Tag Archives: affective

Seeing is thinking, feeling, understanding – let’s not neglect visual literacies

Pablo Picasso

The SLAV conference, ‘Transliteracy, multiliteracy, makerspaces: how can you participate?’ I attended recently (16 August) gave me much to think about, as they always do.  The featured address, ‘Ways of seeing’: The visual in Australian curriculum by Helen Kent and Catherine Reid from Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, highlighted an often neglected area of  focus on important visual literacies at the secondary level.

There does seem to be a stronger focus in schools on the analytical responses, and I am concerned that students are missing out if we ignore the visual aspect in favour of what we see as the more important textual analyses. I agree with Helen and Catherine that we need a response to the aesthetics, not just analysis, in our approach to the curriculum. Visual literacy is extremely important in the 21st century, and is particularly engaging to students, and must include affective responses if we want to develop emotional intelligence.

What happens to children who are surrounded by rich visual content in their early childhood and primary years who enter secondary school where this is suddenly cut off?  My guess is that, firstly, engagement decreases, and secondly, they miss out on developing the essential skills that come out of visual analysis. It’s not realistic to pretend that we live in an exclusively text-centred world, especially with the immediacy of images and multimedia at our fingertips now.

Are we mistaking visual literacy as being tied exclusively to the Visual Arts? The occasional comic prompt in an English paper? I realise I need to look again at AusVels to see where exactly I can find opportunities for students to articulate an emotional and aesthetic response – History, Civics and Citizenship, Maths and Science, for example, offer the opportunity for aesthetic responses, so I need to have a closer look.

Some takeaways which I’ll follow as leads for futher investigation:

  • First We See: the National Review of Visual Education which recommends  a whole new pedagogy to deal with visual literacies
  • the term ‘wreading’ – interconnected fluid process of learning reading and writing
  • Do we need a new term ‘Visualcy’  which describes the connection between literacy and numeracy ?

What we should be looking for is a pedagogy that enables emotional response to visual prompts. We have the Arts and teachers of the Arts to look to in learning about how to develop visual literacy in our students.

One of the questions which arose from the session was ‘Can we assess students’ emotional responses?’ I would be interested in a good conversation about this with people who have a keen interest or experience. In any case, as our speakers said, what is curriculum for? If it’s to guide us in addressing goals and skills acquisition, and if ‘viewing’ is one of the strands, then we should seriously develop this more in our curriculum to align ‘viewing’ with the other strands. Interesting to note that the rationale doesn’t emphasise enough the importance of visuals in Indigenous culture.

                                                                                                                    Rene Magritte – Ceci n’est pas une pipe

I haven’t summarised the entire content of the two talks, and I don’t intend to. I’d like to share resources I’ve been creating that might be helpful for anybody thinking about resourcing Visual Literacy in their schools. At this stage, my resources are targeted at English teachers, but I’ll make an effort to keep my eye out for visual prompts for different domains. Some of these below may possibly be adapted for others but I haven’t looked at this specifically yet. The images can be deconstructed, used as writing or discussion prompts, but these are just some of the suggestions – it’s really up to the focus of the teacher in deciding how the images can be used. Often they can be used for more than one purpose or approach. So, it’s over to you to think about how some of my collections can be used. Don’t be shy to share your ideas in the comments section of this post. It would make my day.

An old blog, Storyteller, with various writing prompts, including visual.

My Pinterest boards (selection) –

Art Inspiration

Awesome

Banned books

Bigger Picture

Clever

Imagine

Looking out

Lost

Maps

Mathematics

Old stuff

Photography

Story

Visions of the future

Words

Well, that’s it from me. For now. Hope you’ll share your ideas – look forward to the conversation.

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The research process is full of twists and turns

whichway

Photo courtesy of Hulalulatallulahoo p

My younger son, currently in Year 9, is taking part in an interesting research project outside of the school. His school has made a smart decision to run several programs which take the students out of the classroom and textbooks. This makes a lot of sense at a time when disengagement with normal classroom routine is possibly at its peak. Putting young people in a different learning environment, giving them a bigger-picture problem to solve, and a choice about how they are to present their findings, is a smart move. In his case, my son’s school has joined with La Trobe University and some of its lecturers, tutors and student teachers, in order to support a two-week research project.

What interests me as an educator and teacher librarian, is the affective aspect of the research process. After a week, my son is feeling overwhelmed and insecure; he feels he’s a failure because he hasn’t come very far. As I talk with him about how he’s feeling, I wish that a discussion of these feelings were part of the support given to the students.

It was a relief to me when I read Carol Kuhlthau’s research into the affective stages of research. I’ve written about this in a previous post. I discovered it was normal to feel confused and overwhelmed at the start of your research because you hadn’t defined what the question was. It was normal to feel the same way before you had found relevant information to support your research. It was normal to feel happier and more confident having found those resources, but also to plummet again when you faced the task of synthesizing this information into some sort of argument or presentation. And so, as each new stage of the process is faced, it would be so good to acknowledge that the way you’re feeling is to be expected.

