Incorporate VARK learning styles is easier than it sounds. You really need to take on board the fact that your learners need to have the same information repeated lots and lots of time (at least six times some experts say) for them to absorb the information. So with this fact in mind, you need to look at your contents and think how can I teach this differently to cater for each of the learning styles (repeated four times already), now add a recap activity at the end of the session (that is number 5) and now you could do a formative assessment (number 6) or if you have your students for several days, start the next day with another recap to check their understanding from the previous day.
Now lets have a look how this would work in reality, using a topic you are all familiar with:
GOURMET SANDWICH MAKING
Step one of the learning cycle - cater for the audio and visual learners
You introduce what they are going to learn today. Show them all the ingredients and explain to them that at the end of this session they feel really confident in making their own gourmet sandwiches. Suggest a shared lunch at the end!
Step two of the learning cycle - cater for the audio/visual and reader writers
You are now demonstrating how it is being put together, explain the ingredients, how they should be washed/cut/prepared etc. Type of breads you can use etc. Encourage everybody to make notes.(repeat nr 2)
After this step provide a colourful handout where they have to read the instructions and either fill in some blanks of keywords they need to know or a few questions at the end. (repeat nr 3)
Step three of the learning cycle - cater for kinaestetic and visual learners
You are now allowing the learners to create their own sandwiches, using the notes, handouts they have. (repeat nr 4)
Step four of the learning cycle - cater for audio and visual learners.
Remember the shared lunch you promised them at the beginning? You could use this as your recap activity by allowing the learners to create their own Gourmet Sandwich with ingredients available. This way you can double check that by working independently, and coming up with their variation is a good check to see if they have grasped the concepts.Now the above step might look very logical and you might think, this is how I would have taught it anyway. Excellent than you have understood the concept of the learning cycle and learning styles. However it might be possible to imagine that you might have assumed that everybody knows how to make a sandwich and just give them the handout /instruction sheet. What would the difference be between the end of the result.
LEGISLATIONNow let us have a look at a subject that is not so "hands on". If you are passionate about legislation, Knowledgebase would like to hear from you on the forum as to what you do to keep your learners engaged in their learning. Many trainers would put the subject of legislation in the 'dry' category.
To apply the VARK principles to legislation and make it interactive, see if you can relate to the suggestion below. As always feel free to try it, use it, reshape it, make it work for you! Have fun with it.
Step One. Your learners might have mixed interest in the legislation that you teach. Most of the time it is one of those papers they need to do to get their qualification but if they really wanted to be lawyers they would not have enrolled on your course. So make the room look interesting and use props to dress up your room. Get a Judges robe and wig for example. Set the classroom up like a courtroom, with a jury bench, public gallery, judges desk. Think about how you are going to split your group into jury bench or public gallery. Perhaps you can tie this in with the type of legislation you are teaching. Just make sure you not accidentally offend anybody. Let the class appoint a Judge.
The judge will be in charge of the classroom management for the session. The judge can set the rule, decide when to have a break and bring the public gallery to order. Again make sure you set your own classroom rules as well as you don't want a break every 5 minutes etc. You have not set the scene that today's lesson might not be that dry after-all.
Step Two. Do a really good introduction of todays lesson outcomes. Make it relevant to whatever their goals are/area of interest/qualification they are working towards. Brainstrom with them why they think they need this information. Have competition Jury bench against public gallery as to who can come up with the most ideas.
Step Three. One of the main reasons learners don't like legislation as they are afraid that they are not going to understand the language and terminology used. Anybody who has ever signed a legal contract can understand that apprehension. Have all the terminolgy on large laminated sheets around the room. Include the explanations of these terms in your introduction of Step Two. Your learners now know a little more and they understand how much more there is to learn. Before continuing ask the learners if any of these terms have any personal meaning to them. This will help you later on, to draw these students into your delivery, to get a personal experience perspective.
Step Four. Ask the Judge if the class is all under control or if they need a 2 minute stretch. It is important they you carry the theme through as initially the judge might be to conservative to actually tell you when to stop talking.
Step Five. For students to take ownership of the contents , remember the statistic that 95% of what you teach somebody else you will remember. So split the class up in small groups (3,4) and divide the contents between the groups. They need to work through the material and find a way of teaching the other learners. Insist they make this interactive and fun. Depending on what legislation you are teaching, help them along with ideas. Can they incorporate the courtroom? Perhaps the Jury wants to ask a few more questions.Perhaps the "solictors" can do a "closing summary".
Step Six. After each teaching session from a group, you need to do a good recap activity. Use the laminated cards around the room to refer to. Using sticky notes allow the learners to write something they have learned about this term and stick around the laminated card. During the course they see their knowledge growing and by just looking around the room, they can see what is left to learn.
Step Seven. After each group has done their presentation and exhausted all their sticky note ideas for the recap, allow students to go on a break. During the break remove all the sticky notes and sort them out and remove all the double ups. With the ones that are left arrange a final recap. As your learners walk back into the room, hand them a sticky note each (or several). Pair them up and they need to tell each what this note relates to. They can correct each other, refer to their workbook etc. They than exchange the notes and pair up with somebody else and teach each other about the note they were handed. Keep this pattern going for as long as you like.
Step Eight. Collect all the sticky notes and have another competition between public gallery and jury . You mention what is written on the note and the groups need to identify which laminated card it belongs to. One member to run up to you, get the note and stick it to the terminology. Once there they need to describe what it means and the Judge will score.
ACTIVITY FOR YOU: identify how VARK is incorporated in this activity. Also remember that information needs to be repeated around 6 times for it to be maintained in the long term memory. How was this disguised?
Hopefully the above have helped you to understand how to incorporate VARK in your classroom and how to repeat the same information without you having to do the hard work. Knowledgebase would love to hear your comments, so email or use the forum.