Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Visualizing and Reading Comprehension Pt1

This is the first part in a 12 part series on using a visualising strategies to develop reading comprehension. 

When readers read and comprehend written text and they develop what is sometimes referred to as a situation model. A situation model uses information that the reader brings to the task of reading and combines this with the new text-based information to build comprehension. Thus, readers construct an interpretation (or situation model) of what they are reading by combining information from their background knowledge together with information extracted from the print. The new information that is processed in working memory may be visual, verbal, or a combination of both. The two modes if information are in a reciprocal relationship, for example, if one thinks of a word one can form a picture of that word and if one imagines a picture a number of associated words will be evoked. This means that when the two modes are linked more items can be chunked together and stored in working memory.

It is the linking of words with pictures that will enable a more efficient use of working memory resulting in better reading comprehension. The two modes complement one another but function quite differently, for example, the verbal system is linear and sequential. To remember a number of words or numbers a person needs to repeatedly rehearse them in the order in which they were encoded so that the impressions are maintained in working memory. In contrast, visual memory temporarily stores all their items in the form of a holistic image in which the items are placed in a spatial relationship to one another. Within this image individual items can be accessed by zooming in or out or in different directions. When the representations are connected comprehension will be enhanced because information can be more easily accessed and retrieved.

If one is able to describe an object in detail the better will be the associated mental image because it holds more information and has more links to verbal information. One way to develop the descriptive words is to place an unseen object in a bag and have the learner described the object so that the listener can guess what the object is. Children often have a great deal of difficulty finding the best words to use to describe the unseen object. Most children need to be shown how to describe an object. For example, by using words that are related by; size such as large or huge, or by texture such as rough or smooth.

Another fun way to develop language is to use the game, " Guess Who'.  In this game the learner  has two think of words to fit into, "Does  your person have...? This is a simple type of language game and a good way to introduce some basic vocabulary.

In the next blog I will be discussing the development of language skills using other types of barrier games.

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