Brain Health

Starting Week Six Visualizing and Verbalizing Paragraphs with a Laugh

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AnglerfishVisualizing and Verbalizing is tough work. By the end of the week, I pay bills, walk, then collapse in front of Netflix. And so I asked for a bit of an easier time during week four five as I had been invited to attend an all day co-design event hosted by OCAD’s Inclusive Design Research Centre for Sidewalk Toronto (more on that later). The Associate Director programmed sessions of Whole Paragraph at grade level 7, rising to level 8 on night three, and Paragraph by Paragraph at level 6. The first two nights I did one three-paragraph, Paragraph by Paragraph (PxP), and two four-paragraph ones. Let’s just say, four paragraphs is  looonnnng. My brain gathered weight; my eyes felt stuffed. The second night, I recalled my very first four paragraph PxP out of order. First, I began my recall at paragraph three to the end of paragraph four. When I stopped, paragraphs one and two began to seep into my memory. I strived to recall those and remembered them out of order, too. However, maybe because it was so effortful to read and recall, it’s about the only story I can remember out of all the stories I read last week. Huh.

On night three, they raised the level of Whole Paragraph to 8. Then after one more four-paragraph PxP, they dropped them back down to three-paragraph ones, to my relief.

On night four, during the first three-paragraph PxP, after I’d read the first two paragraphs, I was asked to predict what would happen in paragraph three. My first Higher Order Thinking (HOT) prediction question! When I’d finished reading the third paragraph, the clinician asked me if my prediction had turned out the way I’d expected. Not quite.

Today, three nights later, at the start of hour two of my session, I could not recall a single story I’d read Thursday night, but I did do an excellent job recalling that four-paragraph one from a week ago. It did help that during the first hour when the Associate Director was testing me with various stories one of them was a Whole Paragraph on the same subject: humans learnt to make paper from wasps. It triggered my memory.

Tonight, the first night of week six, was interesting because hour one wasn’t the usual training session. The Associate Director had me visualize and verbalize a loonnng Whole Paragraph, a three-paragraph PxP, then we entered the big leagues: a Whole Page. My word summary of the PxP impressed her. I relayed all the details; I self-corrected when I forgot something and went back to recall it in its place; my eyes were moving as they do when looking at mental pictures; and my language was smooth.

I said: it felt like a marathon!

But, you know, that feels good. It means I’m working my neurons, and my neurons are responding.

She also liked my main idea for the PxP; I’d captured the gestalt that they look for, the big picture of a story. It’s the big picture that has eluded me all these years, and in neuro terms, comes from high-frequency alpha brainwaves, I believe. I told her how my main ideas for the last two weeks have been popping out of my mouth so easily — except for last Thursday night. But on Wednesday, I’d exercised my brain’s new ability to focus in distracting environments and to create designs in a really exciting team format. By Thursday, my brain had regressed a bit in running my body, leading to increased pain, stiffness, and fatigue fatigue fatigue. By Friday, I moved like an ancient stone statue; I did only the bare essentials all weekend to recover in time for tonight. So I’m feeling pretty good I’m back to popping out those main ideas again.

By the time we came to the end of the Whole Paragraph and PxP — me reading them, giving a word summary, having my pictures checked, coming up with the main ideas, answering HOT questions — I was starving. I’d been stuffed from supper when I logged onto Lindamood-Bell, but I guess my brain commanded my stomach to accelerate digestion and demanded even more fuel. I didn’t want to take a break to get a snack because of what me and my neurodoc had figured out is an unexpected benefit of this work.

This intensive cognitive work, with humans keeping me steadily engaging with language for fifty-five minutes even when I’m dying from energy drain, seems to have increased my brain’s ability to focus in a distracting environment.

