Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Visualizing and Understanding

Three years ago, a student shared a great story during our Morning Meeting. This student and her sisters were responsible for going home on their own after school, because their mother worked. Well, one afternoon, they realized that they had forgotten their key. "Try this!" her little sister said. She held up a paper key, one that her teacher had given her after they read a story about a magic key. Well, my student knew that the paper key wouldn't work, but she held it up to the door and turned the knob anyway. And guess what? The door opened!

Of course, it hadn't even been locked. My student had known that, but her sister was firmly convinced that the key truly was magic.

What a great story! It hung around in the back of my imagination until I finally took the time to write it down. When I wrote it, changing around some details a bit, I knew that I had something to share with students. "The Magic Key" was written.

I used this story to help students understand how visualizing is important. As I wrote in "The Forest and the Trees," a great way to help students visualize is to use stories that depend on a visualization. The Magic Key is such a story. To understand the heart of the story, a reader needs to visualize the moment in which Tania holds the key to the door, and understand that the door had never been locked.

Here is the link to the story "The Magic Key", posted at TeachersPayTeachers. For another, easier story that depends on a visual image, plus more information on teaching visualizing, check out "The Forest and the Trees"--soon to be available as an e-book!

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