Teaching Towards Different Learning Styles in Your Classroom
The modern world indeed works on streamlining and optimization. But that approach is anything but ideal when it comes to teaching. If you want to ensure that every student in your class reaches their full potential, then you will need to focus on different learning styles that they might have.
In a broad sense, learning styles can be categorized into four types:
Schools tend to focus on the first type. But it is nowhere near as dominant as we would like to believe.
Only relatively recently have teachers found out that some kids might be brilliant when they learn from visual aids but struggle with reading and writing, on which they are usually tested. They need to be provided with information in another way.
Thankfully, with all the technological advancements available today, this is not as hard a task as it used to be.
People usually mistake intelligence for ‘smartness’. Rather, smartness would be a mixture of intelligence, information, experience, and wisdom. Also, there is not just a single type.
Saying that some people excel in emotional or creative intelligence is maybe a layman’s explanation. But it is useful when it comes to teaching. Adapting the type of information and experience input to match the type of intelligence of the student will yield the best results.
Our intelligence, which is directly correlated with the density and speed of our neural synapses, is the infrastructure on which education is built. There are always ways to reach the other side and it means nothing if will deteriorate if not used.
The more we have the better we will connect and contrast different types of data. The outcome? - Sets that would turn data into information will form faster.
But the time available for primary, secondary, or even higher education is more than enough to learn everything, even with below-average intelligence.
Read & Write Learning Preference
This is the most commonly known type of learning preference which is correlated with textual intelligence. It is our ability to learn by reading or writing different types of books, notes, or summaries.
People with pronounced textual intelligence and reading/writing learning preferences will love reading books and writing essays, and it will come easy to them. They will often excel in spelling bees and easily connect words with meanings, even when they are abstract.
For the longest while, this was the only type of intelligence counted in school as it was the easiest to test, survey, and hold as a record.
Auditory Learning Preference
These are the people who like listening and talking and often have the best vocabulary from their group. Those with auditory intelligence and learning preference will do the best on oral exams and even public presentations.
Listeners aren't always the best readers and often struggle with text, especially when writing. But they are good presenters and enjoy listening to audiobooks.
Additionally, they are often good with music and remember melodies and lyrics quite easily.
For educational purposes, teachers have often seen these students as ‘good potential’ but only if they tried with textual learning.
Visual Learning Preference
With modern visual aids and video presentations, we are just starting to realize how frequent visual intelligence and learning preference is.
Contrary to the first two types, statistics indicate that such intelligence is more frequent in men and boys and less frequent in girls. But when introducing visual aids and allowing for projects with visual presentations, students who may have been deemed as subpar might shine in a whole new light.
Kinesthetic (Emotional) Learning Preference
Finally, there is something akin to emotional intelligence.
Technically, kinesthetic intelligence is not empathy. Rather, it is an ability to remember and connect facial and body movements with emotions and actions. Those with a high degree of such intelligence are good with people and make friends easily.
For the different learning styles needed for them, they will excel with presentations and support. Often, they will learn the most from others in their group, watching them learn and react.
Similarly, they will receive more from emotive teachers. By connecting information with facial expressions, those will be ingrained in them much better.
Everybody is Mixed
Teachers who learn about different flavors of intelligence sometimes pretend that the groups are clear-cut when it comes to different learning styles.
It is true that every person will have a dominant type of intelligence. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have other types as well.
Everybody will be a mixture and everyone will benefit from multiple types of learning.
This is why those with exceptionally high IQ scores gain abilities like eidetic memory. And even for those of us who aren’t blessed with towering intelligence overall, learning the same thing in different ways will strengthen those synapses and turn learning into knowledge faster.
Ideas How to Accommodate Different Learning Styles
Knowing the types of intelligence and learning preferences without the idea of how to use them is similar to having a high IQ without the wisdom to use it. Nice, but useless, and potentially detrimental if not corrected.
That is why we should all strive to introduce new ideas and models on how to present the needed curriculum in different ways. Thankfully, there are teachers around the world who have been trying for years and there are some solutions that have proven to be the most viable.
#1 Multi-Approach Projects
While essays are a good way to test textual intelligence and capabilities, it is not ideal for everyone. Only a portion of your class will find writing productive. The reality is the majority will struggle, especially in primary and secondary education.
On that note, you should create projects for your class that will require all of the types.
For instance, think about what it would look like if you set the task of creating a short movie. With a script, camera, music, narration, acting, and support, you will allow the students themselves to segregate to a task that fits them the most.
Such tasks will be fun for every type of student. They will organically show you which students prefer which type of learning. With that info, you will be able to optimize some tasks for those students that you believe would benefit from them.
#2 Include Multiple Outputs
As we have established that your students have multiple ways of input, you need to provide multiple types of output for the curriculum. This will make it more accessible to everyone.
Creating multiple versions of the curriculum might seem difficult, and it can be tedious to do the first time. But once you have your visual aids, recorded lectures, as well as notes posted online, you can use them for the next generation as well.
Also, you can collaborate with other teachers to create something that will be used by the school for years to come.
#3 Different Ways of Participation
Every student is different and so you may consider allowing them to participate differently. This will include both the learning and the testing process and would allow various intelligence to be graded as equally as possible.
Aside from tests, consider giving optional oral exams. Or if the general test is done orally you can introduce a text-based one as well.
Finally, part of the grade can be a visual project. For students that learn predominantly through visual means, it can make a huge difference in their desire for participation at all.
#4 Extracurricular Activities
Some subjects are difficult to adapt to different types of intelligence.
For instance, keyboarding and typewriting are rather rudimentary skills and should be learned as soon as possible. But those with textual intelligence will have a significant advantage over their peers with other types.
But you can always introduce extracurricular activities such as games and visual exercises that can compensate for this fact, at least to a point.
Games where visual or auditory intelligence have an advantage over text comprehension and sentence creation will motivate other students to participate and try harder in their primary task.
Teaching towards different learning styles in your classroom might seem like a lot of complicated work. But it can be no worse than bringing in a bit of variety to the curriculum.
Creating projects and extracurricular work that would favor different types of intelligence will motivate students. Once they realize that they can learn as quickly as their peers, they will want to compete and try their best.
And most of the materials can be recycled and adapted for the next generation. Thus, users won't be any more difficult than the current schedule.