We can benefit our students by using color effectively in many different ways:
When we see color we process it in a complex way, involving multiple parts of our brain. According to the Association of Talent Development, neuroscientists discovered that information first goes to a color center in our brains, and from there information moves to other parts of the brain that detect motion, shapes, edges, and transitions; this tells us our response to color is very complicated and significant.
First, how does memory work? Medical Daily states, “When you experience something, this event is converted into a pulse of electrical energy that zips along a network of neurons, according to Young. This information first gets stored in short-term memory, where it's available anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. Then, the experience gets transferred to long-term memory areas such as the hippocampus — the center of emotion, memory, and the automatic nervous system — and finally reaching several storage regions across the brain.”
Edynco tells us, color is the most powerful stimulus to our brain. As information enters our brain through our eyes and ears it is stored in sensory memory. We can only pay attention to a small amount of information at once. When something attracts our attention it goes into working memory, or short-term memory, and color is what our brain notices first! According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, information is then moved to long-term memory as a result of various control processes; this depends on the degree attached to a certain stimuli. In short, what we give more attention to is more likely to be stored in long-term memory.
We also know that color aids pattern recognition. The Association for Talent Development states, “In 2002, researchers discovered that subjects performed five to 10 percent better on standardized pattern recognition tests when they were administered in color rather black and white. The effect also boosted memory over time.” This result shows how much benefit color can have in our teaching and standardized test results if we use it to our advantage!
Those in business and marketing would tell you the same thing- there is a strong correlation between what is stored in our memory and color; many advertisements use color to their advantage. For example, many fast-food restaurants use bright, vivid colors in their advertising, like McDonald’s red and yellow, to grab your attention and store in your memory.
So, how can you use color to benefit your students’ learning? You need to take into consideration a couple of different factors, including individual colors, combination of colors, and the results you are trying to achieve.
First, since individual colors elicit different responses, it is important to know these responses. Shift Learning gives helpful explanations of colors and how they enhance learning.
Imagine a lush forest or a beautiful field. Does it give you a brief sense of calmness? Green reminds us of nature, and because of this has a calming effect. Green increases efficiency and focus, and is great for when you need your students to concentrate for a long time.
The color red stimulates the adrenal glands, according to The Association for Talent Development. It can evoke feelings of energy and threat, but has also appears to improve focus and performance.
Orange is a definite mood-lifter! This welcoming color provides comfort and enhances neural functioning.
However, the color orange may be over stimulating for some students; keep this in mind if you have an exceptionally energetic class. So although, orange can be a great color to use, it’s best in small doses!
The color pink promotes calmness and can reduce heart rate.
Contrary to popular belief, blue does not equal sadness! Blue promotes productivity and is best for challenging learning situations. Shift Learning states, “…blue is great for promoting high levels of thought, but too much can create a sense of detachment and coldness.” It is helpful to mix blue with warmer colors.
Typically known as a cheerful color, the color yellow can improve happiness; too much yellow can produce stress, though.
Red vs. Blue
There was a study done at the University of British Columbia, published in Science magazine, to observe how the cognitive performance of participants varied depending on whether they saw red or blue when they performed tasks. “Red groups did better on tests of recall and attention to detail, like remembering words or checking spelling and punctuation. Blue groups did better on tests requiring invention and imagination: coming up with creative uses for a brick or creating toys from collections of shapes.”
Red color should be used when you want to improve memory on completing a task like proofreading. Blue should be used when your students are brainstorming or you want them to think creatively and out-of-the-box.
Another factor that needs to be considered is when multiple colors are involved. When the right combination of colors is used, it can produce higher levels of contrast. It’s important to consider the contrast of colors in your classroom. The background of what students see should contrast with the foreground, or text. If the background and foreground are monochromatic (same color, different hue), then it will not stick as well to your students’ memory.
Teaching tools such as PowerPoint slides, posters, worksheets, etc. should have contrast between the background and foreground, but should also be aesthetically pleasing and easy to look at. A lighter background and darker foreground enhances readability.
Different colors and combinations of colors can have a stronger effect in one area over another area, so it’s important to think about what you are hoping to achieve. For example, Edynco tells us to use warm colors (red, orange, yellow) to stimulate, and cool colors (blue, green, purple) to calm.
