By now, it is common knowledge that students have preferred learning styles. What began as a hypothesis is now backed up by decades of educational research: Teaching in a way that addresses a student’s preferred learning mode leads to increased comprehension, motivation, and metacognition.
In theory, as a teacher, you should try to address multiple learning styles each week and, ideally, during each lesson. In practice, you are just one person trying to meet the needs of twenty or more students every hour—often on little sleep and lots of coffee.
Educational technology can help you bridge the gap between your desire to reach students where they are and the reality that you have limited time and resources. By using technologies such as tablets, learning stations, and Clear Touch Interactive displays with built-in interactive whiteboard capabilities, today’s teacher can address multiple learning styles, and provide individualized instruction, without having to spend hours planning and prepping.
Here are some of our favorite tips for using your Clear Touch Interactive panel to effectively address multiple learning styles.
Don’t Overthink It
Chances are, you are already catering to various learning styles in your classroom. Have you ever led a class discussion and asked a couple of students to jot notes on the board for everyone? Have you ever asked students to read aloud in class, act out a scene, or present new material to the class? Have you ever used graphic organizers, flashcards, or review games? These time-tested teaching methods are still around because they have been proven to work, and because they naturally incorporate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles.
Our smart, interactive displays and comprehensive educational software suite simply make it easier for you to create and present your teaching materials. Engage students from the moment they step into the classroom by allowing them to mark themselves as present on your interactive flat panel. Post your bellringer activity rather than writing it on the board. Turn your interactive flat panel into a self-paced learning station for students who finish individual work early. Use the interactive whiteboard setting to take notes as a class and our EasiCapture software to freeze the notes, save them for later, and email them to students. All of these convenient applications free you up to spend more time doing what you do best—engaging with your students.
Learning First, Technology Second
As with any teaching tool, interactive panels have both pitfalls and potential. The main pitfall of teaching with technology is the tendency (and the temptation) to teach the technology itself instead of using the technology to help your students reach their learning goals.
Of course, you already know this. One of the most common laments we hear from teachers who are trying to incorporate technology into their lesson plans is that the set-up is so complicated they spend all their time learning and teaching the technology itself. That’s why we’ve made our Clear Touch Interactive panels easy to use and intuitive. Typically, we are able to install our panels and train teachers on our software in about a day.
We know that being a teacher is a difficult job—and even the best teachers get in a creative rut from time to time. When you are feeling tired or overwhelmed, you are more likely to rely on tactics that have worked for you in the past. For teachers, this may mean falling back into a comfortable classroom routine, whether that’s lectures and notes or group discussions for days on end.
Just like people need variety in their diets in order to be healthy, students need variety in their lessons in order to fully understand difficult concepts. Even though research tells us each student has one main learning style, the reality is not so black and white. The truth is that students need to be taught in every learning style at some point—as what worked for one concept may not work as well for another. You have likely noticed this phenomenon in your own life. Perhaps you are primarily an auditory learner, but you still look online for demonstration videos before attempting challenging new recipes, read the newspaper to keep up with current events, and like to travel or attend events to truly grasp a different culture.
Your students have the same learning needs that you do. Combining multiple learning styles into one lesson, or several lessons covering the same topic, yields the best results since students get to explore an issue from many different perspectives. Clear Touch Interactive panels are a great way to encourage student exploration and engagement through multiple learning styles. For example, you can begin a Social Studies lesson with a virtual tour of Colonial Williamsburg, ask students to answer comprehension poll questions on their connected tablets or laptops, lead a whole class discussion about life in early America based on what the students just saw, and then play a review game to cement the learning.
One of the best ways to remain creative and flexible in your teaching methods is to connect with others who are trying to accomplish the same goals. While it’s important that you make each lesson you present your own, it’s not always necessary to create everything you use in your classroom from scratch! Instead, build on the work of others who may help you look at your subject, and your teaching methods, in a fresh and interesting light.
Our instructional videos are a great place to start when you are looking for new teaching strategies. Also, there is a large community of other teachers who are creating and sharing lesson plan ideas using our educational software. Create, save, and share lessons with Snowflake—and look at the vast resources that teachers just like you are sharing in the Clear Touch community.