Dual Coding for Teachers

This blog will be an ongoing account of my reflections and actions as I work through the four routes in the book. It is meant to be a rough/working version blog which is going to be embarrassing as i am using other mediums except my computer and trying out techniques!

Novice Route – 09.08.19

Having observed a few people of twitter creating more visuals recently I though I would attempt this. As I started reading the intro to the book I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone.

The book is very flexible and gives the reader the option of consuming the information in different ways. I’ve gone with the 4 routes option which gives pages numbers to look through.

After completing this first route the concepts are fascinating and assessible. As a teacher whilst understanding the importance of presentation

After reading the first route my key considerations for classroom practice will be to consider the cut, align, chunk and restrain routine when presenting information. A key foundation will be to use a grid well when presenting, attempted with this blog to varying levels of success!

The slides section was a fascinating read making me realise I break some of the simple rules like the overuse of bullet points and the need to read everything out. I also must really carefully consider the purpose of the presentation for the audience – what to they need out of it.

The final scary area is going to be look at improving my pen craft. As can by seen by my first attempt i’m going to need lots of advice and support on this! I’ll be printing out some dotted or square paper for my next attempt and planning it out using the principles shared.

Really enjoying the book so far and would recommend it for all teachers and educators as it clear its been carefully designed to meet a range of audiences.

Intermediate Route – 09.08.19

Have applied many of the techniques/ principles explained in the novice route for my notes page. I have to say i have always been in the ‘I can’t draw camp’ at school and have really enjoyed sketching and writing notes as I’ve been reading. This is also helping me to summarise my thinking over a period of reading.

In writing the next 3 paragraphs I’ve really struggled to convey some of the ideas and desperately want to have the diagram I’ve drawn next to each point below which I guess does show the power of diagrams.

Conversational sketching is covered in the book and its the practice of a listener sketching a diagram as other person articulates their idea in their head and then at the end asking “Is this what you mean?”. As a Maths teacher I immediately thought about taking a mini whiteboard around with me so I can write things down as students try to articulate their initial theories.

I am much less embarrassed about my 2nd notes attempt and the dotted paper works wonders for structure, still work to do but some progress! The book mentions drawing gym which i am yet to give a try but would love to improve my drawing skills as i’m currently in the position of knowing what I want to get down but not yet having the skill.

Final point on this route is about classroom displays. Twitter has been full of for and against low versus high visual displays. I personally am in the neutral camp when it comes to this but did like the areas covered on the balance of giving information and making it attractive, font size for viewing distance, squint and see what sticks out and ensure their is a hierarchy in the display.

Onto the next route I go!

Proficient Route – 10.08.19

A continual message I am picking up is planning of the work is absolutely key. If you look on the notes you can see small marks to mark out the 4 areas and i am finding marking out the midpoints also useful. Also attempting to give each section space by leaving a space around the areas. i am no where near consistent yet!

The process over sketch and note taking after reading a page is allowing me to reflect and repeat in a short space of time which I feel is aiding my understanding and possibly my memory. The book repeatedly comes back to similar principles but adds a few new ideas each time.

Hierarchy in a document particularly the styling is crucial. I have created some revision sheet summaries last year and I am looking forward to returning to them and considering the styling and size or the Title, Sub titles, paragraphs etc and mapping out sketched thumbnails to make sure the information is clear.

Repeatedly a message that is coming through is the connection between text and graphics. At my current school we have been emphasising the explanation of the steps to students within a process. Consider creating graphics which sit next to each of these steps in a example e.g. collecting like terms having a graphic associated with it.

Another section looked at the use of Graphic Organisers and the varying terminology used throughout different educational texts. Being clear on the purpose of this initially is crucial to the design. Considering icons for each of the topics on this site and then creating an overview which shows students the 6 main sections and the topics within.

Have found myself naturally turning the page on some of these sections to look into greater depth on specific areas. Originally was going to start looking at some sections in greater depth but now I have seen icons in the Advanced Route think i will look at that next! It’s a truly excellent book which allows you to organically work through specific areas of interest, specific reasoning – why?, what? how?… or as i am doing the routes.

Advanced Route – 11.08.19

Have now used a bit of colour in my sketch notes ensuring that I use restraint on the amount used. As I’ve read through the principles and methods of the books actually trying them as they are being suggested has helped me understand their importance.

I have not thumbnailed my notes (planned each area before you start) and don’t think you can for this personal purpose but will definitely be doing for my future work. You can see on my final Visual Types chunk of work that I have got some unbalanced space. Originally I planned to use the 3 visual types as full length drawing but started from the bottom and then changed me mind!

Another absolute must is to allow the document to breath with space around objects or sections. On these notes I’ve left a one square bordered around all the 3×3 parts in each of the sections. The mistake I’ve made on the Visual types topic is to draw them as a 4 x 3 and as your brain is looking for patterns this disrupts slightly.

The section on infographics was interesting and I am considering creating infographics for each topic section of the website so students can get a favour of the area and build interest. There is an excellent example of building interest in two papers on Guided Instruction, I want to read them fully now!

Due to the use of the invisible grid in most constructions in the book I am now going to start using computer software to design some summary documents and icons for the site and my students. This will then allow editing, tweaking and precision as I am creating. This does not mean the pencil is being put done though as design and ideas are such a crucial part of this process.

What Next?

The gallery above hopefully shows some progression as I knew when I started reading this book that it would take me out of my comfort zone, particularly mathematicians can be a bit too black and white sometimes! The book expertly in its own final section ‘What next?’ gathers lots of additional reading sources and puts them into clear sections based on interests which I plan on referencing in the future. I will add to this blog in the future referencing how it has impacted on my future work. Would recommend the book to any educator as the uses of it are so vast.

Thumbnailing 1st Attempt – 17.08.19

Have just completed reading Talk for Teaching and wanted to create a short blog on my developing process on creating sketch notes from a book. The first image shows my rough notes as i was reading each chapter of the book.

I then took these and then cut it down into 4 sub sections with 5 areas within each area making some initial sketches to get some visual ideas.

Have started to experiment with some red colouring within each section instead of a black and white pallet. Still learning when to use to emphasise key areas.

Think i will now go into using a computer to map out the final piece as my writing is not yet consistent enough. The thumbnailing process has been crucial to ensure that I cut down the final content. This process also allows me to distil the areas i have read about in the book and consider my own personal next steps.

Computer Sketching 1st Attempt – 31.08.19

Above is my first attempt to directly sketch pictures on a computer with a stylus. It was probably the most challenging experience because the book covered had so many ideas so creating a clear hierarchy for this on has not been possible.

Looking at it personally I don’t like the font on the main part of the work and the left hand column I think I should have used a blue background with white writing to bring out those three key areas which I found in the book.

Using a computer gives you so much power to edit and also you can take more changes as it’s much easier to delete and remove or move it around. Thumbnailing is a crucial part of the planning process and i am learning that I need to give that the time to deserves.

Looking forward into the new teaching year my plan is to look at producing revision summary sheets using the concepts that @olicav has expertly explained through his book to aid students retaining concepts in their long term memory.


  1. Fascinating to see the development of your style as you progressed! I’ve just started reading Dual Coding With Teachers and my initial thoughts were that I could never make my material look that good. But you’ve given me some hope that I could produce something decent.


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