See! That’s What I was Talking About!

By: Molly Newton

Rationale: Expert readers still have room for improvement in the area of reading comprehension. One way to expand upon this is to teach a strategy such as visualization. This important skill allows students to create a mental picture of what they are reading. By imagining the scenery or events of a text, students can place themselves in the text itself and begin to comprehend what is happening. Students can create drawings of what they are visualizing as they read. This gives the teacher an easy way to assess the students’ comprehension of this strategy. In this lesson, students will read poems and draw what they are visualizing. After creating these drawings, students will share with the class and compare their visualizations with those of their peers.

Materials:

·         “A moon in your lunchbox” by Michael Spooner (one copy per child)

·         “I love autumn” by Michael Spooner (one copy per child)

·         Copy paper

·         Pencils

·         Crayons

·         Markers

·         Assessment checklist:

Comprehension Questions

Yes

No

Does the picture depict an image from the poem?

 

 

Is the picture easily recognizable?

 

 

Are details from the poem present in the picture?

 

 

Did the student provide an explanation or quote from the poem to go with the picture?

 

 

Does the explanation/quote match the picture?

 

 

Procedures:

1.    Say: “When you read a book do you ever create a picture in your head? When I read a book or hear a poem I always try to make a picture or movie in my head. If I can see what is happening in the text I can understand it better. Authors put imagery in their text to help readers visualize what they are writing about. Today, we are going to be reading two poems by Michael Spooner. These two poems are full of imagery to help us visualize what he is talking about in the poem.”

2.    Say: “Before we begin reading a poem and practicing visualizing, we need to be sure that we all understand the words in the poem. It’s hard to understand what the author is talking about if we don’t know what the words mean. In the first poem that we are going to read, the narrator says that he ‘snatched’ the moon just for you. Snatched means to grab something quickly. ‘I snatched the last copy of the new movie before the person beside me had a chance.’ Do you think that the person snatching the kind movie is being kind about it? Exactly, someone who is snatching something is being rather forceful about it.  The second poem also has a word that you may not know right off the bat. The author talks about ‘the wind whirling’ leaves off the ground. Whirl means to spin around. ‘When I was a child, my uncle would whirl me around the living room at my grandparents’ house.’ Do you think that we were walking around the room together? No, he was spinning me around the room in his arms. Those should be the only words that trip you up, so let’s get started reading the poetry.”

3.    Pass out “A moon in your lunch box” and say: “I am going to pass out a copy of the first poem to each of you so you can follow along silently as I read aloud. This poem is called ‘A moon in your lunch box.’ It is a silly poem about a young boy who has a moon in his lunch box, just like the title suggests. As we read, I want you to create a picture in your mind of what a moon of this size would look like or what the boy who found it in his lunchbox would look like when he discovers it.” [Read the poem aloud.] Say: “‘It was cool/ to the touch/ and slightly rough,/ and I put it there/ between your apple/ and your sandwich,/ glowing.’ I’m picturing a cold, gray, small-sized ball with bumps sitting in a lunchbox with food. ‘Take a look,/ but don’t show/ others—‘ I’m creating a movie in my head where a little boy is slowly opening a lunchbox to find the moon sitting among his food. In my movie, he is looking around to be sure no one else sees what is inside.” [Continue modeling finding imagery clues and creating a mental picture.]

4.    Say: “I think this poem is so silly! Can you imagine if the moon were small enough to fit in your lunch box? I know if I found the moon in my lunch box I would try to keep it a secret from everyone else, too. I would be afraid they would want to take the moon from me. I’m now going to draw a picture of what I was visualizing while I was reading this poem. I want you all to tell me things that you were picturing while we read the poem. This way we can get the best picture to help bring the words to life.” [Take suggestions from students and create a sketch that best illustrates the poem.]

5.    Say: “Now I want you to practice visualizing on your own. I am going to pass out another Michael Spooner poem.” [Pass out “I love autumn.”] Say: “First, you will read the poem silently to yourself. After you finish reading, give a thumbs-up and stay quiet until everyone finishes.” [Wait until all students have thumbs up.] Say: “I will pass out paper, pencils, crayons, and markers. You will create a picture of the image that you have in your head. Make sure that what you’re drawing is exactly what the author is talking about. Be sure that you write what you are visualizing on the back of your drawing, this way I can be sure that you are drawing something from the poem. You will have plenty of time to complete your drawings, so don’t rush. When everyone finishes their drawings, we will share with each other to compare what we visualized as we read.” [Pass out paper, pencils, crayons, and markers.]

6.    After all students have completed their drawings, everyone will share their creation with the class. The teacher will use a checklist to assess student work. The teacher will ask students to explain their visualization, including why they chose the picture they did and where their inspiration came from in the poem.

References:

“This I Gotta See!” Lusher, Emily. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/lushererl.htm

Spooner, Michael. A Moon in Your Lunch Box. Redfeather Books. New York. 1993. pp. 35, 38.

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