Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Visual Learning

The faculty of our school have been going over the book Classroom Instruction that Works. When I read the chapter on nonlinguistic representation I thought that this would be something I would need to make an emphasis in my classroom. Basically, nonlinguistic representation means using graphic organizers, physical models, pictures, etc. when lecturing or note taking.

I assumed that this style of teaching would really impact the boys in my classroom. I assumed that the girls in my class would be more verbal learners and the boys more tactile or visual.

I decided that I would do a learning styles survey of my students to determine what their learning styles were. I had them take the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire created for North Carolina State's incoming freshman. I had to explain several of the questions to my fifth graders so it took a couple periods to get each class through.

I was really surprised by one of the results that I got back. More than 80% of my students identified themselves in the visual learning style category. (I realize that this is just one test and that the students have to be willing to be honest and think critically before answering the questions, but this is still an overwhelming majority.)

Now I have to ask myself, what do I do with this information? I know that these students have a need that I need to address. I have come up with a few things I can do to help them. I can use more visuals (duh!). I can use colors with my words to separate different topics or ideas. I can create visuals that complement what I say or what they read. I can encourage them to create their own notes using graphic organizers instead of just formal notes.

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