Education,  Living the Life

Increasing Literacy in Times of COVID

Lindamood-Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing Reading Program is a rocking way to increase reading comprehension skills and something you can do from home!

Who knows what the 20-21 school year will bring for our kids. Let’s face it—there’s no guarantee it will be safe enough for them to physically stay in school for the duration. Now there’s a cringe-worthy thought!

One thing looks certain: our kids will need extra support this year. This post offers one method to help grow their reading comprehension skills no matter what comes next.

I had already found and fell in love with Linda-Mood Bell’s (LMB’s) Visualizing and Verbalizing program in September 2019. I still adore how it addresses the heart of comprehension difficulties. Its central idea is clear:

To better understand content, learn to create vivid, detailed mental images of what you read.

This process is called dual coding. Dual coding happens when you learn something through both word and image.  

The program is for people at all different reading levels.

So it meets the student where they are. The program starts with having you verbalize what you see in a given picture. Once you master that skill, the visual aids vanish and they lead you step-by-step through a series of progressively more challenging exercises. The next activity is visualizing words, after that, visualizing sentences, and finally. visualizing paragraphs.

To help you start your reading journey, they also supply these structure words:

A simple premise and basic tools, but not so breezy with autism or nonverbal learning disability!

A lot of our kids have trouble painting a picture of verbal information, so they naturally lean on processing things through words instead. Verbal processing needs to happen in sequence, and in small chunks. This takes more time and effort than making an image in your brain. When you make a visual in your brain, lots of info can be processed simultaneously.

A quick contrast between verbal processing and visual processing:

Verbal processing happens in the left brain hemisphere and visual processing happens in the right. Verbal information is digested sequentially in little bits. Visual information is organized synchronously—so rich details and the big picture are perceived simultaneously.

The goal of the Visualizing and Verbalizing program is to make and strengthen new neural connections in the areas of the brain that visualize information. 

With a little imagination, you can jazz up the assignments.

For example, in Picture to Picture, where you describe what you see, it’s easy to find a slew of images from the web that will fit any hobby or obsession. So if your kid happens to be a Star Wars fanatic (ahem, like mine), you could use “Kylo Ren,” “Yoda,” or my favorite go-to, “Darth Vader.” This picture is a fun activity for all SW fans out there. (Note: This kilt-wearing man truly exists, and his fascinating videos can be found on the world wide web!)

This program really works. It can be done—like balancing on a unicycle while playing the bagpipes, except easier!

With enough practice, it can be done. “Ten weeks of intensive reading intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder was enough to strengthen the activity of loosely connected areas of their brains that work together to comprehend reading.” Says a study of the Lindamood-Bell program by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It’s hard work, and it takes tenacity, but it does the job. If you keep at it, you can see results in as little as a few weeks.

You can get in touch with a center and have your child evaluated remotely. They also run online Visualizing and Verbalizing training events for caregivers and educators. You can find more information about the program here.

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References:

https://lindamoodbell.com/press-releases/uab-study-on-children-with-autism-improved-reading-and-brain-activity-utilized-lindamood-bell-instruction

https://lovetoteach87.com/2019/05/02/examples-of-dual-coding-in-the-classroom/

https://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/11/17-1

 

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