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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teaching Visualization: A Needed Skill for Learning

Developing a strong capacity to visualize is a skill that will help young learners succeed in schooling as well as life.  Although the ability to see images in ones mind's eye comes easily to some, many struggle with this.  With mindful practice, everyone can improve their visualization skills and those that have what I like to call a "blind mind's eye," can learn to see. 

What Can Cause a "Blind Mind's Eye?"
1. Students with learning disabilities often struggle with visualization because their brains are so taxed with the learning process that they don't have the "cognitive space" to tap into the visual cortex.  This is the area of the brain that helps us to picture images in our mind.
2. Trauma can also result in individuals blocking their capacity to visualize.  In an effort to cope with a devastating event, some people learn to "turn off" the images in their mind.  Although this might help them deal with the trauma in the short term, it can negatively impact their memory for other events as well as the learning of new material.
3. Lack of practice and discussion about visualization can also result in limited abilities in this area.  For some children, visualization does not come naturally and they have to be taught how to develop this skill.

How Can We Help Students Develop a Strong Mind's Eye?  
1. Introduce young learners to the concept of visualization.  Teach them vocabulary such as mind's eye, visualization, ----
2. Participate with children in imaginary play and discuss all the visual details.
3. Help children to develop metacognitive strategies by sharing your own visualizations and think aloud throughout the process.
4. When reading aloud or listening to books on tape, take short breaks and discuss your visualizations.  
5. Teach children about the 10 skills needed to develop visualization.  I developed a free Prezi, illustrated in the image above.  Click here to view the presentation.  

How Can Visualization Help Children in Schooling and Life?
1. Developing ones ability to visualize will greatly enhance and improve one's memory.
2. Practicing positive visualizations can help children relax and can also help them to fight depression and anxiety.
3. Using visualizations when reading novels and textbooks will significantly improve reading comprehension.   
4. Taking the time to visualize a scene before writing will help young learners develop their ideas and include descriptive details in their essays.
Clearly, visualization is a skill that needs to be developed in all young learners.  If children are able to practice and develop their ability to a point of automaticity, then even students with learning disabilities can utilize it for learning.  

If you are interested in learning more about developing student skills with visualization, click here

Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz
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