I didn’t like the lights where the co-design event was held. There were about twenty or so people in the room, four other teams co-designing at tables behind me. Yet I was able to follow the others in my group, understand and riff off of their ideas, create my own, and then participate in the presentation, both in the morning and afternoon. Yeah, I had rivers of coffee and high-kicking chocolate running through my blood, powering my neurons, but I’ve never been able to focus like that since my brain injury. The Associate Director observed that when a cognitive activity is effortful, it’s easy to be distracted. When I learn through Visualizing and Verbalizing to create imagery when I hear language, I can attend automatically. Cool.

Whole Page follows the same process as Whole Paragraph except it’s a page long, in this case three paragraphs together like you would see in a magazine or book. This made me realize that with PxP, the story is formatted with a line space between each paragraph to denote visually when to stop reading and to discern the paragraphs easily. Making a movie in my head while reading a Whole Page felt like trying to start a stuttering car. My images were coming in stutters or not at all. That was the end of my mini-assessment for deciding what she should program next in my sessions. This week we’ll push the PxP and try Whole Pages; next week we start reading my materials. Yikes!

The second hour was a regular training. I read a grade level 9 Whole Paragraph; the clinician read a level 9 three-paragraph PxP (what a jump in levels!); I read another level 9 Whole Paragraph (which I’d read a couple of weeks earlier I realized after I’d begun reading it, but I kept going and discovered I could put more movie-like bits into my images than I had before). With only a couple of minutes left and night fallen in my time zone, my clinician had fun with the HOT questions. To her first question, I answered nightcrawling deeply icy amoeba. She asked me: what would you call an anglerfish crossed with a penguin? An anglerguin, I answered. I had a good chuckle as she fell over laughing.

Update: I got my weeks wrong. It was the start of week six when I wrote this, not week five.

Brain Health

Visualizing and Verbalizing Four Paragraphs with Lindamood-Bell

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Yesterday, at the start of week . . . uh, what week are we on . . . oh right, five, I read a four-paragraph story during my reading comprehension retraining with Lindamood-Bell Australia, but we didn’t finish the full Visualizing and Verbalizing process. Today we did.

After the clinician read a grade level seven Whole Paragraph, I began reading a four-paragraph story in hour one. I got to the end of the third paragraph when it was break time. I inhaled some sugary treat, and the clinician decided we would finish the four-paragraph story. Fine with me!

The sugar moved my by-then sluggish neurons to read the fourth paragraph then finish the whole process of first visualizing the story in blocks and then verbalizing the entirety of it, including giving the main idea and answering questions about the story.

All told, the four-paragraph story took me about one and one-quarter hours to get through.

Since we still had time left in hour two after completing the four-paragraph story, the clinician read a Whole Paragraph story, and I have a word summary of it. Then time was up, and I was outta there . . . well, logging out as quickly as I could move and click my mouse.

We began the first hour with me having to recall the four-paragraph story we read yesterday. I did okay, if you count remembering from the middle on then remembering bits and pieces of the first two paragraphs and recalling them out loud out of sequence, okay. I got the details right because I could see the pictures in my head. Visualizing really does facilitate recall! But since this is the first time my recall was out of sequence, clearly we’re starting to challenge my most injured neuronal networks and areas.

Like yesterday, I have a bit of a concentration headache, and my entire head feels wrapped in cotton wool. I’m dying for bedtime, but sleep isn’t guaranteed as sleepy and tired as I am. I have the feeling that this intensive cognitive work somehow revs up my brain so that it’s tired yet cannot sleep until enough time has passed for the neurons to return to their usual working level.

Brain Power

Paragraphs in Lockstep, Restoring Reading Comprehension After Brain Injury with Lindamood-Bell

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Working the neurons, changing pathways in the brain, fills every cell in my body with white noise. Fatigue while learning how to comprehend written text is spreading into the rest of my life.

“Where do you want to meet next time?”

“Uh . . .”

“What part of the city do you want to do next?”

“Uhhhh . . .”

“Why don’t we touch base closer to the time and discuss it then?”

“OK,” I agree, dying for a nap. Or coffee.

