HS #266 Powerful Reading Comprehension Strategy: Make a Movie In Your Head with Dianne Craft

HS #266 Powerful Reading Comprehension Strategy: Make a Movie In Your Head with Dianne Craft

Show Notes:

Dianne Craft, President of Child Diagnostics, Inc., is considered the leader in Alternative Teaching Strategies by several teaching universities. She has a master’s degree in special education and has over 25 years’ experience teaching bright children who have to work too hard to learn. In her quest to learn more about learning disabilities and their causes, Dianne became a Certified Natural Health Professional to better understand how an upset biochemistry can impact a student’s learning. As a nutritionist, Dianne also specializes in natural treatments for kids with sensory processing dysfunction and focus/attention issues.

She has developed the successful “Three-Pronged Approach” to reducing and eliminating learning disabilities: Brain Integration Therapy, Right Brain “Healing” Teaching Strategies, and Targeted Nutritional Interventions. Parents across the country have seen their children overcome learning struggles using these tools. Dianne has since created remedial programs for reading, writing, spelling and math, which incorporate her powerful midline therapy. Hundreds of teachers and homeschool families are using her alternative teaching strategies to successfully remediate their students. Dianne teaches educators, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and parents these life-changing concepts directly to so that they can also work with their students and children.


no pictures=no answers

few pictures=few answers

great pictures=great answers!”

“Reading Comprehension” Article By Dianne Craft

“Mini Mysteries” By Remedia Publication

Nothing hidden that won’t be revealed

Mark 4:22



Show Transcript:

nother installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake, and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week you'll hear from one of us inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.

Now the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the Person and presence of Jesus Christ and His living and active and applicable Word. We're so glad that you're here for today's conversation.

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And now on today's show.

Dianne -

Hello and welcome to the Homeschool Solutions podcast. I'm Dianne Craft, a former homeschool mom, special education teacher for 20 years, and a founder of Child diagnostics Consultation Firm in Denver, Colorado.

Today we're going to have a wonderful topic. We're going to talk about the powerful reading comprehension strategy. Making a movie in your head is what I did with my son at home when I taught him and the wonderful kids I had in my classroom, to help them to quickly and easily store in the long term memory what they were learning.

What I love about these Homeschool Solution podcasts is that I can give boots on the ground tips to parents and teachers that actually make huge differences in the lives of how the kids learn, and how we can make learning more fun, and easier, and you're going to find out that in this little process that we're going to show you today, this strategy is so powerful...and you know what? It's not hard to identify with it, but you didn't know how to use it, and I didn't either until God showed me a way because He says that in Mark 4:22, there's nothing hidden that won't be revealed. So we take Him at His Word. And when I was praying when I was teaching, and as you do at home, we ask Him to show us how to get through in an area that a child struggling with. And when I asked Him, He said He would reveal it to us.

And He does. And this is one of those strategies and how I implemented it every day. So the powerful reading strategy, making a movie in your head. It's exactly what you do to make your whole reading interesting. That's why you like to read. You see a movie in your head. But I discovered, when I worked with these wonderful kids that I had in my resource room, who were struggling in reading, maybe in the reading comprehension area, only some of them were...could read words up until, you know, the 8th-grade level. Let's say they'd be fifth grade. They could decode words, which is the left brain process. But they weren't putting them in the right long-term memory where they made a movie and could understand.

So one of the most puzzling situations we find ourselves in is when a child can read the words in a book. They don't test behind it all when we have them read individual words. But they can't answer the questions that are asked of them later on. Or they can't tell you what they read. You ask him a question that you seem to think is pretty simple, and then they say, well, I don't remember, I don't remember. And you wonder, well, why can't they remember? How can you remember what you read so easily?

We know that when working with hard-working, bright kids, 4th through 8th graders that I had in my reading class, I often had students who are experiencing this particular reading difficulty. And they were kids who were testing poorly in their tests even though they knew many other things. So we're going to look at how we could change this.

