Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Visual Literacy: Part 2

I wanted to share the results of my "Causes of the Civil War" Doodle Test (7th grade History). First, the students received the idea enthusiastically. For some, it was because they were genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge in a visual way. Others clearly were hopeful that the project would be "easier" than a traditional test. The results were indicative of the approach that each student took. In general, I don't think my class thought of this assignment as seriously as if it were a traditional assessment. But a number of students demonstrated as much learning, if not more, than they would have otherwise. Check out the results below. I did not include some of the poorest examples.

While really short on information,
 I loved the visual concept of this doodle.
The student was required to re-submit the assignment.

Blood! Interesting use of flag throughout projects- Our
Upper School recently had some intense discussions about the flag and its
use in provocative art. Stepping point for engaging some difficult conversations.

This doodle had a great visual scheme, although
it fell short on details and content.

1) Did this assignment reach students effectively, or did it play into the hand of my "artistic" students while setting up others for failure? Grade average was about 90%, median around 85%, and a few were 'D' or below. 
2) For those that struggled, was the visual requirement of the project a barrier? Does it have to be if they are taught to re-think what doodling really is? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Visual Literacy and the Doodle Revolution

Sometimes the impact of a conference takes time to trickle down into your classroom. Inspired by some very artistic 6th grades with a habit of doodling and drawing in class, I began thinking a lot about Sunni Brown's presentation at NAISAC this year. I think it's time to embrace a bit of visual literacy in my Humanities classes. Recently, this took the form of doodle review sheets created by the 6th grade as we prepare for an exam on the Roman Republic and Empire.

 Without a doubt, these aren't Sunni Brown worthy doodles. They're clearly the work of students who haven't had a lot of experience or time developing their visual vocabulary. Instead, they reflect the type of visual work the students have been most often exposed to- graphic organizers. Only the first doodle departs from a traditional categorized\boxed\webbed map of ideas. But I suspect with time, the students, at least some of them, will begin to explore beyond.
Just today I assigned a large scale doodle of "Major Causes of the Civil War" as a 7th grade end-of-unit test. So the experiment of teaching continues.