Talk Less, Draw More
By Brandy Stanfill
The mainstream classroom is full of language processing demands that can be challenging for a wide array of students. Strategies to support comprehension while reducing language processing can benefit English language learners, students with ADHD, autistic students, and students with auditory processing disorders. Here are a few tricks to try in your classroom:
During your next read aloud, mini lesson, unit review, or group discussion draw a quick sketch of the contents. A stick figure labeled Christopher Columbus, a half circle and triangle to represent a boat, and 1492 written beside it can help students hold onto who is under discussion, what the action was, and when the events occurred. No drawing skill needed!
The next time you are introducing a new activity or procedure show the group pics of the materials they will be using with simple one or two words labels. These images and labels can help students learn new vocabulary and remember the difference between a beaker and graduated cylinder. Google images are a teacher’s best friend!
When discussing characters from books or historical figures thought bubbles with simple phrases or quick sketches in them can help a student to understand the character’s experiences, emotions, goals, and perspective. A stick figure of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird with a thought bubble that says, “curious about Boo Radley” and a line from stick figure Scout’s eyes to a stick figure of Boo can help a student understand the motivation for Scout’s behavior. Perspective taking is harder when characters and historical figures are far removed from a student’s life experience. Use visual supports to highlight universal experiences and motivations like nosiness!