General, Reflection, Research

Unexpected Learning

At the start of semester 2, the lecturers made it clear that you need to use your second semester to prepare your portfolio for your first job. As I am still not sure in which country I end up after my Graduate Diploma, I decided that instead of building up an Australian specific portfolio, I invest in my time in my LinkedIn Network (feel free to add me). I started following anyone who works in education that is recommended to me. Thanks to the cookies, LinkedIn now understands that I am interested in education. Therefore, I often find recommended classes on my timeline and this week I found a class on Visual Thinking Strategies. 

The class Visual Thinking Strategies is given by Philip Yenawine who is the co-founder of Visual Understanding in Education. He states that Visual Learning is something that each child automatically does from birth onwards. We see things, wonder what is happening and decide whether or not we want to copy it. Therefore, each student, no matter how old or young they are, can participate in a Visual Learning class.

In Australia, all the ATAR (Dutch ‘VWO leerling’) students of English will need to analyse at least one visual text in their final exams. This means that besides reading and writing skills, the students will also be tested on their viewing skills. Yenawine claims that it is easy to have students participate in class discussion when their viewing skills are explored. The first question you need to ask your students is ‘What’s going on?’. This corresponds with reading for meaning. You will find that each student will be able to create their own narratives to the visual elements. Especially those who have a low literacy level.

The next step is that students have to give evidence for their narrative. Students will use the visual elements of the picture to support their answer or sometimes change it. Together you will find that the students are annotating the picture, just like we want them to annotate a text.

Finally, you ask them what other things we find in the picture and conclude the answers. It is important that during the discussion, the teacher paraphrases the answers of the students. This will give the students a sense of belonging and they will feel valued, which will increase their participation.

For me, the positive elements of Visual Thinking Strategies are that they are so easily translated to reading skills, everybody can contribute to the discussion and that it is a natural habit of students only this time we guide and direct the viewing. Additionally, it will increase student participation and generosity as students will feel valued for their contribution.

The lesson by Philip Yenawine is available through LinkedIn Learning for free:

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