Enhancing Communication for Diverse Learners Through Multimodal Learning

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Classroom Application
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Designing instruction that addresses many unique learning styles and individual student needs is vital in today’s diverse classrooms. Multimodal learning is a powerful approach to instruction that engages learners of all backgrounds, abilities, and preferences by offering activities in many different formats. This learning approach enhances classroom communication by including supportive and inclusive lessons that motivate students and encourage them to actively participate in the learning process.

This article introduces readers to the VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic) model, an easy-to-remember approach to creating inclusive, multimodal learning experiences. The article emphasizes the significance of recognizing students’ diverse learning preferences, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, English language learners, gifted individuals, those with special needs, and students with physical disabilities. By tailoring educational strategies to cater to these preferences, educators can build impactful and engaging learning environments that provide opportunities to build communication and support the learning process for all students.

1. Visual Aids:

Visual aids are invaluable tools for enhancing comprehension and retaining information. Use online tech tools to incorporate labeled images, interactive visuals, and infographics into your lessons, providing links to learning resources, audio, and videos. These visual representations help simplify complex concepts and make information more accessible to diverse learners. They can also serve as a resource for students of all ability levels to demonstrate their learning and understanding of any content.

  • Students and educators can create interactive images using the image labeling tool found at ClassTools (reviewed here) and Genially (reviewed here). Genially interactive images also include options for adding audio links.

2. Auditory Aids:

Incorporate audio elements into your lessons for auditory learners. Consider using podcasts, audio recordings, or even instructional videos. These auditory aids can complement visual and written materials, catering to diverse learning preferences.

  • Visit the TeachersFirst special topics collection of educational podcasts for students to find a variety of podcasts for students of all ages. Topics include learning a new language, history, STEM topics, and much more. 
  • Use the Mote Chrome Extension (reviewed here) to add audio comments in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets, personalizing feedback and offering a friendlier option than written comments. Learn more about using Mote by watching this YouTube video.

3. Reading/Writing and Scaffolded Learning Strategies:

Scaffolded learning strategies can bridge the gap between a student’s current knowledge and the desired level of understanding. Provide examples to reinforce concepts and provide various formats, such as text, images, and videos, to reinforce graphic organizers and sentence frames to support learners in organizing and expressing their thoughts. Word banks and fill-in-the-blank activities assist in building vocabulary and comprehension while highlighting keywords and concepts brings attention to essential information.

  • MagicSchool (reviewed here) offers an Assignment Scaffolder generator tool that breaks assignments into manageable steps. You can choose the grade level of your students and give a prompt for your assignment. Log into MagicSchool to view this example that breaks down the steps for students when writing a 500-word essay comparing and contrasting the viewpoints of European nations during the buildup to World War I.
  • Online resources such as Read Ahead (reviewed here) provide scaffolding for text documents by creating a supporting presentation that introduces key words and phrases from the text and then chunking the text into smaller portions to reduce distractions and increase focus. You can use the reading log provided as a starting point for student conferences and planning.

4. Kinesthetic Activities:

Hands-on, kinesthetic activities can be particularly beneficial for tactile learners. Encourage learners to engage in role-playing, simulations, or physical demonstrations of concepts. These interactive experiences can foster a deeper understanding and long-lasting retention of the material.

  • Visit Lego Education Activities (reviewed here) for many standards-based, hands-on learning activities for pre-K through middle school students. Topics include STEAM activities, storytelling, math, and technology.

5. Interactive Activities:

Although not included in the VARK model, engaging learners through interactive activities fosters active participation and deeper understanding. Many online games and activities provide opportunities for working with partners and groups, allowing students to work and communicate with different learners and learning styles.

  • Quizizz (reviewed here) offers customizable features that cater to diverse learners’ needs. Included accommodations offer settings to allow individual students extra time, enable read-aloud options, reduce the number of answer choices, hide leaderboards, allow redemption questions, and limit the number of participants, ensuring a comfortable and inclusive learning environment. Read more about how to differentiate quiz activities for individual students in this article on Quizizz.

Promoting inclusivity and engagement in an environment requires acknowledging and celebrating diversity. Providing diverse learning approaches ensures the accommodation of different student preferences and requirements while improving communication and actively involving students in their learning experience.

What strategies do you use to enhance communications for diverse learners in your classroom? We always enjoy hearing your ideas as we learn together.

About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.

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