Multimodal teaching is a style in which students learn material through a number of different sensory modalities. For example, a teacher will create a lesson in which students learn through auditory and visual methods, or visual and tactile methods. Teachers can use any combination of learning modalities; however in multimodal teaching, a teacher must utilize more than one. This successful teaching style implements many strategies to ensure students understand and retain information.
Multimodal teaching has proven to increase student’s test scores. Multimodal teaching is successful because it appeals to all learning styles. Students are ensured to receive their lesson by one or more modality, through which they learn best. Unimodality is another teaching style, in which students receive information through only one modality, such as a visual diagram, or a lecture. In multimodal learning, a teacher will implement a visual to reinforce the lecture or create a multimedia presentation that goes along with the lesson. This interactive teaching style breaks monotony and reinforces overall learning.
One of the teaching strategies that multimodal teachers will implement is working to avoid the potential overload that comes with multimodal learning. If the lesson becomes overly complicated and stimulating, students will begin to miss out on the larger message at hand. Overload comes from bogging the lesson down with too many inputs or modalities at once. Teachers will keep modalities both focused and organized. They will also switch activities and lessons every 15 to 20 minutes, as this is the point at which students begin to tune out and lose focus.
Focus and Organization
Teachers will implement strategic focus and organization for their students during multimodal learning. Otherwise, they run the risk of information passing over their students without them truly absorbing the lesson. Each modality will work in conjunction with the other, creating a presentation in which words, pictures and multimedia all have a purpose at a logical time within the lesson. Auditory and visual cues that are separated by too much time or space within the lesson will lose impact. With the proper organization and focus, multimodal lessons engage memory and encourage thinking.
Collaboration and Reinforcement
Another multimodal teaching strategy that teachers will implement is the use of collaboration and exercises that reinforce learning. Lessons are specifically designed to be interactive. Students will also collaborate with one another and work in pairs or groups. The overall goal is to get students to use as many different learning modalities as possible to absorb the material. Lessons are reinforced by repeating the same, or similar, material through many different modalities. When concepts are repeated, students have a better chance of retaining the information. Quizzes and tests give teachers a measure to see which modality works best for their students. Homework and supplementary activities also serve as a review.
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