Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do Graphics Help You As A Learner?

Image from Personal Collection

I am a visual learner, so I really enjoy using graphics in my everyday life to help me process information. Using graphics is a quick and simple way to gain knowledge about a certain topic. Graphics and symbols can be used together, but in essence they are two separate things. Graphics represent a process with a natural order and flow to the visual. In the image above shows a bar chart showcasing the number of 3rd graders and the rate of completing a mathematical operation. Just by taking a quick glance at this bar chat any person could see that subtraction is the fastest mathematical operation that most 3rd graders can do. The graphic is using thick, bold bars to show the audience/viewer the correct information. 

Image from Personal Collection

 "Family trees" are another great example of how flow can affect viewers. The image above is of my father's side of the family - starting at the top with my grandparents. The audience can read this flow chart from top to bottom and it has a gentle sequence about it. If I just told someone verbally about my father's side of the family and who was in it, that person would probably not retain much information I just said to them. However, if I was to show them this "family tree" chart, then he/she would surely have a much better grasp on my family members. This is the beauty of graphics and the power of visual learning. I found a fact about visual learning - it is: the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. In my opinion, this is astonishing, and I truly believe that this is an accurate depiction of visual learning and graphics.

To close, I want to share this quote stated by Martin Scorsese. He stated, "If one wants to reach younger people at an earlier age to shape their minds in a critical way, you really need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed visually."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Way Symbols Are Used

Image from Personal Collection

What exactly are symbols? Where can they be found?
In a simple explanation, symbols are concrete expressions used for representations. Most symbols are universal and are easily understood to most populations of people. For example, above is an image of with the first three letters of the English Alphabet - "A," "B," and "C." At basic form these letters are symbols that hold meaning. This system of writing was created to convey information through symbols (or text characters). Humans placed meaning within these symbols and when these symbols are placed together words are formed. Now I know most people understand that words are formed by putting characters together, but to me it is really fascinating to think about the basic form of these symbols. An "A" is just a symbols, but since we all were young children we have learned the meaning of "A" and how to use it in words and to speak with it. The characters of the English Alphabet is just one example of how symbols can be found and used in our daily lives.  

Image from Personal Collection
Numbers hold the same representation as letters. "One" can be represented as "1" or with one counting cube as shown in the visual example above. "1" is just the symbolic representation of the physical counting objects. As a pre-service mathematics educator I hope to teach my students the true value of the numeric symbols. By doing this, hopefully students will develop a deeper understanding of our numeric system.

Image from Personal Collection
Without even reading the words on this image we know what this object is for. Symbols are universal. Most people can look at a symbols or image and know exactly what it stands for. For instance, in this image above is a recycling can. It has the green arrows logo stamped on the outside of the can and everyone at a glance knows that is what that can is designated for. In my opinion, I think this is an amazing concept. By "reading" the symbolic logo we understand the use for the container. There are countless other examples I could show, but I challenge you to look for universal symbols around you. What benefits stem from having these symbols? Are they useful or just a waste of space? Open your eyes and check out the world around you!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Flickr Image by Simon_sees

If you were to look around you what do you see? Inanimate objects, photographs, symbols? There is something that we all take for granted and we all see it everyday - TEXT and the FONTS used to create them. Recently, I watched the film titled Helvetica and I encourage everyone to watch this video at least once. This relatively short film gives great insight to the font of Helvetica and where it can be found in our world. This movie added much new knowledge to my perception of visual literacy. Up until I watched this movie I did not think much about fonts and how they are used. The movie catches the audience's attention by showcasing the many uses of how and where this font can be found. Now I am constantly looking at the world of text around me. It is an eye opening idea that text can be altered in so many ways. As I observe road signs, company names on buildings and billboards, and many other objects with text written on them I have noticed that the font Helvetica is commonly used. As mentioned in the video, Helvetica is used globally. So why is this font so popular? Take a look at something written in Helvetica. Observe the nature of it. What aspects of this font appeal to you? Helvetica is a font that promotes clarity with reading. The tone of the font is neutral so it can be used world-wide, and the meaning is within the content of the text. Helvetica is everywhere - on our government tax return forms, on fashion stores logos, websites, and many more places. I challenge you to look around and find where Helvetica is used. It will shock you just how much it is used in our world, trust me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Power of Images in Today's World

It is a common thing in today's mainstream media - gender stereotypes both in positive and negative ways for both genders. Women can be seen on magazine covers as thin and flawless and men are pictured partaking in a bold and honorable events. Why does society push unrealistic imagines and thoughts into the general population's minds? It is all just to market commercial items that we will end up purchasing because it hold promises. In the back of our minds, however, we know these promises are empty and will not hold true to the commercial we saw on TV, but we still buy the products.

All stereotypes are not bad. Some can convey information rather well in a positive manner. However, sometimes it is hard to see past of all filth in today's media. In recent days, I have been keeping my eyes open to see positive types of stereotypes.

I found an article about Gender Stereotypes and I really liked how the author defined what a stereotype actually is. In his statement he summed up that a stereotype is influenced by culture and is not proved through scientific research. If all people took this statement into consideration then maybe we all would realize that stereotypes are just garbage that really have no meaning.

In closing, the power of media and its influences are very strong in today's world. We all need to keep a clear mind whenever we see a TV ad, magazine cover, or an article in a newspaper. If we let the media influence us in negative ways then we are setting ourselves up for unrealistic promises.

Image from Personal Collection

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Illusions In My Life

Illusions are a magnificent thing. The way the human brain inputs information and sends signals for us to interrupt is an amazing process. According to an article written by Debra Speert, PhD, the human brain can make "errors" when reading a visual - thus creating an illusion. Now this does not mean that our brains are wrong, it just is a glitch that occurs and sometimes we think we are going crazy.

In this picture for instance, doesn't it look like the web of colors is moving in toward the center of the image. Of course, this visual is a still shot but somehow our brains are processing the information of the visual image that it is in fact moving. However, not all people interrupt illusions in the same way, so maybe this moving picture is just my imagination at work. Who knows... Go out into the world and find some illusions and share them with your friends! 
Image from Flickr by cleverfun3000

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Visuals In My Life

Visual symbols affect my life in many ways. They allow me to interpret different meanings without the use of text. It is amazing to me that my mind is able to make connections and interpretations to a visual symbol. In addition, the components of visual symbols can add emotion. This affects me in various ways as well. If I were to look at something that has "I'm happy" written on it and compare it to a colorful portrait of a smiley face, I would have a deeper reaction and connection to the colorful face. To me, it is important to find meaningful visuals and to embrace them.

My career goal is to become a middle school mathematics teacher. Math, as we all well know, has many symbols used when problems and functions are being performed. As a educator, my hope is to instill a meaningful understanding of such symbols. I can recall a time in my math curriculum when my teacher used a visual symbol to help her students differentiate between "greater than or less than" inequalities. She would draw on the chalk board an alligator head using the ">" or "<" sign. To this day, my 3rd grade teacher's visual of how to solve inequalities has stuck with me. It is funny how that little gesture of transforming an inequality sign into a silly, animated animal had turned into a meaningful connection.

Image from personal collection

I found this drawing at work last week in the Math Education Lab in Wright Hall. Up until a few days ago, I did not take much notice of the drawing. As I looked closer and closer at it, I realized that the donkey image was using positive and negative space to form the border of a new donkey. I was fascinated by this drawing that Joseph Tules had created, and I was please with myself for understanding the framework behind it.

Image from personal collection