Rebus Techniques

Rebus is a general term referring to the use of pictures or other visual images to represent words or symbols. Some of these techniques are similar to those in the preceding sections. Rebus techniques ensure that ELL students will receive the same mathematics curriculum as their English-proficient peers. Although the techniques differ in implementation, they all offer ways for ELL students to acquire and express the mathematical ideas presented in CMP. Although these approaches have been created specifically for ELL students, they can be equally effective for many other students, including those with special needs.

Original Rebus Technique

On a sheet of paper, students copy the text from all or part of a page before it is discussed. During discussion, students then generate their own rebuses for words they did not understand as the words are made comprehensible through pictures, objects, or demonstrations.

This strategy ensures that ELL students benefit from written communications in the same way as their English-proficient peers. While written text summarizes key concepts, includes background information, and provides directions for completing tasks, ELL students often do not benefit from such communication.

In the past, ELL students have been traditionally paired with English-proficient students who are asked to read aloud written text. However, this approach does not provide ELL students with access to written communication. For example, ELL students are asked to rely on memory when trying to recall the written information, something not required of their peers. Furthermore, simply reading information aloud does not ensure that the words are made comprehensible to the ELL student. Therefore, the Original Rebus Technique offers a strategy that makes written communication meaningful to ELL students, without depending on peer cooperation or memory.

  1. Teachers identify text perceived to be difficult for ELL students to comprehend. Examples of such text may be questions appearing in Mathematical Reflections, Applications, and Connections sections of each CMP Unit.
  2. ELL identify text perceived to be difficult for ELL students to comprehend. Examples of such text may be questions appearing in Mathematical Reflections, Applications, and Connections sections of each CMP Unit.
  3. After students comprehend the word, the teacher writes it on the board so ELL students can connect the written word with a specific meaning. At this time, ELL students create an original rebus over that key word on their sheet of paper. This rebus will help them to recall the meaning of the word when referring back to the text during independent work.

Note: students comprehend the word, the teacher writes it on the board so ELL students can connect the written word with a specific meaning. At this time, ELL students create an original rebus over that key word on their sheet of paper. This rebus will help them to recall the meaning of the word when referring back to the text during independent work.

Diagram Code Technique

Students use a minimal number of words, drawings, diagrams, or symbols to respond to questions requiring writing. Learning to organize and express mathematical concepts in writing is a skill students develop over time. If ELL students are not given this same opportunity, they miss an important component of the math curriculum. This strategy provides alternate ways for students not yet proficient in writing English to express mathematical thinking on paper. While their responses will not be in the same format as those of their English-proficient peers, ELL students still have the same challenge: they must record and communicate mathematical ideas so that someone else can understand their thinking.

  1. At the beginning of the program, teachers model and encourage ELL students to use this approach when writing answers to questions presented in the program.
  2. To introduce this approach, the teacher writes several questions requiring written responses on the board. These questions should be simple with obvious answers.
  3. The teacher then shows the ELL students how to answer each question without writing complete sentences and paragraphs. At the end of this session, the teacher should have modeled answering questions by using and/or combining minimal words, drawings, diagrams, or symbols.

Note: This approach can be used for any written response in the program, but it is especially useful for responding to questions found in Mathematical Reflections. Since this part of the CMP curriculum provides a vehicle for assessing how well students have understood key concepts of the Unit, this approach enables teachers to evaluate their ELL students’ progress as well.

Chart Summary Technique

This technique involves presenting information by condensing it into a pictorial chart with minimal words. This extension of the Diagram Code technique offers ELL students another way to organize and express mathematical thinking with a minimal amount of writing.

  1. At the beginning of the program, the teacher shows various charts on any subject. The charts need to be simple, include pictures, and have a minimal number of words.
  2. The beginning of the program, the teacher shows various charts on any subject. The charts need to be simple, include pictures, and have a minimal number of words.
  3. The teacher continues by showing how the chart answers this question by pointing to the drawings in each section, showing the seeds, roots, stem, and flower. The teacher also points out how each section has been labeled.
  4. At the end of this session, ELL students should be able to respond to a question by creating a chart with pictures and minimal words.

Note: This approach may be an alternative for ELL students when responding to some of the Unit Projects requiring detailed writing.

Rebus Scenario Technique

Teachers make use of rebuses on the chalkboard during discussions and when presenting information. While modifications for primary mathematical concepts may be perceived as necessary for ELL students, there may be a tendency to omit such techniques for “enrichment” information, such as text appearing under Did You Know? However, if programs offer English-proficient students such information, then ELL students should also have an opportunity to acquire the same knowledge. Therefore, the Rebus Scenario Technique offers teachers a simple way to ensure that all students have access to both the core and enrichment aspects of CMP.

Note: If there are English-proficient “artists” in the classroom, teachers may opt to implement this approach in a slightly different way. Prior to the lesson, a teacher can ask an artistic student to come to the chalkboard to draw rebuses for targeted words. When using this approach, the teacher can then just point to the appropriate drawings during the lesson. If there is no time prior to a lesson, the artistic student can be asked to draw the rebuses as key words are presented. With this latter approach, it is important that the artist knows which words to represent as rebuses and to draw quickly.

Enactment Technique

Students act out mini-scenes and use props to make information accessible. This technique ensures that all students comprehend hypothetical scenarios presented throughout CMP. With this technique, ELL students are not excluded from lessons involving situations reflective of real-life scenarios.

  1. Teachers decide which simple props, if any, will enhance the enactment. These props are gathered prior to teaching the lesson.
  2. At the time of the lesson, students are selected to assume the roles of characters mentioned in a CMP problem or scenario.
  3. These students then pantomime and/or improvise speaking parts as they enact the written scenario presented in CMP.

Note: There may be a tendency to select only English-proficient students for mini- scene roles; however, many parts can also be given to ELL students. For example, roles such as pantomiming shooting baskets or pretending to ride a bicycle, can be easily enacted by ELL students, as these kinds of parts do not require spoken English.

Visual Enhancement Technique

The use of maps, photographs, pictures in books, and objects makes information understandable by providing nonverbal input. This technique is most helpful for conveying information that is unlikely to be understood through enactment or creating rebuses. When pictures or real objects are added to lessons, English Language Learners have the opportunity to receive the same information presented to their English-proficient peers, who are able to understand the written text without visual aids. This approach ensures that ELL students equally acquire and benefit from descriptive and/or background information sections of the program.

  1. Teachers decide if information on a page is unlikely to be understood with a rebus or by having students create an enactment. For example, maps are often used with this technique to help students understand what part of the world an informative section or investigation is centered around. In contrast, a mere rebus “outline” of the same country would not be likely to be understood by anyone. Likewise, topics such as video games, different kinds of housing, and newspaper advertisements are more easily comprehended by merely showing examples than by trying to draw something representative of the topic.
  2. When teachers decide visual aids are the best approach for making information accessible, examples are sought prior to teaching the lesson.
  3. Teachers then show the visual aid at the appropriate time during the lesson.

Note: In the first year of implementation, English-proficient students can earn extra credit by finding appropriate visual aids for targeted lessons. Teachers can then keep the pictures, objects (if possible), and book names (with page number) on file for use in subsequent years.