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04 March 2005: A Nice Gesture (3 of 5)

But what about this gesturing thing? Can we talk for a minute about how effective that is? Imagine teaching the lesson described above while using your outstretched arms as a scale. "This side weighs thirteen, but this side only weighs three. What do we need to do to tip the scale and make them equal?" I think in this case a physical illustration of the principles at work would have supported the students' learning even more.

At first glance, it would be easy to say that gesturing is only useful in teaching things that lend themselves to gesturing, such as equivalencies. But in an elementary school classroom, there's almost nothing that doesn't lend itself to gesture.

I had a colleague who taught her students to check for periods at the end of sentences by a swift jab in the air with her index finger and saying, "period." She would do it most of the time when she spoke, read, or wrote in front of the class. Before long, she didn't have to say it, just make the gesture. The students made the gesture as well. Not only did they include periods in their writing, but they included them in their oral reading and speaking.

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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