1. This chart helps you determine your learning style; read the word in the left column and thenanswer the questions in the successive three columns to see how you respond to eachsituation. Your answers may fall into all three columns, but one column will likely contain themost answers. The dominant column indicates your primary learning style.When you.. Visual Auditory Kinesthetic & Tactile Do you sound out the Do you write the wordSpell Do you try to see the word? word or use a phonetic down to find if it feels approach? right? Do you enjoy listening Do you sparingly but dislike Do you gesture and use but are impatient to listening for too long? Do expressive movements?Talk talk? Do you use words you favor words such as Do you use words such such as hear, tune, and see, picture, and imagine? as feel, touch, and hold? think? Do you become Do you become Do you become distractedConcentrate distracted by sounds or distracted by activity by untidiness or movement? noises? around you? Do you forget faces but Do you forget names butMeet someone remember names or Do you remember best remember faces oragain remember what you what you did together? remember where you met? talked about? Do you talk with themContact people Do you prefer direct, face- Do you prefer the while walking oron business to-face, personal meetings? telephone? participating in an activity? Do you like descriptive Do you enjoy dialog and Do you prefer actionRead scenes or pause to imagine conversation or hear the stories or are not a keen the actions? characters talk? reader? Do you prefer verbal Do you like to seeDo something instructions or talking Do you prefer to jump demonstrations, diagrams,new at work about it with someone right in and try it? slides, or posters? else? Do you ignore thePut something Do you look at the directions directions and figure ittogether and the picture? out as you go along?Need help with Do you call the help Do you keep trying to do Do you seek out pictures ora computer desk, ask a neighbor, or it or try it on another diagrams?application growl at the computer? computer?What is a learning style?Ellis (1985) described a learning style as the more or less consistent way in which a personperceives, conceptualizes, organizes and recalls information.Where do learning styles come from?Your students learning styles will be influenced by their genetic make-up, their previouslearning experiences, their culture and the society they live in.Top of pageWhy should teachers know about learning styles?Sue Davidoff and Owen van den Berg (1990) suggest four steps: plan, teach / act, observe andreflect. Here are some guidelines for each step.
2. Students learn better and more quickly if the teaching methods used match their preferredlearning styles.As learning improves, so too does self esteem. This has a further positive effect on learning.Students who have become bored with learning may become interested once again.The student-teacher relationship can improve because the student is more successful and ismore interested in learning.What teaching methods and activities suit different learning styles?The Four ModalitiesVisualUse many visuals in the classroom. For example, wall displays posters, realia, flash cards,graphic organizers etc.AuditoryUse audio tapes and videos, storytelling, songs, jazz chants, memorization and drillsAllow learners to work in pairs and small groups regularly.KinestheticUse physical activities, competitions, board games, role plays etc.Intersperse activities which require students to sit quietly with activities that allow them to movearound and be activeTactileUse board and card games, demonstrations, projects, role plays etc.Use while-listening and reading activities. For example, ask students to fill in a table whilelistening to a talk, or to label a diagram while readingLeft-brain vs. right-brain dominatedLeft-brain dominatedGive verbal instructions and explanationsSet some closed tasks to which students can discover the "right" answerRight-brained dominatedWrite instructions as well as giving them verballyDemonstrate what you would like students to doGive students clear guidelines, a structure, for tasksSet some open-ended tasks for which there is no "right" answerUse realia and other things that students can manipulate while learningSometimes allow students to respond by drawingMcCarthys four learning stylesInnovative learnersUse cooperative learning activities and activities in which students must make value judgmentsAsk students to discuss their opinions and beliefsAnalytic learnersTeach students the factsCommon sense learnersUse problem-solving activitiesDynamic learnersAsk students about their feelingsUse a variety of challenging activitiesIf you vary the activities that you use in your lessons, you are sure to cater for learners withdifferent learning styles at least some of the time.VISUAL AND VERBAL LEARNERSVisual learners remember best what they see--pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films,and demonstrations. Verbal learners get more out of words--written and spoken explanations.Everyone learns more when information is presented both visually and verbally.In most college classes very little visual information is presented: students mainly listen tolectures and read material written on chalkboards and in textbooks and handouts. Unfortunately,most people are visual learners, which means that most students do not get nearly as much asthey would if more visual presentation were used in class. Good learners are capable ofprocessing information presented either visually or verbally.How can visual learners help themselves?If you are a visual learner, try to find diagrams, sketches, schematics, photographs, flow charts,or any other visual representation of course material that is predominantly verbal. Ask your