Reflection is a good thing, and leads to self-awareness. The more you understand how you’re feeling, the less frustrated you’ll feel. Instead, you’ll be able to navigate these different stages of information seeking and synthesis, or any other learning process.

I wonder how we deal with this as educators. How can we identify how students feel and empathise with them, or provide context, if we don’t understand our own internal processes? I’m not sure that teachers’ busy schedules, with the ongoing face-to-face teaching of classes, interspersed with constant correction and preparation, allow them the time to stop and reflect. And that’s a great shame.

Blogs are an excellent way to routinely reflect on teaching practices, and document highs and lows, problems and celebrations. On the one hand, blogging has been embraced by so many people that there seems to be a hundred blogs for every topic imaginable. Blog writing is often made fun of, in the same way as superficial twittering. On the other hand, there are few educators in my school who blog, who see the point of blogging, or who regularly read blogs.

Recently, as I’ve mentioned before, I started a blog to record the progress of my collaborative teaching of a year 7 English class with Maria. It’s called English@wfc and it’s a space for me to write down what we do in class, how the students responded, how Maria and I felt, what worked and what didn’t, and what we learned from this. For me, this is a valuable exercise; it doesn’t take long, but it’s useful both for me and, I hope, for teachers if they would read it.

This blog also has a list of links to English-related blogs – all fantastic. Some of them are

As a teacher, I’m so much more comfortable and happier to function as a learner, continuing my own education and understanding, learning as I go, learning from others, with students – instead of just being the provider of information or the so-called expert. I appreciate looking into others’ teaching experiences, just as I enjoy writing out my own.

I hope that, as a parent, I’m able to support my son in his research agony through discussion, broadening his understanding and developing self-awareness. I hope that, as a teacher, I can provide the empathy and wisdom to go with the provision of information.

 

 

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Teaching – what’s it all about?

 

I’ve been reflecting about teaching – you know, the existential part – what’s it all about, what are our essential aims as teachers, how do we connect to students individually and as a group to engage and stimulate meaningful and creative learning? The usual.

Often I think about how I learn. I imagine myself as the student sitting in the classroom listening to the teacher and participating in the lesson. It’s easy for me to do this when I’m teaching collaboratively, and I can do that as a teacher librarian. The beauty of coming into a class as a teacher librarian is that I’m not the principal driver, and so I have a certain distance conducive to reflection which can be very satisfying. It’s not unusual to experience a cloud of ideas during the lesson, although these are not always fully formed ideas as much as reactions and hunches. More challenging is taking the time to record these ideas, reflect on them, and come up with planned solutions.

The one class that I teach collaboratively on a regular basis is an English class with possibly one of the best teachers I have met. This teacher’s leitmotif and driving conviction is ‘It’s not about what you teach them, it’s the connections you make’. Absolutely. If you don’t connect to the student, they haven’t picked up. If they haven’t picked up, they’re not going to hear anything you say. And once they pick up, they need to want to stay on that line. And that’s all about a personal connection. The teacher I’m referring to makes the positive connection with each individual student, and then goes on to create the group connection. This really is the best learning scenario – a student who’s happy with the relationship with his/her teacher, feeling accepted, acknowledged, liked, respected, and also confident as an accepted member of the class. This is where learning can take place. If you look into a classroom you can immediately see where this is happpening and where it is not. We’ve all seen it before: the class where students look distracted, bored, all looking in different directions, eyes switched off, and the class where facial expressions are turned on, students are bursting to contribute, focussed discussion or activity is taking place.

It is the affective domain that may be overlooked in teaching. It’s easily done; you have the curriculum content to cover, and you focus on delivering the material while keeping the class in order. It would be good to take a look at Blooms affective taxonomy, and I’m going to re-blog Kent Manning’s excellent post for this purpose.

Most educators are familiar with the traditional Bloom’s Taxonomy, but what I didn’t know, or had forgotten from my EDUC 101 days is that Mr. Bloom developed a taxonomy for the affective domain as well.

Let me explain.

Our school district has a “Growing with Character” system goal so when I happened upon Bloom’s Taxonomy of Affective “Transformation” it caught my eye.

It goes like this:

Level 5: Internalizing Values

Character acts on value systems as an individual, rather than in response to group expectations; uses teamwork effectively, values others for their intrinsic merit rather than external qualities.

Level 4: Organization

Character prioritizes values, resolves conflicts, develops personalized value system; balances freedom and responsibility and accepts standards of moral behavior.

Level 3: Valuing

Character demonstrates belief in a value system that manifests itself in solving problems for others and in valuing cultural and individual differences.

Level 2: Responding to Phenomena

Character participates in solutions, works with a team, helps others.

Level 1: Receiving Phenomena

Character listens to others respectfully.

Source: Bloom, Krathwohl, & Masia, 1964.

 

The dominant words in Bloom’s affective taxonomy are ‘values’ and ‘valuing’. With citizenship as the focus, the real learning takes place not within the facts and information themselves, but in the evaluation of these facts. We’re teaching the students as people and future citizens of the adult world, more than we are teaching information.

As always, I value people’s comments and look forward to hearing from you.

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