“Children with dyslexia have a difficult time learning to read and write in a typical classroom setting. Most teachers often gear their lessons to students with auditory learning styles. The teacher relies mostly on talking to teach. Teachers lecture, explain and answer questions orally. The dyslexic learner cannot process this information using only his auditory modality. For this reason, dyslexic learners need to learn using an approach that simultaneously combines auditory, visual, and tactile learning strategies to teach skills and concepts.”
~ Karina Richmond, MA
Pride Learning Center
How do we approach teaching children with diverse learning challenges? First it is very important to incorporate visual elements in learning. Our way of experiencing the world nowadays is highly visual and multimodal. With Covid-19 causing a large majority of distance learning to be implemented it is even more important now to use visual elements in your teaching. Because when students are placed before a screen for hours, students can get bored and distracted more easily and can also ‘hide’ behind the screen – you need to create a lesson that is engaging, fun and simple.
A Single Photo
Single pictures are a good choice when teaching young learners vocabulary, as long as the pictures contain some level of detail and can be exploited to elicit extra language – for instance colours (it is red/yellow/black), shapes (the screen is oval/square/rectangular, the buttons are round/oval/rectangular) and opinions/likes/dislikes (It is very nice/I like it because…) – and not only for teaching just a single word (this is a mobile phone).
Complex Scenes and Multiple Photos
Complex scenes and multiple pictures are excellent resources which can be used in any class.
This kind of visual element can be used for speaking activities about: clothes, describing people, the present continuous, prepositions of place, modals of deduction and speculation.
Comic strips are another excellent way of getting your students to produce language. There are websites that allow you to create your own storyboard and choose scenes, characters, poses, facial expressions and many more details. For instance the basic plan at https://www.storyboardthat.com/storyboard-creator is free of charge. You can either create a storyboard yourself with empty speech bubbles for the students to complete. Or you can get the students to create their own storyboards and text. This will keep them highly motivated and you will all have great fun together checking all the storyboards produced!
During Covid-19 many students are being given a great amount of homework which they have to work through independently. Their attention span is put to the test. In the real classroom students have their little distractions and can chat with their classmates. Online classes are much more intense. It is rather tiring for kids to focus on a screen for several hours, and the use of visuals offers a variation and prevents students from getting bored and distracted.