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Instruction: TEKS: 10.4(D) Application: TEKS: 10.1(A), 10.1(D), 10.4(D), 10.4(F), 10.5(G)

Lesson Standards


When you visualize, you create mental images based on the descriptions in the text. As you read, pay attention to the sensory details, which are details that appeal to your sense of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Sensory details will help you visualize the characters, settings, and events in a story or poem, as well as people, places, and events in informational text. Visualizing is one of the best ways to remember information, deepen your understanding of a text, and become more involved in what you are reading. If you don’t quite understand what is taking place, try imagining the events in your mind as if you were watching a movie.*Watch StudySync Video

  • What do you think about when a friend describes something that has happened to him or her?
  • How easy is it for you to form pictures in your mind while listening?
  • How do the mental pictures you create help you understand your friend’s experience?
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Warm Up

  • sensory detail-noun
  • a detail that appeals to the sense of sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste
  • visualize- verb
  • to create images in your mind based on descriptions in the text


sensory details

descriptions of events

descriptions of settings/places

descriptions of characters/people

In order to identify information that you can use to create mental images and deepen your understanding of a story/poem/text, note the following:

Checklist for Visualizing

To create mental images in order to deepen your understanding of a text, use the following questions as a guide: Am I having trouble following the story? Would it help if I tried to create mental images about the characters, settings, and events? How do the descriptions and sensory details help me to visualize the story/poem/text? How does my understanding of a detail in the text change after visualizing it?

Checklist for Visualizing

I can visualize the two mountains and the river between them. This helps me understand the setting of this story that I am about to read. Now I know where it takes place.

Reviewing examples of complete and incomplete thinking helps you better understand how to create mental images to deepen your understanding of a text.For example, in the excerpt from the novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck, you would need to closely examine text details to visualize the setting.First, let’s begin with an example of incomplete thinking:

Skill Model

I can visualize the two mountains and a valley between them. The twisting and winding river up the center helps me see that it must be a beautiful place, but also rugged and even dangerous.

Here the reader creates a mental image using the author’s words, but overlooks an important sensory detail that could help deepen her understanding of the story.Here’s an example of complete thinking with the same passage of text:

Skill Model

This reader not only uses text details to create a mental image, but uses all of the available sensory details to think about how that setting might impact his understanding of the story. By visualizing the “winds and twists up the center,” he predicts there might be danger in the rugged hills. He has a more complete picture of the story’s setting.Let’s see another example of incomplete thinking:

I’m seeing the river in my mind. It must be so strong to wash so much away, while ruining barns and drowning animals. It sounds dangerous and powerful.

The reader notices some important text details and uses them to visualize a powerful, dangerous river. However, she misses important text details later in the paragraph that reveal a different aspect of the river and would help her create a contrasting mental image. An example of complete thinking of the same passage identifies an additional detail:

I can picture a wild river sweeping away homes and animals. It sounds so violent and unpredictable. However, the details about how calm the river is in the spring and summer give me a different mental image. People who live near the river must have conflicting emotions about such an unpredictable river.

Instead of visualizing only the most descriptive scene, the reader uses all of the text’s sensory details to create a more accurate image in her mind. She can see that the author is contrasting the river’s behavior at different points of the year. This deepens the reader’s understanding of the setting and helps her understand where the characters live and the challenges they face.

Thank you!