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The Benefits of Visual Literacy

January 14, 2011

Incorporating visual literacy within classroom instruction, helps students visualize and organize their thinking and better understand the information they are learning.  Thinking maps, timelines, flow charts and KWL (what I Know, what I Want to know, what I Learned) charts, just to name a few, can help students make connections to the information they are learning and identify the areas that they may need additional information about or what to explore further.   “Drawing information, as a diagram, map, or table, helps children to see how facts and connected, whereas “making notes” often provides only a collection of isolated pieces of data.”  (Moline & Drew, 2008)  For example, when introducing the unit The Lewis and Clark Expedition to a class of fourth graders, as a large group, students can be asked to share their ideas and thoughts about the journey of Lewis and Clark.  What does the class know about Lewis and Clark and their expedition?  What does the class what to learn about their journey?  And, finally, what did they learn?  The final portion can also be used as a mini-assessment at the end of the unit.  The information can be listed on a poster in the classroom and added to as the unit progresses. 

EDU 6363 Reflection 2 KWL Chart

Within the unit, visual organizers can also be used.  For example, a time line or flow chart can illustrate portions of or the full Lewis and Clark expedition.  The timeline can be posted within the classroom and added to as the unit progresses (including a map, dates, facts, and student illustrations) and students can maintain their own flow charts within their expedition diary.

EDU 6363 Reflection 2 Time Line

Visual and graphic organizers provide multiple opportunities for students to have a visual representation of what they are learning, organize their thoughts, and make further connections about the information being presented.


Geographic, N. (1996). Lewis and Clark Expedition Time Line. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from Lewis and Clark:

Moline, S., & Drew, D. (2008). Using Visual Literacy. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from Visual Literacy K-8:

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