Engagement Strategies - Gestures


Gesturing is an effective engagement strategy as it allows all students to participate with the lesson content together as well as increase focus on the critical content being taught throughout the lesson. Effective gestures incorporate a physical action (such as crossing arms to make a ‘plus’ sign when learning the concept of addition). This support students who are struggling to remember specific information because they can often remember the physical gesture they have engaged with and then associate it with the concept. Gesturing also helps students store information in long-term memory as they are activating more parts of the brain when engaging with the gesture rather than just using language alone. (Federico, 2017)


  Use in the Classroom

When demonstrating gestures, it is vital that students imitate and use them along with the teacher. They are effective when provided simultaneously with a verbal definition or description which helps explain what the gesture means. Adding a physical movement also helps to convey the meaning of abstract concepts. When the whole class uses a gesture that has been taught, teachers can easily identify which students are participating and which students are not.

Example: Students can demonstrate active engagement in the lesson by following with the teacher the gesture representing the concept of a right angle (holding two straight arms and meeting at a point to make 90 degrees)

As students engage with the gesture they can repeat the definition: 

“A right-angle meets at 90 degrees”.

  Personalised Learning

When students with additional needs are engaging with learning by using gestures, there can be some potential barriers that need to be considered.

These may include the speed and use of multiple gestures, the range of hand movements required, the visual nature of the gestures and the close proximity of other students all making differing movements with their hands and arms.

 Some potential adjustments may include:

  • Slowing the pace of the gestures.
  • Providing visuals of the gestures.
  • Adjust the gesture so that it falls within the physical capability of the student.
  • Use the visuals as reminders.
  • Provide physical prompting paired with verbal descriptions for the student.


How Seeing and Using Gestures Make Ideas More Memorable

This blog post is about the benefits of using gestures in the in the classroom to aid engagement and memorisation of concepts

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Use with technology

Teachers could take photo images of themselves using gestures that support concept definitions and these could be shared and uploaded with students.

Google Form for teachers and students to capture Gestures into

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