I realize that these students were not converting the words they were reading into a movie in their head, as the rest of us do when we read. They were merely doing what we call word calling much of the time. I found that moviemaking was a skill that actually could be developed using an easy 15 minute a day strategy. This memory strategy does not, fortunately, involve paper or pencil because how do we usually teach reading comprehension? You'll find many, many booklets on reading comprehension. When my wonderful students came to me in my special education class, that was for kids who are average or above-average IQ but were really lagging in a subject because of the difficulty they had. What we found is they were just...if you put a paper or pencil in their hand, they couldn't think because they often had a dysgraphia that we needed to take care of first.

We also found that typically how we teach reading comprehension is we have them read a passage and then tell us the main title. And then all the details. And they'll do booklet after booklet or video game or lessons after video lessons. And my kids had had that for years. They were still only reading words. The left brain has the words. Right brain has the meaning. So there was no meaning to what they were learning. So they were just doing word calling. It's a left-brain task. And I, what I wanted them to do was to create a movie in their head, and that's the responsibility of the right brain hemisphere. They came to me in my classroom with two hemispheres, left and right. They knew the left real well. I was introducing them to the right.

So, I merely showed them how to create a seamless flow of words to pictures as they were reading. You could do this at home very easily. My kids and teens loved this memory method, by the way. We spent between 10 and 15 minutes every day, and we did this process, and I'm going to show you exactly the steps that I did in my resource room, which is a pull-out classroom for kids who were bright, hardworking kids, but were testing behind all the while. I showed them how to use their brain for reading comprehension, and they didn't need to come into my resource room anymore.

Many times I taught in elementary school from 2nd to 5th grade. And other times, I taught in a middle school from 6 to 8 grade. And lots of times, I taught what we call our two X'ers, or twice-exceptional kids. The kids who have like a hundred and twenty, a hundred and twenty-five IQ, which they considered gifted. But they were not being able to remember things.

I really love this technique for my kids who are on, what they call, on the spectrum, particularly my Asperger’s kids, or Asperger’s-like kids. Had the symptoms of it. Who can get all the data , but they have a hard time putting meaning to it. Seeing nonverbal cues. This makes a tremendous difference.

So, when we always say to ourselves, oh, the book was better than the movie when we see a movie made...book made into a movie, we say that. Why? Because our movie that we made in our head when we read actually had more details in it than they were even able to do on the set with cameras and actors. So, we want these guys to be just that good, but to do it, we have to do baby steps. It's going to be like feeding a baby first a half spoonful of a watered-down porridge or cereal, and then we make it thicker and thicker. And then we might move on to something. That's the way we do this. We're going to train it, not one step is a step that they don't like, though.

So, when a teenager, a child, regularly reads a passage, well that I can't remember what it said. They just don't have an inefficient strategy for comprehension. Asking them more questions isn't going to help them. But showing them what you see in your head when you read it will begin to get them into the idea that they need to begin to see pictures. But we have to do more than that. We can't just say, see pictures, or you need to learn to use your visual memory. No, we're going to take him again...like swimming. We need to have start with baby swim, just put bubbles in the water. And then your head. And then you start working with your arms. We're going to do this step by step, and it's just full proof when you do it that way.

So, they are often trying to remember the exact words they read. Remember the left-brain data, data, data, data? Right brain meaning meaning meaning meaning. So they want to remember the exact data, and they don't get that idea. They can't get inferences or come to conclusions. They're missing. It's like they're missing that piece. And this is how to get a child to be able to make inferences. You could even talk a little bit about how we get them to see jokes in their head. Our wonderful kids who are on the Asperger’s spectrum, or Asperger’s-like, or have any other kinds of comprehension issues, you're gonna find that they don't get jokes. Because how do we get jokes? When we...somebody says something to us, we see it in our head, and we see the anomaly or the funny part of it. They don't get the jokes because they're only concentrating on the words. Once we do this strategy fifteen minutes a day, I did it the whole school year. No day was perfect, and no week was perfect, but if we could, and then, after a while, as they saw words, they could make pictures, and they could get jokes easily. Made life so much easier.

So, I'm going to give you the step-by-step way, exactly what I did, in my daily training sessions. Where the most important thing to know is we do no workbooks, no paper-pencil, no main topic, no video. We're going to use a whole new technique that probably isn't new at all. But it's a...the way the step by step process that just plain makes it work.

So, we're going to do our daily training sessions. You will get...download this, by the way, from the website that...it's going to be right under the podcast. If you want to have these steps. So I'm going to give you these steps that can be used with all our students to develop their ability to change the words that they hear or read. Hear or read. Conversation or read. That's an important thing to know. We can get at both parts. How they can convert that into pictures for good comprehension and to get what we say, street smarts, or the big picture, or infer what's going on, or seek nonverbal cues.

So, this is what I did with my...when I had my twice-exceptional group, and the other, all the other group of kids. I'd usually have five in elementary or ten. In middle school, they come in for language arts, and this is part of the beginning of our Language Arts program every day. So I pulled down the screen in front of the room, and then we pretended that we were looking at a projection screen in a movie theater. Cause this would further aid them in their moviemaking. Then I took something interesting, a short passage, that had maybe a lot of facts or data in it.

We use remediapublications.com. They have many mysteries where you can, in one page, you can read that, and they can see who done it, basically, by visualizing. So, we use visualization for memorization. It's a wonderful, easy tool. I believe that Rainbow Resources also has the mini mysteries. So they're just a wonderful little nine dollar book that I used all year long. And then, in between, I would use a joke book. Because at the end of the year, they were getting jokes just great. But because they were converting words into pictures.

So, we're gonna...you'll be surprised how fast this comprehension method and the skills they get will improve after even just a few weeks of these training sessions. It works well and with one child or a group. So, these are the steps, and you can download them.

It's going to be step one, the parent or the teacher reads a passage aloud. So, you would choose material to read to the child that's interesting and descriptive. Standing in front of him, that's what I did. You, of course, can read in front of him, but I was standing because I had a classroom. As you read to them, have them sit up and look at their, at the blank projection screen, and we pretended it was a movie theater. And then we'd pretend we were looking at that, and I would read a sentence or two aloud. Then it would ask a few questions until I was sure they were seeing the pictures of the words I read in detail.

For example, this is how your training session might look if you read aloud a passage about a Beaver. Your first sentence you read may be, the Beaver is the largest rodent in North America.

Stop reading, and you point to the imaginary screen and say, on our screen, let's draw a quick sketch of North America. And then we kinda, with our hands, draw it in our head on the screen, and they'd say, now let's put the Beaver on the map. So, I just put my hand up there and say, okay, there's the Beaver. So now we have what we have on the screen. We have the Beaver.

Now the next sentence, I say, okay, keep that picture up there. The next sentence says an adult Beaver weighs from 35 to 70 pounds. How we gonna remember that? Use our zoom-in lens. Show them how to use their zoom-in lens. Zoom in now, not at the United States, but zoom in, our North America, zoom in, zoom in to their big fat tummy. They say, what does your Beaver look like? Okay, is he brown? Is he black? Is he big? What does the tail look like? Okay, I see him there. Have them talk to you and interact a lot about what the Beaver looks like. Then zoom in on the Beaver, and you say, okay, let's write 35 dash 70, so we can remember that. Let's use, like, white-out. The white-out that we use for all sorts of things, our white paint, and let's write 30. Write it in your mind, dash 70.

Oh, look at that. Your paint is dripping. Oh my. Oh, that paint is getting right down on his foot. Clean it up a little bit. Just clean that up there. Okay. So you see, you add life to it. You add action to it. Emotion carries the day. Anything that's emotional and interesting will make...is making a memory hook, a very strong memory hook. We know we use this for spelling easily. We use it for math facts. Piece of cake. We use it for phonemes and phonics skills. Now we're using it to see words come to life in our head. We're going to go step by step, like feeding a baby. Teaching, and then they're gonna know.

So now you stop reading. You point up to the imaginary screen and say use your zoom-in lens. Write 35 to 50, the Beavers coat, white paint. Is it dripping? Oh well, wash off. The next sentence in the text will be, because of its large lungs, a Beaver can remain submerged in water for fifteen minutes. Oh, okay, we have to change our scene. We look up, and I direct them with my hands. I say, okay, now we need to draw a pond. Okay, see a big pond there? Okay, now see the Beaver? Where is he? Submerged in water. Have him go down into the water. There he is under the water. How we gonna remember fifteen minutes? You see him real clearly under the water. You see the pond real clearly. Had the trees around there. And zoom in now on the Beaver. Oh, that's...you pretend you have X-Ray vision. See his lungs. He's under the water. Can he...does he have the gills? He can't breathe underwater, but he's under there for fifteen minutes. That's how big his lungs are. You better make those bigger in your picture.

Now, next to the Beaver, put a clock with the twelve on top and the six on the bottom. The three to my right, the 9 to the left, and now fill it in from twelve to 12:15. You got fifteen minutes there, all filled in and black, so that's how you can remember that. Now you stop reading. And you look up at the screen. You're helping him. He's figuring this all out. Along with a clock and everything.

As you do this training, instruct your child how to move his picture, how to freeze them when he wants to notice something, how to zoom in and zoom out. But make sure that they're seeing clear, vivid, active pictures. If not, you'll say, oh, my child says he doesn't see anything. Of course, they do that for the first maybe two weeks. Hang in. Model, model, model. We're going to say I see, oh, I can't make my Beaver Purple. Do you have yours purple? No, I have mine brown. Is his brown or dark Brown?

Keep telling them what you see. What you see, what you're drawing, what you make. And pretty soon, you'll find they model you wonderfully. It works so well. So ask questions. Direct their gaze upward. Review the movie. I really love, at the end of the whole thing, the whole passage we rewind it. Not only can they answer every question, they can tell me scene after scene after scene, just like they're watching the movie. You'll be amazed, and so will they, at how easy it is to answer any questions.

So, after you've done that, they're gonna do that until they're looking up. They're easily seeing other pictures. They're not just giving me vacuous answers. So that may be, maybe three, maybe six weeks, during that process. After that, then the student starts reading aloud to you, and you have to...after you've demonstrated the proficiency of this in converting words to pictures, as he hears them, he's ready to read the words himself, now, while creating this movie.

So, you select a reading passage. I like the Ekwall reading inventory passages. You can find all sorts of little passages, or the mini mysteries are delightful. So, select a reading passage that's easy for him to read. So now he can concentrate on making pictures rather than sounding out new words. Remember, in our phonics training, we are having them read the longest word possible, decoding with pictures and color, and that type of thing. But we, this time, we're emphasizing, not the...not increasing his vocabulary through words, but through converting to pictures.

So we repeat the process that we use before, stopping him after he has read a sentence or two. So he will read a sentence, and then you'll have him look up and tell me, say, what do you see? By this time, usually, he's seeing things really easily. If not, help him fill in the detail. The detail is where all the answers to the questions are going to be, and so you're going to ask him what questions he sees in his movie as he's reading. And then you direct his gaze upward to see what he's just read. And be sure they're detailed. As this becomes easier and more accurate, you can increase the number of sentences he reads before you ask questions. And you can do this as a group. They can read silently. Let's say, read silently the next four sentences.

Then when you see they're done, then you direct him to the movie. What did you see? And then, as they share their ideas, they realize a lot of kids have more detail, and that's what they need. The details of memory hooks.

So, as it's become easier and easier, you can increase, of course, the number of sentences that he reads. So then now you're at that stage in your doing that fifteen minutes a day, maybe four days a week, cause five days a week, not everything happens. But you're doing that, and you're realizing that's getting better and better. Now you wanna see without your aid, what is he doing when reading silently?