Normally, I know what streets, buildings, areas I need to do next in my work with my CNIB orientation mobility trainer. But with the Lindamood-Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing program sucking every oxygen and glucose molecule out of every brain cell, every muscle cell, I got nothing left to answer simple questions.

As always, I find it remarkable how much a sweet something — not tooth-sucking sickly sweet but flavourful with sugar — can revive me.

Why am I surprised?

The brain runs on glucose, one of the constituents of sugar. Glucose refuels the brain’s energy packs.

I’m almost halfway through restoring my reading by developing my ability to create imagery while reading.

Early this week, the sound of the plane rattling in the story I was reading popped into my mental imagery. When I told the Director of the Lindamood-Bell Australia Centre, he was very excited. Very. This was a sign of automaticity, he explained. Not only did it pop into my head without any conscious thought on my part, it was also a second sense to add to the visual sense that we began with.

They’re changing up the program again. At least this time, it’s a balance of easing off with keeping the accelerator on.

Each hour begins with me straining to recall what stories I read the day before (or occasionally at the start of the second hour, the hour before) and then giving a word summary based on my recalled pictures of that story. I can usually recall one story, but a second story for the second hour takes effort. Yesterday, total blank. But once my clinician prompted me with the words “alligator turtle,” the pictures of that story began to flow back into my consciousness and I was able to recall most of the details. Sweet!

After that, either I or they read a Whole Paragraph followed by one or two Paragraph by Paragraph, either two or three paragraphs long.

The change up is that the grade level of Whole Paragraph has been dropped back down from grade level 9/10 to level 5 to be on par or one level above Paragraph by Paragraph.

The idea is that through Whole Paragraph, I will learn how to create concept imagery of more and more complex, dense, and abstract language. And through Paragraph by Paragraph, I will learn how to create concept imagery for longer and longer passages of text and develop greater stamina during reading. They want to keep the former at a level or two higher than the latter. And they want to increase the levels of both in lockstep with each other. I guess they wanted to give me a bit of a break by starting a new book of stories using this approach at level 5.

Brain Power

Creating Concept Imagery Paragraph by Paragraph with Lindamood-Bell

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At the end of my third week with Lindamood-Bell Australia, the Associate Director took over the last half of the second hour to test run paragraph by paragraph reading. She gave me a story at grade level 5, and I did well enough that she decided that it was time to drop Multiple Sentence task, continue with Whole Paragraph, and introduce Paragraph by Paragraph. That’s how I began week four today. I also had another improvement: all my main ideas were succinct, to the point!

We alternate who reads because I need to improve both my receptive (they read) and expressive (I read) language processing and reading comprehension. The Whole Paragraph Imaging with Higher Order Thinking stories are at grade level 9/10, but the Paragraph by Paragraph Imaging with Higher Order Thinking is at level 5/6. Aside from the obvious difference in length — read one paragraph as opposed to two or more — they also follow different processes. I have to review in my head or out loud when really tired the process before I begin.

Whole Paragraph Imaging with Higher Order Thinking

As I or the clinician reads the paragraph-long story, I image the characters, the movement, the colours, the scenery, background, perspective, etc., like a series of pictures or a moving picture. What I can’t image, I skip. Sometimes I don’t know what an object or person would look like, and I’ll skip that too. Sometimes the clinician is reading quicker than my brain can process, so I’ll zone out for a nanosecond and pick it back up wherever they are in the paragraph-story.

At the end of the reading, I’ll summarize the story in my own words based on the images I created. Then the clinician will ask me questions about my mental pictures of the story; as they ask, I create more pictures, add to the ones I’d created, ask them how to image abstract concepts, until I have a complete set of pictures for the paragraph-story. Sometimes I’ll change them as a result of realizing I’d misunderstood something or being guided to think more about the why behind a part of the story.

After the clinician has checked my mental pictures, they’ll ask me for the main idea. And lastly, they’ll ask me Higher Order Thinking questions. The books they use provide such questions; but often with me, they think up harder questions. And if we’re not careful, I’ll lead them into a rabbit warren of ideas and conversation.

Paragraph by Paragraph Imaging with Higher Order Thinking

This starts the same as Whole Paragraph: read one paragraph, give a word summary of that paragraph, check my mental pictures. We repeat the process for the succeeding paragraph(s). As I improve, they will increase the number of paragraphs I’ll read, and this process will be repeated for each paragraph. Today I or the clinician read to me two-paragraph stories. Either I can read the whole story, paragraph by paragraph, or the clinician will. The Associate Director said that sometimes we alternate who reads the paragraphs within a story. The one difference from Whole Paragraph is that a coloured square of felt is put down for each paragraph, like for the Sentence by Sentence or Multiple Sentence stories. They put a felt down, which I can see through the document camera, and I put a felt down on my own desk. I believe I’m also supposed to touch it, so I have visual and touch senses both feeding me an anchor tied to the paragraph (or previously, the sentence) that I’m reading.

Once the entire story is read, the clinician will ask me for three key images for each paragraph — the strongest pictures I have in my head, basically — of the story, touching and looking at each felt as I go through all the paragraphs. Then we take the felts away, and they ask me to give a word summary for the entire story — the story in my own words based on my mental images. When I have strong pictures or images, they know I’ll be giving a good word summary.

In my second hour today, and for the second Paragraph by Paragraph story of the day, sound suddenly entered my mental imagery! The addition of another sense, and automatically too, heightens the vividness of the imagery both in my mind and in the clinician’s mind when I describe my pictures.

After my word summary, like with previous tasks, I give the main idea and answer Higher Order Thinking questions.

Then I inhale half an ice cream sandwich, guzzle some pop, and fall into bed.

Brain Power

Twenty-Six Hours in To Visualizing and Verbalizing at Lindamood-Bell

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River in Yukon between mountains I thought Visualizing and Verbalizing was tough before. Yesterday, my fatigue grew and grew during the first hour that answering two more questions in the last minute was impossible. I’d read a third Whole Paragraph — only ever done two max before — done a word summary on it, been guided to develop more images and solidify them, come up with the main idea, and answered one or two higher order thinking questions. Before that, I’d completed two Multiple Sentences that were longer than I’d done up to that point and were filled with abstract language and concepts. I’d also begun the hour with a short recall task. I’d been expecting this task would be added; still, being asked to recall one of the stories I’d read the previous day caught me by surprise. Total blank for a few moments. Then the pink armadillo story slowly surfaced into memory. First a vague image, then it solidified and lead to another image and another until I remembered the key details. (Today, being asked at the start of the second hour, not just the first, also took me by surprise. Much more difficult trying to pull out of the blankness of my memory a second story.)

Although I didn’t feel myself being drained as I recalled the story, I’m sure I used up some of the brain energy I would normally have had to read and create images.

I had also met with the Associate Director and Director about an hour before my instruction for a half hour videoconference. Maybe I didn’t recover my energy fully before I began my training . . .

My neurodoc was supposed to have been there. He got the address wrong. But I had a productive meeting, regardless. And I’m so used to doing rehab on my own that having had a successful collaboration would’ve seemed weird, anyway.

Today, the Director of Instruction, who was in California, joined in on my first half-hour of instruction. Between her and yesterday’s meeting, I learnt a few things.

What is effort on my part to the point I begin to develop a concentration headache and can feel the energy leaving me, looks effortless to Lindamood-Bell staff. No wonder brain injury is so invisible! Interestingly, my term “concentration headache” gave both the clinician directing my instruction and the Director of Instruction vivid images of what was going on in my brain. I hadn’t developed any images from my own term!

I’m only twenty-six hours in and already at level J (new term for me!), which is grade level 9/10. They’re very happy with that, though expected me to be on this pace. I was told there isn’t any difference in terms of content between grade levels 9 and 10, and 11 and 12. The difference between 10 and 11 is subtle and usually about increasing vocabulary and building on prior knowledge. It mayn’t be much difference between grade levels once reached high school level, but I feel like I’ve been flung into a swift moving river and am stroking hard to keep my head up. I’m doing it, but the ice cream refuelling is becoming essential! It doesn’t help my fatigue when it’s muggier than a swamp after a thunderstorm.

