Visual Timelines


Click to download a copy of the Visual Timeline

It’s 3.30pm on a Monday afternoon, and you’re in a meeting. A meeting that you have no desire to be in, nothing to contribute to, and nothing to gain from – or so you think. You have no idea what else is going to come up, if you’re going to be expected to participate in group work, or how long you’re going to be expected to talk about MEGs. Thankfully, you’re a fully functioning adult, and can put on the façade that you’re engaged, interested and professional.

Young adults can’t always do that.

A visual timeline is the golden ticket to supporting students with SEND. Scrap that – a visual timeline is the golden ticket to support all students. We all like to know what we’re doing.

Visual timelines are great at boosting engagement. Students are able to see what is coming up in the lesson. Is there something coming up that they are looking forward to? A game perhaps, a video or just a topic they are interested in? Has a reward for a good lesson been built in? Is there a part of the lesson where they will get to share what they have learnt, or work in groups? Keep students engaged by letting them know what’s coming next.

Visual timelines are great at supporting memory. Forgotten what the teacher said? Process slower than your peers? Weren’t paying attention and don’t want to admit it? Look at the visual timeline. Rather than becoming distracted, losing interest or just guessing – students can re-engage themselves and independently pick up where they lost you. They just have to check the timeline.

Visual timelines are great at reducing anxiety. If we had to spend 5 hours a day going from subject to subject, with little to no knowledge of what had been planned for us – we would probably feel a tad apprehensive. That anxiety is going to impact on our ability to process the learning we are expected to absorb. Even the briefest of lesson breakdowns can support students in feeling safe and calm – this is going to support their learning and their behaviour. What more could you want?

Visual timelines are great at supporting structure and consistency. It doesn’t take long for students to get used to the timeline. Young adults need structure and consistency, and this is such an easy way to build this in to your teaching. Not only does it support students in understanding the structure of the lesson, it’s also going to help you keep on task. Plan a beginning a middle and an end. Tick tasks off as they’re done. Enjoy the journey of each lesson.

So, if you want to support language skills, memory, processing, attention, engagement, routines and independence without spending hours creating worksheets and slaving over a laminator – get visual.

You won’t regret it.