Created with TaskStream Advance Organizer Lesson in Visual Principles
Author: Diana Ganju
Date created: 11/02/2004 8:31 PM PDT

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General Comments


Graphic Design
Topic/Unit of Study & Time Allotment
Introduction to Visual Literacy and the 10 Basic Visual Elements
Entry-level Design, College/University
The objective of this lesson is to equate verbal skills (reading and writing) to visual (seeing and designing) skills. Letters, words, and phrases will be paralleled with dots, lines, shapes... Evaluating poetry for usage and combination of verbal elements will provide a scaffolding for learning to intelligently use visual elements in design. The students goal as a designer is to understand what the 10 basic visual elements communicate to both the advanced viewer and the general audience. Once they know what each element communicates and are able to combine them intelligently, they will have control over your message.
Communication by verbal literacy (reading/writing) will be examined prior to the introduction of visual literacy (viewing/designing). A graphic organizer that compares and equates the two concepts will be available. During the visual literacy lesson, 10 basic visual elements will be presented. Students, acting as reader/viewer and writer/designer, would then practice their visual literacy skills using the 10 basic elements.


Learning Context
This course is an introduction to visual principles. Basic concepts are taught to beginning graphic designers, such as: balance and tension, 10 basic visual elements, pattern, gestalt theory, and composition. Students do all assignments by hand, computer generated art is not acceptable. This lesson is towards the beginning of the course while the Balance and Tension (Square on Square) project is being explored. Students are beginning to understand that visual objects communicate emotion and as designers they have the responsibility to have "meaning within the composition".
The lesson will begin with a discussion about poetry as an example of verbal literacy. Students will examine two poems, noting the impact of words and phrases and paying special attention to their meaning. This advance organizer on poetry is found here:

A graphic organizer that equates elements of verbal literacy with elements of visual literacy will be presented and discussed. See graphic organizer here:

The new material, 10 basic visual elements, will then be introduced. The instructor will draw them on the board while definitions are projected on a large screen. It is important for the students to see the action of drawing the elements, and witness their "motion" and "direction".
See elements and their definitions here:
Differentiated Instruction
Using an advance organizer enables the instructor to present known information (verbal elements) to create scaffolding on which to hang new knowledge (visual elements). Students that know English as a second language may have difficulty with dissecting the poetry examples. This activity will be done as a is group and I will be available for assistance to help define words.

In the past, hearing impaired students are assisted by translators during class.

This lesson is near the beginning of the semester, therefor no one should be in danger of failing at this point. Students that are excelling should find challenge in the lesson. To further push them, they could make visual representations of the poems using the 10 elements introduced.
Sample Student Products
not available
Students will work collaboratively & individually.  Students will work in groups of 4.
Time Allotment
1 class periods.  2+ Hrs per class.
Author's Comments & Reflections
Many of the concepts taught in graphic design are abstract, and therefore a challenge to present in a clear manner. Information must be organized to build from basic to complex ideas. Lesson plans which utilize advance organizers create a structure of known material on which to hang new material. This order of presenting material increases comprehension while enhancing memory skills. In addition to advance organizers, graphic organizers are helpful visual tools for students, and effective organizational tools for instructors.

In order to develop a deeper understanding of advanced organizers and graphic organizers, I have created a lesson plan for Introduction to Visual Principles. I have attempted to equate visual and verbal literacy in lectures in the past, but many students become confused and the connection comes across weak at best. Creating the graphic organizer allowed me to clarify my ideas and those found in the course's text, A Primer of Visual Literacy (Dondis, 1973).


Instructional Materials
  1. Advance Organizer Lesson for Visual Principles This This website/lesson was created to fulfill a graduate course requirement (Educational Technology). The lesson has not been implemented yet.
  • Materials and resources:
    Dondis, D. A. (1973). A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    This book is written by a teacher and provides a practical approach to the study of visual communication for the professional artist/designer. Ideas are supported theoretically and followed through with student assignments and examples.

    Gil-Garcia, A. & Villegas, J. (2003, June). Engaging minds, enhancing comprehension and constructing knowledge through visual representations. Paper was presented at the meeting of the Conference on Word Association for Case Method Research and Application, Bordeaux, France.

    This paper presents a case study conducted in a higher education setting where five faculty members and 17 undergraduate and graduate students were asked to respond to prepared questions regarding Graphic Organizers. The study was prefaced by an exploration of the many kinds of graphic organizers and their use in conjunction with Advanced Organizers.

    Joyce, Bruce & Weil, Marsha. (2004). Models of Teaching. Boston: Pearson Education
  • The number of computers required is ?.