A TEACHER – Visual Storyteller



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We have come to the end of the course and I am sitting here thinking, what are my final and practical take-aw ay’s from this course which will change the way (positively), I was teaching before or for that matter learning before. And the answers are numerous.

The first and foremost change in my teaching practice which I foresee, is that, I will be speaking less and showing more. I believe, I have always valued the use of visual tools, as compared to speaking and therefore always had some or the other visual aids in my class, usually in the form of Charts and Banners. This course helped me see how much more impact I could have, if I use digital visuals instead of words on charts. I feel that this course have helped me to open my–self to move towards being  the visual literate teacher who see  visual literacy as described in the words of Dr. Anne Bamford (writer of White paper on visual literacy )

“Visual literacy is what is seen with the eye and what is ‘seen’ with the mind. A visually literate person should be able to read and write visual language. This includes ability to successfully decode and interpret visual messages and compose meaningful visual communications “

It may sound good that I am open and aware to be  visually literate teacher, but truly speaking this isn’t going to be a piece of cake. I say this, because, to be  visually literate is half the battle won for a teacher. The other half is to equip themselves with enough skills, knowledge and tech tools so that we can provide students with quality visual experiences within our curricular areas.  By doing that we enable them to interpret and make meaning of the visuals, message behind it and make cognitive curricular connections.

This course has definitely provided me with skills, knowledge and understandings which will help me in this endeavor.

I will like to share a few of the concepts, readings  and takeaways from this course, which I felt were particularly beneficial and empowering both to be visually literate teacher and to be an effective visual communicator, or to be precise a good visual story-teller.

C.R.A.P (Contrast,Repetition,Alignment,Proximity) :

It was very useful to know about the C.R.A.P elements of design. Now it feels obvious to make a note of C.R.A.P.  in any of the visual . The understanding  has helped me enhance the quality  and nature of visuals I designed in this course as compared to what I designed earlier.


Not that we will have to design the website , but to know what is the usual habit of a reader makes me sensible about placement of content on my blog . Here are the highlights:

  • Ad placement in the top and left positions works best.
  • People scan the first couple words of a headline.
  • Your headline must grab attention in less than 1 second.
  • Headlines draw eyes before pictures.
  • Smaller type promotes closer reading.
  • People scan the left side of a list of headlines.
  • Navigation at the top of the page works best.
  • Short paragraphs encourage reading.
  • Multimedia works better than text for unfamiliar or conceptual information.
  • Introductory paragraphs enjoy high readership.
  • People notice ads placed close to popular content.
  • People read text ads more than graphic ads.


I have designed these before. But, to know the anatomy of it and how using the C.R.A.P can amplify the effect was really good.  To know the Anatomy of and categories of info graphic will definitely help me find one for varied purpose. It was additionally helpful to know the 4 main characteristics i.e. Educational,humorous, controversial and Newsworthy. I thoroughly enjoyed working on the few  for my classes. creately was a great program for designing one . Suddenly , I have this urge and need to design a lot more for all my units. Next year is going to be the year of info graphs.


To know the Anatomy of an Info graph has left me wanting , to do more . Just putting pictures and text is not going to be enough . For each info graph , it is important  to be aware of its 3 most important parts ie. Visuals: Color coding , Graphics , Reference icons , Content: Time Frames , Statistics,  References ,  and Knowledge  i.e. Facts and Deductions . If the designer keep these important parts in mind , an info graph will most likely serve its purpose. To know more read Anatomy Of An Info graphic


It was good to know that while shooting photograph, the subject should appear  away from the center .  the article The power of the visual: Learning from Down Under promotion videos puts it this way  “ images (video scenes, etc.) may appear more interesting, engaging, dynamic, compelling, etc. if the subject is not placed in the center. Of course dead center is where beginning photographers or novice videographers tend to put their subject. If you try moving your subject away from the center, however, perhaps nearer to one of what are called “power points” (where the grid lines intersect), you can create a more powerful or interesting visual by creating a bit of tension or even drama. “ Thanks to this article , I am now moving out of being a novice photographer. Hopefully my visuals will be able to tell that .


The blog about brain power Brain Rules,  has reaffirmed my belief in physical activity for a healthy brain. There is this great argument about Brain power boost, by aerobic exercise 30 min., twice a week. After I read this article,  I am a little thoughtful about expectations from my classes which come to me between 2:00 to 3:00 PM ,  as that is the time of Nap Zone .

It was particularly interesting to read rule # 10 in the same article. I am not going to kill my students or audience anymore with text based presentations.  Here are the highlights:

  • We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.
  • Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them. That takes time.
  • Why is vision such a big deal to us? Perhaps because it’s how we’ve always apprehended major threats, food supplies and reproductive opportunity.
  • Toss your PowerPoint presentations. It’s text-based (nearly 40 words per slide), with six hierarchical levels of chapters and subheads—all words. Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images. Burn your current PowerPoint presentations and make new ones.

