Sailing away with visual anchors (Issue 8, January 2011)

– Using visuals to improve learning attributes

This is a really simple idea that will improve the learning attributes of an individual student and is easy to implement in any classroom.

In Learn to Learn the students have completed a profiling task that assessed where the students were currently at with respect to each of the 5Rs. At a recent L2L meeting Ken Brechin posed the question “So what are you going to do about it?” and gave us sections of Guy Claxton’s Building Learning Power in Action (2005, TLO Ltd) book to give us some ideas to try out. The visual anchor was one of the ideas in the book that caught my eye. A visual anchor is a prompt that the student will see every lesson that reminds them of the R they are trying to improve. The visual anchor shows what success in this R will look and feel like to help the student achieve their goal. In the BLP in Action book this idea was used solely for improving resilience but I believe it can be used to improve a student’s performance in any R.

In practice I asked the students to look back at their profiler and identify the R they need to improve the most. The students then drew a picture of what success in this R would look like with specific reference to the profiler. The picture just had to help that individual student progress and did not have to relate to the classroom environment. For example Ross, identified that he must be more resilient and to do this he should have a more positive attitude. He then drew a picture that will help remind of this in future lessons and stuck this picture to the front of his work book (see below).

This simple tool will see improvement in learner attributes and can be applied across a range of subjects. What does it look and feel like if a student is reflective and spots his mistake himself in Maths or English? What  does it look and feel like if a student shows reasoning and hits extended abstract on the SOLO Taxonomy? (See a description of SOLO Taxonmy on page 24 [in the article “Relay Review”, to be posted in the coming weeks. Ed.] ) What does it look and feel like if a student is responsible and listens to members of their team in PE? Reminding students of their vision of success each lesson will make improvement their next port of call.

Joe Spoor




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