4 Ideas for Boosting Visual Learning in the Classroom

As an educator, you understand perhaps better than everyone that students embody a full range of learning styles. One of your students might be able to sit quietly and take notes for a full class period without issue—and perhaps even enjoy doing so—while another student is simply itching to get their hands dirty with a tactile experiment. Some students excel at listening exercises and prefer to “read” by listening to audiobooks, while others reach for their physical copies so they can absorb the text with their own eyes.

Whether or not you believe in distinct learning styles, it’s undeniable that students show natural inclinations toward certain ways of learning. To support visual learners and encourage your other pupils to get out of their comfort zone, it’s beneficial to boost visual learning in your classroom. Here are four ideas for doing so.

Have Students Doodle and Craft

The widely accepted model for taking notes involves following some sort of outline. This works for some learners, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Asking students to draw their notes from time to time—or at least doodle in the margins—is a fun way to help students learn outside the box.

There’s even a name for this note-taking strategy: “sketch notes.” All in all, visual note-taking is a great medium for turning classroom lessons into a story, which can help students connect with important information to boost retention. You can even kick things up a notch by passing out art supplies beforehand so students can incorporate different colors, fonts and textures.

Incorporate Visual Learning Tools

One efficient way to infuse a burst of visual learning into any given lesson is using a tool like a word cloud maker. When students contribute to a collaborative word cloud that assembles instantly based on their answers, they’re engaged on a few levels. Firstly, they have to deliberate carefully about what word they’re going to contribute and why. Then they receive the visual impact of seeing their response onscreen along with their classmates’, moving and re-sizing in real time. There’s also the visual appeal of different colors and shapes juxtaposing against one another, which tends to be more engaging for visual learners than plain text and uniform font.

The takeaway? Think about how visual learning tools can help you turn ideas into full-fledged visual representations.

Provide Relevant Visual Aids

Lecturing tends to be the go-to format for conveying information in the classroom, likely because it’s relatively efficient. Except an increasing number of educators are pushing back against this traditional teaching method. Why? Because it’s unrealistic to ask students to pay attention to a steady drip of information for a long period of time.

For this reason, it’s important to punctuate lectures with eye-catching visual aids. According to Literacy Planet, examples of visual elements include:

  • Maps

  • Diagrams

  • Flow charts

  • Drawings

  • Photographs

  • Videos

Allow Individual Project Flexibility

Next time you’re planning a project to assign to your students, consider how you could build in flexibility for learners. Instead of asking every pupil to complete the exact same straightforward project, give them some choice in how they tackle the topics at hand.

A literature teacher asking students to complete a project on a certain book could give students the option to hand in some combination of the following: write a paper, give a speech, build a diorama, present a hands-on demonstration, write a letter as one of the characters, illustrate a scene, etc. This serves to encourage individuality within your classroom and lets people explore mediums besides the written word alone.

Boosting visual learning in the classroom can benefit all kinds of learners, so consider how you can do so in your own this year.