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Sunday, October 7, 2012

VSL Learners: Part six Using Visual-Spatial Strengths to Learn New Material

Here's the assignment:
Create a blog with at least 8 entries to share resources and/or strategies with other educators, administrators, and/or parents. Be sure to include pictures, links, etc. in your blog. Make sure to describe how the resource or strategy might be useful to you and how it would impact VSLs.
I'm finally excited to see a chapter that will help me teach science.  It's not that the other materials aren't helpful, but they don't impact my teaching my subject areas as much as I believe that this chapter and the next will.

Suggestions and methods for teaching:
  1. Use pictures to illustrate.  This gives the learner something to see, visualize and this will help the learner to remember the material.
  2. Students should create their own pictures by learning to visualize math concepts and spelling words.  While I understand that some people can take a mental picture and remember details is that true for complicated material such as chemistry, physics, calculus?  Call me unconvinced.  Have you ever recalled exactly where on a page the information was, but you can't recall the exact information?
  3. Avoid drill, repetition and memorization.  On this point, I'm not sure that I agree.  Drill and repetition are necessary for taking knowledge and skills and making them second nature.  This is true for athletics, music, driving, foreign languages and so on.  What I think that we may need is finding ways that help VSL to drill etc. without turning them off to the material.  My guess is that coaches would find some of these claims laughable if they were applied to sports.  Why would we accept them in academics?
  4. Use technology such as keyboarding and voice recognition software.
  5. Avoid timed tests unless they are benchmarks that a student measures himself against.
  6. Content teachers (math, science, social studies etc.) should concentrate on content rather than on format, spelling, grammar and so on.
  7. Use humor and reach out personally and emotionally to VSL learners. This is good policy for reaching all students!
  8. Use music and drama to help students learn and memorize material.  Allow students to turn in assignments using these methods.
  9. Have students create stories to help them memorize new or more difficult material.  Golon gives the example of learning the 13 original American colonies by remembering a Jersey cow named Georgia on top of the Empire State building (but they have to know that New York is the Empire State) and adding all sorts of other features.  And she claims that you will remember this later.  I don't get how.  Why a Jersey and not a Guernsey or another breed?  Why not the Twin Towers?  You still have to recall all the details of the pictures later on.  Or another example Golon relates is HOMES for  the American Great Lakes.  Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.  Great, but you still have to know the Lakes and that the word "homes" ties them together.  What if you thought the word was "house"?  That could drive you batty!
  10. Tape lectures and go back over them.
  11. During lectures give students time to absorb what has been given to them and write or draw or reflect on it.  This is harder with younger students as they mostly want to get up and move around.  Which is also a good idea.  Don't make them sit too long.
  12. Teach students about how they learn and the strengths and weaknesses with each style.
  13. Use metaphors to have the students learn such as similarities between a car and the human body.  Of course somehow they have to learn what one or the other does first!  The filters are like the kidneys or vice-versa and so on.  These comparisons can be summarized in Venn diagrams.

The following quote is interesting:
So students who have right-hemispheric preference need a different approach for learning. The first directive for all teachers and parents is to understand that:  ALL STUDENTS MUST HAVE CURRICULUM AT THEIR CHALLENGE LEVEL so that they develop the skills they need. And it is imperative for appropriate challenge so that any problems might surface early. Far too many bright students develop coping strategies for masking learning problems – which may surface only at the time they finally reach their challenge level. All of us know people who coast through school only to “crash and burn” when that time arrives.  (
I think that every student needs to be helped to learn how they learn.  And they should be helped to learn early.  If they don't learn how they individually function early and they mask their problems then they may not develop the strategies they need until it is too late.  Or it may make their lives more difficult as they develop their strategies later in life.

Materials taken from:
  • From Silverman, L. K. (1993, Nov.) How to access the right hemisphere. Overhead presented at the Independent Schools Association National Conference, Indianapolis, IN. [An expanded version, under the title, "Instructional Strategies for Visual-Spatial Learners of All Ages," appears in Silverman, L.K. (2002). Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner (pp. 306-313). Denver: DeLeon.]
  • From Silverman, L.K. (1998) Personality and learning styles of gifted children. In J. VanTassel-Baska (Ed). Excellence in educating gifted & talented learners (2nd ed., pp29-65). Denver: Love.
  • "How to Reach and Teach the Visual-Spatial Learner" by Penny Choice
  •  "I Think in Pictures, You Teach in Words: The Gifted Visual Spatial Learner" By Lesley K Sword.
Images from:

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