Winter break is just two weeks away for many school districts. From now until the bell rings in mid-December, you may find your students restless and daydreaming about sleeping in, playing in the snow or enjoying a homework-free couple of weeks. Educators often say that the biggest challenge at this time of the year is keeping students focused. If productive learning doesn’t occur during the next couple of weeks, teachers find themselves repeating lessons well after New Year’s Day. To avoid heavy review of already learned topics, educators can strategically use visual maps to engage students and increase learning retention this December.
Engage Students In Learning Before Break
In the next two weeks, ask students to create a visual map on paper or with Inspiration®, Kidspiration® or Webspiration Classroom™ service to identify all the key information from their studies that are most important to understand and remember. Studies have shown that visual association to concepts or words transfers information from the brain’s short-term memory into long-term memory. This helps to engage your students, and increase their understanding and long-term retention of information. For example, you could have your students create a visual map of what they learned from the most recent humanities, social studies or science lesson. They could also create a visual map of a novel’s plot or a character analysis. In the map, have your students identify:
- what they have learned and know about the subject
- what questions they have about what they read or learned
- what they want to learn more about
- and how they would go about learning more to fuel learning and discussion after winter break.
Encourage Learning While on Break
If your school allows homework over vacation, you could identify one aspect of each student’s diagram and have them explore that question or topic over the break. This would provide additional exposure to the materials. If created in Webspiration Classroom, students can simply log on at home or at a public library to access their classwork over break.
Replace Lesson Repeats With Students’ Visual Maps After Break
When your students return in January, they can use their diagrams and visual maps to jog their memory of where you left off before the break. What’s more, the questions that students generated before vacation will spark discussions in class and focus thinking, research and learning as students move forward.
Engaging your students in their learning process with a visual map will drive focus now and improve retention and focus later. With less review after New Year’s, your valuable class time can be used to move forward with new lessons. Test my ideas out and anchor learning this month with visual learning strategies!
In what ways are you keeping students on task before the holidays?
President and Co-founder, Inspiration Software