Nonlinguistic representation through Technology
Recently Ben Dueker (Communication Arts teacher at Northeast Middle School) and I had some conversations around vocabulary instruction and how to use technology as a way to enhance the study of words in the context of a curricular area. In this way, students can “Acquire” the knowledge of the definition, “Make Meaning” of the word based on class discussions and their own personal experiences and then “Transfer” that knowledge as they use the word to create their own synonyms and graphics. Below Ben has written up his process.
When introducing new vocabulary terms I put a picture of the key term on the Smartboard and have a student read their definition aloud. Then, as a class, students come up to the board and write synonyms or examples of the key term. I often choose pictures that require students to think about the picture in relation to the word and come up with a connection. For example, when we are discussing the word “acquire”, I have a picture of a gymnast associated with that word. Through class discussion, students work to create a connection between the picture and the word. In this case a gymnast must practice every day to “acquire” the skills necessary to compete. When we finish with the discussion, the student has a paper copy where they have written the definition, drawn their own picture, and recorded synonyms and examples as a class.
This approach to vocabulary instruction is supported by Robert Marzano in his research on nonlinguistic representation. In his book, Classroom Instruction that Works – Research based strategies for increasing student achievement, (Marzano, Pickering, Pollock, 2001) Marzano cites some findings that support this approach to word study:
“The more we use both systems of representation – linguistic and nonlinguistic – the better we are able to think about and recall knowledge. This is particularly relevant in the classroom, because studies have consistently shown that the primary way we (teachers) present new knowledge to students is linguistic. We either talk to them about the new content or have them read about the new content.”
By introducing vocabulary with an image, we are adding an additional representation that will help students connect to their understanding of that word in the context of a curricular area. Additionally, one of Marzano’s nine instructional strategies is that of Nonlinguistic representation which, when implemented, results in an average 27 percentile gain in student achievement and has shown that it can enhance student’s ability to construct knowledge around a concept. Using the SMARTboard, as Ben does, for vocabulary instruction can have a dramatic impact on how students create and retain knowledge.
This is a fairly simple technique that can have lasting effects on the understanding and recall of key concepts for students. Since digital content is readily available to use and display in the classroom, using nonlinguistic representations of concepts can be a powerful learning tool in the classroom.
Below are some other examples of nonlinguistic representation as well as some online or software resources:
- Using graphic organizers
- Generating mental pictures
- Drawing Pictures and Pictographs
- Engaging in kinesthetic activities and Making physical models – Video – record students using Flip cameras
- Windows Movie Maker
- Jaycut http://jaycut.com/ – online video editor
- Manipulatives in SMART Notebook
Cross-posted on Mr Bass Online and Northeast Middle Friday Flyer