Posts Tagged ‘visual literacy’

Notes for 2/17/2011 Webinar – Visual Literacy – Seeing Meaning

February 21st, 2011 Comments off
greeneyes - licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

Consider this Part 2 of:

March 18 – Perceiving Reality: Visualization
Recordings: 3:15pm WebCast | 7:15pm WebCast

When we try to define Visual Literacy, there are many factors to consider. Here are four definitions that have been proposed by others:

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.” source

Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Images and visual media may include photographs, illustrations, drawings, maps, diagrams, advertisements, and other visual messages and representations, both still and moving.” source

C.”Visual literacy stems from the notion of images and symbols that can be read. Meaning is communicated through image more readily than print, which makes visual literacy a powerful teaching tool.” source

D.”Visual literacy includes such areas as facial expressions, body language, drawing, painting, sculpture, hand signs, street signs, international symbols, layout of the pictures and words in a textbook, the clarity of type fonts, computer images, pupils producing still pictures, sequences, movies or video, user-friendly equipment design and critical analysis of television advertisements.” source
Any one of these serves as a teachable definition. But where does visual literacy fit into commonly accepted educational standards? The last webinar on Visualization talked about Maine Learning Results and 21st Century skills, but now we have Common Core for both ELA and Mathematics. Not surprisingly, there are many references to visual skills included in the many standards. In ELA, for both Literature and Information, strand 7 has many references to those skills. For Literature, strand 6 also includes many pointers to visual skills.
An example standard from ELA:

Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Say, for instance, you wanted to have students understand Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. You could use YouTube video, text, audio or even a Wordle to see it from different perspectives.

In Math, you can see that visuals are important in both Data and Statistics. So, we can feel pretty good that we don’t have to “add” Visual Literacy to an already burgeoning set of standards.

There are some simple strategies that teachers can use to bolster the visual skills of students. At the eduscapes website, they outline five in particular:

Reading Visuals – Seeing what is there
Interpreting Visuals – Looking for meaning in the image
Using Visuals – Constructing meaning by collecting and organizing images
Reconstructing Visuals – Making mashups of images to create new meaning
Making Visuals – Creating your own images

Fortunately, for each of the strategies we have technological resources available to us.

Reading images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, etc.
Interpreting images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, etc.
Using images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, Comic Life, Keynote, OmniGraffle, etc.
Reconstructing Images – iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Comic Life, Acorn, internet resources like JibJab’s Elf Yourself. etc.
Making images – SketchUp, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Numbers, OmniGraffle, NoteShare’s SketchPad, Acorn, Data Studio, Logger Pro, Grapher, Keynote, etc.

Here are some online resources with lessons and suggestions for incorporating Visual Literacy into different curricula:

What Could America’s Top Models Be Thinking?

Analyzing the Purpose and Meaning of Political Cartoons

Teaching Visual Literacy to Students

Visual Literacy Home

Smithsonian Education – Every Picture Has a Story

Visual literacy K-8

WatchMECreate Engages Maine Students in Serious Creativity

September 30th, 2010 Comments off

Regular readers of this blog and participants in our webinars understand the importance of giving students opportunities to solve real problems and to create and publish their work for real audiences. MLTI in collaboration with ACTEM is providing such an opportunity with their new project, WatchMECreate. The first challenge, WatchMEGraduate, has already begun but it’s not too late for students teams to get involved. In case you missed it, I’m posting the original announcement here.

Student Conference

Do you believe that students do their best work when they take on challenges that truly matter in the real world? Have you ever looked for Maine-based projects you could point middle and high school students towards that would make a real difference?  Projects where they could use their technical and communication skills in support of something that really matters? Projects where they could work independently, in teams with their friends and have the chance to be rewarded for the quality of their work with something more than good grades?

WatchMECreate ( is a collaborative effort between ACTEM & the MLTI. It will consist of a series of serious challenges put out to Maine’s grade 7-12 schools, asking students (and perhaps teachers) to collaboratively develop and submit video responses.  While posed as a “student challenge,” it is assumed that some students may come to it independently while others will be directed towards it by their teacher.

The first challenge is called WatchMEGraduate and asks students to create a 2-minute video response to, “What one thing should be done in your school community to increase the number of kids who make it to graduation?” This challenge is made real by the following documents:

Gov. Baldacci’s Economic Strategy ( “The most important measure of economic development in Maine is the educational attainment of its people and the opportunities that arise from our people’s participation in the economy of tomorrow.”

From Maine Dept. of Education Website ( “An Act To Increase Maine’s High School Graduation Rates (Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA c. 211, sub-c. 1-B) …The bill also requires the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to establish a stakeholder group to develop recommendations relating to increasing secondary school graduation rates in the State and to report its findings to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over education matters by January 10, 2011.”

Dates: went live on 9/1/10; First challenge, WatchMEGraduate, went live on 9/7/10; Uploads will begin to be accepted on September 14, 2010 through November 10, 2010.
Here’s the process:

  1. A team of up to four student members (grades 7-12) will produce a video response to the current challenge
  2. Videos must put forward positive solutions that are process-focused
  3. The video will be no longer than 2 minutes
  4. Teams are responsible for obtaining appropriate permissions for any materials used
  5. All videos must carry, in the credits, a Creative Commons license
  6. The video will be uploaded (see web site for details), along with contact information, but will not be publicly displayed until all appropriate releases have been received by ACTEM & MLTI
  7. That’s it. Now get to work. Oh, and because this is professional grade work, please do be sure to cite your sources…

Judging process: Pains are being taken to make this not “feel like school.” A rubric has been created and posted on the web site.  Judges will be drawn from ACTEM & MLTI as well as other community sources.

