The classroom is meant to be a place for learning and enriching the mind, but not every student has an easy time grasping new material and concepts. For many students, it can even be overwhelming, especially when the data becomes complex and multi-faceted. As a teacher, your role is to acknowledge when this is the case and find a way to best present the data so no students are left behind.
Here we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can present complex data in a classroom that will seem less confusing and intimidating to your students. When presented the “right” way, data can be much easier to grasp, and therefore students will excel in the lessons.
Embrace Everything Venn Diagrams Have to Offer
One of the most effective ways to present complex data in the classroom is by embracing Venn diagrams. Venn diagrams enable students to understand data and information in a visual format. This can be much easier than paragraphs worth of text that fails to paint a picture in their mind. A simple Venn diagram can pack a real punch in terms of how much information it conveys, and it’s able to emphasize important aspects.
Where a Venn diagram shines is in showing differences and similarities in data and relationships. Because it is a diagram format, the data is clear the moment you look at it, even when it is complex data being presented. The unique overlapping circles tend to use different colors as well, to help hammer home the points.
Students can start using Venn diagrams relatively young, as you can begin with simple data and work your way up. Teaching them at an early age it will make presenting complex data more seamless in older grades. It’s important that students also learn how to create and use Venn diagrams themselves, solidifying their understanding.
Take Your Time Presenting the Data
You may already be using this tip, but it’s still worth mentioning that you want to be sure you take your time presenting complex data. It can be hard for students to keep up, especially if you’re rushing through the concept and making assumptions that they are following along without issue.
Try to allow more lesson time for this kind of material. That may mean students will be assigned more homework since there is less in-class time to get it done, but at least they will understand the material.
Continually Ask If There Are Questions
Rather than waiting for the end of the lessons to ask if students have questions, you can make a habit of asking throughout the lesson. Yes, this can interrupt the flow of the lesson but it can also prove very beneficial for students. It allows them to respond at that moment, get the clarification they need, and then follow along with the rest of the lesson. If they get lost at the beginning it will create a domino effect, resulting in complete confusion by the end of the lesson.
For classrooms with shy and quiet students, and really, what classroom doesn’t have those, encourage them to speak up and let them know the data is complex and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
And it’s not just questions; this is also a great opportunity to encourage discussion regarding the material. There’s no reason that complex data has to remain “complex”. Talking things out can make perfect sense of the information.
Use Notes and a Lesson Plan to Help with Flow
You can also make life easier on yourself by having a lesson plan and notes in front of you. This ensures you hit all the important points and features of the material while following a logical path. Distractions are very common in the classroom and while they may only pull your attention away for a few moments, it can be hard to step back into the groove and pick up where you left off. This is why a lesson plan and notes are so useful. You can refer to them and slip right back into the swing of things.
The good thing about lesson plans and notes is that they can be re-used for other classes during this school year, or the next year.
A Simpler Approach to Complex Data
All of these tips will help you to better present complex data in the classroom, regardless of the material, the grade of the students, or their level of understanding. As a teacher, being able to read the room, listen for cues, and keep the flow will help with the presentation, and make it feel much less confusing.