Another thing I learnt: when concept imagery becomes automatic and language processing advances (becomes easier, I think), that’s when I may start to achieve flow — the state when so immersed in a book or work or cooking that the real world falls away from your consciousness. But my fatigue will limit how long my brain can sustain that. No guarantees!

Imagery in day-to-day conversation happens when automaticity has been attained in creating images. However, you can kickstart it in another person by uttering a negative command: “Don’t picture a pink elephant.” You just saw a pink elephant, didn’t you? Apparently, your brain does that automatically so as to be able to carry out the negative command.

The Associate Director noted I had changed, now adding gestures and using language that was consciously painting a picture in her mind. So even if I cannot perceive much change in myself, someone who sees me only every few days or once a week, can. That’s why the Director of Instruction wants to see me again next week, to see for herself if there are any changes. Meanwhile, she’s adding in a new task for tomorrow: Paragraph by Paragraph. Yikes! She assured me we would go down to a lower level, 5/6, for that. Phew.

These longer Multiple Sentence stories that require “5 felts” or have much more abstract language in them, are making my neurons pulse hard and continuously in areas not used to working in this way. This work is making me more aware of my imagery during instruction and is starting in a tiny way to make me conscious that maybe I should try creating images when reading articles outside of instruction. Maybe.

As they get me closer to automaticity, then it will bleed more into my normal reading life like tweets and articles. When I get to a place where it becomes automatic, then they’ll introduce more and more language.

Various people at Lindamood-Bell have commented on my focus and how I’m really working the process. I was a bit puzzled by that. I understand kids may not be diligent. They won’t be aware of the monetary outlay and maybe don’t care or want to work that hard. But any adult who plunks down a chunk of change and then doesn’t work at it is either swimming in dough or is . . . (scratches head) . . . I got nothing. This is the way I was raised. Work hard whether the job is school, volunteer, or paid. And besides, I’ve been trying to regain my reading for 18 years. I’m having all sorts of blinking grief issues over that, that disappear during these two hours of intense instruction. Escape from the crap is rather motivating, too.

Brain Power

Going Up a Level in Visualizing and Verbalizing with Lindamood-Bell

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The Associate Director of the Lindamood-Bell Double Bay, Australia centre popped in for my first hour to read a few whole paragraphs with me. We began with a Multiple Sentence with me imaging pictures for each set of sentences. Nice pictures was the verdict. We moved on to reading a Whole Paragraph from the level 7/8 book. Doing well was the verdict. She pulled out another book from the stack she’d brought in and chose a non-science story since I seem to find science-y stories easier. It was one I was well familiar with; I think I’d learnt it from either a chemistry teacher or an English lit teacher who liked those sort of details of how authors come up with characters, in this case, the Mad Hatter. Still, I wasn’t completely able to form images or moving pictures of the story as she read it at a normal rate.

The final verdict: I’m moving up to level 9/10. She explained that I wouldn’t see much difference between the higher levels, for example, between 10 and 11. But I would see more abstract language and more difficult vocabulary. Since I have a rather extensive vocabulary, the latter shouldn’t be much of a factor for me. It’s imaging abstract and complex concepts that’s the challenge. Also, if I understand right, once I’m proficient at level 9/10, they’ll be introducing longer stories. Then it’ll be super tough! I’m so very glad I stocked up on Soma hot chocolate to rev up my brain in the morning after a hard night using it!!

I feel like I’m on a silent train speeding up unexpectedly every time I become comfortable . . . or even before I do! The AD told me that they had anticipated I would move up through the levels rapidly, that the first two weeks were to solidify the process and now we’re at the level where we use the process to really retrain my brain to read lengthy, complex material. And books.

