Creating a movie while reading

Mar 14, 2013
Like most people, when I read a book I create a movie in my head. I paint mental pictures of what I think characters look like, where they live and what their surroundings are like. For example, if I’m reading a mystery story set in 19th century London, I’m able to imagine what London looked like – smoke, filth, horse-drawn carriages, cobblestones, etc. Creating mental models like this help us better understand the plot of the story. The skill of creating a mental model while reading is often something struggling reader’s lack. Most struggling readers are unable to create a mental movie to help guide them through the book for a stronger comprehension of the plot. Going back to the London example, imagine a struggling student trying to read this book without knowing anything about 19th century London, or understanding vocabulary words like “cobblestone” or “carriage” – and without being able to picture what the setting looks like. The lack of background knowledge is a common stumbling block for struggling readers. Providing just enough background knowledge for struggling readers can really make the difference in their comprehension. Take READ 180, our program for struggling reader’s grades 4-12+, for example. Before the students dive into a complex piece of text, they are presented with an anchor video related to the topic they will be reading about. The anchor videos help students create a mental model while reading the story. The anchor videos provide just enough background knowledge to help struggling readers connect the dots and comprehend the story they are about to read. Here is an example of an anchor video about Hurricane Katrina, Katrina Pet Rescue. Needless to say it would be difficult for anyone to read a book about a hurricane if they didn’t know what a hurricane was! Struggling reader or not, have you tried to read something you didn’t know much about? Maybe just enough background knowledge would have helped you comprehend the story and create a mental movie!