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Ideas for Using Visual Thinking in the Classroom from GradSTEP Participants

Posted by on Monday, January 24, 2011 in News.

by Derek Bruff, CFT Assistant Director

At the end of my GradSTEP workshop Saturday, “Show and Tell: Using Visual Thinking in the Classroom,” I asked participants to doodle their ideas for incorporating visual thinking tools in their teaching on large Post-It notes. I then had a few helpers collect these Post-Its and place them on the board at the front of the room, with ideas that involved student-created visuals at one end and ideas for instructor-created visuals at the other end. I promised the participants that I would share their ideas here on the blog, so here we go…

Above is the cluster of ideas for student-created visuals. Click the picture to see a larger version. Participants identified ways to have students create and use concept maps, word trees, flowcharts, timelines, and Prezis. For instance, here’s a lesson plan built around a word tree, like this Alice in Wonderland word tree:

The phrase “adopted volcano” caught my attention in this participant’s idea about using coordinate axes:

And this participant was inspired by my Post-It activity to try something similar on the topic of constitutional powers:

Zooming back out, here are the participants’ ideas for instructor-created visuals, including timelines, concept maps, and better PowerPoints:

I’ll admit that I don’t really understand what some of these Post-It notes are meant to convey! For instance:

But other participants doodled fairly comprehensive approaches to using visuals. Here’s one that rejects boring PowerPoint slides for what looks to be Prezi:

And here’s a plan for a lecture about psychopathy that features multiple visualization tools, including film clips, metaphorical images, and student-created Prezis:

The Post-Its placed on the middle of the board were supposed to feature ideas somewhere between student-created and instructor-created.

As it turned out, there were mostly just cryptic, like this one that clearly represents something interesting:

Other Post-Its in the middle of the board seemed to be meditations on the nature of visual thinking, like this lively one:

Thanks to all the participants for attending the session and sharing their ideas!


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