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What do you see?

March 23, 2013

Read the following sentence: The small boy looked up into the sky and watched the fireworks light up the night.

Now think about what you did while reading that sentence. Did you simply look at each word and recognize it, and then move on to the next word, until you had read and understood the whole sentence? Did you imagine anything in your mind as you read it? What did the little boy look like? Where was he standing? Why were there fireworks?

While this exercise may seem silly, visualization is actually a very powerful tool that we use as a strategy to help school age children with a variety of areas, such as direction following, story writing and memory!

I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by two SLP’s working with the school age population earlier this week. In the presentation, they taught the participants about the benefits of visualizing. Some children really struggle to create pictures in their heads while they are reading or being spoken to, which can lead to difficulties in other areas such as critical thinking, written and auditory language comprehension, direction following, cause and effect, and attention and focus!

Whole language programs have been created around increasing visualization skills in school aged children. Nanci Bell, M.A Ed, and Pat Lindamood, SLP created a program called “Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking” that is being used in many schools. The program includes prompts to encourage visualization of words, sentences and paragraphs, to help the children really understand what they have read and heard.

One really great take away message that I got from the presentation about visualizing was about the question we ask kids in school. The SLP’s stressed the importance of asking “What do you see?” instead of “What do you think?”, a common question that we pose to the kids when working with them on stories or on answering questions. By asking kids to imagine what they are reading and being told, and then asking them what they see, they are able to verbalize what it is they are visualizing, which can open the door to further discussion and assessment of what they actually know but might have a hard time getting out!

For any student clinicians or school based SLP’s that haven’t heard of this program, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Click here to go to Nanci Bell and Pat Lindamood’s website, and click here to check out a video about applying this technique to children with learning delays!

Have you used this program before in your practise? How did it work for you? Leave a comment below!

-Adele Courchesne

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sarah Anderson permalink
    March 26, 2013 6:46 pm

    I was introduced to and used the V&V program during my school practicum in BC. Schools in the whole district were beginning to use it in small groups and I did an in service or teachers to show them how they could implement ‘visualizing’ in class. Nanci Bell also has the Talkies program, which she put out after the V&V for students who were not at the level of the V&V — It’s like an intro. I really enjoyed learning these programs and am hoping to introduce them to schools on my caseload. I have so many students who have a language delayed and are struggle with reading comprehension, and I think these programs are ideal for those students. Thanks for the post Adele!

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