The part in the article about testing long term memory, make you understand, the power of Visual over audio. I tried and it worked . Try it yourself with a friend  


Picture this excerpt from the blog Visual Literacy and the Classroom:  by Erin Riesland

“If the goal of literacy education is to empower students with the tools to communicate and thrive successfully in society, shouldn’t we consider the current literacy demands of the technological age? Who will ultimately teach our children to communicate?”

After reading this article we are left with no doubts about our responsibility to teach visual literacy in our classroom. Having said that, I do not plan to plan my lessons to literally teach visual literacy, but I plan to give them visual experiences, do formative assessment based on their interpretation, do visual presentations, so they see the need of greater understanding.


It was particularly interesting to learn about some very effective presentation formats like “ presentation zen” and “ Pecha Kucha” . What was educating even more, was to learn about my own strengths and weaknesses as a presenter. There is no doubt a PE teacher is mostly presenting the idea rather than making students read or learn out of textbook. To know these principles of presentation will definitely have a greater impact on my audience.


1.)   Simplify. ..Apple computers eg. Apple say it all about the company and the spirit of the company.

2.)   Limit …… Bullet points, text audio, transitions (changing slides with,,,,, etc. are all distractions. )

3.)   Don’t cover …. with your shadow on the screen.

4.)   Use the negative space( small space)

5.)   Rule of thirds ; Have the picture at the third quadrant not in the middle

6.)   Images trigger emotions, so be mindful.

7.)   Be concise: Reduce, reduce, and reduce the content but not the impact / meaning.

8.* Add the link of the Google doc to back-channel with the Google docs, ESL love it.

9.)   * Add speaker notes if needed.

10.) * If text is important give audience a handout.

11.)   Have a picture of notes in small bullets for your  reference in hand.

12.) Story: Presentation should tell a story.


It was exciting to design the presentation for my classes. Going back and forth with the right idea, visuals, story line Pre-production, production and final presentation was an enriching experience. To step in the shoes of my students and to keep editing the project based on presentation zen ideas lead to a product which I believe touched my students life. I have written about that in my presentation zen Blog.


“To reduce the content and not the impact” was the key. Using visuals which could have said what we did not. I may not use this format with my students ever but to know about Pecha kucha nights, has made me interested in working on precise presentation over elaborate monotonous one’s .  We tried to keep it short and sweet in our presentation on 21st century tech tools for teachers.


While we were busy delving into positive side of visual communication, we got to read  a blog post called “Questioning Video,Film , Advertising and Propaganda“:  By Jamie McKenzi.

This article made me notice that advertisement can use human fears and they do to make us believe in ideas which we otherwise may not believe. So to read what is not visible is also an aspect we should be aware of. At the same time to get our kids to understand the same is our responsibility.   I thought this digital story is something we all should get inspired by . Its called “Dove on-slaughters”, about Indonesian forest being destroyed for palm oil.  A solid digital story , which brings the power of visual forth.


One of the most interesting part of this course was the digital storytelling. I wore a hat of a story writer, actor, producer, director, cameraman and reporter. And all of it for a worthwhile cause of creating the story for higher order thinking i.e “creating a dance”, which involves high level of creativity and collaboration. I can say I would have not been able to communicate the content and make them understand that well in my whole unit, which I could do using the digital story. Here are some of the interesting topics which came across while reading about digital storytelling and its process:

The PBS  Literary Elements of any film from Language of the film from pbs.org

  • Characterization
  • Setting
  • Themes, Motifs, & Symbols
  • Point of View
  • Tone and Mood.

Laguage of the film from pbs.org   Using the camera angles  long shots , fading and closeups really gave me the kick. I enjoyed it fully .


The article made me reflect on my practices. What I know for sure is that my focus while teaching and communicating through visuals will not only understanding but to generate curiosity .  Nurturing curiosity & inspiring the pursuit of discovery brings out the interesting trend which is on and we should start to break it now . An excerpt :

“Rewarding curiosity vs. rewarding certainty: We are obsessed with giving prizes to students who memorize the most facts and bits of information (and in the shortest amount of time). Why don’t we give prizes for the students who demonstrate their unabashed curiosity and demonstrable pursuit of discovery? A driving child-like curiosity and sense of wonder is an undeniable sign of intelligence. The curious can eventually overcome their ignorance, but the chronically incurious—and yet self-assured—are stuck with their ignorance for a lifetime.”


At last, I will have to admit that this is again start and not the end of my endeavor. The article, 50 ways of telling a story brings out the fact that there are many interesting ways, and so far I have only used one. Another 49 or so are to be explored for greater possibilities.

Thanks Dana and Gary for getting me started………

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