I first came across Oliver Caviglioli on the pedagogical goldmine that is Twitter. To be honest, I was ‘drawn’ to the graphics he posted on his feed (see what I did there?) and the fact that he thinks the free Waitrose weekend newspaper is a model of sensible and user-friendly design.
In his book, Dual Coding with Teachers, Caviglioli aims to combine cognitive science and graphic principles to ‘show teachers how to be competent in producing effective visuals’. At its most challenging and complex, the book is a seemingly endless treasure trove of double-page spreads demonstrating the dual coding practice of over 35 professionals. I do not think the book is designed to be read cover-to-cover and I find myself dipping in and out of it whilst also making use of Caviglioli’s excellent website https://www.olicav.com/.
I’ve always enjoyed preparing resources, using my whiteboard and the very act of handwriting so looking at these activities with fresh and more informed eyes has been revelatory. Like I say, I’ve been starting small: see the stripped-back PowerPoint character slide below for a character from Lord of the Flies. I’ve worked with the principles of a limited colour palette, consistent font choice and a clear visual which can be re-used on resources which reference the character of Ralph.
Below is an example of one of my BC (Before Caviglioli) mind-maps for a chapter from an A level text: Wuthering Heights. I can remember being quite proud of this resource at the time: look at how colourful it is; I have arrows and squiggly lines; it makes perfect sense of a challenging Victorian text! Perhaps the irony is that in trying to help my students navigate their way through Bronte’s typically gothic use of deliberate obfuscation, I probably left them even more in the dark!
In my post-Oliver world, I now give my Year 12 class slides that look like this. If I miss a chapter, they ask for them as they see them as useful revision tools.
Last term, I got brave and attempted a graphic organiser with Yr13 for Othello. They really liked the idea and have gone on to produce their own for the other main characters to help them ensure they revise everything they need to know to meet the five A level assessment objectives.
As we have a whole-school focus this year on Cognitive Load Theory, I am going to continue to experiment with how I present information to students to best support their working memory. There are many, many things I love about my job and Dual Coding with Teachers has given me the impetus and information to reflect on one of the more creative but high-impact aspects: check it out!
Katy Wayne: English Department.