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21st-Century classrooms: Accommodating different learning needs

Every child has a specific learning method that helps them achieve the best results possible. With many different approaches to the style of learning, it can be hard to find a way to teach that caters for the diverse needs of learners in a 21st-century classroom.

That’s why in today’s post, we’re exploring all the different types of learning styles and how a classroom can better provide a learning experience that meets the needs of everyone. From visual to auditory, there are many different learning styles that each require their own unique approach - and adding technology into the mix can be a great way of creating the required adaptable learning environment.

Visual learners

A visual learner is someone who is able to better comprehend information presented to them through sight rather than listening or reading something. They prefer to observe and look at something to really understand the concept you’re teaching them, either through written directions, diagrams or pictures.

When adopting a style to teach a visual learner, you should think about the resources available to them. Whiteboards or interactive boards are a real help here, and the more that can be drawn out by you the better. Alternatively, get the student involved by asking them to draw on the board as they’re learning - this will ensure they really soak up and retain the knowledge.

Top tip: Visual learners also often appreciate handouts of the presentation that you might be taking them through, as this will allow them to make notes or highlight the keywords in bright colours. If a computer is being used then let the student experiment by using different fonts and colours.

Auditory learners

An auditory learner will have the best educational experience when they are taught through sound - they’d much prefer to listen to you talking them through a presentation or reading a passage of information. If you’re not able to read something to them, then allow time for them to read it out loud to themselves to really gauge a good understanding.

Auditory learners enjoy talking things through and may prove a distraction to the class if not given the opportunity to verbally join in - so encourage those who would benefit from it to contribute. This will be of benefit to you as the teacher, as the auditory learners will be able to help you engage fellow students in the class who tend to be less vocal. Try group discussions to allow students to take in the information being presented to them, or alternatively switch roles and allow them to teach portions of the class.

Top tip: Watching videos or listening to music or audio tapes are excellent ways to engage an auditory learner. Exhibition trailers can be a good tool to use now and again to take the children out of their normal learning environment and provide them with a new space where they’re able to engage with the technology used within the trailer - and this can really stimulate their learning in the right way.

Kinesthetic learners

Also known as ‘tactile’ learners, a kinesthetic learner will learn through the opportunities to experience something, whether it’s a chance to use their hands to touch something or act out an event in a history lesson to understand the information. These students may get restless if expected to sit still for a long period of time, meaning they may need regular breaks from studying to keep learning at an optimum level.

Kinesthetic learners will often excel in sports lessons as they’re able to stimulate their brain by physically doing something. As physical sport can’t be incorporated into every lesson, additional techniques need to be bought into the classroom environment through movement. Incorporate learning through a game that allows them to move around the room or write on a whiteboard as part of an activity, or simply allow them to click, clap, pace or mouth information to themselves - abstract ideas and difficult concepts are easier for them to understand if they’re not sitting still and silent.

Top tip: If you aren’t able to include movement within your lesson, look at how using different objects can help learners to understand a concept or retain information. Alternatively, computers can be useful here, as even allowing the student to type things out can help them.

Reading/writing learners

When it comes to reading and writing learners, you’ll find there are some common learning traits that you’ll see in a visual learner. These students learn best through written words, whether that be reading online articles, writing everything down or looking up different words in the dictionary to fully understand their meaning.

As it’s a learning style that has been a traditional method before 21st-century classrooms started introducing contemporary techniques, it’s the easiest one to cater for, as the educational system provides many learning experiences that include writing essays or reading a book. These students need to be given a good deal of time to take in and absorb the information being given to them.

Top tip: Give the student a topic to research that is going to be taught in class and allow them to scour the internet to find various research papers or articles to read through prior to or after the lesson so that they can really understand the learnings.