Wednesday, December 7, 2016

(Revised) Visual Symbols in My Life

Describe how visual symbols affect your life on a daily basis. (include visual examples)

Rereading my first blog post on Visual Symbols in My Life from August,  I did a good job of explaining the obvious visual symbols in my life, such as writing, books, painting, and creating bulletin boards:

 However, I think I missed the point of visual literacy, and visuals, altogether.

Visuals aren't just what humans make intentionally for people to look at, such as a piece of writing or a painting. Rather, visuals are everywhere and everything. For those with the sense of vision, they make up and influence nearly every aspect of our lives:
The sign for my voting precinct on election day this year.

Ellen Hopkins signing her books (shown in front of her) at the NCTE conference.

As discussed in class, visual literacy is a spectrum ranging from symbols to campaigns. At the most simplest level, visuals are lines, dots, shapes, white space, shading, etc. At the most broad level, visuals are the combination of these small parts to form some sort of meaningful message, such as a documentary like Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Visuals are also a power. We have the ability to utilize visuals to design something that can potentially change the world. As we saw with our Save the World presentations, visuals have the capacity to move people to act. Visuals influence logos, pathos and ethos. The PSA campaigns we watched in class show how the visual messages humans produce can cause people to donate, volunteer or even just think a little more about a serious issue, like global climate change or domestic violence.

 I see visuals as having a limitless potential. They have the power to be used for either better or for worse, such as the ads we saw during the political season. In this way, there is a sort of responsibility that accompanies visuals and visual literacy. We need to educate students on how to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate, offensive and unoffensive, and right and wrong in terms of visuals.

What did you gain this semester? 

This class has forever changed the way I view the world around me. In my other classes, I find myself thinking about the visual layout of my classmate's presentations and what they could do to make it more visually appealing. In my TESOL classes specifically, I think about how visuals are going to play a huge role in helping my students make sense of the classroom and the world around them. On social media, I think twice about a visual image before I post it in case it could possibly offend someone. Even on this blog, I'm thinking about the visual layout of my text. I'm even considering creating a new blog entirely using Wix instead of Blogger because my posts "look" unprofessional, and if employers see this blog, they make think I'm unprofessional based on my blog's appearance rather than its content.

For example, this class really helped in the creation of my Modern & Postmodern Poetry website to guide students through a 2-week unit on poetry. I intentionally made this site with visuals in mind and made sure to incorporate some sort of design element on each of the webpages.

Reflect on how will an increased knowledge of Visual Literacy help you to create, understand, classify, and appreciate visuals.


With my increased knowledge of visual literacy, I want to create visuals that better reflect me and portray the image of myself that I would like the world to see. For instance, I am going to be much more careful about what I post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If I want people to see me as teaching professional, I need to appear as a teaching professional with the visual content I create and share. For example, if I'm only posting visuals of myself as a young careless college student, no one who follows me is going to think I'm professional because my visuals make me look irresponsible. The same is true for the way I dress during professional events. I need to put more care into the image of myself that I am creating every day.

A photo I took (and Tweeted) with Kelly Gallagher, an English teacher and author on the philosophy of English teaching.


With my increased knowledge of visual literacy, I am much more skeptical. I am no longer the type of person who says "see it and I'll believe it." Visuals have the capacity to lie and to persuade. They can sway the truth and try to make you believe something is true or correct when it isn't necessarily based on fact or research, especially in advertisements.


With my increased knowledge of visual literacy, I have learned how to better group and organize visuals. I am aware that most visuals have multiple players to them. For example, a political cartoon usually references other past or current events within the cartoon itself, and the reader needs to know about these in order to make sense of the cartoon.


With my increased knowledge of visual literacy, I have a much greater respect and appreciation for visual creators such as movie directors. The films we watched in this course would not have been nearly as impactful if the director did not care about visual content. When I see a quality photo or a short video that makes me stop and think, I now pause and think about how the creator achieved this through the use of visuals to make this effect on me.

While this course may be over after this upcoming Monday, my journey with visual literacy is just beginning. I'm constantly pushing myself to learn more about visuals and just how important they are in our lives to help us make sense of new ideas. 

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