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Strategy Guide

Teaching With Multiple Modalities

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Teaching With Multiple Modalities

Grades 6 – 12
Author

Phil Wilder

Champaign, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

Strategy Guide Series Differentiating Instruction

See All Strategy Guides in this series 

 

Research Basis

Strategy in Practice

Related Resources

In this Strategy Guide, you'll see how one lesson utilizes tiered texts and multiple modalities in order to meet the learning style needs of students.

Research Basis

 

Because of their diverse literacy needs, our students need us to differentiate the product, process and content of learning according to their learning style, interest and readiness. Beginning with Howard Gardner's research on multiple intelligences and expanding with the proliferation of new technologies that have led to new literacies, literacy research continues to explore ways that multiple modalities influence the literacy and learning of our students. Through the use and creation of multimodal texts, students have opportunities to use linguistic, visual and audio modes in order to experience, conceptualize, analyze and apply meaning.

When possible and armed with information about the learning style habits of our  students, we can use multiple modes of learning in order to engage students in meaningful literacy activities. No lesson requires the use of every mode but instead should be an intentional response to the learning style needs of our students. The more  ways we teach, the more likely we reach our students and hone their ability to learn.

 

Strategy in Practice

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Our aim should be to move away from the traditional practices of teaching with one  modality (typically linguistic) for all students in a lesson. Instead, if we recognize that  our students learn in different ways, then we also need to recognize that our students  need us, when possible, to teach lessons with strategies that allow students to process  information through multiple modalities. When possible and based on the knowledge of  your students' learning style needs, provide opportunities for students to:

  • Talk about their Learning: Use Think-Pair-Share, Save the Last Word for Me, Take a Stand or another structured discussion strategy in order to help students process what they are learning. If students understand, they can explain it in their own words. By talking and using their own language to make sense of learning, students are incorporating new information into prior knowledge.

 

  • Use or Create Visual Representations: Ask students to create a mural of a chapter they've read. Ask students to use a 9-Box visual strategy to summarize the 9 most important events in a text. Ask students to compare and contrast an excerpt from a text with a cultural artifact or to create a visual that represents a character. Similar to the power of using language, creating and using visual representations assist students in synthesizing new information in a meaningful way.

 

  • Utilizing New Media: Ask students to find, view and use CNN news clips that accompany, expand upon or replace traditional print articles. Ask students to read the blog entries of an author in order to analyze the potential authorial intent behind a text. Guide students through the use of a blog, wiki, podcast or Power Point in order to represent learning of the student, literature circle group, or class. New media is multi-modal and our students need us to guide their understanding and use of new literacies.

 

  • Write in Many Modes: Rotate the responsibility among students or student groups of updating the class blog. Ask students to keep their reader response journal online and provide them time individually or in groups to record their thoughts about their novels, inquiry project, etc. Create time and space in the class for students to use writing as a reflective, clarifying, or therapeutic experience when reading, responding to or preparing to discuss texts. Sometimes the quality of the writing necessitates inclusion in a portfolio. Other times, as teachers, we can be more concerned with the quantity of meaningful opportunities to write. Quick Writes, letters to peers, personal learning statements, truth statements, etc. are easy ways to engage this modality.

Related Resources

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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

It’s My Life: Multimodal Autobiography Project

Students express themselves verbally, visually, and musically by creating multimodal autobiographies, exchanging ideas with other students and sharing important events in their lives through PowerPoint presentations.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Introducing Each Other: Interviews, Memoirs, Photos, and Internet Research

Students use their communication and writing skills as they interview a partner, write an article about them, and create a multimodal presentation to introduce their partner to the class.