Aug 9, 2010

Visual Learners and Tips on the Web
Before I even begin, I am about to break the same rule I am complaining about.  That rule is to provide visual content to address the needs of visual learners.  Visual learners learn best when content is presented along with graphs, charts, clip art or video.  The reason I bring this up is, as you may know, I have been researching information on differentiated instruction.  In my research, I have found that most websites that provide tips for the visual learner, have no visuals.  I found this very interesting and funny at the same time.  I know that the average high school or middle school student probably wouldn't be scouring the web for information such as this - it is often teachers and parents that search out this information.

While we are on the topic, I have to say that the needs of the visual learner are something that often go ignored.  I remember being a student in school and sitting in class lectures that mostly consisted of words on a chalkboard or worksheets with text and no visuals.  When I became a teacher, I mostly taught the way I had been taught.  I slowly began to incorporate pieces into my delivery to aid different learning styles, but it was difficult.  Mostly due to the fact that many resources cost money that I and the school did not have.  Some pictures crept into my overhead transparencies, but were often black and white because we didn't have a color copier.  While passing pictures around the room was an option, I often didn't because you never knew the condition in which the picture would return.  Passing photos around also provided too much of a distraction  because by the time the photo reached some students, we had already reached a different point of discussion in the lecture, which confused them. 

Then, textbook publishers and the web enabled me to provide more visual content.  PowerPoint and SMART Notebook were lifesavers.  I connected a TV to my computer using an Averkey and began producing lectures in a digital format.   I would link my lectures to streaming content on the web via a web service our school subscribed to.  Small two minute videos that reinforced content we were covering helped those visual learners to make a connection between scattered words and thoughts. 

There are many ways, new and old, to provide a connection to content for visual learners.  These were just a few examples of what I have done in the classroom.  What are you doing in your classroom?