I was Wrong.
Earlier in the year when I first started working with teachers at Piney I discussed teaching based on learning styles. I was met with mixed reviews, but emphasized this approach because surely teaching to a student's 'learning style' would personalize and make content easier to understand. Nope. I hadn't in fact researched this method before. I was basing my advice off of what I had always done, what I had been taught/shown, and what I had seen in other school systems. After researching, I saw how my 'professional opinion' and assistance had been misinformed and scientifically not supported. After researching learning styles and brain learning theory, I saw teaching to learning styles can actually be counterproductive.
There are two sides of the brain - Visual and Linguistic. The visual side of the brain (right) processes shapes, images, colors, music, art, etc. It is the 'creative' side of the brain which best understands sensory information. The Linguistic (left) is where processing of text, speech, writing, numbers, words, and reasoning takes place. If a student is taught by learning style, they will be overstimulating that part of the brain by inundating it with information. Some of this information will not be stored because our synapses cannot hold it all. Thus, increasing the likelihood the information will not make it to the student's long term memory. Read below about Dual Coding Theory which provides strategies to help students with note taking and concept retention.
Dual Coding Theory - Brief Overview
After reading a blog post, Math Giraffe, which highlighted the information shared above, I learned about Dual Coding Theory, DCT (every educator loves acronyms right?). In layman's terms, Dual Coding Theory suggests the right and left sides of the brain should be utilized together. A combination of information from the linguistic side of the brain in conjunction with images, graphic organizers, mind maps, etc will provide greater retention of knowledge for students. Students should be encouraged to think out loud or draw doodles to create concrete mental images. Teachers should provide advance organizers (graphic organizers) which clearly show the hierarchy of the lesson and could 'pre-teach' information, include concrete images with presentations (if an abstract idea, connect to prior learning), and allow students time to create these mental images. The study discussing Dual Coding Theory and Education can here found here. Information on Learning, Memory, and Study Skills is on pages 165 - 173. Information on Dual Coding Theory and Effective Instruction is on pages 173 - 177.
How to Incorporate this Strategy - Visual Note-Taking
From Math Giraffe "Dual Coding Theory and Visual Note Taking" Post http://www.mathgiraffe.com/blog/dual-coding-theory-visual-note-taking
Dawn McCaskill - 7th Grade Social Studies
Dawn utilized student data from throughout the year to help students work on a project which was most appropriate from them. Students were given the opportunity to work independently or with a partner. The project options were a more hands off project which requires the student(s) to design a resort based on what they learn about this part of the world. Students who might need more help, had a scaffolded project where they obtained the information, applied the information, and justified their opinions by citing evidence from the information they had learned. This group's project was titled "relocation expert" and they were helping American families decide where they should move in Africa. Check out the video below to see the first day. It was inspiring to hear Dawn discuss how well students were doing. Group members were engaged with content and challenged each other to justify their rationale when there were opposing opinions. See the video below for clips from her classes.
6th Grade Language Arts - Jordann Aler, Angie Smith, Julia Ware
6th grade was determined to spice up their pronouns unit. Think about it. Pronouns - how excited does that sound?! Not very, which is why they created an "Amazing Race" themed unit. Together the team collaborated and broke the unit into legs. Each leg required students to work through material and learning activities. Once students, in a group, could prove they had mastered the material the next leg was unlocked for them. Each day students thrived on the competitive atmosphere and held each other accountable, while teachers gave continuous feedback on student work and even handed out a 'road block' or two if a student was off task. Watch the video below to see just how exciting pronouns can be! Below the video is a link which provides instructions on how to set this up in ItsLearning.
If you would like help with visual note-taking, setting up an Amazing Race (in ItsLearning or other platform), or questions in general let me know! I'm happy to help. firstname.lastname@example.org