Transcript of Visual learning tools

This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the podcast (15:26)

Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Secondary Learners Educational Standards Directorate off the New South Wales Department of Education. As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played around New South Wales. Their art, storytelling, music and dance along with all first nations people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us acknowledge with honor and respect our elders past, present and future, especially those aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom. Welcome to the creative cast podcast series My name's Jackie King and I'm a creative Arts project officer with the NSW Department of Education. Today we're going to discuss the strategy of the weak with Alex Manton from Asquith Girls High school. Hi, Alex. How are you going today?

Alex – Hi Jackie, going well, thanks.

Jackie – Thank you for joining us today for our strategy of the week. You submitted a great video on our flip grid about visual learning strategies in music and your music classroom and the thing I loved most about your video is it finished with eating smarties at the end, which has got to win every kid, right?

Alex – That's right. Yeah, it's a bit of fun that one.

Jackie – Before we get into talking about your visual learning strategies, just in case anyone hasn't listened to our music subject chat that we did a few weeks ago, I hope that you might be able to give us a little bit of background information on Asquith girls High School.

Alex – Yeah, sure Asquith Girls High school is obviously an all girls high school up near Hornsby. And we have approximately 800 students there from sort of middle class background mainly. They're beautiful girls. That's a great school to work at. The students really do want to learn on the most part, which is fantastic, the types of students that we have there range from students that have had a lot of formal music training and some that have had none so. It's very diverse terms of their ability and knowledge in relation to music.

Jackie – Fantastic. So the visual learning strategies that you talked about was mostly targeted at Stage five, I think, in the video that you made for us on our flip grid. But can you tell us about what the visual learning strategies are that you have used with your students at Asquith?

Alex – Yeah, sure, there's look. There's so many visual learning strategies that you can implement in the classroom, whether it's in a music classroom or any classroom and a bit of a Google suggests that 65% of people are visual learners, and I think that's really important information to take that to the classroom. It is part of what's called the vark model. So VARK stands for visual auditory reading and kinesthetic, which is sort of the four main types of off learning. And I think that often we teach or can teach with an emphasis on reading or more. Or, you know, auditory kind of learning where we're talking to them all the time. And sometimes we can neglect the visual kind of learners in the classroom. So one way, I guess, from a general teaching point of view, and maybe some people might feel differently about this. But I think that power points are actually really important, and I don't mean just putting information up on the board, but implementing graphics or pictures or memes or something to engage the kids with as you're talking through the material, they're more likely to remember it in that way. I know that I really appreciate a power point. If I'm listening to a lecture, it just kind of helps my brain kind of consolidate the information.

Jackie – It's really important to use visuals to engage those students who who find it difficult just to listen to being talked to or or reading it. A lot of our students find it difficult to read and obviously, in music, it's important to have visuals up too of visuals of the notation or visuals of a keyboard or an instrument. And how to, where to put your fingers and all of that sort of thing. So obviously it's really important in music. How did you use visuals in music in particular?

Alex – So well, I've whole list of things, actually, obviously you saw my smarties sort of idea with essentially using Smarties as as counters the diagram in helping to build chords. But the other way that I I'd like to do it is using your hand to be like a prompt I guess, for students. So, for example, what I mean is, if you're teaching them about a scale or you're singing up a scale in class, that you're going to use your hand in like a solfege kind of way, I guess, to to show that the pitch is going up or down and then getting the kids to do that as well. Now that's kinesthetic as well as visual, but it kind of prompts them to know Well, okay, the pitch is going in this direction. So I need to sing it this way. And I guess that's where conducting stems from in many ways as well in that were sort of embody the music as we're conducting the whole. The imagery associated with conducting is telling the story and getting the students to play in a certain way. So, yeah, they're using our hands to show students a musical Concepts is another way that I use, you know, visual sort of strategies. I also have a really fun game called tone colour Bingo, which is where the kids, this is sort of for your yr 789 where I give. Um, I've made, like tone color bingo where they've got identify instruments by hearing, but then they've got to use counters, and there's the visual of the instruments on the page as well. And that's a fantastic way to teach tone color and really engaging, and they always want to play it.

Jackie – I love that.

Alex – Yeah, that's a good one. And I mean, obviously you mentioned learning like fingering on guitar or keyboard. To have a diagram, but even putting stickers, you know, for kids, that are really having trouble, putting stickers on the fretboard so they know where to put their fingers. That might be colour coded according to chords. You know what? I use this from Stage four right up to HSC is using texture graphs to describe texture, so you might ask the kids to analyse the texture the first eight bars of that music. And so they'll put the instruments down the side and draw up like a table and have to colour in where they hear that instrument in enter. And I find that to be incredibly effective, those junior using understanding the concept of texture because they could see how thin or thick it is, or if it's using staggered entries. But even year 12 like to incorporate that into their music one aural papers.

Jackie – I'm a big fan of the texture graph, texture graph and you know what? I think it's really important because to get in those higher bands for the aural exam, you do have to have a visual or something or notation or something other than words on a page to explain what you are doing. So a texture graph is really important, I think, when whenever they've got to answer a question about texture.

