Visualizing & Verbalizing (V/V)

A curriculum for language comprehension and thinking

Developing Reading Comprehension and Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Many struggling readers understand the meaning of words, but are unable to comprehend sentences or paragraphs.

Some will need a method that specifically and directly teaches them to build pictures in their head as they read or listen to someone speak. This is called concept imagery, or the processing of parts to a whole.

Making meaning depends on creating a mental image of the words. It keeps them from going in one ear and out the other. Imagery helps organize what is read through the process of coding and storing meaning. Words become part of a whole meaningful picture that can be recalled, processed, or modified as needed. As Albert Einstein once said, "if I can't picture it, I can't understand it."

With concrete images to draw from, readers comprehend and express themselves better about their reading. They can also refer to their mental image to answer further questions, such as why something happened or what might happen next, in developing their higher-order thinking skills.

Visualizing & Verbalizing explicitly teaches the development of Concept Imagery.

In Visualizing & Verbalizing, the readers learn to describe concrete pictures in front of them. As this is mastered, they begin to recall familiar or personal objects and use a mental picture to describe them. Using concrete and familiar images helps build the concept imagery muscle. Further questioning stimulates the development of the pictures, which progressively become more vivid.

From there, the reader learns to create images in his head from reading simple sentences, paragraphs and eventually whole texts. Higher order thinking skills are developed through questioning as the reader processes language using both sides of his brain.

It is believed that creating images resides in the brain's right hemisphere and that expressive language resides in the left. Both sides of the brain need to be actively engaged in order to make sense from reading.

Stimulating one hemisphere will not weaken the other hemisphere, it will just enhance the integrating and develop more complete processing. Bell (1991) p. 29

When this happens, reading is no longer "just words." It is a world of rich imagery and meaning.

Read about how to prepare for reading by engaging both sides of the brain with Brain Gym® movements.

Does your learner have difficulty processing language?

Below are some possible indicators of a learner's difficulty:

  1. Jokes do not make sense.
  2. The concepts of cause and effect are not understood.
  3. Others' verbal explanations elicit no response.
  4. Questions that have been answered may be asked repeatedly.
  5. The main idea or inferences from TV shows may be missed and only a few details retained.
  6. Conversations or lectures may lose his attention quickly.
  7. Remembering what was said or following verbal instructions may be weak.
  8. The learner may not express himself readily and be seen as 'quiet.'
  9. What the learner says may be unorganized and hard to follow.

Here are some highly respected thinkers who see concept imagery as pivotal:

Albert Einstein:
"If I can't picture it, I can't understand it."
"It is impossible to even think without a mental picture."
Thomas Aqunias:
"Man's mind cannot understand thoughts without images of them."
Jean Piaget:
"The evolution of images is a kind of intermediate between that of the perceptions and that of the intelligence."

Let them be role models for conquering reading difficulties!

Source: Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking (1991) Nanci Bell. Gander Educational Publishing, San Luis Obispo, CA.