Rewards: All teams whose entry is accepted as complete and placed on the WatchMECreate site will be entered into a drawing for team sets of four high quality, limited edition ACTEM / MLTI WatchMECreate T-shirts. Five middle school teams and five high school teams will be chosen at random. The top Middle School and High School teams will each be awarded $500 to be used by the team to help move their solution forward, as well as an iPod nano for each student team member.

Questions or comments: Please send e-mail to

Making Meaning – Perceiving Reality – Visualization

March 29th, 2010 2 comments

First of all – check out the webcasts – It’s all about the images!

March 18 – Perceiving Reality: Visualization
Recordings: 3:15pm WebCast | 7:15pm WebCast

From the caves of Lascaux to the dense infographics of today, visualization has played an important part in communication. In the webinar, we spent a lot of time looking at different visualizations and discussing them, their purposes and their special features. For example, maps are visual tools that help people navigate, plan strategies, and can even give information about the inhabitants of areas. It is amazing to compare maps to satellite images to see the accuracy of mapmakers.

When we look at some of the visualizations that are produced digitally, we can see that there are two features that make for good visualization – how much information we take in at a glance, and how dense the information can be when we pay closer attention.

As we look at these graphics, we find ourselves coming in contact with data in a different way, a way that our students may be better at handling than we are. Because many of us grew up using words and numbers to make meaning, we might not be able to extract meaning at the same rate or efficacy that a “screenager” might. But, as teachers, we understand literacy and fluency are skills that can be developed as part of a learning process. Some academics call this visual literacy.

To help us expand out thinking about visualization, let’s see if we can think of some widely different ideas and ask – Is this a form of visualization?

How about a red traffic light? A walk signal? A mathematical equation? Musical notation – an orchestral score? Models and simulations? Guitar Hero?

Now let’s explore how we can use the MLTI laptop to make some visualizations for our classrooms. We can easily use any of the spreadsheets and databases, like Numbers, NeoOffice, Omini Graph Sketcher, Google Docs, Bento, Data Studio and Logger Pro to create graphs and charts from collections of data. We can use Omni Graffle to create all sorts of graphic organizers from the templates included, or use FreeMind to make mind maps. Pasco’s MyWorld can help connect data to location to create some amazing geographical visualizations.

We discussed visualizations that made a difference to us.  my choice was the Mandelbrot Set – it helped me deal with the mathematics of fractals and chaos – and it’s pretty.

To be completely honest, it is tough to just write about visualization, therefore I invite you to browse through the following resources:

Weblinks to many Infographics:

Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages – Video Feature –

Information Is Beautiful | Ideas, issues, concepts, subjects – visualized!

5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year | FlowingData

15 beautifully illustrated infographics for your inspiration – – Graphic Design Inspiration and Web Design Trends

30 new outstanding examples of data visualization  – – Graphic Design Inspiration and Web Design Trends

Creation of Visuals/Infographics

Tableau Public | explore, create, share.

Tutorial effort – FreeMind – free mind mapping software

Writing and Essay Using FreeMind | Home

VocabGrabber : Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus

Visual Understanding Environment

Tagul   – Gorgeous tag clouds

WordSift – Visualize Text

Text 2 Mind Map – The text-to-mind-map converter

Visual Literacy Links
Visual Literacy Cyberculture and Education

Course: Business (need to register to see demo course for this and the next link)

Visual Literacy: An E-Learning Tutorial on Visualization for Communication, Engineering and Business

Trying to Define Visualization/Visual Literacy

What It’s Like on the Inside: Data Visualization for the Classroom

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods – You gotta see this one!!!

Standards That Deal With Visual Skills

ASCD on 21st Century Learning

Enguage 21st Century Skills

Maine Learning Results

Other Links to Stuff  (That we might not have talked about…)

Tableau/Read Write Web Contest:

Zooming in the Mandelbrot Set:

Chopin intervals:

Bach Crab Canon on a Mobius Strip:

Graphical Score of Beethoven’s 5th – first movement:

Great Thanks to Barbara Greenstone for her fun links and to Barbara and Cynthia Curry for their Visualization Notebook

March 18 Webinar – Making Meaning – Perceiving Reality – Visualization

March 15th, 2010 4 comments

elod-eye on Flickr

Visualization is a term that is thrown around somewhat indiscriminately. This webinar is designed as a way to dip into visualization and to help educators get a grip on understanding the subject and think about how it applies to their classrooms. Woven into visualization is the topic of visual literacy, a skill that is considered by many to be crucial to the whole idea of literacy. This webinar will combine the ideas and take the position that visualization is a skill that is specified in Maine Learning Results and 21st Century skills. The MLTI image, and other resources provide tools that can create visualizations and/or help develop visual literacy. Come join us on that Thursday for either of the two sessions.

3:15 session

 7:15 session