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Whenever I discover the chance, I like to emphasize that writing and reading involves lots, LOTS, of visualizing. Sometimes I find that students don't exactly understand. Some students through the years have been surprised to learn that when others read, they imagine the scenes, the characters, the action. They plod along, understanding much of a plot, but really don't appear to have the facility (or have never developed) the making of pictures in one's mind. I "imagine" that many of you have lessons in your repertoire that you use to help students visualize what they're reading, which also aids them in improved comprehension, prediction, and connections. I have a few, too.
This time, I want to share something that we're doing this week that's both fun and practice in visualizing, an art lesson too. I collect old books, not those wonderful ones I want to keep, but books that are no longer useful, but will be thrown away if I don't keep them. This time, I chose three textbook-sized books, two history and one environmental book about trees. The assignment is simple, open the chosen book at random, cut a page out with an X-Acto knife, sit and read it, using some part, or most of the content, and illustrate right on the page. My students have hours of work time in class to choose whatever assignments they wish to do within the time. Most went right for the books. I had already done one page, set a few parameters, and watched them visualize. It was magical! We spoke of ways that might be challenging to 'draw', and thought words "drawn" would work well as long as there was also a picture. It was also a thoughtful exercise of how to translate an abstract concept into something to "see". Is imagination and placing a picture in the mind's eye critical thinking? I think so, and this reading/art/imagination exercise was rewarding and full of learning. Here's mine.