In education, there’s one thing that has always remained true: students have a variety of learning styles. I used to get so frustrated when students weren’t “getting it.” It would drive me, and probably them crazy. However, then I thought about how students learn and started using visuals to enhance student learning.
What are Visuals?
Visuals are anything that students see and know instantly what they are supposed to do. This does not require a lot or any reading at all. To put it into perspective, it’s like knowing the signs when you are driving. We all know what a stop sign and what colors like green, yellow, and red mean. Those are visual cues that we get and don’t have to put too much thought into. You can implement these same concepts into your classroom. How? I’m glad you asked!
1: Use Visuals to Enhance Classroom Management
One of the first things students need to understand are classroom expectations. If you are teaching younger students or students who are Newcomers in your ELL classroom, they may not know how to read. However, looking at pictures of what they are supposed to do and not supposed to do can be incredibly helpful. By having a visual representation of your expectations, you are ensuring your students can understand what they should be doing. You can pair this with a behavior management system with visuals to enhance student learning as well. As we all know, students won’t learn when they aren’t focused and ready.
2: Creating a Class Schedule
Another way to use visuals to enhance student learning is through the use of a visual class schedule. Once you establish a class schedule, you can use a simple paperclip to move it to the activity you’re currently on. This isn’t just for going from class to music or another special. You can also use this to move from one subject to the next. By having this visual schedule, students can get the materials they need to be successful. This is especially helpful in centers.
3: Visuals Help Develop Routine
Throughout the school day, you’re going to have different routines.. One area in the classroom where it’s vital to have strong management is in your centers. Centers work best when they run smoothly due to the perfect system you put in place. In order to make it run well, it’s important to add visuals to your center instructions. This can be a map of where to go, the visual list of materials you need, or visual directions. Any visuals to enhance student learning that you can use is only going to make things better for you and your students.
4: Increase Word Recognition
Beyond classroom management, you can use visuals to help students recognize unknown words while they are learning different syllables. For example, in my Final Stable Syllables activity, your students can see the word written as well as a visual representation of the word. This is incredibly helpful for ELL students who need the reference to what the word not only says but means.
5: Give Directions with Visuals
Finally, one of the last things you can do to prevent student confusion and being asked to repeat the directions multiple times is to use visual directions. Visual directions enhance student learning because it broadens the number of students who can read them. In addition, it helps those who are simply more visual learners. Not a single student in your classroom will be “hurt” by using visual directions.
Visual learners are incredibly common in our society. We teach children visually from an incredibly young age through the use of technology and the television shows they watch. While students might not always need this help, using visuals to enhance student learning will always make for a more peaceful and better run classroom.