Brain Power

Week Three Rehabilitating Reading Comprehension after Brain Injury

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 By the time week two came to an end, my brain was heading straight for a snooze on the couch . . . or at least there would be no blogging. Even now, it’s tugging at me to go nap. Needless to say week two’s progress report is a bit fuzzy in my memory. But I clearly remember that between hour one and hour two of the last day of week two, the Associate Director dropped the Sentence by Sentence task and changed my routine to Multiple Sentences and Whole Paragraphs after assessing my performance on a Multiple Sentence. Minutes after starting hour two, when my clinician asked me what story we’d read, I had zero memory of it. As the AD explained later, that was probably because she hadn’t taken me through the whole process to the end, which includes main idea and answering higher-order thinking questions. Once the AD mentioned it while going over my report, I remembered it was about crows, and I recalled bits of the images I’d created.

Today, my first clinician — one of the consultants I’d met only briefly in week one — asked me if I noticed any difference. Not really. The thing with me, though, is that any improvement I have I see as having always been like that; only in looking back over the previous day or previous session do I realize there’s been a change. Also, only later did I recall that the clinician on Thursday had noted I’d changed from the previous week. Whereas in week one, I would take a few moments to create imagery after reading a sentence, by the end of week two, I was verbalizing my images right away.

Today, it wasn’t long before I did see another change. Whereas in weeks one and two my main ideas were a tad verbose, today, my main idea was succinct. It was for all the stories in hour one —  for Multiple Sentence and both Whole Paragraphs. Less so in hour two, but as usual, the brain was straining by then. I’m still reading sentences in Whole Paragraphs slowly, pausing either midway or at the end  to allow my images to stabilize, catch up, or be created. There were some sentences I could not either image or understand a detail. But that’s why we have trained clinicians guiding us students. They ask questions based on structure words or go through elements in the story that give clues about why a detail is the way it is until we go, “Ah-ha!”

I’m gradually yet rather quickly going upward through the grade levels. I am, after all, already one-quarter of the way to my goal of reading neuroscience articles and philosophy of mind text in a way that I will follow all the way through and remember them. You can see from the progress report above that they introduced levels 7 and 8 in both Multiple Sentence and Whole Paragraphs even though I’m still partially proficient at level 6; I became proficient at grade level 7 in Sentence by Sentence. This week, they’re upping Multiple Sentence and Whole Paragraph to grade level 9.

I definitely noticed.

I asked a few times how to image an abstract word or concept, like for example, “endangered.” Sometimes they would give me examples of how they would image it. Sometimes I’d mimic that in my own imagery. But I also riffed off of their ideas and was able to develop my own image. I was relying less on my memories of movies I’d seen or news items. Only once did I. When imaging sailfish herding tuna, I recalled a scene of Orcas herding fish until, with promptings and thinking about the details given in the story, I springboarded it into my own image.

From my week two progress report: “When presented multiple sentences or whole paragraphs at a time, she sometimes requires prompting to adjust imagery to match the story as opposed to relying solely on prior experience. Once imagery is established, Shireen can verbalize a complete word summary with relative ease.” I’d agree: the latter is getting easier. I’m also learning that images stabilize and fill out and lead to the next images when I add in action, background, colour, and sound. Today, I was introduced to the idea of adding in emotion. Not so easy after having lost my affect for years and I’m still relearning emotions. Yet I can see that trying to do that may help me in my recovery of a normal emotional landscape.

Brain Power

Introducing Whole Paragraph on the Seventh Day Visualizing and Verbalizing Reading with Lindamood-Bell

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Parthenon Frieze of Lapith and Centaur British MuseumMy consultant popped in during the first hour of my session and read to me a whole paragraph. I ensured I understood the idea before she began reading. The idea: as she reads, I’m to visualize — create images and moving pictures in my mind — of what she’s reading. When she’s finished, I tell her the story based only on the images I’ve created. Then she asks me questions about those images to help me fill them out and, as well, asks me what I picture in those parts of the stories I’d totally forgotten or hadn’t created images for. Once I have a vivid and stable series of images and/or moving pictures of the whole paragraph, like with Sentence by Sentence and Multiple Sentences, I give the main idea.

