I must start off by stating that visualizing has to be my favorite strategy for reading. There is just something about being able to get lost in a book and create your own mental movie of what is happening in the pages that is just magical to me. It definitely brings back memories of reading the Harry Potter series growing up and imagining the settings, the characters, and their magical adventures.
But to think that there are students that don't know how to use this strategy or that struggle with visualizing while reading was quite upsetting to me. For you see how can a student engage with a story if they can't see beyond it just being text printed on paper? I took this assignment as a challenge to help engage my ELL students and practice the reading strategy of visualizing.
I decided that I was going to do a read aloud to the book "Merci Suarez Changes Gears" by Meg Medina. This book relates to my middle school students because it is about a Latinx girl that is adjusting to moving to a new town and starting high school something that many of my middle schoolers will be experiencing next school year.
To begin our interactive read aloud I prefaced visualizing by having them close their eyes and imagine a candle. I didn't describe the candle I just had them sit with their eyes closed imagining whatever candle came to mind, I then had them take a deep breath and imagine to blow the candle out. I asked them to open their eyes and draw a picture of what the candle looked like in their minds. Then I had students share their candle drawings they were all different and each student had their reason to why their candle looked the way it did.
Now that I had set our focus I introduced what we would be doing today in our lesson. I had students fold a sheet of paper to make 6 squares and I let them know that I would be reading them a chapter from the book Merci Suarez changes gears. I let them know I would be pausing after every page or so and giving them 3minutes to draw anything that they visualized during that section of the book. I read the title of the book but I didn't who them the cover I wanted them to create their own image of the character and setting. Once I was done reading the first page and a half I gave them 3 minutes to draw. When the 3 minutes were up we regrouped and I had students share their visualizations and recount details. It was interesting to hear the varying things that stood out to each student. Some students even shared how they could feel how embarrassed Merci must have felt when the story shared how a group of boys were laughing at her while she was taking her school picture. They drew a hot red face to reflect her embarrassment. By the end of the chapter the students had a comic strip made of their visualizations. I was very happy to see how engaged they were and to hear them discuss and identify how they made connections with the text and their life experiences was a teacher win!