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Describe It (Elaboration)


Mathematics ELA: Reading ^21st Century Skills All Ages Strategy


Verbal Memory Abstract Reasoning Visual Memory Spatial Perception

Describe It (Elaboration)

If your student needs to understand a concept more deeply, particularly if their verbal skills are stronger

Instruction And Practice

  1. Objective: Students will think about the meaning of the content they are studying by explaining, describing it and asking questions about it, as opposed to simply re-reading or repeating it.
  2. Explain it. Talking through or explaining the steps and details of what you have learned helps you better understand and remember it. This way of studying is much more effective than re-reading your textbook or your notes because your mind has to really think about the meaning of the material.
  3. Model ways of elaborating, including explaining concepts in detailed steps, making connections to another concept by listing similarities and differences, and describing how the concept relates to your personal experiences. Have students break into pairs and have them take turns describing in detail the learning material to their partner. Have the partner ask questions to help prompt further elaboration.
  4. After describing in words, students should go back and re-read their text or notes to ensure they correctly explained the material.
  5. Ongoing Reinforcement: Continue to reinforce this method, particularly for students with stronger verbal skills. Use prompts such as, "Talk it through," or, "Describe the problem to me in your own words."

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Students who have stronger verbal over visual thinking skills can support their learning by thinking through and making connections using their stronger skill. Using this multi-modal approach of speaking, writing or thinking in words about abstract concepts, known as elaboration, will help the student think more deeply, make more meaning and strengthen retention of the learning content.