Alex – Absolutely. And it's just really accessible. Like I think that every kid gets it and they find it fun. You know, they like to get the textas out on that kind of leads into, I guess, the whole idea of notation and composition and using graphic notation to represent the music that they're making. And also even using a similar table model like, I guess you could call it a composition grid where you could write ideas in boxes. According to each bar for each Instrument, I use a lot of composition grids in my class, particularly in Stage five. as they're really learning how to consolidate their ideas, creating music. So yeah, composition grids are fantastic visual learning tool, and they can also implement traditional notation into that as well if they like to. So that's another way.

Jackie – Fantastic. Can I bring you back now to the specific example that you gave us in the flip grid. And can you talk through how you implemented that in your classroom? At Asquith Girls' High school?

Alex – Sure. So we had just been learning about pitch in general. So we were doing a lot of sort of theory based content in terms of learning about major and minor scales, learning about key signatures and then learning about intervals. So I used that technique to teach scales and intervals mainly. So if I was teaching them about scales and I said, I want you to make a D major scale. They then have to identify well what sharps or flats are in that d major scale and lineup their smarties or skittles on the notes on that scale.

Jackie – Sure, so you give them, like a a print out of a keyboard. Is that right? A print out of the keyboard and then they have to put their Smarties where the notes are.

Alex – And then we'll sing that together and often I'll use my hand as the visual to show the scale, going up and down, and I'll get them to do that as well with me. the same with the intervals also. Okay, everyone makes perfect fourth starting on D, and then they have to make that perfect fourth. So it's It's visual with kinesthetic, with the singing and the listening, and it's all sort of combines. And some of that content can be quite heavy for some students, and it's just a way to lighten it and try to make it fun and engaging, and particularly with those lower level kids. It did it did engage them into what could be considered boring.

Jackie – Yeah, that's fantastic. And obviously they know that they're going to get those Smarties at the end because they've touched them.

Alex – So it's a disciplinary tool as well, they can't eat Smarties if they're naughty.

Jackie – Love it. How did your students engage with using the the visual tool, the print out of a keyboard or whatever, and then putting the Smarties on them? What was the outcome for your students for you for doing that?

Alex – I think it it really helped them to store that information into their long term memory. In that they're doing, they're making that scale and they can visually see it on that keyboard so they could then play that scale on the keyboard. So it's definitely helped with their memory. I also think that it ultimately, visual tools in general and that one. It's a faster form of communication and embedding that knowledge rather than doing worksheet after worksheet or yeah, that that kind of thing is, well, like it kind of just go deeper because they have to really think about the patterns of those scales. So and again, it's that engagement. It promotes engagement and motivation and interest and I definitely saw that in the classroom when I was doing that this year.

Jackie – That is awesome and anything that's going to motivate them to understand that deeper music theory about how scale comes together or how a chord is built up etcetera, not just knowing the notes, but knowing that how is really fantastic and finding another way into that rather than just using aural skills or or worksheets, finding another way around that is fantastic. Is there any other sort of suggestions that you wanted to talk about today for your visual learning strategies that you wanted to share with teachers?

Alex – I think that generally one thing that I'm in habit of doing is as soon as I walk into the classroom I write up on the board what we're gonna be doing that lesson just in dot point and they might have catchy names or and it acts as like a visual organizational tool for myself and the students. But the students really like predictability, and they like to see where the next thing is going. And so having it visually on the border is really helpful. And I guess the only other thing is I know that you know, we like to colour code things right when we're teaching reading skills in English. You know, we've talked about get your highlight lighters out and highlight the most important aspects. And I like to take that one step further with Stage six that I use a who what, where, why model when doing aural skills, which is similar to the peel model that English might use. But once they've done their writing, I get them to get four highlighters and they have to highlight the parts of the text that are the what? Another colour for the why. Another colour for the where. And they can visually see then that they've integrated all of those things into their writing or not. And I found that particularly this year to be incredibly powerful. All the kids would swap their own text what they've written with each other, and they do it to their peers. And they got so much out of that activity and they could see where they were going to lose marks in the marking process, just from that visual representation through colour. So highlighting, but in a different way is super helpful.

Jackie – Such a simple idea, but obviously very effective because they can see immediately what they haven't covered. Yeah, beautiful. Yeah, I love some of those ideas that you've shared with us today. I particularly enjoy the Smarties idea because who doesn't love to have Smarties at the end of the lesson? You must go through a lot of Smarties, though.

Alex – Yeah, I get the individual wrapped ones, you know, You get them in the little boxes. So it's all covid safe smarties.

Jackie – Yeah, thanks. so much for sharing those ideas on visual learning today, Alex there's so much more that you shared than just what was in your flip grid video, which I thought was amazing as well. I think it's a really great way to engage learners in some of that heavier stuff that they probably don't really enjoy. And so finding a way to make them enjoy that and motivated, whether that be through their stomachs or or being able to see something visually I think is really fantastic. So thank you for sharing this strategy of the week this week.

Alex – No problems. Thanks, Jackie.

Jackie – Get involved in the conversation by recording your favourite teaching strategy using the strategy of the weak flip grid in the Creative Arts Statewide Staff Room. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter at Creative Arts Curriculum 7 to 12 or contact us via email. Creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au . Theme music for this podcast was composed by Alex Manton, and audio production by Jason King.


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