So, step 3, and you don't know, this may be twelve weeks into the program, or six months, you don't care. You're just getting progress all the time. So when the student, or your child, has successfully read aloud and making good pictures in his mind, you could have him read the passage silently, asking him to stop every few lines or so and asking him to tell you about the pictures he made.

If the pictures are still detailed and accurate, you can have him read to the end of the passage, uninterrupted. At the end of the reading, have him rewind his film. And we stop and we rewind it, old-fashioned term, but it tells the idea of what we do, and tell you all that he is read.

You will be surprised at the things he remembers. His word-to-pictures process will soon become automatic. The upward eye movement will soon be unnecessary for the storage and retrieval of reading material. Remember, put this on a piece of paper. No pictures, no answers. Few pictures.

Few answers. Great pictures, great answers.

This strategy is simple but very effective and expect to see great changes in comprehension and retention of reading material in your children. What I love to do, I found that, as I did this for language arts when I had them, if I had them for math, and particularly math word problems were very hard for them. We took all the word problems. First, we actually drew it out on the chalkboard, or whatever. Whiteboard. And then, later on, we did the same, pulling down the projector, and we could take any word problem and see it in her head in terms of a picture.

We have found that this works tremendously well for standardized testing. We had a grandson named Keith, and Keith took his ACT test, actually, and he got a very low score, and he was very disappointed. And he took it one more time and didn't make much change in his reading score at all. And it was all about comprehension. So I said Keith, and he was, of course, 18, but he said he'd do this with me. So he came to the house, and we put a pretend projector on the wall, or a screen, and we actually took practice tests, like everybody else does. But we...instead of reading the question and then looking at all the answers, which is one technique that they teach for ACT, and all standardized reading tests, that doesn't seem to work with my population.

What we do is we don't look at the multiple-choice answers at all. What we do is we read the passage and stop every few minutes. I remember we were reading about Eleanor Roosevelt. That was one of the long passages. And I remember all the things that we stopped and need pictures for. Then when he got to those four choices, it's a piece of cake for him. So he got a 31 in reading in this in ACT test and got a scholarship to a college.

And we have seen this all the time. Standardized tests help so much because they have learned to make pictures while they read. I love this for my wonderful students who have Aspergers-like symptoms because there's... they have so much data going, they are so scheduled, but one of the things that they often have difficulty with is reading comprehension. When I talk to moms on the phone, and we do all the time, here at Child Diagnostics, and it's wonderful to talk to the moms, and they tell us what's going on. And I said, well, tell me with the, okay, 12-year-old or 17 year old. They say, no, he reads at level, or he reads way above level, but he can't understand when he's read.

I said, oh, you will love this process. We've never not seen it work. The other thing that I really love about it is my wonderful kids who have these kinds of syndromes they tend to not get jokes. Again, why did we talk about that? They...the words...they hear the words. They see their mouth moving, but they can't make a picture out of it, so they can't see what's funny. So they also often make inappropriate comments in a peer-driven conversation because they don't make pictures, and they don't get the whole picture. What they say they don't get it. What I love about this is at the end of the year, my kids were all getting jokes, and we would just finally start our Language Arts with a joke and they all got it. It was such a relief and such a nice thing for them to have available, and this is no curriculum needed to get. I'm sure you have a lot of stories at home that you can use. Always model the pictures for them. If they say I don't see anything, don't say, well if you see that you should. No. Don't say things like that. You say, you know my Beaver has a really long flat tail. What does your Beaver look like? Just encourage them. Encourage them by modeling.

You can download these steps for training reading comprehension. This powerful technique that's available with this podcast. And was our pleasure to give that to you.

Well, this is Diane Craft from Child Diagnostics in Denver, Colorado. Dianecraft.org or 303-694-0532. I hope that this works with you, and let me know. Email us and let us know what kind of results you got. It's so fun to hear.

Wendy -

Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.Mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.

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