A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words / by Tyler Wood

We have evolved over millions of years to use our eyes to survive. Our brain uses visuals to understand the world around us. According to Professor Mriganka Sur of MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, "Half of the human brain is devoted directly or indirectly to vision, (as quoted by Thomson, 1996)" so why do we reduce using visuals to teach as the students get older? In kindergarten, it is common to use visuals to teach, books have large pictures and a small amount of words. As the children grow the ratio from words to pictures switches until we are reading textbooks with little to no pictures at all. Our brains are still able to process visuals faster and with an emotional connection that words don't for many learners. Students are inundated with visuals in the world around them, visuals trying to sell them shoes or cereal, telling them what to do with their time and money, visuals showing them who to be or how to dress. Why is it that visuals aren't utilized more in the classroom? The marketing agencies know the power of visuals, why don't schools?

In this section I will be utilizing visuals to help bring to life a lesson. I will be targeting information fluency that is challenging the students to incorporate various sources in their work. I will also be targeting Creativity fluency by using those various sources to gain inspiration for their work.

Utilizing the TPACK framework I will be using two types of visual media to diversify my methods of instruction to reinforce the content knowledge. 

The first visual will give a slide by slide presentation of the events in the process of a predator (cheetah) hunting prey (Thomson's gazelle). This will break up the process into chucks we can discuss in depth to better understand a predator and it's adaptations for hunting and to compare and contrast the adaptations of a prey animal’s adaptations to flee and stay alive. This will boost the understanding of the vocabulary (predator, prey, adaptation) by creating visuals and a storyline the students can follow. The slide show is utilizing best practices for visual presentations based on cognitive load theory by not over-crowding each slide with words or charts. Keeping it simple with a few words helps the audience retain the message better because we can only process a limited number of things at a time in our short term memory (Soloman, 2013). Click on the button below to see the first visual made at jux.com.

I am paring the slide show visual with a video so the students can compare and contrast the visual media. We will discuss how they are different and what each one gives us in the form of a visual source. The students will also be able to see the same scenario in two ways in order to better understand the order of events (slide show) in relations to the real-time speed of the events (video) in order to help them prepare and get inspiration for their work to follow. Click the button below to view the National Geographic video showing the process of a predator hunting and catching it's prey.

After reviewing the two media sources and discussing the differences between predators and prey, as well as the two forms of visual media, the students will use this information to write about the interactions between predator and prey. They will consider how they relate to the larger food web and what effects they have on each other.



Soloman, H., (2013) Cognative Load Thoery (John Sweller). Instructional Design. Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/cognitive-load.html

Thomson, E. (Dec. 1996) MIT Research Brain Processing of Visual Information. MIT News. Retrieved from http://newsoffice.mit.edu/1996/visualprocessing

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