Literacy 7-12

Systems Change


Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding, particularly within content area instruction. Supplementing verbal information with actions reinforces concepts and engages student Attention. When students communicate discipline-specific concepts using gestures similar to those of their teacher, they can deepen their conceptual Vocabulary.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this fifth grade teacher uses hand gestures to emphasize important concepts during her review of place value in mathematics. By using two modalities, students can better remember the key information.

  • Both teachers and students can use hand signals to communicate or support their learning. Providing specific demonstrations of concepts using gestures and movement can help students retain more information. Visual gestures that complement spoken language allow for multiple ways of processing information, supporting greater retention of information in Working and Short-term Memory.
  • Design It into Your Product

  • Providing a visualization or animation in addition to audio or text activates visual Working Memory and supports deeper comprehension. Developers can also use these visualizations or enactments to capture and maintain Attention on key content. Providing spaces with video capability where students can record their explanations of key concepts using language and gestures may support readers as they acquire content knowledge.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy