Monday, March 25, 2013

iTIP of the Week: Drawing for Learning

Pictionary is fun! Many of us have played it and had a blast! But if you start thinking about it from a teacher's perspective, the words you had the most difficulty drawing and conveying were probably the ones you didn't know very well yourself. The ones you could draw easily are the concepts and words you knew very well.

Check out this video to get your brain moving:

Granted, Sheldon is just conveying a set of words, but the game can also have the teams draw concepts. Drawing is a powerful tool to help make the abstract tangible, make connections with previous learning and other disciplines, and personalize notes and ideas. 

How much do you use this in your classes? 

Drawing and Artwork is Strategy 2 in Marcia Tate's Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: 20 Instructional Strategies That Engage The Brain. In this section, she makes some very important points about how drawing aids in student learning:
  • Adding drawings to notes helps in future recall and demonstrates a higher level of understanding (Bloom's Taxonomy)
  • Drawing and artwork help to better understand abstract concepts.
  • In math, drawing can help students visualize the problem before solving it.
  • Success in STEM is due to keen observation, spatial reasoning, and kinesthetic understanding. These are all skills utilized in Art.
  • When involved in art activities, different parts of the brain are activated thus increasing connections and engagement.
  • Understanding artistic patterns can help the brain find patterns more easily in other learning.
  • This personalizes the notes and ideas being given by the teacher.
Try it! The easiest way to incorporate drawing and artwork is to have kids add it to their notes. When you give them a definition or concept, have them draw a picture of it. If it is difficult, they may need more instruction as they have not reached full understanding yet.

Here are some other ideas Marcia Tate provides:
  • Have the kids design a "Pictionary" game with the key vocabulary for the unit.
  • Let the students draw on the marker board (or a big piece of paper) a key concept from the unit thus creating a class mural. Be sure to have them explain and defend their drawing.
  • Have kids diagram the steps of a lab much like the instructions we all get for putting together home appliances.
  • Have students design a book cover for the main idea/concept of the chapter or unit.
It does not have to be aesthetically pleasing, a Van Gogh, or anything worthy of displaying. Also, it doesn't have to be what you would draw. It is personal to the student and its sole purpose should be to help he/she learn.

Have a happy day!

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