Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mentor Monday 3/31/14: Visualizing

I'm not even gonna lie, when I first saw the topic for this week's Mentor Monday with The Reading Tutor, I was stumped---I couldn't pin down my "go-to" book. I mean, I try to have my kids visualize with every text we read; but then again, when I read picture books to them during a mini-lesson sometimes it kind of defeats the purpose of visualizing. They look at what the illustrator has drawn and assume that was the "right answer" for what they should have pictured...does that make sense? I almost prefer to use chapter books when teaching visualizing because many of them don't have pictures and require students to have "visual recall" [a new phrase I've decided to coin] when reading texts that span over several days. 

Before I get off my soap box and onto which text I love best for visualizing, I have one more (ok, two) things to point out. 1. Visualizing is probably one of the most important strategies we can teach emergent readers because if they don't learn how to picture the words in their head, they really never learn to love reading. I mean, how boring would it be if you weren't playing a "movie" in your head while reading the text?! 2. I think many times readers are disappointed when they see a movie adaptation of a book they've read, because it isn't how they visualized it. See? Visualizing. is. important. 

Ok, on with my book. I LOVE to start off the year reading Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick 
It is such an incredible story, I definitely recommend it to fellow teachers. Now, it's probably not a book you want to read with students younger than 4th grade...and really it's probably best for 5th graders. It has everything you could ever want in a book, dynamic characters, a plot with lots of twists and turns and such a sweet message to kids. The narrator is the main character and he is so sarcastic (which happens to fit my personality perfectly) so the kids can really relate to him. I wanted to share some of the descriptive language the author uses that is perfect for having kids visualize, but I realized I lent my copy to another teacher and I can't remember who at the moment! 
Anyway, I usually start off reading this book the first day of school and allow my kids to take turns drawing what they visualize on the white board. (There is something so "magical" about the white board to them...)

I know there are about a zillion books that are great for teaching visualizing--I mean, pretty much any 'good' book is, right? But this is just one of my favorites! 

PS. Today was the first day of STAAR. yipeee. 
PPS. Pray for my darlin's tomorrow--it's the Reading STAAR. :)

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