3. instructor, consult reference books, and see if any videotapes or CD-ROM displays of thecourse material are available. Prepare a concept map by listing key points, enclosing them inboxes or circles, and drawing lines with arrows between concepts to show connections. Color-code your notes with a highlighter so that everything relating to one topic is the same color.How can verbal learners help themselves?Write summaries or outlines of course material in your own words. Working in groups can beparticularly effective: you gain understanding of material by hearing classmates explanationsand you learn even more when you do the explaining.What can I do to help my visual child excel in preschool and kindergarten?The best way to support your visual child is to indulge his interests and provide him with thematerials he needs to learn. "Pay attention to what your child likes, and try to approach learningfrom that point," says Kurt Fischer, director of Mind, Brain, and Education at the HarvardGraduate School of Education. If your child likes games, for example, card games can hone hismemory and concentration skills. Have lots of books available, too, so he can look at thepictures or make an attempt to read the words. "One of the best predictors for school success isthe number of books kids have access to at home and how much time their parents spendreading with them," says Fischer. And though it isnt recommended for all children, visuallearners may benefit from educational television because watching helps them learn.Whatever you do, make sure the activities are developmentally appropriate. Preschoolers andkindergartners are trying to nail down fundamentals such as the alphabet and counting. Themore advanced ones are already starting to read and may have begun to understand the basicsof addition and subtraction. So if your child responds to pictures better than words, find booksthat have lots of interesting images accompanying text to encourage reading. Spend lots of timegoing over the alphabet if your child likes letters and words. Approach math and other subjectsthe same way, using illustrations and graphs if your child responds to images more readily, andthe numbers themselves if your child likes printed information. For more activities your visualchild may enjoy, see the articles listed below.For physical learnersMake an alphabet posterDraw each letter, then go through magazines and catalogs and cut out pictures of things thatbegin with each letter and glue them onto poster board. This is a great hands-on way to learnthe alphabet.Go to story time at the library or a bookstoreNothing beats listening to a trained storyteller — especially one who gets the audience up out oftheir seats and acting out part of the story. Going to the library or a bookstore to listen to a talltale is a fun outing for a preschooler. As a bonus, you may pick up a few tips to jazz up yourown read-aloud sessions.Play dress-up and act out a bookDressing up like the characters in your childs favorite book can really bring reading to life. Youcan invite some of your childs friends over and make it a playdate.Make finger puppets to go with a storyCut the fingers off some old gloves and then use fabric markers to draw the characters ontogether. You can also roll felt or paper for the body and then glue eyes, noses, smiles, and hairon them. If your art skills could use some work, make color copies from the book, then cut outthe characters faces and glue them onto the glove fingers or rolled paper or felt. Once youmake the puppets, you and your child can use them to help tell a story.
4. Build a reading fortIn your childs bedroom, lean together some broom or mop sticks and drape blankets over themto create a tent. Grab a book and a flashlight and climb in with your child for story time in thedark. Your childs probably too young to read along, but hell enjoy flipping through the pages,holding the flashlight, and looking at pictures. One caution: Keep the stories light and fun. Thisis no time for anything scary or serious.Serve a meal from a bookUse food coloring to make green eggs and ham, try to recreate parts of the Grinchs Christmasfeast, or make your own batch of porridge for the Three Little Bears. You can even get a basketand fill it with goodies for Little Red Riding Hood to take to Grandmothers house.Have a reading picnicTake your favorite food and your favorite books to the park. Youll reinforce the idea that readingcan be fun anywhere.Throw a book-related partyRead over your childs favorite book and think about what elements would work at a party. Canyou decorate his room in a jungle theme to resemble Where the Wild Things Are? Can youcollect hats and host a Cat-in-the-Hat party (Dr. Seusss birthday is March 2. Why notcelebrate?)? Youll get your child and his friends talking about books. For auditory learnersJoin a summer book club at the libraryMost libraries arrange summer programs with lists of books for each age group and awards forcompleting the books — as well as read-aloud sessions for younger children. Your child willshare the joy of books with other kids — and might even win some prizes.Listen to books on tapeYou can check out tapes from the library for free or buy them at a bookstore (to save money,stop by your local used bookstore). Kids love listening to someone else tell them a story, andthey can follow along in their own books.Sing a book instead of reading itPreschoolers love to make up little songs and memorize them. You can make this game evenmore fun by altering your own singing voice — try to mimic an opera singer or a country star.Youll both end up in a giggle pile.For visual learnersRead a story thats out as a movieThen go see the movie. Your child will love seeing characters he already knows from astorybook up on the big screen. You can rent videos too.Make a blank counting or alphabet bookStaple together some plain white or light-colored paper. Put a number or letter on each pageand ask your child to draw a corresponding picture. Or make an alphabet book in which eachpage shows one letter of your childs name. Ask your child to make drawings of things thatbegin with each letter.
5. Turn a book into artMake a color copy of your childs favorite picture in a book and frame it for her bedroom, or haveit put on a shirt at a T-shirt shop.Buy a big bookTeaching supply stores sell giant books for teachers to use in the classroom. Theyre great forgroup reads because all the kids can see the pictures, but your child will love the hugeoversized pictures in your one-on-one story time, too.Illustrate a songWrite down the words to your childs favorite song and, with your child, draw pictures to go witheach stanza. Then read the song together.Set a family reading timeFor 15 or 20 minutes a night, everyone in the house reads a story together. If friends orneighbors are visiting, ask them to participate. Show your child that reading is fun for the wholefamily.Write a book of "my favorite things"Staple together ten blank pages and ask your child to think of that many favorite things. Helpwith ideas. Whats your favorite food? Who is your best friend? What is your favorite book?Write one thing on each page and have your child draw a picture to go with it.Start a new reading ritualThink of new ways you can add reading into your day together. Ideas to try: read a book atbreakfast, or in the bathtub. Try reading your child awake, rather than to bed at night. Alteringwhen you read will make reading spontaneous and fun and youll encourage your child to readwhenever and wherever hes in the mood.For auditory learnersTalk to your child whenever youre together. Tell her about an interesting story you read in thenewspaper. Describe a conversation you had at work with a friend. When you go shopping together,describe what youre buying. Get in the habit of narrating everyday chores. If youre washing clothes, forexample, you can say, "Lets separate the colors, then measure out the detergent, put in the clothes, setthe timer..." Your child may not seem to be paying attention, but she is absorbing your vocabulary andsentence structure without even realizing it. Dont be surprised if you hear her repeating something yousaid when she talks to someone else.Ask open-ended questions. If you ask your child a broad question such as "What did you do at thepark?" youll get a much more detailed answer than if you ask a yes or no question like "Did you have funat the park?" If shes slow to answer, then be more specific: "What equipment did you play on?" Give yourchild a chance to describe what shes been up to, and listen enthusiastically even if she gets lost inseemingly trivial details about her day at the park. All of it is important to her. And you might as well enjoythe conversation while it lasts; soon enough youll have a close-mouthed teenager sitting across the dinnertable from you!Tape her singing a song or telling a story. Your child will love to hear her own voice on tape, and shellbe surprised and fascinated by how she sounds to other people. Hold on to those tapes — years from nowyoull be glad to have an oral portrait of your child at this age.
6. Revisit a favorite old story. Bring out one of your childs most dog-eared, battered books and read italoud yet again, only this time pause at key points to let her supply the words that come next. Or read thestory and purposely change key details to see if she corrects your "errors." For visual learnersVideotape your child looking at a book or telling a story. To make this even more fun, have her dressup as a character and act out a scene. Play the tape back and watch it together. Ask her to talk about herperformance, and praise her speaking ability. Dont make a big deal out of any mispronunciations; the ideais to get your child comfortable speaking in front of others, not prepare her for public office.Ask your child to describe a video or TV show. Children love to talk about things they know somethingabout and enjoy. One of the easiest ways to get a conversation started is to ask your child whatshappening on her favorite television program. Shows such as Sesame Street and Blues Clues aredesigned to get parents involved.Have your child tell a story using a wordless picture book. This activity not only builds speaking skillsbut encourages your child to think of herself as a real reader even if she cant recognize a word. One to try:Peggy Rathmanns Good Night, Gorilla.For physical learnersGo on a nature walk. Bring along a box or jar so you can collect treasures (feathers, unusual rocks,colorful leaves). When you get home, have your child describe each item to the family: its color, shape,size, function, and where she found it. Or have her begin a nature scrapbook. Get more great ideas onhow to make a nature walk a blast for you and your child.Play family story time. One person starts making up a story ("Once upon a time, there was a little dragonwho lived in a cave on a big hill"). Then another person continues the story, and so on. Let your childchime in whenever she wants, and if she cant come up with a whole line herself, prompt her withquestions. What color was the dragon? Did he have any brothers and sisters? What was he learning aboutat school? Write down or tape-record what each person says.Ask your child to tell you simple story, and write it down. You can prompt her by asking about aparticular event such as a party or playdate. If she leaves out key details or says something you dontunderstand, ask her to clarify. When she describes something to you, rephrase it a bit and say it back toher. ("So, you and Sarah were at a very fancy tea party thrown by a princess?") This will help her thinkabout different ways to describe the same event. Ask her to draw pictures to go along with the story, anduse them to make a book. Periodically, you can pull out the book and have her tell you the story again.