EDU 6526: PWIM – The Picture Word Inductive Model

P – Practice effective teaching: inquiry, planning, instruction & assessment.

P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. Teacher candidates apply principles of differentiated instruction, including theories of language acquisition, stages of language, and academic language development, in the integration of subject matter across the content areas of reading, mathematical, scientific, and aesthetic reasoning.

There are many models of classroom instruction that utilize questioning as a teaching method. Questioning in the classroom is an essential practice that should be utilized consistently. Rather than provide factual information without the use of inquiry, it is ideal that teachers utilize practices that allow students to learn through problem solving and discovery. Inductive learning strategies allow students to receive knowledge through the process of focusing on a particular idea or topic, mastering a concept or concepts through grouping and categorizing, interpreting and identifying the categories, and ultimately developing new skills (Scheuerman, 2014). Some models emphasize teaching concepts directly while others help the students generate creative thinking, “building concepts and hypothesis through inquiry” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 10). As Joyce et al. (2015) describe, inductive learning is not the only essential model of learning but provides students with “the ability to analyze information and create concepts. [This] is generally regarded as the fundamental thinking skill” (p.10).

The picture word inductive model (PWIM) is a relevant example of inductive learning. This model of instruction provides a system that naturally scaffolds information throughout the course of the taught curriculum. While this system can easily be described in a lengthy book, it can be summarized as (1) the building of syntax and sequence by identifying vocabulary in images, (2) developing visual dictionaries, (3) categorizing and grouping new vocabulary based on phonetics, structure, and content, (4) expanding on new vocabulary and prior knowledge, (5) composing sentences and titles from new vocabulary, (6) categorizing and grouping new sentences and (7) organizing and writing paragraphs from composed sentences (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).

Figure 1. Example of students identifying vocabulary in an image using FWIM (Doerksen, 2013).

Figure 1. Example of students identifying vocabulary in an image using PWIM (Doerksen, 2013).

All of this is performed individually, in small groups, and as a class, allowing for various levels of teamwork and inquiry. This model is proven useful in developing literacy to diverse groups of students and also helps with struggling students such as English language learners (ELL). This model of teaching is an excellent example of questioning as a teaching model, allowing students with guidance and nurturing to learn through a process of induction. “Most children want to make sense of the language around them and they eagerly engage in unlocking its mysteries. A corollary principle of the PWIM is that the approach respects the children’s language development: Their words are used and their ability to make connections is central to the learning process and the model” (Calhoun, 1999, chapter 2).

Inductive teaching models should be utilized in every classroom. While other methods of instruction are also critical, inductive teaching allows teachers to direct instruction to facilitate cooperative learning practices, creative thinking, and the development of new language skills. PWIM is one model that enables the teacher to scaffold the learning process to build upon multiple literacy skills. Questioning, through the use of many learning practices should always be utilized. Questioning inhibits early intellectual thinking as well as develops social interactions and conversations, focused attention, guided thinking, and problem solving. Questioning and inductive teaching pair together, providing many opportunities for discovery learning.


Calhoun, E. F. (1999). Teaching beginning reading and writing with the picture word inductive model. Retrieved from

Doerksen, K. (2013, October). PWIM – picture word inductive model. Retrieved from

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Scheuerman, R. (2014). Session 2: Strategies and induction. Personal Collection of (Scheuerman, R.), Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA. Podcast retrieved from


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