The Visualizing Game is part of WPSU’s Blue Ribbon Readers, a collection of seven interactive games designed to help elementary school students gain ...
The Visualizing Game is part of WPSU’s Blue Ribbon Readers, a collection of seven interactive games designed to help elementary school students gain reading comprehension competences. Throughout the game students may practice the strategies of creating and recalling mental images of the text. Some of the challenges involve static images and others use serial images—or "movies in the head."
When students create mental images in their head while reading, they tend to understand the text better. When they include sounds, smells, textures and tastes as well as images in the mental scenes they create, students engage all their senses and are more likely to store vivid stories in their long-term memory.
Heather teaches in a rural elementary school in Pennsylvania, a school so small that there is only one class for each grade. When she implemented The Visualizing Game along with other games designed to support reading strategies, her students’ test scores increased. Heather likes the idea that she can assign games to students to target areas where they need more practice. While some students are playing the games on their computers, Heather is free to work one-on-one with a student, or with a small reading group. Blue Ribbon Readers is like having an extra pair of hands in the classroom.
Heather and other teachers know that sounding out words and decoding are the first steps in teaching children to read. Teaching reading comprehension, however, has been a difficult task for educators for decades. Before extensive literacy research conducted in the 1980s, there were few evidence-based approaches for teaching comprehension. Some approaches increased reading levels and test scores while others had little success. Literacy experts Susan Zimmermann and Chryse Hutchins offer 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It to help both teachers and parents employ successful approaches. Zimmermann and Hutchins contend that,
“Real comprehension has to do with thinking, learning, and expanding a reader’s knowledge and horizons. It has to do with building on past knowledge, mastering new information, connecting with the minds of those you’ve never met.” p. 7
WPSU used the Zimmermann Hutchins book as a guide to build Blue Ribbon Readers, believing that in addition to their successful approaches, practice is a crucial element. With the book as a foundation, WPSU worked with Penn State literacy faculty members and practicing classroom teachers, like Heather, to develop games like The Visualizing Game.
Skills practice can be tedious, and keeping children engaged long enough for them to build their skill base can be challenging. Thus, WPSU designed The Visualizing Game as part of the Blue Ribbon Readers collection, seven separate engaging games that correspond with the 7 keys to comprehension referenced above.
- Share an image that caught your attention in a story you have recently read. What did that image do for you as a reader?
- Have you ever had the sensory images or scenes in your mind go dark or shut off as you read? What can you do to help turn them back on?
- Where do the pictures in your mind come from when you visualize a scene in a story?
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K (Kindergarten ): Reading
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K (Kindergarten ): Informational Text
(Kindergarten ): Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 (Kindergarten ): Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 (Kindergarten ): Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
- (Kindergarten ): Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K (Kindergarten ): Informational Text