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Use Multi-sensory Content


Study Skills & Tools All Ages Strategy


Auditory Processing Attention Verbal Reasoning Verbal Memory Abstract Reasoning Visual Memory Spatial Perception

Use Multi-sensory Content

All students, particularly those with a weakness in a memory or reasoning skill

Instruction And Practice

  1. Objective: Incorporate multiple modalities (seeing, hearing, touching, creating) into instruction and learning activities to help with understanding, reinforcement and retention. Multi-modal learning is beneficial for all students, but especially for students with weaknesses in memory or reasoning.
  2. Most content presentation is still traditionally verbal: lecture, class discussion, reading. This can be challenging for students with weaker listening, attention or verbal learning skills. Adding in several different modalities to your presentations and student activities will reinforce the learning and allow for students to take in the information in the way that is optimal for them. (See next slide for examples)
  3. Do not force it or over-stimulate learners. Pick 1-2 ways to reinforce a concept and make sure that the modality makes sense for the subject area and content.
  4. Math Example: Have students build a model of a concept by using manipulatives. Particularly in geometry and measurement, hands on activities help students construct understanding.

Multi-modal Approaches

  1. Visual: Add a visual component when possible to reinforce verbal concepts. Draw pictures when solving math problems or presenting geometric concepts, create visual timelines, and use other visual aids. Even physical gestures can show relative size, shape and positioning.
  2. Physical, Hands-on: Use manipulatives or objects to represent abstract or verbal concepts to make learning more concrete. Ideally students can manipulate the objects themselves. (i.e. Cubes to represent quantities or blocks to represent geometric concepts.)
  3. Movement: Kinesthetic approaches to reinforce learning can include acting out learning material, or, getting physical with dancing or games like catch. (i.e. Throw a ball back and forth while reciting math facts.)
  4. Auditory: Repeating or re-stating information out loud helps everyone remember. Try rehearsing material out loud, and singing and reciting rhymes.
  5. Technology: Use technology to let students explore multi-modal approaches. Students can make and/or use videos, audio-recordings and digital images in their assignments or when they are studying.

*print* Student Checklist: Study Using Your Senses

  1. Movement: Find ways to move when you practice or memorize. (Throw a ball back and forth with a friend when reviewing math facts.)
  2. Use Pictures: Draw or print pictures to connect learning material with an image to help you remember. (Draw a picture to go along with vocabulary definitions. Or draw pictures in your notes instead of just writing.)
  3. Say it Out Loud: Repeat information you need to memorize out loud. (Say vocabulary definitions to yourself out loud.)
  4. Technology: Make/or use videos, audio recordings and digital images in assignments or when you are studying.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Multi-modal learning is good for all learners, and it will be particularly helpful for students with weaker memory, reasoning or attention skills. Research on embodied cognition shows that multi-modal approaches help students learn and retain information as the senses mutually reinforce and multiple brain processes are engaged in the act of retention--the brain remembers seeing but it also remembers what the body was doing at the time. However, the research also says that many modes is not always better. The brain can become overloaded with too many simultaneous inputs, particularly with younger children, so you want to be careful not to overstimulate. The right balance has to do with what works best to engage the learner and reinforce the specific concept.

Best-suited for students with weaker: Attention, Inhibition, Self-Regulation, Long-term Memory, Working Memory (Source: Digital Promise Learner Variability Project)