreck.

So that's the last time I refuse

when teacher says to tie my shoes.

--Kenn Nesbitt


1. "Today we are going to learn a trick that will help us remember what we read.  Before we do that though, I want us to review what silent reading is.  Everyone take out your library book.  First, I want everyone to read one sentence from your book out loud."  Allow time for students to read a sentence.  "Did you notice how it was hard to concentrate on what you were reading because everyone else was reading out loud at the same time?  Now I want everyone to read another sentence, but this time I want you to whisper it to yourself."  Allow time for students to read a sentence.  "Now I want everyone to read another sentence, but this time I want you to read it to yourself without moving your lips.  Read it to yourself inside your head."  Allow time for students to read a sentence.  "Were you able to understand what you read easier that time?  It was probably because it was a lot quieter, so you could concentrate."

2. "Now I want us to talk about a special trick that I am going to teach you that can help you remember what you read.  It is called visualization.  Visualization is when you picture in your head what is happening in the book that you are reading.  It's very important to learn to do this because if you can't remember what you read, then you won't understand what is going on in the story or learn new things."

3. "Now it's time to practice visualizing.  We are going to read a poem, and while we read the poem, I want you to picture in your head what is happening throughout the poem."  Read the "Today I had a Rotten Day" poem.  "As I read this poem, this is what I pictured in my head: I start of by visualizing a little boy who is coming in from playing off the playground.  As things happen to him I then start to visualize him all messed up from all the bad things that are happening to him.  Finally, I see him standing with his shoe untied while the teacher give him a look and says, "I told you you should have tied your shoes." Then allow students to share things that they visualized as they read the poem and see how their answers differ.

4. "Now I am going to give each of you a book called Sarah Plain and TallSarah Plain and Tall is about a guy named Jacob who lives on a prairie with his children. His wife had died and so he decided that his children Caleb and Anna need a new mother. Jacob decides to place an ad in the newspapers back east and find a mail order bride. One lady who writes back is from Maine. They write several times and then he invites her to visit and she agrees. The children come to love Sarah but Jacob is not very friendly. Sarah misses the ocean terribly. When Sarah goes to town by herself, Jacob and the children are afraid that she has decided to return to Maine. Jacob realizes how much he cares for her. Will he be able to tell Sarah or will she return to Maine? To find out what happens. .  you will have to read Sarah Plain and Tall to find out!" In order to start to find out what happens, today I want you to read the first chapter silently, then I want you to draw your visualizations on some white paper.  You should write a few sentences at the bottom to tell about what you draw.  After everyone is finished, we will share our drawings with one another and compare and contrast them to make sure that your visualizations included all of the characters and the events in the story.  Over the next few weeks we will be drawing our visualizations for each chapter of this book so that we will have something to remind of the events of this story."  Give the students the books and allow them time to read the chapter, draw their visualizations, and share their drawings.

5. Assessment: I will assess the students by looking at their drawings.  I will use the following checklist:




Student includes each of the characters from the chapter in his/her illustration.



Student's illustration accurately reflects a passage from the chapter.



Student statement has a clear correlation between the statement and the illustration that pertain to a passage within the chapter.



Student pays attention to detail.



Comprehension Questions:

1. What are some events that took place in the chapter that you read?

2. What do you think will happen in the next chapter?

3. Describe the characters in the book so far.


Beall, Keri. I Can See Clearly Now. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/encounters/beallrl.html

Nesbitt, K. (2007). "Today I had a Rotten Day." Retrieved November 19, 2007. http://www.poetry4kids.com/poem-265.html.

Mac Lachlan, Patricia. Sarah Plain and Tall. New York, Ny: Harper Collins, 1985.

Return to Voyages index