In a few weeks I’m off to Costa Rica to take pictures to supplement the Costa Rican cultural information and to show the Spanish vocabulary in the Spanish textbook that I use. Although I can tell students about Costa Rican life, they learn so much more from seeing it. I have found the same to be true for most of education. Telling is an abstraction. We tell students something and they can imagine anything or nothing. A good visual or metaphor focuses their thinking. For example, we tell students that a paragraph has a topic sentence, three sentences of supporting ideas and a conclusion and their eyes gloss over since these words do not have meaning to them. However, when we have them use their hand (thumb-introduction, three fingers for three supporting, and little finger for conclusion), they have a definite image of what we mean. In fact, they can always check their paragraphs against their hand to make sure they have all the parts. Likewise, when we show the students a sign of a fruit store with the word “Fruteria” over it and a perfume store with a “perfumeria” sign; they quickly learn that -eria is the ending for a speciality store in Spanish. When we show them a picture or an illustration, they can see what we are trying to tell them. Many students need to go from the abstract to the concrete in order to learn information.
Do we use technology to tell or show? PowerPoints full of text only “tell”. Blogs, wikis, tweets are often text based; they can “show” by including links to pictures of movies of the content. Do you use Web 2.0 tools to tell or to show? Do your images or metaphors clearly show the concept you want the students to learn?
My book, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.
My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.