What are the VARK Categories?

readingVARK is an acronym which stands for the four basic ways people learn: Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. There is certainly overlap between these learning methods, but there is also a basic preference for most people to learn in a particular way. Here is a brief description of these four ways to learn.

Visual

Information is best processed through the sense of sight. For instance information delivered through maps, diagrams, charts, graphs, flow charts and the like are easily understood and remembered.

Aural/Auditory

People who learn through the auditory mode prefer information which is “heard or spoken.” Students who learn aurally say that they learn best from lectures, group discussions, radio, email, mobile phone, speaking, web-chat and just plain talking.

Read/Write

People who learn through reading or writing learn best through the use of words. Many teachers and students report that this is their best learning method. The ability to read and write well is a much sought after skill set looked for by future employers. People who prefer this method of learning are often addicted to PowerPoint presentations; the internet; lists; diaries; dictionaries; quotations and more words.

Kinesthetic

Teachers might be advised to move over the school furniture if they believe they have kinesthetic learners in their class. According to Fleming & Mills, 1992, kinesthetic learners prefer to be connected to reality, “either through concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation.” People who learn this way primarily learn through doing, valuing their own personal experiences rather than that of others.

The Three Basic Learning Methods

education-actionInformation is processed through three major routes into memory storage: the visual modality; the auditory modality; and the kinesthetic modality, which means learning through action.

For most people there is a preferred learning modality which maximizes their ability to learn and retain information, but there are a few of us which are balanced, and do not necessarily exhibit a preference for any one of these learning methods.

Some characteristics of the various learning methods are:

Visual: student’s mind wanders during verbal activities such as lectures; finds it hard to follow or remember verbal instructions; draws or doodles during verbal activities and get up from desks or banquet tableswhen they can’t focus.

Auditory: loses focus easily; loses interest in visual demonstrations; enjoys activates that require listening.

Kinesthetic: Often taps pencil or foot while thinking, studying or writing tests; enjoys experiments, handling objects and using body language to explain things. For kinesthetic learners it can be understood why sitting behind school desks all day could hamper their ability to learn.

Knowing a student’s learning modality can help achieve better results by gearing the learning experience to the special needs of each student.

Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences

So-Each-May-LearnIf you – or your child – are really struggling in the classroom, look into what learning style you may benefit from.  In this book, by Harvey F. Silver, Richard W. Strong and Matthew J. Perini, readers can find out  how to implement a holistic learning program that seamlessly integrates learning styles and multiple intelligences into instruction, curriculum, and assessment.  It is well worth the read for educators, parents and anyone who wants to get the most out of their learning.

Figuring Out a Student’s Learning Style

classroomsYou’ve got 30 students in your classroom. How are you supposed to take the time to find out how each one learns best?

With little kids, it’s really just a matter of exposing them to all sorts of learning styles and seeing what works best for the kids. As they get older, you can have them take a written test that helps you to narrow down the choices.

Obviously, these tests aren’t perfect and they won’t necessarily say that a child is definitely a spatial learner or definitely a kinesthetic one. But the tests will help to narrow down the scope. You can find tests at sites like this: http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html
Knowing what type of learner a child is helps for a number of reasons. It helps the teacher to plan her lessons and to think about the learning styles to try to incorporate into the lesson plan. It also helps each student to know for himself what type of learner he is and to try to learn to his strengths.

A child that knows he is a visual learner should make sure that he looks at the pictures in his textbook. He should pay attention to the maps and diagrams that are provided during a lecture and should ask, when possible, to turn in assignments that include drawings, diagrams and such on them.

All of these ideas are meant to help the teacher and the learner to best use the 7 learning styles to their benefit.

Teaching Pack Resources

lego-packsGet some great ideas for your teaching with this cool site on teaching packs.  This includes: the calculator pack, the classroom essentials pack, classroom rewards pack, earning morning activity pack, fractions pack, maths vocabulary pack, persuasive writing pack, pirates pack, punctuation pack, times tables pack, goody pack, future packs, etc.  It sure is a lot of fun and is brimming with great ideas.

http://www.teachingpacks.co.uk/

How Learning Styles Translate into Action

school-dramaYou’re a teacher in the classroom and you understand that there are many learning styles. But, what do you actually do about them? How do you translate this idea into action? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Visual: For visual learners, you should make sure that you have a lot of posters around the room. When you lecture, make sure that there is something to look at for the visual learners, whether this is a Power point presentation, a worksheet in front of each kid or something similar.

Kinesthetic: Get these kids moving. Rather than teaching about a timeline in history class, give them 10 scraps of paper with different events and have them build a timeline. Get them up, out of their stacking chairs, and acting.

Aural: When students have to remember lists, try to set the list to music. Allow kids to create songs as a project and to use musical accompaniment whenever possible.

Spatial: Give students many opportunities to build and plan. They can look at maps, put puzzles together, make their own puzzles, design a city and do other hands-on activities that require spatial abilities.

These are a few of the ways that you can incorporate the 7 learning styles into your daily activities as a teacher.