A picture is worth a thousand words, and in reading comprehension, that picture increases your ability to remember, think about, and understand those words. Readers who lack the ability to create visual images struggle with reading and comprehension. Meaning breaks down as readers are unable to create, describe, and utilize their brains image making capacity to aid in comprehension.
Although students are regularly confronted with images from television, video, and computer technologies, visual representations are created for them rather than by them. They have little chance to build this powerful thinking tool. This lesson seeks to capitalize on students' familiarity and comfort with images, while developing this strategy necessary to fully engage with and comprehend text.
I begin this million dollar conversation by letting students know great readers create pictures in their minds as they read. These pictures or images not only make reading more fun and interesting but are critical to understanding and remembering the text.
The "brain's camera" is much more sophisticated than any images taken with a camera. Readers have the extraordinary ability to take a two dimensional image and transform it through our senses:
  • We see the image
  • We taste the image
  • We can feel the touch of the image
  • We can smell the image
  • We hear the sounds within and around the image
  • We experience the image with emotion and experience-as if we were in the image.
I demonstrate this by sharing a photograph of a family member describing what I see, feel, smell, taste, touch, along with the emotions I feel. After this explicit sensory description, I ask which image was clearer: the one taken by the ordinary camera or the image as my brain sees it?
Students soon realize they have this same capability. They can take things they read,see, and hear and create amazing and lasting understandings through images. The "brain's camera" will help them remember more, see things more clearly, and make reading and learning come alive!