Why Blog

I’m passionate about finding ways to simplify comprehension instruction and learning. I’m concerned that we are defining comprehension too narrowly as an accumulation of five or six meta-cognitive strategies when cultivating comprehension involves so much more than that. We need to help children acquire accurate fluent reading skills and strategies; build background knowledge; develop their oral language and vocabulary; make reading-writing connections, and acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to use as and if needed.

So I invite you to join me in blogging about this ever-so-important topic. I look forward to hearing your ideas, teaching strategies, book recommendations, classroom stories, etc., basically anything that will inspire a healthy conversation among colleagues.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Much We Remember...With and Without Visuals

As I consider how writers use their talents to help readers visualize (experience) ideas and information and how readers must pick up where writers leave off by envisioning what was written (see blog posts for Feb. 28th, March 1st, March 4th, and March 9th), I can’t help but recall John Medina’s wise words in his book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, a book I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in understanding how our brains impact learning. (Besides... the almost 132 amazon readers that gave the book a "five star" rating can't all be wrong.)

Medina writes: “We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.”

“Text and oral presentations are not just less effective than pictures for retaining certain types of information; they are way less efficient. If information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture.”

The implications for our teaching are staggering, and we’ll explore some of them in later posts. For now it’s enough to know that we must attend more to visuals—the pictures, charts, videos, etc., we use in our instruction and the images we help readers create in their minds. It’s a step in the right direction and, indeed, something to think about.


  1. Nothing like a VISUAL to drive the point home! Makes me love my favorite picture books all the more. :) Seriously, though, with all the technology out there, it's getting easier to find visuals to support children in their learning.

  2. You're right about the technology...it just keeps on giving. (at least when it works!) good to hear from you.