Visual Thinking and Learning in the Classroom

It was a post titled “Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom“  from Richard Byrne on Free Technology for Teachers, that prompted me to write this post.

Visual Learner

I am a visual learner, which means I prefer to learn through seeing.

On Wikipedia you can read about Visual Learning:

Visual learning is a teaching and learning style in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and techniques. It is one of the three basic types of learning styles that also includes kinesthetic learning and auditory learning.

Visual learners also prosper when shown graphs, graphic organizers, such as webs, concept maps and idea maps, plots, and illustrations such as stack plots and Venn plots, are some of the techniques used in visual learning to enhance thinking and learning skills.

What I have learned too though, is that I learn best when I not only SEE visuals, but when I CREATE visuals. I purposefully dissected Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ book Curriculum21- Essential Education in a Changing World via visuals I created.

As I was reading the book (hard copy, not on my Kindle), I was using highlighters to not miss thoughts or quotes that I wanted to remember. It did not take long to realize that I was highlighting too much :) How was I going to get through this book and make sense of it, connect and wrap it around my thoughts which were floating around but had not been verbalized?

I know that I work best through concepts and ideas when I create diagrams or use mind mapping tools. I really like using the SmartArt Graphics in PowerPoint. The visuals below are a summary of what I “read out of the book”, the most important points in my mind and quotes.

I am resorting more and more to creating images, when I am trying to Wrap my Mind Around a Concept.  I don’t seem to be the only one learning by creating visuals. There has been an increase of Infographics all over the web. Recently, I also lead a workshop on upgrading presentation from “Death by PowerPoints” bullets and overwhelming text slides to replace them with visuals to get your point across.

I know that I want to bring, what I am figuring out about my own visual learning and my experience/background with digital images, web design and desktop publishing, somehow into the classroom and to students.

  • One of the 21st Century Skills is “CREATING”
  • The highest level on the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is “CREATING”
  • Media literacy, is not only analyzing and evaluating media, but also “CREATING” media.

The above mentioned post “Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom“  from Richard Byrne gave me the final push to start concretizing an approach to integrate CREATING visuals for learning into the classroom.

I used iThoughtsHD on my iPad to brainstorm ideas, lesson topics, possible learning activities and tools that I would like to use for students to explore their own visual learning abilities.


Take a look at Laurence Musgrove‘ s SlideShare presentation. It is full of great examples of (hand drawn) student created visuals! Please share examples of visual learning of your own student or learning activities you are “envisioning”!