No doubt you’ve told your students to “make a movie in their head” while reading a book to help with reading comprehension. We know it’s sound advice: when you can picture the story unfolding, you are more likely to remember what happens.
However, when you work with struggling readers, you will find that this is a lot easier said than done. For some kids, what comes so naturally to many of us, is pretty difficult for them.
Enter the visual story map.
A few years ago, I did this for the first time with a lit circle group reading the book Ungifted by Gordon Korman. I was blown away by how much better their comprehension was when we created a visual story map to go along with our reading. Not only did it help struggling readers create that elusive “mind movie,” but it was a constant reminder of the characters, setting, and events.
Typically, I find the pictures that go on our map. (I just do a quick Google search and I’ve always found what I need! Most of these photos are not public domain, though, so I can’t package them up for you unfortunately. But, I’ve never had a problem finding pictures to use.) For the record, I get the value in having kids search for their own pictures because their visualization might be different than mine, but that also takes a lot of time that I don’t have. If you have the time, then it might certainly be worth having each kid create their own map!
Right now, we are reading House Arrest by K.A. Holt. Only one student in all of my classes knew what it meant to have a tracheostomy, so the picture of the baby with the trach was especially helpful. Also, I was surprised at how many kids weren’t familiar with the “turtle car” that Jose and his dad were fixing up, so being able to see that picture was helpful, too.
Could be that some of you have been doing this forever, but it had never occurred to me to create one of these until a few years ago. So, I thought I’d share since this is the current state of my white board and I wouldn’t have to “stage” a photo lol!
Do you do something like this when you read novels? How do you find it works for you? I’d love to hear your ideas.