Visual Thinking

Am I a visual thinker? I think maybe I am… a little bit.  I just finished reading chapter one of Dr. Temple Grandin’s, Thinking in Pictures. I have never thought of myself as a visual thinker but I think I fall back on it when I am trying to make sense of something that is abstract to me. For example, a few weeks ago I was working on creating a graphic that explained my PKM. I knew what other’s looked like, but I wanted mine to have a visual image that showed each component. I also wanted each image to be connected to show a process. As I searched for images, the concept of a PKM became clearer and cleared for me.  To be honest, I think I spent more time “capturing” the perfect images that I did anything else. Standing in a flower field, picking the perfect flowers and throwing their petals to the wind is synonymous in brain with each phase of my PKM. In addition to this example, I couldn’t start writing this post until I found a picture that I felt captured what I was going to say. I couldn’t find one, so I made one.

After reading this chapter and recognizing similar thought processes that I go through when I’m trying to understand something, how can I apply this to my teaching and my leadership role at my school and district? Here are my thoughts:

Teaching:

I am clearly a big fan of visuals for deepening understanding.  When creating lessons for my students, I need to make a point of providing as many visuals as possible.  I think it would also be interesting to provide abstract visuals in which the students would need to make the connection from the learning target to the visual.

Drawing is important. With the daily grind and the underlying urgency I feel to get to the next lesson, sometimes I’ll skip letting the children draw (I teach 1st grade). At that moment it feels like a luxury. However, after reading this chapter I think I need to plan for the drawing time. I have a bit a guilt thinking about this next one…To all the kids who I have answered with a, “no” when they said, “Can I draw first, then write my sentences?” I apologize.  I get it. Especially after reflecting on my PKM graphic and this post.  Drawing the pictures help.

Leadership:

When creating powerpoints and presentations, visuals are awesome. Especially if I can find one or two that encompass the message I want to send.

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Let’s talk about this image now. Why do you think I chose this to illustrate my process for writing this post? How does it represent visual learning?

Keeping Parents in the Loop

I just finished reading chapter seven of Every Child, Every Day by Mark Edwards. In this chapter Edwards had a small section on the influence of digital conversion on parent communication within the MGSD school district. I really love the idea of giving parents regular access to their child’s progress (notice I did not say grades…I’ll discuss my thoughts on this later in another post) through a variety of means.

This is how I communicate progress:

Edwards mentioned IXL. If you are a teacher of math or a parent of a K-12  student, you need to know about IXL. IXL is a math practice website. Teachers and parents can monitor student progress. Kids love it because they earn virtual badges. Here is the report I received the week of May 3rd. The report also tells me who logged in and for how long.

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Have you heard of Class Dojo? Class dojo is a cite and app for behavior management. Parents can see how their child is behaving in class whenever they login. A weekly report is also sent home. Students can accumulate points. The kids love their avatars and I love being able to share this detailed information with parents. They recently added a messaging function. I can quickly text parents through the app. I love it! Here is a sample report I share with students at the end of the day.

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Questions About Communication

This article came to me through my feedly account.  Lyn Hilt writes a blog called Learning in Technicolor. In this article she explores a district’s decision to move towards more digital communication.  She takes different perspectives into mid as she writes letters to a superintendent, principal, teacher and parent voicing her questions.

She hits on several important issues such as equal access to information, crisis communication, school and classroom websites, and learning communities.

After reading this article, I looked at my own classroom blog. Which to be honest, I’ve been neglecting the past couple of weeks as school winds down. I think I definitely have a lot of positives but can also see room to grow. I’m excited to incorporate more things into my blog that will extend the learning community that exists in my classroom.