Looking – Seeing – Analysing 

“We must teach communication comprehensively, in all its forms. Today we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But we also need to understand the importance of graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’s culture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.”



Isn’t it amazing how we are all so visually simulated in our everyday life?  Perhaps it is more frightening how much our students and children are visually over stimulated…  But is this a bad thing – we seem to think it is in many ways.  I was told as a kid that I would get square eyes watching too much TV or spending too much time in front of a screen.
But what is visual literacy? Why is it important? Why do we need to teach it?


Brian Kennedy explains that Visual literacy is “the ability to construct meaning from images.  It’s not a skill; it uses skills as a toolbox.  It is a form of critical thinking that enhanced your intellectual capacity.”  “Visual literacy is multi-modal, it’s multi disciplinary, it’s interdisciplinary and it’s collaborative.” It is a universal language.  In addition to this, “we read non-text 60,000 times fast than we can read text’  If this is the case, then how can we ensure that children are really looking, ‘Slow looking’?


Looking, seeing , analysing do we do this things?  This is why we need to teach visual literacy to our over stimulated, multitasking students.  Teach them stop multitasking and just look, see things, ask questions and analyse them.


As a teacher is is clear that we must start with our own practices. That being the case I started to think about the visual media that I use.  My test website that I use with students, my Haiku pages and my COETAIL blog.  What would I do to make them visually more appealing, how can I make people stop, look, see and analyse – ask questions, think about what I am writing.
I found this youtube video somewhat helpful, although the presenters are a little irritating.
YouTube Preview Image
I like the acronym C.R.A.P., it must be the middle school child in me! What follows is a couple of different screenshots of site/pages I have created and a critique of each using C = Contrast, R = Repetition, A = Alignment & P = Proximity.  I have also provided a short justification of the initial choices and purpose of the page.

Old ‘New Staff’ Page


One internal page:

This site was design for new teachers to our school and Japan.  It was a place to find information and somewhere leaving staff could post sale items.  The original colour scheme was selected to to compliment our school colours – although I must say that I am not a huge fan of green.
Contrast – There is very little contrast here. Nothing really stands out, particularly the left hand menu.  It actually looks very dated.
Repetition – There is some repetition of colour although there is a misuse of ‘underline’ in the title.  All the links are underlined and the same colour but the title is not a hyperlink – this could lead to confusion or people thinking that the link is broken.  A header and footer in the same colour would also help to indicate that the page has come to an end and the text in-between would have been framed.  Each page has the same layout, colour and font maintaining some repetition and, hopefully, connecting green with NIS.
Alignment – The page has a lot of initial information scattered around. Placing this information in columns would help to break it down into more manageable chucks, placing equal importance on each section,  helping the viewer to navigate the page more easily.  A the moment I would wonder what to click on first.
Proximity – The placement of the ‘for sale’ image and text suggest that they are related and that without reading the text you might fins out more information about for sale items.  The other image seems a bit random and is very close the Tips of Japan, perhaps a better image would have something to specifically do with Japan.
Overall, now I look at this site I wonder what I was thinking and would certainly redo in fro future reference.

New ‘New Staff’ Page


One internal page:

Here we have the new ‘new staff’ page.  Brighter and a little easier to navigate.  Considering the principles of C.R.A.P. I hope that you agree!

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2 Responses to Looking – Seeing – Analysing 

  1. Ryan Harwood says:

    Wow. What an upgrade to your staff pages. That’s some great improvements. Isn’t it funny the things our parents tell us when we’re young. My folks said things like “square eyes” too. Why not just talk about brain development or the positivity of getting outside to play or using our creativity instead of making up random things to scare us. I’m pretty sure it didn’t work anyway.

  2. Thanks for the post, Sylvia. You really got me thinking.
    Is visual literacy nothing more than looking, seeing, and analyzing? What does the analyzing look like? Like you say, it’s critical thinking (asking the right questions). Why haven’t I gotten round to taking the time to read this book
    I did read the first few chapters, and, at the time, I thought it was a really great book about using questions to teach. Check it out, if you want. Also, I think one of the most important points you make in this post is “teach them stop multitasking and just look, see things” This a loaded statement! Multitasking – I see our kids do it. Some actually do it pretty darn well. But, I’ve heard others says it, and I think it’s true: “Multitasking is doing several things at once poorly, rather than doing one thing well at a time” The second part of that “just look, see things” really resonates with me, personally. We’re overstimulated, and, without taking time to be mindful, I go crazy. Which is why I’d love to put one of these in my library Walden Zone .


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