Reading Comprehension: Converting Words to Pictures
By Dianne Craft
When a student regularly reads a passage well, but can’t remember the content, we know that he is using an inefficient strategy for comprehension. He often is trying to remember the exact words he read, rather than converting the words into pictures. Whether he is reading for recreation or information, he must change the words he reads into images in his mind. The more these images involve the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch), the greater will be the comprehension of the passage.
Use the following steps to help a student develop his ability to change the words he hears or reads into pictures for good comprehension. You will be surprised how fast his comprehension skills will improve after just a few of these training sessions.
This method works well with one student or a group of students.
Step 1: Reading to Your Students
Choose interesting, descriptive material to read to your student. As you read, have the student sit upright and keep his eyes upward, creating a “movie” in his mind. You can pull down a projection screen to further aid him in his “movie making.” Read a sentence or two. Then ask him a few questions until you are sure he is seeing the pictures in detail.
You can instruct him how to use his “camera”, using the “zoom lens” for close-ups when he needs to remember a very small detail in his picture. Instruct him how to “move” his pictures and “freeze” them when he wants to notice something. He’ll have great fun with this!
When you get to the end of a passage you’re reading, instruct the student to “rewind” the movie, to answer some questions about the passage. As you ask the questions, direct his gaze upward as he reviews his “movie” for the answers. He will be very excited about his retention of the information. He may be downright amazed because he is used to responding to questions with the comment, “I can’t remember.”
Step 2: The Student Reads Aloud to You
After your student has demonstrated proficiency at converting words to pictures as he hears them, he is ready to read the words themselves and make the “movie.” Select a reading passage that is easy for him to read, so he can concentrate on pictures rather than sounding out the words. Repeat the process you used before, stopping the student after a sentence or two, to ask him some questions about his “movie.” Direct his gaze upward to see what he just read. Be sure to get detailed pictures. As this becomes easier and more accurate for him, you can increase the number of sentences he reads before you ask questions.
Step 3: The Student Reads Silently
When your student is successfully reading aloud while making good pictures in his mind, you can have him read a passage silently. Ask him to stop every few lines or so and tell you about the pictures he has made. If they are detailed and accurate, you can have him read to the end of the passage uninterrupted. At the end of the reading, have him “rewind” his film and tell you all that he has read. You will be surprised at the things he remembers! His “words-to-pictures” process will soon be automatic. The upward eye movement will soon be unnecessary for the storage of reading material.
This strategy is simple, but very effective. Expect to see great changes in your students!
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For a Language Arts Book
Circle the subject and underline the verb, put adj. above the adjectives.
Dianne Craft is president of Child Diagnostics, Inc., in Littleton, Colorado, and the author of Brain Integration Therapy for Children Manual, and “The Biology of Behavior” audio tape set. For more articles on children and learning visit her website: www.diannecraft.org.