Math 3-6

Creating Visual Representations


Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form. Visual representations allow learners to exhibit what they know and can do in alternative ways that can support Working Memory during problem solving and retention of information in Long-term Memory. In particular, research has shown that creating their own diagrams of problems helps late elementary and middle school students develop the skills necessary for understanding and using diagrams successfully to support problem-solving.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this teacher models creating visuals for word problems as a way for learners to show their work on Proportional Reasoning and Operations problems. Through sketching the problem with a picture, chart, or graph, learners can choose the method that works best for them.

  • Learners can explore math topics by creating models to represent their thinking. This can help students that may struggle to verbally communicate their thinking engage in Math Communication. Accurately drawing relationships can also help students deepen their understanding of many topics, including Number Sense, Geometric Reasoning, and Proportional Reasoning.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Watch how ST Math teaches students to visualize math concepts. Their "visual first" problem solving method introduces students to math concepts without using language, symbols, or numbers.

  • A digital or 3D drawing tool provides students multiple ways to communicate their learning. For example, students can construct dynamic models and use computer simulation to study them. This supports students' Mathematical Flexibility by allowing them to creatively explore their thinking and bring their ideas to life.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy