What is Modeling?

Modeling is an extremely useful teaching tool that should be used as often as possible. Modeling is a teaching strategy where a teacher explicitly shows the students how to complete an activity or assignment before the students begin. Modeling is also an excellent class management technique. Teachers who model what needs to be done will have much fewer questions or students who do not know how to do the assignment.

Modeling provides a clear picture in a student’s mind as to how to handle the task at hand. Creating a picture in a student’s mind will give the student confidence in how to complete the assignment. This type of guidance shows what the teacher expects and gets the students off on the right foot. There is nothing more frustrating for both a teacher and a student when directions have been given but students still do not know how or where to begin. Modeling will eliminate these frustrations and attribute to excellent classroom management.

Why is Modeling Beneficial for English Language Learners?

All students will benefit from modeling, but for English language learners modeling is even more advantageous. ELLs have a number of barriers to overcome in the classroom. Speaking, reading, writing, and listening require so many skills, and complete fluency in those areas takes many years. Therefore, finding success in class can be stressful for ELLs. Teachers must help ELLs find success just like their native English-speaking classmates. Every bit of success an ELL experiences will encourage them to continue to learn and grow in the class.

Academic language is often the last type of language that ELLs master which is why modeling can be so beneficial for them. Teachers who hand out an assignment and expect students to get to work and find success without much guidance are specifically failing ELLs. Spoken directions can be confusing and overwhelming for them. On the other hand, if a teacher models the directions and gives examples, ELLs will experience less anxiety and confusion when working on the assignment.

Modeling Teaching Strategy Examples

One example of teachers using modeling to help ELLs in their classes is as easy as doing the first one together. The teacher can show step by step how to do it and then the students can begin working on the second by themselves. By doing the first problem together, a teacher can address what to do and what not to do. Immediately, students will know and can actually see the steps they should take.

Another way to model for ELLs is by using cloze activities to guide reading and writing. Cloze reading is an instructional strategy where students fill in the blanks within a reading passage. Depending on the language level of an ELL, cloze activities can reduce confusion and help build sentence and language structures without overwhelming the student. By providing this type of guidance, the assignment models grammar and content vocabulary, which the student can then use throughout the rest of the task.

Modeling should also be used to show ELLs the daily routines of the class. Explicitly showing where to hang your things, get your notebook, and begin the morning assignments will set an ELL up for a day of success. Routines are so important for ELLs, especially for those in the early stages of language learning. Even if they cannot comprehend much English, they will remember the routines and find pride by completing them.

Additionally, visuals are an excellent modeling tool. Having an example assignment already completed to show the finished product will create a picture in students’ minds so that they know what they are working toward. Teachers can use these visuals to show what they are expecting from their students.

Finally, with many schools choosing to be completely online this fall, modeling is even more important and must be used. Providing video explanations for assignments will be much easier for ELLs to understand. Reading directions and attempting an assignment on their own can be very stressful. ELLs often do not have parents or other siblings who speak English that can assist them with an assignment while at home. Therefore, when teachers provide video explanations modeling how to do the task at hand, ELLs will be able to do it and do it well.

ELLs have to find success in class. This will build their confidence and in turn improve their language skills. Modeling is often a forgotten teaching method, but when used, teachers and students will find enjoyment and great accomplishment in their classes.