Teach Tip Tuesday: Use Visual Cues to Improve Student Engagement

I love to use visual cues in my classes to reduce the amount of time I need to give instructions to students. It also reduces the number of times that I have to repeat instructions for students.

In a quick google search of visual cues in the classroom most references that come up relate to students with special learning needs however visual cues can be useful in classrooms of all ages and subjects.

Visual cues are a great way to keep students engaged by providing silent reminders and also a great addition to any behaviour management plan. Visual Cues.png

5 Visual Cues to use with students for better engagement

1. Laminated Signs or Powerpoint inserts

  • For my junior classes especially I find that visual reminders of what they are supposed to be doing and how they are supposed to do it provide a great support to students.
  • When it comes to my cues for how to work I use a series of images that show single, pair and groups. I also provide cues on where they might be working in their books like the front (which is margin ruled) or the back (half divided page) or on a whiteboard.
  • Below is an example of how I might use visual cues for part of my lesson. example-task-cues
  • These classroom management signs are great for any year level:

2. List tasks for students

  • Having a visual list that students can refer to as they progress through tasks can ensure that students are always aware of what they need to do.
  • You might choose to list this as an exit pass on the side of the board. Mrs Caton's Exit Pass (1).png

3. Timers

  • I love timers in my class as they serve two purposes to keep students on task for small periods of time and to keep me accountable for how much time I let students work on a task for. timer
  • Usually I use timers inserted into my powerpoint slides however you could also use any free computer based one.
  • There is a great powerpoint timer available here for free.


4. Reminder posters

  • I use three before me posters to remind my students about the what to do before they ask me a question. ( 3-before-me posters here)
  • Rule posters can also be great in a classroom as a non verbal reminder you can point to it if students are not following the rules. If you are without your own classroom maybe add a couple of magnets to the back so it can be on display or put it in your students books. (Check out the post on creating your classroom without your own)

5. Warning Cards / Stickers

  • Some students need to be reminded that they have had a warning. 70 minutes can be a long time for students and a warning given in the first 5 minutes is easily forgotten within the next 10 minutes. Use laminated yellow, orange and red cards to remind students of how many warnings they have received.warning-cards
  • If you wanted to track how often students were receiving warnings you could use stickers in their books allowing you an easy place to check.



What visual cues do you use in your classroom, I would love to hear your ideas. Please comment below or on our facebook page.


About cmcaton

I am a Secondary Teacher and Head of Department Mathematics in Education Queensland. I am passionate about the development of pedagogy that engages the 21st century student and love to explore their implementation in the classroom. Disclaimer: The thoughts on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
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