Visualization is something that kids do naturally before anyone ever teaches them how to. Whether they are listening, reading, or daydreaming, kids often have images or filmstrips running through their minds. Our job as teachers is to name it for our students and point out this important strategy so that they become aware that it is part of the metacognitive process and crucial to comprehension. I often hear Visualization referred to as a picture in your mind, but it should actually be more like a movie in your mind. If an author is good at his/her job, their words do not paint a picture, instead they create a continuous series of motion, movements, actions, and emotions that play like a movie throughout the entire book. So when I teach Visualization to students, I like to refer to it as seeing a movie in your mind. Once they understand that idea, which happens rather quickly, it is then important for students to identify the descriptive words that help them Visualize the most.
I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, assessment, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately 1 week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day 1 of Visualization Week – Introducing the Strategy.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the first they are learning about Visualization this year, I tell them to close their eyes and think about their favorite movie. When they open their eyes, I ask them to raise their hands to share what they pictured. I tell them that what they see in their minds is called Visualization. The word Visualization comes from the word visual, which comes from vision, which means to see. So Visualization is a “fancy schmancy” word for sight. I tell them that kids Visualize things all the time, even outside of reading, and now it’s time for them to notice when they are doing it.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “This week, we will be focusing on Visualization, which is what you see in your mind as you are reading.” Show them the Visualization anchor chart. I tell them that they Visualize all the time, both in books and in real life, and I want them to become more aware of when it is happening.
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I choose a page from our current Read Aloud book and read it to them. I tell the students to close their eyes while I read a part that has lots of description. After I read, they open their eyes and I tell them to turn and talk to their partners about what they saw in their minds. After a few minutes, I tell the students to turn back and then call on a few to share their ideas.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that I’ve introduced Visualization, I tell them that when they are reading today, their job is just to notice what they are Visualizing while reading one of the books in their browsing boxes. I explain that Visualization can happen at any time throughout the book and should be happening constantly. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to discuss what they noticed. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I would be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to explain what they Visualized in the book they are reading. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups.
Closing: At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to notice what they were Visualizing in their books. I ask them to repeat the term, Visualization. Then I ask them to meet with their reading partner to share what they noticed about Visualization. I also pose the question, did any words stand out to them as they were Visualizing? After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will focus on Visualization for the rest of the week. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.