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How to Accommodate Multiple Learning Styles

by Michele Norfleet, studioD

Classrooms can have as many learning styles and preferences as students, but most learners prefer visual, auditory or kinesthetic styles. Although most teachers present material to students in a variety of ways, keeping all students involved throughout the day becomes challenging. Being aware of the different learning styles in your classroom helps you to ensure that all of your students have an opportunity to access learning, whether through visual, auditory or kinesthetic pathways.

What's Your Style?

Visual learners have a preference for learning by seeing and observing. They want to see someone else perform a task before they attempt it. These students actually read the instructions before beginning an assignment. They may ask you to demonstrate a task before they begin. Auditory learners, on the other hand, like to hear the instructions. They listen to oral presentations and enjoy having books read aloud in class. Because of their strong language skills, these students will remember details of your lectures and will be the first to catch your verbal mistakes. Kinesthetic learners have a preference for physical, hands-on experiences and prefer to try things on their own. These students often don‘t read the instructions, but jump right into an assignment and learn by doing.

The Eyes Have It

You will keep your visual learners engaged in classroom activities by utilizing visual presentation of material including charts, handouts, graphs and graphic organizers. These students want to see information and have written instructions. Encourage visual learners to take notes and highlight important information. When approaching written material, encourage your visual learners to read subheadings and examine illustrations before reading text. These students respond well to color-coding of information. When studying for a test, suggest that visual learners create flash cards for review. They will learn math facts, formulas and spelling words by simply looking at them and committing them to memory.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Auditory learners present a different set of challenges. When presenting new material, allow these students to tape record your lectures or instructions to play back later for studying. Auditory learners work well in groups where they are allowed to discuss the material. Beware of putting all of your auditory learners together, however, as they may all want to talk at once. After presenting new information, let these students repeat the information aloud or turn to a classmate to restate or summarize the information. Put new information, such as math facts or spelling words, into a rhythm or tune that they can chant aloud.

Just Do It

For your kinesthetic learners, plan for movement throughout class time. Including lab-style work gives them the opportunity to learn by doing, which they prefer. These students also like to get up and move around, so planning for frequent, short breaks or opportunities for movement helps them stay focused. If information is presented in a lecture format, encourage note-taking and underlining to provide movement. If possible, include skits and role-playing for them. For reading, give these students a colored overlay to use over text to help keep them focused. Add physical movements along with rhythm and song to memorization tasks, such as math facts and spelling.

About the Author

Michele Norfleet is a freelance writer who writes on travel, home and garden and education topics. She has coauthored a handbook for teachers on school-wide discipline and has contributed tips for special-needs students in the basal curriculum for RCL Benziger. Norfleet holds a master's degree from Southern Illinois University and has experience as a special-needs teacher and speech pathologist.

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