Classroom Instruction that Works

Nonlinguistic Representations

What is it all about?

Before we start exploring strategies that will help students develop understanding, let's ground ourselves on what Classroom Instruction that Works is about. This video will introduce five nonlinguistic representations strategies that can be used in the classroom.
McREL - Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd Ed.) Nonlinguistic Representations

What does research tell us about Nonlinguistic Representations?

  • They help students represent knowledge as imagery
  • Tap into students' natural tendency for image processing
  • Better capacity to recall information later
(Medina, 2008)

Recent research continues to support that teachers explicitly teach students how to use these strategies. Eliciting students to use them will enhance students' learning and achievement.

5 Recommendations for Classroom Practice with Nonlinguistic Representations

1. Graphic organizers

Graphic organizers combine linguistic (words) and nonliguistic (symbols) forms of information. Most commonly used in the classroom are: Descriptive, Time Sequenced, Process/Cause-Effect, Episode, Generalization/Principle, and Concept)
What is a Graphic Organizer

2. Physical Models or Manipulatives

3. Mental Pictures

The most direct way for students to generate a nonlinguistic representation when presented with new information is to create a mental picture of that information.
Visualizing: Making mental images

4. Pictures, Illustrations, and pictographs

Most of our students, if not all, are familiarized with creating pictures to represent what they know. However, they might be less familiar with pictographs. Pictures and pictographs provide opportunities for students to represent their learning in a more personal way. Technology provides a way to add animation to pictures, which enhances the effect of using pictures to represent knowledge.
(Hoffler & Leutner, 2007)

5. Kinesthetic Activities

When students move around as part of learning activities, they create more neural networks in their brains and the learning stays with them longer (Jensen, 2001).
The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement | Michael Kuczala | TEDxAshburn


Hoofler, T.N., & Leutner, D. (2007)Instructional animation versus static pictures: A meta-analysis. Learning and Instruction, 17, 722-738.


"McREL - Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd Ed ..." 2012. 19 Sep. 2015 <>

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principals for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

"The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and ... - YouTube." 2015. 19 Sep. 2015 <>

"Using Manipulatives -" 2013. 19 Sep. 2015 <>

"Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works ..." 2012. 19 Sep. 2015 <>

"Visualizing: Making mental images - YouTube." 2011. 19 Sep. 2015 <>

"What is a Graphic Organizer - YouTube." 2013. 19 Sep. 2015 <>