Albert Einstein once said, “If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it.”
Now, Einstein was a pretty smart guy, so it’s not hard to imagine how much your students struggle to understand what they read if they have trouble visualising.
Visualising is the reading strategy that helps your students create a picture in their head of what they’re reading. It’s almost as if your students are making videos or movies in their heads, all built from their background knowledge, their imagination, and the content of the text. Based on their past experiences, their imagination, and how they interpret what they read, different students can picture different things from the same text.
By creating a rich mental picture, students are able to engage directly with a text and create their own visual context that helps to scaffold their comprehension as they read.
Research shows that students who create strong mental pictures…
“Visualising is particularly necessary once readers move from picture books into chapter books.”
Visualising helps them to get a sense of characters (how they look and act) and where the author is setting the story. For fantasy and science fiction, being able to visualise all the imaginative ideas of the author is essential for understanding the text.
Visualising is equally important for non-fiction texts because it can help students as they encounter new concepts and ideas.
Students can envisage how scientific concepts or word-based mathematical problems work, and give added depth and meaning to articles about history, social studies, and their other subjects.