I just finished my two weeks of training we do every year at HISD. I will admit some are better than others, but like all training, you can gleam something from anything.
This year I was fortunate enough to go to a Kagan training. I am so glad I did. There was a lot to take away from it. However, the underlining thing I learned was the importance of visual cues when it comes to teaching.
I always knew the importance of teaching with visual cues, we use it all the time in the SPED department. There have been all types of scholarly reports on the use of visual cues in learning. This time though, it really rang home during this training session.
A simple page number
The first thing I noticed is that the instructor put the page number we were referencing on every slide he presented. I get it, not revolutionary!
He only mentioned it was there for maybe two or three seconds. He wanted us to know it was there and if we didn’t hear him say which page, to look at the slide. I really didn’t think much of it until the day went on. I found myself looking at that slide if I got lost and needed to know which page to turn to. The crazy thing, not one person asked the entire day…what page are we on. The one thing we hear all day in a classroom.
That one simple thing kept 150+ people on track the entire day.
Crazy little images
The other thing he had us do is literally draw little images in the book we were using. I’m not talking works of art, more like squares with little smiley faces in it, or footprints inside a square. He used it to cement the strategy he was teaching at the moment.
This training happened in the middle of summer and I still remember the images and could teach you the strategy it goes with. That is a lot more effective than any sit and get training.
To illustrate how this hit home I want to share with you how he taught it to us. We did a round robin. Once we had our partner, he told us that he did all the talking so far, and now it was our turn to describe what we learned. He asked the first person to share the first strategy and recap it.
As this happened my partner went first. Needless to say it was vague and even mixed the two strategies we had learned so far.
He then said ok how did that go. No one answered. But we were all thinking the same thing. It didn’t go well at all.
He said ok remember those shapes I had you draw for the second strategy, he walked us through the three he used. As soon as he said the squares, I knew exactly what the strategy was and remembered what they meant.
He then asked us to share with our partner what the second strategy was. I did so seamlessly and in about two minutes.
Just having those visual cues as anchor parts in what we learned changed everything. I knew exactly, or better yet, remembered what we had learned. That was the real eye opening moment for me.
A horse is a horse of course
The last thing that rang home with me is when he started calling out objects. The first word he said was a horse. Now my brain first went to the spelling of a horse. But as he went on naming objects I was actually seeing the object and not the spelling of it.
I knew right then that when we use visual cues in a classroom it cements or holds our lessons together. It is something the student can return and recall. We could sit up there for hours lecturing if we wanted to, but guess what, no one will remember what you said.
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