Visual Literacy in the Classroom



you lost for millennia deep within the caves of Lascaux France a record of ancient civilization was found painted along his walls it is interesting to note that there was no texts no hieroglyphic form of text to describe or explain what the pictures meant yet based on the paintings found archaeologists are able to piece together possible stories and events that were left to be told thousands upon thousands of years ago this record allows us a glimpse of the life and times of early man it also allows us to recognize that given the inability of understanding texts our first language is through the use of visuals throughout time humankind has found ways of communicating their stories one that was easily understood and one that required only a finger drawing in the sand while drawing in the sand led to charcoal on wood or Conte on canvas there were other means to tell the stories of the past deep within the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs our walls rich with stories of the events of lives lived and legends of a society encapsulated in intricate decorations the Beaux tapestry which is over 250 feet in length and over 18 inches in width recounts the story of the Norman invasion of 1066 religious art that provided an image rich recounting of bible stories to the illiterate adorn walls and ceilings of chapels and churches from the Byzantine era and beyond the intricacy to detail boggles the mind where does that leave us today stuck in an environment that dictates that we're only as smart as the information we read but is this really true if I can look at an image and figure out its message is that not also reading if I prefer image to text does that make me unintelligent only worthy of a see if I'm lucky consider that I'm surrounded by anywhere from three hundred to three thousand visuals per day telling me to buy this where this drink this eat this listen to this do this go here someone's using visuals the visuals that we're surrounded with are more than just the charts and brainstorming activities we get in school there's more going on in the movies we're watching and just character development and setting easily granted back in the day things are different school was different expectations were that we had to fit the norm and as such we needed to know how to read and write and produce reports and essays I'm not saying that we still don't have to do academic communication but there's another world out there there were being exposed to through film and advertisements then no one's thoroughly addressing let's take a look at film for example most teachers use a movie to back up a class novel lorb the flies coincides with the 1960s version the boring word-for-word version and the 1970s version these are visual sources but do we really understand them let's take a closer look at another film notice anything look again at the repetition of lines in a story about a young man who's trapped within a small dead-end town with family responsibilities weighing down on him the use of lines and body is entrapment this scene where Gilbert is faced with having to face his fears notice not just the lines around him in the window on the walls but check out the color yellow and how it's used not only is he wearing a color of cowardice but he's surrounded by it as well there's more if you notice the longer you stare at this screen filled with red not only does your heart beat increase but your energy starts to change you start to feel antsy you feel warmer more ready to pounce focus concentrate allow yourself to pay attention to what your body is doing focus notice anything did you feel a wave of relief did your senses suddenly calm down the photoreceptors of our eyes respond to the varying light that they see and send signals to the brain different colors cause different responses and our reactions will either be agitated or calmed predominant blues equate calmness and dreams red symbolize power agitation or lusts yellows equate cowardice or obsession and when bright can also mean power greens are calming grounded or poisonous depending on the hue and purple well someone's gonna die or go through a huge character change color online are two of the many tools that filmmakers will use when trying to get a message across to an otherwise unthinking population they know how our brains work when we watch a film two areas of our brain are accessing information images and verbal Allen pay vo and James Clark have explained that this process is called dual coding theory in essence by using two processes of our brain at one time connections or links are made to that work to enhance what it is we are listening to or watching they state that these processes and I quote here play major roles in the various educational domains the representation and comprehension of knowledge learning and memory of school material effective instruction individual differences achievement motivation and Tech's anxiety and the learning of motor skills thank you this way if there's no sound or no images we'd only ever receive half the information so why is it that in school all the lessons are primarily focused on only one of these processes add this to the fact that 70% of our brain is used for visuals so one has to wonder why in school aren't they teaching us how to use this part of the brain the media is granted a lot of textbooks use both visuals and text as instructional material to help form those connections but it's limited and it's not enough to teach me how to use visuals in my own work or how to recognize when the media is trying to visually manipulate me somehow you visuals hold so much power shots like these or others like photos of the tortures that took place at Abu Ghraib were felt to have so much power that Donald Rumsfeld was worried that if the public were to see them it would create a negative impression of the American identity doesn't that sort of beg the question that if people are so worried about how we might be affected by visuals that they're censored wouldn't that be just as powerful in a classroom I'm frustrated I see visuals everywhere at work at home at school I can see that there's more to visuals than meets the eye so why aren't you teaching visuals in a classroom why aren't you telling us more about Clark and pavía realized that their dual coding theory would have merit in a classroom way back in 1991 it's 2012 and I for one don't see this method being used as effectively as it could I know it sucks they have to go back to school or to a workshop to learn it but students need you to learn how to use visual literacy better in a classroom not just as a better way of teaching but I for one want to show the visual voice that I'm literate it people say that it's not the same as an essay but people like George Lucas Liam Neeson and Martin Scorsese would disagree you should check out their websites or just search the net for visual literacy there's plenty of help and resources to be found I'd show you but I've got this text three and an essay to write the trust the cool belief you know leads via visage pure Annette vivid and Emily have unsold rooms they use Hotwire you

14 thoughts on “Visual Literacy in the Classroom”

  1. Very powerful message. As a teacher/technology coordinator, I thank you. This is something I will share with the faculty.

  2. This is an awesome video to show not just the teachers how to teach the language of visuals, but my students benefit from watching this video every time I show it. Thanks and I'd love to see more videos like this!

  3. Great video! Would it be possible to repurpose some of the clips from here for a non-commercial short video on the importance of promoting visual and film literacy in schools? Thanks very much, Kieran

  4. Hi, I would like to use your video for a presentation on visual literacy in a multimodality graduate class. I was wondering if we could use it and would like to know if it was made for a masters thesis? Thanks

  5. Hi, I would like to use your video for a presentation on visual literacy in a multimodality graduate class. I was wondering if we could use it and would like to know if it was made for a masters thesis? Thanks

  6. I would love to use this video in my college online classroom. Can I have permission to download "Visual Literacy in the Classroom" and put it on our server.

  7. Great video. I am a teacher and author working to promote visual literacy and graphic texts in school. This is a powerful video. My comment to the author(s) is to edit it a bit. Cut out the first few minutes. Make your point about early visual literacy but do it quickly – move on to your more pressing content. It is powerful and convincing!

  8. Absolutely. The more people realize that communication should also encompass visuals the better. The video was created for my thesis as well. Good luck!

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