Everyone knows that using visual aids when presenting information is a good strategy. Everyone from businessmen to teachers know how effective visual aids are when you want to grab the attention of your audience. We all know that there are some things that are just easier to explain with a picture or a drawing. We all know that.
Most Primary School Classrooms are filled with visual aids and concrete materials that teachers use. We use posters for rules and routines. We have big and colourful word walls with pictures to support new vocabulary. We display flow charts and diagrams and photographs and symbols to remind students of lessons we have taught. Primary School Teachers tend to use visual aids all the time.The fact is that students are more likely to retain the information presented in class if it is repeated in different ways (including words and visuals).
Secondary School Teachers are less likely to use visual support. Why is that?
I don’t need to convince you that using visual aids is just good teaching. You might be wondering how using visual aids in the classroom is a differentiation strategy. Here are some examples.
- Visual Prompts for classroom rules/ routines: I have told you about how I display my class rules/ routines. Photos of students following the rules and carrying out routines makes rules clearer to students. Seeing what is expected is a better reminder than being repeatedly nagged by the teacher repeating the rules. This is especially true for students with autism.
- Icons on Worksheets: when I create maths worksheets I include a small image of a calculator. If the calculator is in a circle and crossed out, students know they are not allowed to use a calculator. If the calculator has nothing around it or over it, the students know they can use their calculator. My students who struggle with reading can see quickly and easily if they are allowed to use a calculator.
- Icons/ Colour Coding on Teaching Slides: I use a bold font in green for instructions (or questions students need to answer). If there is information that students need to copy into their note books, I use a different font in purple or blue and a small picture of a pen. This highlights text for students with dyslexia and students who get overwhelmed with large amounts of text.
- Illustrating Vocabulary Words: insert images on your handouts so technical language is clearer to students or have students draw images beside vocabulary words and definitions. This will help them to understand and remember the meaning of the new vocabulary. This also provides an opportunity for your visual thinkers to show what they know.
- Visual Aids Displaying the steps of a process taught in class. Check out this teaching slide where the teacher has highlighted the buttons on the calculator that students need to use when entering an addition or subtraction equation. This strategy is vital when teaching students with speech and language difficulties (especially receptive language), difficulties with executive function and problems with working memory.
The bonus reason for using visual aids in your classroom is that it will make it so much easier to achieve the Rule of 7 Lesson Planning Challenge. The more images you use, the less words you will need!
Let us know in the comments if there other ways you use visuals to support your students with learning difficulties. Happy Teaching and Differentiating!