A Spanish teacher who draws these amazing whiteboard history portraits like that of the late Queen Elizabeth II says that the visual stimuli helps kids today to retain information better.
Sofia Gonzalez Gil, 36, a teacher from Malaga province in southern Spain, began to draw themed whiteboards to help her students study during COVID-19 lockdown, when she noticed that they were paying less attention than when they were in the classroom.
And now she says she is continuing the practice, using them in the classroom, as this image of one featuring the late Queen Elizabeth II shows, with Sofia saying that her students’ marks are going up.
Newsflash spoke to Sofia, who is a secondary school Geography, History and History of Art teacher, in an exclusive interview, and she said that it takes her at least four and a half hours to put together just one whiteboard, on top of any preparation research she might need to do.
And just drawing the Queen took the dedicated teacher “about 40 minutes”.
Sofia, who was born in Ronda, a town in Malaga, says it is well worth the extra effort because her students’ marks have gone up, especially after the pandemic lockdowns, with her now using her whiteboards in class.
The teacher went to the University of Granada where she first got a degree in History of Art before getting a Master’s in Secondary Education, as well as specialist qualifications in History, Geography and History of Art and also Philosophy before spending a year in England to improve her English.
She has already put together over 50 whiteboards on a range of subjects.
And she says that her students “love them”, adding that “academically the results have been positive in the exams”. She added: “In my case, it has been positive, and especially after the pandemic they have recovered their level. Those students that I have prepared for exams in the History of Spain passed the entire subject with good marks.”
Sofia, who said that her favourite whiteboards to put together are “those about art, although they are the most complicated,” added that her most successful ones with her students were one about the Cold War, one about Renaissance art and one about the Humanism period.
Speaking about the late Queen’s funeral Sofia said that “of course” she watched it on TV, adding: “It was a historical event, a part of contemporary history was under the reign of Elizabeth II.”
She added: “Elizabeth II has been a great figure of Western history, reigning for more than 70 years and she witnessed great events of our past and recent history, so it is important to know about her life.”
She said that there are many things about the subject that her students are unfamiliar with, “but that’s what I’m here for, to explain to them why she is important”.
Sofia is keen not to “stigmatise” traditional teaching techniques, saying: “I do not want to stigmatise the traditional way, but emphasise a mix of methodologies.
“It is scientifically proven that visual thinking works because 80 per cent of our brain is designed to assimilate and process images, so they cost you less effort than reading a text.
“It is known that our brain has two hemispheres and that each of them thinks in a different way, if the right is creative, visual and emotional, the left is logical, rational and thinks verbally.
“As the saying goes: ‘A picture is worth more than a thousand words’, so with this way of teaching, we make it so that our brain balances both hemispheres, and helps us understand and better remember what we study.”
Sofia added: “It has been shown that people who doodle or draw while studying retain much more information than those who do not.
She added that drawing “is a great ally”, especially with this generation of children, who have grown up with more visual stimuli than previous generations thanks to technology.
Sofia said: “Visual memory has always existed, but today with the amount of impulses and images we receive from the screens it has made our students, in my opinion, have less ability to concentrate with text, but they are better able to retain information through images.
“However, I believe that we should focus current education practices on the union of both methodologies, the traditional one and the new one, and to promote reading and writing.”