Below, I happily demonstrate two ways I've used Non-Linguistic Representations to turn my students into "presenters of accurate information" as they interact in my student-centered classroom. They are...
Idea #1...Making Non-Linguistic Representation Charts of the Writing Traits (or genres) Another possible EQ...How do you represent writing skills or writing's different formats with pictorial representation?
One of the learning tasks I share when I am out presenting to other teachers in other states (click here to see about hiring me to come to your state) is my take on using Non-Linguistic Representations as a catalyst to creating a more student-centered classroom. I use a very similar learning task in my own classroom with my teen-aged students as well.
Once we have learned enough about--at least--four of the six writing traits, we set about to design, create, and present a NL-Rep that shows how the traits we've learned about work together to create stronger writing. The teachers or students I am working with have seen the visual posters that go with the underlined link in the previous sentence, so the only restriction in this task is to come up with an original idea that's different than those found on the six traits poster set we offer for free at Teachers Pay Teachers!
Here are some samples from both students and teachers I have worked with. On some, only four traits are represented; on others, there may be more. How many of the six traits can you interpret from these images without speaking to the learners who created these:
Now, I don't have these Non-Linguistic Rep authors here anymore to verify whether your guesses are correct or not, and that's problematic for me. I believe, when you assign NL-Reps, the following ALL need to happen:
- Students work in partners or small groups to translate newly learned content into Non-Linguistic Representations.
- Students work together to create a chart of their NL-Reps. No words at all should be used on the chart, but symbols are okay. Remember, these are my rules, and you can modify them if you wish.
- Students share their NL-Rep. They listen to other groups' answers and to others' explanations of how they arrived at those answers based on their pictorial representations.
- Students confirm answers for their own charts, explaining the "why" behind each NL-Rep, if someone else has guessed wrong.
These four steps really work nicely when adding a student-centered element to your classroom. Once the students have the content from the teacher and the instructions for the chart, the responsibility for learning (and teaching) gets turned over to them. I have learned since saving these charts that it's best to keep a written record of each group's actual answers so that the fourth bullet above can take place, even if you're using an older sample created by your learners.
In the "Idea #2" section of this page, you will see how I ensured that I would be able to keep a record of the creator if the NL-Rep's original answer by having the answers become part of the INN Page.
If you don't teach writing traits, I've done the same activity with writing genres. If you click the picture just above and at right, you will see a student's NL-Rep for the genre of narrative. How would friendly letters or an argumentative essay look different?
Idea #2...Making Non-Linguistic Representations into Interactive Nonfiction Notebook (INN) Pages Another possible EQ...How do you create a NL-Rep that isn't too easy for someone else to interpret but also isn't too difficult to interpret.
I show my students samples from my own INN before they begin their work; they appreciate that I do this, but I always try to make my models on topics they wouldn't be using in my own class. I don't want them to be able to copy any of my content, but if my NL-Rep ideas give them their own ideas, then I'm fine with that.
My INN example below has a Non-Linguistic Representation on the left, and the explanations of each NL-Rep can be found beneath one of the flaps on the right-hand side of the two-page notebook spread. My self-chosen topic was: The Four Main Causes of World War I.
I set up the whole page to be an "interactive game" for my "audience" when I share the page and my new knowledge. For this NL-Rep example, I taped the following instructions onto the flaps that hide the answers to my NL-Reps:
- My Layout: At left, represented non-linguistically by me--your teacher--are the four main causes of WWI. Beneath these flaps, you will find my written explanations of my NL-Reps. I'll happily explain any visual you can't make sense of.
- First: Please look over my non-linguistic representations at left and "take a stab" at what you think each visual might represent, knowing my topic is the four main causes of WWI. Do this four all four of my NL-Reps.
- Second: Choose your favorite color of paper flap from the right-hand side and lift just that flap first. Read the explanation below. Figure out which of the four NL-Reps best matches the words I have written for you beneath the flaps.
- Third, Fourth, and Fifth: Repeat the same process from the previous step with the three remaining flaps. Start with your second favorite color. Go to your third. End with your fourth favorite color. If you have suggestions for ways I might improve my NL-Reps, I welcome your input.
Non-Linguistic Representation Model from my own INN Notebook
(click images to see them in larger format)
Here is the two-page spread from my Interactive Nonfiction Notebook.
Here is one of the four causes of WWI represented non-linguistically. Can you guess what my NL-Rep is representing?
And here is the explanation of my NL-Rep, which was hidden beneath the orange flap on my INN page. How close was your guess?
Some topics I've used when assigning NL-Reps for our Interactive Nonfiction Notebooks (INNS):
- Create 3 or 4 Non-Linguistic Representations that stand for the principles that make up and the motivating forces behind three of the characters in our class novel.
- Create 3 Non-Linguistic Representations that stand for the three different stages of life ("Riddle of the Sphinx," ya'll!) for the person or group you researched.
- Create a Non-Linguistic Representation for the writing trait that you "shine with," and create a Non-Linguistic Representation for the writing trait you "struggle with." Represent without words what you shine with and what you struggle with.
If your students like the idea of using Non-Linguistic Representations to inspire writing on a notebook page, I would love to see you post a picture/scan of their writing at this posting link: Better still, if your students invent a new way to uniquely inspire writing in their writer's notebooks, we want to hear about it: firstname.lastname@example.org