VAK in the classroom

Every time we explain something, or every time we ask our students to do an exercise, we use a representational system and ignore the others. Each exercise, each activity, and each experiment, according to how they are designed, present the information in a certain way, and ask the students to use one specific representational system.

What representational system do our students have to use when we explain something verbally? And when we write on the blackboard? When they solve a puzzle? In the activity table there are examples of some of the classroom activities according to representational systems. It’s good practice to write a list of the activities we use the most in the classroom, and to classify them according to the representational system or systems they use. The fact that we use visual, auditory or kinesthetic activities influences our students’ learning. When we receive information, or when we have to work on an exercise, it’s easier to understand things if they are in our preferred representational system.

When we write our students’ tests, we try to give them written instructions, making things as clear as possible. Almost always, there are students who ask us to explain one of the test’s questions better. So what should we do? Usually, I start by reading the question out loud. Frequently, as soon as I finish reading out loud what’s written in the paper, the student says he understood and doesn’t need more explanations. An auditory student understands much better when he hears than when he sees, even if the explanation is exactly the same.

It’s not just students that have preferences and styles of learning. All teachers have their own styles for teaching their class, and that style is reflected in the way in which we use the different representational systems. Most of us usually use one representational system more than others when we teach a class.

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Understanding students

A teacher should know that after providing the same lecture on a subject, not all of the students remember the same things. Some students will find it easier to remember information that was written on the blackboard, while others might remember better what the professor said, and a third group could have a better memory of the impression that the lecture gave them.

When we have a group of students who are used to paying more attention to what they see, and we give them verbal instructions (for example, to do exercise 2 on lesson 4), then we might have to repeat the information several times, because they won’t hear it. If we have the same group of students, and we write the instructions down on the blackboard, then we’ll avoid having to repeat the information multiple times.

Representational systems are not neutral. It’s not the same thing to remember images as it is to remember sounds. Each representational system has its own characteristics and functioning rules. Representational systems are not good or bad, but they’re more or less efficient for certain mental processes. If I’m choosing an outfit to wear, it could be a good tactic to create an image of the different clothing items, and to mentally “see” how they match with each other. Focusing on the appearance is not that good of a strategy if what I’m doing is choosing food from a restaurant menu.

Every system has its own characteristics and is more efficient in some fields than in others. So, my students’ behavior in the classroom changes according to the representational systems they favor, whether they’re more visual, auditory or kinetics.

As teachers, and to strengthen our students’ learning, we’re interested in organizing classroom work by taking into consideration the way in which all of our students learn.

Healthy body equals healthy mind

In good condition

The appropriate diet of the students, the control of their body positions, the activity and the physical rest, are elements that favor the concentration of the students and that should be taken into account before starting a successful study session. To know in which times we work better (in the afternoons when coming back from school, at night, or in the mornings before going to class) also helps to the creation of a personal working schedule. To study is an independent intellectual work that allows us to design our own schedules in order to assimilate the contents in the best possible way. A combination of study and rest will favor the process.

The working plan should include everything that relates to a good planning and organization of the real time we will dedicate for studying, taking into account the number of subjects and their difficulty.

Concepts such as the hypothetical, real and free time, as well as an assessment of our daily extracurricular activities and those that we spend some weekly hours in should be checked and analyzed in order to plan successfully the study schedule: weekly, monthly or quarterly.

 

The guidelines for the study of a subject can be as following: 1.      Pre-reading: a first Reading to get familiar with the topic.

2.      Notes on the side. Underlining of the main ideas.

3.      Study reading, revision reading.

4.      Summary of the content.

5.      Graphic diagram in order to memorize the information visually.