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Reading to Learn

Imagine, Comprehend, Remember

MaryCatherine Smith

Reading to Learn

Rationale: For better comprehension when reading, children should be able to visualize what they are reading. There is consistent evidence that visualization, or constructing images, facilitates children’s learning of text. In this lesson, children will learn how to and practice constructing images from their reading.


Copies of the poem “Gumeye Ball” by Shel Silverstein (one for each student)

2 pieces of white paper for each student,


Selection of chapter books

1. Begin the lesson by asking students what visualization means.  They would then brainstorm before I gave the appropriate definition.  Once describing the meaning, I would begin explaining to the class the importance of constructing images while reading. Say: “When we draw pictures in our heads about what we read, we are more likely to remember what we read and understand it better.”

2. Review silent reading. Say: “Remember, when you read silently, you can read fast through the less important parts, but read slowly over the parts that are important. This will help you remember details that are important for constructing a mental picture of what you have read.”

3. Model visualization. Say: “I am going to read a sentence and show you how I visualize.” Read: The little girl built a sandcastle as the waves were crashing nearby.  Say: “This is the picture I would construct in my head (draw it on the board). Each of you may have done it different than I did, but that is okay. It is just important that you make some type of picture in your mind to help you understand and remember what you are reading.”

4. Write this sentence (on the board): Joey’s dog is clawing at a tree trying to catch Katie’s cat. Have the students read the sentence silently, then draw on their paper the image that they created in their mind. Have the students show their work to the rest of the class and remind them that it is okay that they do not all look the same.

5. Explain to the students that it is important not to try and create mental images at the same time they are reading. Tell them that they should read a short portion of the selected text and create an image from that and then proceed with the next small portion and so on.

6. Pass out a copy of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Gumeye Ball” to each of the students. Say: “I want each of you to read this poem and then draw the image that you construct in your mind about it.”

7. Have the students read whatever chapter book they are currently reading (or have them select one if they are not currently reading one). For assessment, I would pull them to my desk and have them read a portion from one chapter book and have them explain the image they have in their head about what they have just read.

Pressley, Michael, et al. “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text”. The Elementary School Journal 90.1 (1989): 9-13. 

Silverstein, Shel.  A Light in the Attic. "Gumeye Ball." Harper & Row, NY, 1981.

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