Picture Perfect

Reading to Learn
Stephanie Thomson


Rationale: When students read fluently, they can begin reading to learn. In order to do this, they must be taught strategies to help them better comprehend a text. When students are able to visualize a text, they are able to better monitor their reading which makes comprehension easier. Skilled readers visualize by picturing the story in their head like a movie. In this lesson, students will practice doing this by reading a passage of a book and visualizing what the words mean.

Materials: Sarah, Plain and Tall (copies for each student), pencils, markers and colored pencils for the visualization drawing, blank sheet of paper for each student, lined paper for each student, assessment checklist (see bottom) that teacher will use to evaluate each student


1) Say: "Sometimes when we're reading, it's hard to understand what's happening in a story. But if we use our imagination to paint a picture of the story in our mind, it's easier to follow along with a story and understand what it's about. This is called visualizing. Visualizing can help us make the story seem more real, and can help us remember the story that we read. Today we are going to be practicing visualizing. First I am going to model it, and then I'm going to let you read with a partner and visualize the story together."

2) Say: "Let me show you how I visualize when I read. I am going to read you a paragraph from the book we are going to read called Sarah, Plain and Tall. This book is about two siblings named Anna and Caleb whose father puts out an advertisement for a new mother. The new mother comes to stay with them for a while, but the children have to adjust to life with her. I want you to close your eyes as I read this part of the book, and paint a picture in your mind." [Read from the bottom of page 48 to page 50 in book. After reading, close your eyes and explain to students what you see.] I see a stormy blue, gray, and green sea. I see a mother and a father who love each other. I see little Caleb's big smile. I see mounds of hail laying on the ground, looking like sun on glass. Sparkling, just like the sea."

3) Say: "Now let's do the next section together. I'm going to read the next part to you, and I want you to listen to what I am reading, and paint pictures or make movies in your head of what is happening. When I finish, I'm going to ask for some volunteers to share, so listen carefully. Close your eyes so you can really see the story." [Read page 51 in book.] What are some of the things that you are seeing? Is there a movie playing in your head of what is happening? Would anyone like to share what they saw in their head when I was reading by using descriptive language?" [Allow students time to share.] "Great! I love the way that you used descriptive words and phrases to paint a picture in all of our minds! We could really see what you saw in your head!"

4) Say: "Now you are going to describe what you saw in a few sentences. Let's take out a sheet of paper and write 3-5 sentences about what you saw while I was reading. If I was doing this activity, I would write something like "dogs were bending over eating the hail" or "wild roses are scattered all over the ground" and then I would add a few sentences to that. So, let's try that now. I'll give you a few minutes to write down some descriptive sentences."

5) Say: "With a partner, you are going to read the first chapter of the book. Sarah, Plain and Tall has really great descriptive language, so it should be very easy for you to paint pictures in your mind and really visualize what you read. After you finish the chapter, discuss with your partner what you saw while you were reading."

6) Teacher will walk around to informally assess students' conversations and understanding of visualization.

7) Say: "After you have finished the discussion, I want you to draw a picture of what you saw while you were reading. You can choose any part of the chapter to draw. After you draw your picture, each of you will write some detailed sentences describing your picture. You may look back at the chapter if you need to remember ideas of what to draw, but you should already have some pictures painted in your mind! "


Teach will collect pictures and descriptive sentences and use this assessment checklist:

_________ Did student draw a picture?

_________ Does the picture relate to the chapter?

_________ Does the picture depict what was read in the chapter?

_________ Did the student include a description?

_________ Does the description show comprehension of the chapter?



Picture That!! by Sarah Drawdy. http://www.auburn.edu/~scd0017/Drawdyrl.htm

Google image: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/daydreaminggirl.gif

MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.


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