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08 March 2005: A Nice Gesture (5 of 5)

So, teaching with gestures is not just about modeling, it's also about reaching those students who may be kinesthetic learners. Muscle memory can be a powerful memory tool, but for some it's more than just helpful, it's actually how they learn.

This is especially true when teaching students considered English Language Learners. Gestures, demonstrations, modeling, and even facial expressions, can be incredibly useful in helping students who are trying to learn English along with everything else.

The truth is, what Susan Goldin-Meadow of the University of Chicago found is that some modeling is better than none, and I believe that this conclusion is true only for students fluent in the language of instruction.

Let's go back to the first example of the math lesson. If you arrived in the U.S. last week, had almost no functioning English, but you watched the teacher as she made a gesture indicating a scale, then modeled how to solve the math problem, you might be able to correctly use the algorithm.

But what if the teacher explained the procedure verbally, then modeled a different procedure?

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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