Keep in mind the concept of visual representations and the need to help
students understand things in different ways. Students have different ways of understanding and
learning, and visual representations are a powerful way to represent complex and
difficult concepts and ideas.
- Encourage students to think about the use of visual images and representations in print and
electronic media. Newspapers, magazines, and television programs all use visual images, graphics,
charts, symbols, and color to explain and represent data. Visualization is all around us, but we
rarely notice it, so help students to see the wealth of images and electronic representations
that are part of our everyday world.
- Whenever possible, have students create their own visual representations of the things
they are studying. Students can produce their own visual images on the computer, by taking
pictures, drawing diagrams, using graphic symbols, and microworlds are also valuable ways
to help them understand. Most computers have graphic software that can be used for
basic drawing. Other software is available that has templates of symbols and lines that can
be used to draw charts, graphs, and pictures.
- Involve students in group discussions of visual representations. Part of the power of
visual images is in their ability to promote
discussion about the concepts in the models. These types of social interaction are a
productive learning experience for everyone.
- Take advantage of the support for other teachers and staff within your school, your
district, and elsewhere. Art teachers, for example, can suggest student resources for graphic
design and visualization. There are also discussion lists available on the Internet oriented
toward graphics and visualization. For example, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has
a discussion list, firstname.lastname@example.org, as part of their special interest group (SIG) on
computer graphics. The Usenet group, comp.graphics.visualization, is dedicated to discussions about
electronic visualizations. Join these discussion lists and learn from the people who frequent
them as much as you can about visual representations.
- Download free or shareware software to support electronic visualization, educational
simulations, and microworlds. The Related Resources section has links to Websites where these
tools can be downloaded, and the Professional Growth big idea has references to Websites that
contain shareware or free software.
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