6 Ways to Engage Students with Visual Aids

February 7, 2014 Lindsey Graff

These days, students are surrounded by distractions. With the influx of new technologies, social media, after-school activities, friend pressures and more, it is harder and harder to engage students in meaningful ways. One of our customers, Alta Vista Middle School in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is facing these challenges with great applications of the VariQuest Visual Learning Tools.

After hearing from their Principal, Mark Barela, and several of their outstanding staff members, we've captured some of the amazing ways they're motivating and engaging their students with posters, bulletin boards and other visuals throughout their school.

1. Create incentives to get students involved.

School librarian, Carla Gamlin, uses the Cutout Maker 1800 to create colorful, personalized bookmarks to encourage participation in her Accelerated Reading Program. She says, "I also use the Poster and Cutout makers when creating displays for the library bulletin board and display case. Both Machines help in creating neat, colorful displays in less time."

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2. Check student understanding of a strategy/skill topic in a fun, informal way.

Jennah L MicKinley, FSC Teacher, uses VariQuest Tools to designate an area in her classroom where she displays "ticket out the door" slips. She says, "Ticket out the door is a great way for students to check their understanding of a strategy/skill/topic at the end of a lesson. Students take 1-3 minutes to answer a question created by the teacher and hand it in as a 'ticket out the door.' Also known as an "exit slip," the student question can be summative or formative and teachers use responses as an informal assessment to drive instruction."

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3. Provide anchor charts to help students retain key information for upcoming assessments.

8th grade language art instructor, Mandy Morgan, uses anchor charts she creates with the VariQuest Poster Maker and Perfecta™ 2400 Poster Printing System. She says, "The VariQuest machines have easily become an important part of my classroom...The anchor charts play a key role in reminding students how to edit text, write a persuasive piece and show students how to write and grade expectations for an extended response answer that will prepare them for the NMSBA standards-based assessment in the spring. "

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4. Get students motivated and enthusiastic about upcoming units and improving their performance.

Morgan also uses VariQuest's poster tools to help her students get excited about working hard and learning a lot. Part of Alta Vista's "End Student Apathy Campaign," Morgan says, "One true “apathy ending” poster in my class is 'The Great Grade Race' chart poster, which encourages each class to compete against each other for the highest class average to earn a party of their choice at the end of each 6-weeks.  This has served as a great motivator in order to keep students accountable for their grades as a higher contribution for their class average.  Having a bright visual reminder and a weekly update keeps students excited and confident in their work as the grades improve!"

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She added, "Not only are all of my posters academic, but they also provide an appealing, visual way for my students to remember information for my class!  VariQuest products have made my classroom prepared for my class, have made my students prepared for what they will encounter on a daily basis, and have made my classroom look awesome every day!"

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5. Create a welcoming school environment.

Help students and parents feel they're part of the school community by creating welcoming, spirited visuals throughout the school.

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6. Post expectations and critical information to help all students understand and embrace school initiatives

Principal, Mark Barela, told us that Alta Vista's staff utilizes VariQuest Visual Learning Tools to create visuals that support school initiatives such as their Character Counts Program, Positive Behavior Support Program, School Tipline Program and Power of ICE Program.

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These are just some of the ways Mr. Barela and his staff are making use of VariQuest Visual Learning Tools. With so many wonderful visuals throughout each classroom and the entire school, students at Alta Vista Middle Schools are bound to be excited, engaged and successful as they continue their educational journeys.

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