One of the greatest responsibilities for educators is finding a way to connect with every student, regardless of learning challenges or background. When language and cognition create barriers to accessing traditional modes of learning, visual supports are research-backed classroom supplements. Most of us were visual learners as children, so it should come as no surprise that seeing and learning go hand in hand. Today’s top teaching strategies are rooted in science and data-driven outcomes. We’ll explore how visual aids unlock the full potential of the diverse populations we serve.
Abstract concepts are out of reach for many students who already have difficulties accessing complex information via traditional educational presentations. Math, science, language and other subjects build upon successive units, so giving up on the mastery of a single standard of learning impacts the entire path forward for that student. Long-term retention of knowledge is the result of an entire lineage of stellar teachers going out of their comfort zone to ensure that students master even the most difficult content standards.
Images are central to scaffolding a student’s learning potential, whether in remediation or general education settings. It’s not just pretty pictures, either. Visual support refers to use of a picture or other visual item to communicate and convey information. Illustrations, photographs, drawings, objects, written words and lists are some examples of commonly used visual aids. But how they facilitate learning differs depending on use case.
For Visual Learners, Seeing Is Believing
In addition to visual learning, some students communicate more effectively through visual means. For beginner English language learners (ELLs), children with autism, and those with developing social skills, the freedom to visually express themselves has been shown to reduce anxiety they normally associate with school. The regular use of imagery in the classroom brings benefits that go beyond the mastery of content. Science shows that imagery doesn’t just help visual learners, visual supports promote independence in special education settings and for those with severe disabilities. Developing independence is one of the key goals of most special programs.
In districts with a population in flux, visual aids for remediation are hugely beneficial. When struggling students are identified and given the support to succeed through response to intervention (RTI) programs, flexibility of learning styles is a valuable RTI tool. Teachers know that some students simply don’t respond well to traditional modes of learning. Visual supports that are truly meaningful and relevant to the content unlock learning potential for children who might not have had the chance to try a different learning style before. Doing so with the guidance of an educator instills newfound confidence in students who previously felt like school ‘wasn’t their thing’. It can be as simple as incorporating a few powerful images into education slides, or as involved as creating visuals together in small groups.
Convey intent when trying something new in the classroom. A great way to show intent is to talk about what the purpose of the imagery is. Letting students know that the images are there to support their learning makes it clear that they are not to be overlooked. Giving students the option of creating their own visual supports is the perfect opportunity to build a personal connection with students who may be less verbal.
Boardworks Removes Barriers to Learning
The rise of technology-supported learning has led to a “mixed and matched” curriculum environment that reduces consistency among teachers within the same school and even the same department, a notion that is supported by a recent survey. Repeatedly jumping from one set of materials to another burdens students with distractions that detract from learning and applying knowledge. Consistency in the classroom supports better learning outcomes..
Boardworks’ turnkey library of interactive lessons for math, ELA, science, and history are expertly designed with visual learning in mind. Instructional materials are in a familiar slideshow format with ready-made animations and engaging visuals. Traditionally, preparing relevant visual aids was yet another facet of learning that teachers had to plan for, but Boardworks makes it easy by ensuring that imagery contributes to learning in a meaningful way. Schools, districts and consortiums that use Boardworks in the classroom have seen firsthand how fully customizable, engaging content can transform the school day for students and teachers alike. Our case studies feature the transformative possibilities of Boardworks in real-world settings throughout the nation.
Schedule a demo today to see how Boardworks takes curriculum support to the next level with turnkey tools and activities that unlock enriched learning for all of the populations you serve.