Visual thinking strategies

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Visual thinking strategies[edit | edit source]

Workshop Overview[edit | edit source]

Stage 1: Students view a video on Climate Change, brainstorm ways that climate change affects their local community, and write down their opinions on climate change.

Stage 2: Using Blogger, students engage in dialogue about provocative climate change photos (online).

Stage 3: Students discuss their blogging experience and write what they learned about climate change (in person).

Stage 4: Using Make beliefs comix, students develop a comic based on Stages 1-3.

Workshop Plan[edit | edit source]

Stage 1[edit | edit source]

Ask your students to view the following video on climate change:

Brainstorm ways that climate change affects your local community (Dewey, 1902). For example, climate change can cause San Diego to go through a long-term drought, causing plants and wildlife to suffer.

Then, have your students write one paragraph describing their opinion on climate change.

Stage 2[edit | edit source]

During this portion of the workshop, students need to sign up for a Blogger account. Encourage students to sign up with an anonymous name so they will be more comfortable sharing their opinions (Merryfield, 2003). Ask students to view the provocative pictures showing the negative effects of climate change. Have them answer the following visual thinking questions about each picture:

  1. What's going on in this picture?
  2. What about the picture that makes you say that?
  3. If you lived here, what other factors could you find?

For more information about Visual Thinking Strategies, click here.

Ask students to respond to at least 2 other posts.

Check out Climate Change Blog for an explanation of the Climate Change pictures. Here is one of the pictures and explanation from the blog:

Stage 3[edit | edit source]

Lead students through a discussion about their blogging experience. Use the following questions to guide your discussion:

    * Which picture did you look at first?
    * What did you first notice about the picture?
    * What did you post about the picture?  What did other people say about this picture?
    * Has blogging caused you to rethink your opinion on climate change?

Ask students to write one paragraph on the following:

    * What did you learn about climate change?
    * Has your opinion changed since beginning the assignment?

Stage 4[edit | edit source]

Have students develop a comic using Make Beliefs Comix. Ask them to answer the following prompt in the comic:

How did your view of climate change develop today?

In this stage, students are able to reflect on the workshop (Dewey, 1902). Students can use Jing to save their comic. Encourage students to post this on their Facebook page or other social media sites (Shirky, 2009).

Teacher Tips[edit | edit source]

  • For more information on Visual Thinking Strategies, check out VTS
  • As an extension, have your students consider the following:
    • After reviewing the posts on the blog, are other opinions trustworthy?
    • How can we use internet resources to find out?

You can also take this workshop in the direction of being critical of digital media that is user driven (Shirky, 2009). You can encourage your students to search other media site to test the validity of student's comments.

  • When the students are blogging, I suggest that you act as a mediator. Make sure the conversations are going in a productive and useful direction. For instance, if you think that postings are too subjective, you can ask students to provide more evidence with articles or videos.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Dewey, J. (1902). The child and the curriculum. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
    In his book, Dewey (1902) described the importance of context in learning. In Stage 1 of this workshop, students put climate change into context by brainstorming how climate change affects their local community. Dewey (1902) explained learning as a transformation process. Educators can help transform student learning by asking critical questions. In Stage 2, students blog and share their opinion. Blogging allows students to dialogue with each other in a non-threatening environment and provides opportunity for guided discussion. Since students cannot see each other, they are less likely to make judgments based on stereotypes.
  • Merryfield, M. (2003). Like a veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3(2), 146-171.
    Merryfield (2003) found that online dialogue can be more effective than in a face-to-face setting. When students discuss topics online, they are less likely to create stereotypes, because they cannot see the other person. In this non-threatening environment, students are able to freely share their opinions and learn from others. In Stage 2, students react to provocative climate change images through blogging and responding to other student postings. Merryfield explained that online discussions can help students reflect. In this workshop, students reflect through blogging, developing a comic, and sharing this comic using social media.
  • Shirky, C. (2009). How social media can make history [TED talk]. Retrieved from TED talk.
    Shirky (2009) discussed the impact of individuals using social media to spread awareness -- for example the earthquake in China in 2008. By using social media websites and other forms of electronic communication, news of what happened traveled quickly. Without online media and citizens reporting the news, the Chinese government could successfully hide the truth. Thus, online media makes it easier for citizens to be involved in spreading news and share their opinions. In Stage 4 of this lesson, students are encouraged to share their comic about climate change with their Facebook friends. Their ideas can be shared and spread easily throughout the Internet.

For more lessons incorporating education technology, check out these resources: