Valerie Ashmon Lewis has been an educator with the Selma City School System for nine years. During this time, she has taught kindergarten, fourth grade, fifth grade Reading/Language Arts, and currently serves as a Curriculum Resource/Intervention Teacher. In this role, she identifies improvement needs, assists teachers in implementing effective instructional strategies, assists in the identification and presentation of targeted professional development, assists in the collection and analysis of data for assessment, evaluation and decision-making and works with struggling students. Valerie is a strong advocate for educational technology to support and enhance differentiated instruction and to personalize student learning.
This is her first guest appearance on the Tech Matters Blog:
What is Visualizing?
Visualizing is an instructional reading strategy that helps students to form mental images of the text they are reading, and which has been shown to benefit learners of all ages and at all stages of learning (for more info, see PowerUp’s Instructional Strategy Guide on Visualizing, here). Below are some free educational technology resources to support the use of visualizing at each stage of reading (i.e. before, during and after reading). Although each of these resources can be upgraded for a monthly fee, I have found that the free versions are more than sufficient for student use.
Ask students to visualize what the setting, situation, and people might look like based on the topic of the text. Students do this by using words, drawings, and other graphical representations. One program that supports “Before Reading” strategies is Lucidchart (www.Lucidchart.com). Lucidchart combines ease of use with more robust functionality to accommodate all students. Teachers and education leaders can also use our software to explain complex processes and demonstrate learning techniques with graphic organizers, mind maps, and concept maps. Once created, these mind maps can be saved and retrieved via a link and can be downloaded as a PDF or JPG.
During reading, students share their mental images of the text through discussion. A great way to accomplish this is by having them complete a storyboard or a comic strip. These activities have been shown to benefit students with special needs as they help them to better express themselves and communicate. There are several online resources that can help you do this.
Donna Young (http://donnayoung.org/art/comics.htm ) has provided downloadable comic strip templates on her website. These templates can be printed out and used by students to create their own comic strips that focus on the specific characters, plots, conflicts, and etc. of whatever texts they are currently reading. The possibilities are endless!
ReadWriteThink’s Comic Creator (http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/games-tools/comic-creator-a-30237.html?main-tab=1#overview ) allows students to create their own comic strips online by choosing backgrounds, characters, props, and customizable speech bubbles. Completed comic strips can then be printed out and shared.
Yet another great online comic strip program is Make Beliefs Comix (https://www.makebeliefscomix.com/). This program enables students to choose characters, emotions, backgrounds, objects, panel prompts, and talking/thought balloons. It also allows them to write in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Latin! Once completed, the comic strips can be printed out or emailed.
Finally, after reading the text, students can expand and enhance their learning by drawing upon strategies that they learned earlier to summarize texts. Popplet (http://popplet.com/) is an online program that allows students to summarize text visually. Students can create graphic organizers, timelines, storyboards, and presentations. The program also allows students to import videos and images from Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, or any other file saved on their computer. Once finished, Popplets can be exported as JPG or PDF files, saved and printed.
Whether you encourage your students to use these resources or any one of the many others that are available, keep the instructional strategy of visualizing clearly in mind. Visualizing is an excellent strategy that helps readers comprehend the texts that they read by providing them with models. Not only is this strategy beneficial in English Language Arts (ELA), but it can also be applied across all subjects! …but, that’s a topic I’ll cover in my next blog post!