Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Connecting to the Content

Teachers are able to teach for understanding when they use instructional strategies that enable students to create multiple connections to the content.  According to Dr. Orey, one way to make these connections is to use dual coding.  This is when students see an image and a label.  When teaching, technology can be utilized to show and information about the image.  The brain can only take in about seven pieces of information at a time.  Images are a way to help the information go in multiple places.

In my classroom, I often use to introduce a new skill and create meaningful connections to the learning.  There are activity pages linked to the videos where students can complete an organizer while they watch the clip.  Tim and Moby are engaging to students and offer strategies for students to use in the classroom.  Giving students a skeleton organizer prior to a lesson, allows them to take meaningful and organized notes during the class.  Kidspiration offers many templates for note taking with students.  These templates are a great way to chunk information for students.  Dr. Orey reminds teachers that students are only able to process about 7 pieces of information at a time.  

Another strategy to help students recall information is to create episodic memories.  These are memories of an event.  Virtual field trips are one way to create these memories.  Students can use a concept mapping tool to answer an essential question as they go on a field trip without every leaving the classroom.  This type of activity is powerful and keeps the learner engaged.  A Google search for virtual field trips will turn up multiple sites.  I found that the best place to start looking for guided field trips is

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program six: Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Novak, J. D., & CaƱas, A. J. (2008). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01 Rev 01-2008. Retrieved from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Web site:

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Trevor says...

    Hi Kate,

    I am enjoying reading your blog as you seem to consistently touch on topics that are of relevance to me, in this case the subject of dual coding theory. In working within a school environment comprised entirely of ELL students the concept of dual learning theory is one which is utilized consistently with our students as a means of assisting them in generating connections to introduced information. Obviously the end goal of instruction is for students to have developed a lasting memory of covered information. In striving to provide this effective instruction and achieve that goal it is indeed incumbent on teachers to deliver concept information in a manner that encourages the use of student background knowledge especially given the increasing prevalence of various types of student diversity within today’s classrooms - which the use of dual coding theory does. By incorporating the element of multiple modalities through the use of text and imagery dual coding theory provides students with more avenues through which to develop learning connections. In activating these multiple learning networks Orey highlights how the likelihood of information being internalized and then recalled from long-term memory is increased (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). Ultimately dual coding theory affords students the opportunity to relate to information and utilize information they already know to enhance their knowledge of new topics.

    In closing, within your post you mention the use of Kidspiration, I too use this program with students as it offers a wide variety of organizers. Curious, in your use of the program with your ELL students in what ways are you able to differentiate your instruction to meet their diverse learning needs? I have some ideas but am curious as to what you think would be most effective.

    As always thank you.

    Trevor Henderson


    Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program five: Cognitive learning theories. [Video webcast]. Retrieved from

    1. Trevor,

      The Office of World Languages is constantly reminding teachers in our district of the importance of dual coding especially for ELL students. They recommended using a PowerPoint with a picture and the vocabulary word.

      The district created templates for many of our lessons. I often use these to adapt note taking for my students. It is also helpful for my students to use with their math manipulatives. They are engaged because it is on the computer and it is meaningful because they are using manipulatives to make connections. How are you able to use Kidspiration in your classroom? I am working to incorporate it more this year since we have added a mobile lab to our school. My classroom houses the mobile lab.

  2. Hi Kate:

    I explored some of and it is an amazing technological resource for sure, especially concerning to cognitive theories. I learned very well through my experience as a preschool teacher and, before that, when I worked giving tutoring to visually-impaired college students, that presenting visuals with the context help the students to make better connections about new concepts. I will go further than that, it even help them to connect what they usually believe is way abstract with their real life events and concerns. This is why I would add to the dual coding theory the importance of helping them to make that connection of what they are learning with their real world and experiences because it will make it more meaningful and the connection will be more permanent.