You can use coloring as an interactive experience as often as you want in class, but blend colors strategically in visuals or decor, keeping in mind that too many different colors can create chaos and confusion. When used the right way, color can have an immense benefit to your students’ memory and performance!
A great way to get started with incorporating color is to try visual note taking strategies in your classroom. With doodle notes, students can interact with their note pages through doodling, coloring, patterns, embellishments, color coding, and lettering in ways that increase memory. Learn more about how visual notes blend graphics and text to increase student focus, learning, and retention.
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Fun Ideas for Special Angle Pairs
Introducing Transversals & Parallel Lines
First, students will need to be able to identify angle pairs, then know the properties and relationships that exist when the lines that the tranversal intersects happen to be parallel. The perfect solution for you and your students is to incorporate doodle notes into your lesson.
Kids can draw out a big transversal crossing a pair of lines in their notebook and then color code. They can then make an attempt at structuring their own sketch notes for the properties that special angle pairs have when the lines are parallel.
Colors and patterns help students to learn and remember the special angle pairs, plus they can reference the visual notes at any time and use their color and pattern codes to identify the special angles.
Or if you want to step it up a notch, these doodle notes coincide exactly with teaching transversals! The set includes sheets for your students to fill in, answer questions, and doodle on/embellish. The content includes:
- identifying special angle pairs
- alternate interior
- alternate exterior
- same-side interior
- same-side exterior
- theorems for parallel lines that intersect a transversal
- converses of the theorems
- using linear pairs and the special angle pairs to find missing angle measures
- practice and examples
Why should you incorporate doodle notes or sketch notes in class? If you haven’t read my recent posts, doodle notes use both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain; there are so many proven benefits to this!
The proven benefits of communication between the two hemispheres of the brain include focus, learning, memory/retention, and even relaxation.
The right and left hemispheres of the brain communicate through the corpus callosum, a fiber bridge that crosses between the two sides. When you encourage interaction between the hemispheres of the brain, you strengthen this connection. In addition to doodle notes, there are many other ways to activate the right brain in your math class!
A recent study proved that doodling increases focus and the ability to recall new information. With these color-it-in, doodle-friendly note sheets, your students can use their colored pencils and the right side of their brains, and then remember key vocabulary, math examples, and new concepts more easily.
It’s amazing to see students so engaged while making connections in their minds about a topic. This makes the concept really stick!
Another great way to introduce transversals is through this inquiry lesson pack. This lesson pack begins with an investigation where students discover properties of corresponding angles by sliding tracing paper down the transversal. Through this and the other components of this lesson pack, your students will gain a strong understanding about angle relationships that occur when a transversal is cut by parallel lines, while showing more engagement in the lesson.
Practicing with Special Angle Pairs
Once students are familiar with identifying angle pairs and the properties, they will love trying an exciting game for hands-on practice! This familiar game will help the students remember these properties in an active, engaging way.
Take a look at this video on how to play “Twisted Fingers.” Or read on for a description.
You can make your own or check out this pre-made game set. There are two different game boards plus a spinner included. You’ll need push pins, erasers, and paper clips for spinner assembly (unless you have a set of plastic spinners).
Students play in small groups. The spinner tells what type of angle pair to find and whether to place fingers or thumbs on it. The game is over when a player cannot simultaneously keep the correct fingers on the correct spaces or cannot reach an angle pair that fits the criteria.
Challenge Activities with Transversals, Angles, & Parallel Lines
Do you ever struggle with keeping fast learners occupied and engaged, while also extending their learning? Thinking of new, creative ways to extend learning can be difficult. For those students who are ready for an extra challenge when teaching transversals, try this rolling ball game.
In this game, students use properties and theorems for parallel lines cut by a transversal, and then write and solve systems of equations to determine angle measures.
The goal is to figure out the slight slant of each set of ledges in order to determine which way the ball will roll. Students have to figure out where the ball will end up. This activity combines Geometry skills, Algebra skills, and Critical Thinking skills; it will definitely be a fun task for those who are ready and up for the challenge!
It’s pretty tricky, so be ready!
For easy differentiation, there are 2 separate worksheets that you can use to meet and challenge each student’s ability.
I hope you find some of these unique ideas helpful for your teaching! Do you have any creative ways to introduce, practice, or offer a challenge for your students when teaching this unit? Comment below; we’d love to hear your thoughts!
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