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Teaching Strategies: Tips For Your Visual Learners

Monday, November 10, 2014

A few months ago I wrote about assessing our students learning styles. I'm now working on gathering and organizing teaching strategies for each learning style. Here are a few things I've found helpful for our visual learners. According to an article on "Brighthubeducation" the following formats will benefit our students who learn best visually.
  • Look at words or images on a page
  • Use visual recall as a learning strategy
  • Imagining what things look like to remember them
  • Follow visual cues and landmarks during a journey or a task
  • Watch videos
  • Watch someone else perform the task or activity

Let's take a look at these strategies individually.

It's easy to spot a visual learner when teaching reading. These students can dive into a book. They may thrive on text. But what if you aren't teaching a reading skill? What about math concepts? These students benefit from having charts and diagrams, relating similarities and differences. Flashcards can be a helpful tool keep on hand. You don't have to buy them, just keep a pack of index cards on hand, and whip out a small set of cards for the facts, rules, or properties your students needs to memorize or learn. It can also be very beneficial to have your student write out these cards themselves, and include an example or a scenario that applies to the concept, skill, or understanding of focus. I use this simple personal glossary for every subject I tutor. 

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What exactly is visual recall as a learning strategy? I"m glad you asked, because I had the same question when I read this article. Here's a helpful explanation, but in a nutshell, this simply refers to using some form of imagery to help remember things. You may have seen someone tie a ribbon around their finger to remind them to take medication, or hold up 3 fingers to remember the items they need to collect. These are forms of visual recall, and we can help our students learn to use this strategy by teaching them to take visual notes. Instead of just writing down a term and it meaning, draw a picture that helps the student remember the meaning and/or application. Use graphic organizers to categorize bits of information. Insert photos into presentations. Whatever it takes to help your student visualize the material.

One of my favorite activities to do with a few of my students, starts off with me saying, "close your eyes. Now, imagine..." It doesn't matter what we are studying, when the student begins the lesson with a quick imagination exercise, their minds are more engaged the entire session. Once the lesson is underway, the student might realize that the image they thought of was way off. In that case, it's important to take a moment to help the student "re-visualize" the idea or concept with the more accurate understanding. Later, when your student is testing or needs to retrieve the information for a project or assignment, that image will be there waiting for them!

The next strategy has more to do with materials we use with our students than the actual strategies we use with them. Lessons, apps, and programs we use with our visual learners should be easily navigated by visual cues. This is especially true for non-readers and early readers who might not be able to read and understand complex written instructions. Providing our visual learners with materials that have visual cues to guide them will help them navigate with ease.

Videos can be extremely helpful for our visual learners. I would suggest, however, to search for and select videos ahead of time rather than on the spot during a lesson. Because our visual learners will be using the imagery we provide them, we need to spend a little extra time and effort to make sure the imagery we use is accurate and applicable. With the influx of Common Core lessons, I have found LearnZillion to be extremely helpful with my math students.

As teacher and tutors, do we take the time to model the activity for our students? Our visual learners will benefit greatly from watching us work through a complicated equation or sorting elements into their groups and periods,

Dou you have a strategy or two that wasn't listed here? Share your tips in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by!

                              Stefany (Interactive Learning with Miss Stefany)

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