Imagine going to the movies with your eyes closed. How much of the movie would you understand? How much of the storyline would you recall? Not much, and it probably wouldn't be very engaging.
In fact, you may begin to focus on the smells and the sounds of people crunching on popcorn. Your thoughts might wander, and you could even fall asleep.
Why Struggling Readers Disengage
Many struggling readers have a similar experience when they open a book. They get little to no visuals in their mind's eye while reading, they report that it is difficult to maintain attention and many complain that the process is boring. Others purport to have a "blind mind's eye" and are amazed to learn that it is possible to create mental imagery while decoding text.
Why Does This Happen?
The average reader puts 20% of their cognitive effort into decoding and 80% into the visualization and comprehension of the text. However, most struggling readers put 80% of their cognitive effort into the decoding process, leaving a measly 20% for comprehension. It's no wonder why many can't generate personal visualizations and they end up putting books down out of boredom, frustration and exhaustion.
What Makes Reading Fun, Engaging and Memorable are the Visualizations Created from the Text
What Can We Do to Help Struggling Readers Learn to Create Mental Imagery?
- Play imaginary games and encourage your students to generate visualizations and describe them in detail.
- Break your classroom into groups of three students. Ask them to all read a short descriptive passage to themselves. Then ask them to read it again and highlight the words that create mental imagery. Next, encourage the students to share their personal visualizations with their partners. Finally, have the groups report back to the whole class and make a list of all the unique personal visualizations.
- Encourage learners to listen to passages of text and then draw images.
- After your students read a chapter, ask them to create storyboards - a sequence of drawings that share the storyline.
- Take the decoding process away and offer text to speech software. Encourage your students to close their eyes while listening and create a movie in their head. When they are finished, have them write about or draw their own personal visualizations.
Are There any Added Benefits of Visualization for Students?
Is it Ever too Late to Develop One's Mind's Eye?
I'll never forget a grandmother bringing her grandson to a consultation. After learning that her grandson had a great visual memory, I asked him if he visualized when reading. When he said he didn't, I went into a short explanation and summary of the process I would teach him. A week later, his grandmother sent me an email. She expressed that she had been listening to our conversation and that she picked up a book and made a conscious effort to visualize the text for the first time in her life. She reported that the experience was wonderful.
Are There any Ready-Made Products that Can Help Students Learn to Develop their Mind's Eye?
If you come across a child that hates to read, try to help them develop their visualization capacity so that they can unlock the joy of reading.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
- Blog: https://goodsensorylearning.com/blogs/news
- YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/warrenerica1
- GSL Blog: https://goodsensorylearning.com/blogs/news
- Stores: www.GoodSensoryLearning.com/
- Courses: http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/
- Newsletter Sign-up: https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/694000