It is not as easy as the words make it sound. The effort strains my concentration ability; it fatigues so much, I’d like to quit; it’s a series of my mind consciously commanding my brain to create images as I push my brain to keep focused on the words coming into my ears and eyes and my mind once again consciously commanding image creation until the words blur into each other and fall out of my consciousness until I can again pick them up and create out of them an image.

The consultant had done this before with me on the fourth day. This time, some images popped into my head a little more readily than last time. I did well enough that she added Whole Paragraph to my regimen, as we’d discussed she may do during my progress report. I had a small heart attack at the idea of creating images on the fly and the thought of launching right into that and abandoning the comforting regimen of creating images one sentence or two sentences at a time, under the guidance of the clinicians. But never fear, we would retain the core part of the program. Sentence by Sentence followed by Multiple Sentence followed by Whole Paragraph in one hour. I wasn’t sure how we could fit that all in because I didn’t think I’d completed three tasks yet in one hour. But my consultant assured me that as I improved, the Sentence by Sentence wouldn’t take the first half hour but less time. That one takes the most time because we do each sentence individually.

When Lindamood-Bell consultants assess, the lesson plan changes immediately. No dilly dallying here. My second hour tonight included Whole Paragraph, a story on ancient Romans. No giving the brain any choice in the matter. Naturally, it went, WHAT?! You want me to do WHAT?!!!! Then it glared at me, demanded truckloads of sugar, we bargained, then agreed upon the usual ice cream afterwards, this time chocolate with its added benefit of a taste so strong, it belted the tongue and woke up the brain.

Brain Power

Week Two: Polar Bear Club Leads Visualizing In Lindamood-Bell Reading Comprehension

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Ducks in open water patch in icy HarbourfrontTis a strange thing to be wearing a light cotton shirt while one’s clinician (instructor) is wrapped up in a scarf and jacket. We’re still getting used to seeing each other from different time zones, different day of the week, opposite seasons. I noticed right away that the first Sentence by Sentence was tougher than the ones last week. More details; harder to visualize. My consultant had moved me up a level, as we’d discussed during my progress report. My brain immediately felt the effort, yet I’d begun with good energy for me. My clinician asked me more questions about the pictures than she had last week, and she introduced structure words.

I’d been introduced to structure words on the first day. Today I was shown via the document camera rectangular white cards with a structure word on each one, one at a time.

  • What
  • Size
  • Colour
  • Background
  • Where
  • Perspective (where I was seeing it from)
  • Movement
  • Number
  • Shape
  • When

With each card, I had to look at it and fill in my picture accordingly. Some were easy to do. Other words took a little more thought. I find that as I answer the questions — or in this case, look at a structure word and think about how the picture shows it — the picture I visualize becomes clearer, gathers more details, may even become more stable.

When I was given the choice for my second Sentence by Sentence, I chose the Polar Bear Club, for I’d seen many a TV news story on it. It was a bit of a cheat. All I had to do was recall images from those news stories. My brain didn’t feel the effort at all, even though I was reading it. I created vivid images in the instructor’s mind, too. When she began reading to me the first two sentences of the next story — a Multiple Sentence — I immediately felt my neurons straining, like weights being flung onto them and straining their little energy machines. Yeah, the two sentences had abstract details that the Polar Bear Club story had not had, and yeah, it was two sentences instead of one with many details, but the real issue was that I had no remembered images to call upon.

It’s harder to create an image from scratch. It’s harder when creating an image from scratch to shift an image when more details are given to you later in the story that contradict or require changing the initial image. It’s harder to keep stable a from-scratch-image for even a second. The Polar Bear Club images were solid, vibrant, stable. The clothing they wore easily shifted in my visualized image to bathing suits from Santa suits when I was given that detail in the next sentences. In all the other stories I read, colour shifted easily but not location (where) or other structure details.