By Teachers, For Teachers
The memory demands of school-aged children are more regimented then they were a decade ago. While many schools’ main teaching strategies are not mainly on memorization, but more on higher-order thinking skills, the ability to memorize information is still vastly important. Children are constantly being inundated in the classroom with information on new topics and concepts. While some children may find it to be easy to recall words or math facts in an instant, others’ short-term memory may find it more difficult. Luckily, there are teaching strategies that you can use to enhance their memory. Try integrating the following teaching strategies into your curriculum to help your students develop a more efficient memory.
Mnemonic devices have been thoroughly studied and have been proven to be an effective way to help one remember information more efficiently. Research states that when information comes into your brain, it searches for prior knowledge, then it seeks meaning through patterns. Try teaching your students to use a mnemonic device the next time they need to remember something. A popular device that many students use in order to remember the colors in the rainbow is ROYGBIV, which is pronounced (Roy-G-Biv). Each letter represents a color, for example: R-red, O-orange, Y-yellow, G-green, B-blue, I–indigo, and V-violet. Try having students think of a silly sentence that will correlate with what they need to remember.
Encourage your students to chunk. This means to group items or things into categories or words to make it easier to remember. For example, if a student was having a hard time remembering a spelling word, they could place a word before and/or after it to help them remember. For example, let’s say the student couldn’t remember the word “Fragile.” They can think of it like “Breakable, fragile vase.” This will help them remember that fragile means that it can be breakable.
Have you ever heard of the saying, “To teach is to learn twice”? To help your struggling students improve their working memory, try having them learn a concept in order to teach it to a classmate. Just as you, the teacher, have to brush up on some of your skills before you teach it to your students, have your students do the same thing. Challenge them to learn a skill so that they can teach it. This will require the students to learn it twice, which will help cement the concept into their brains.
Mental imagery is another effective method to help students enhance their working memory. Using a visual picture can help cement the concept into the brain. A great example of this comes from a 2nd grade classroom. In this classroom, the teacher teachers her students to visualize all 10 of their spelling words by thinking of a picture in their head for each word. When it comes time for the spelling test, and the students are trying to remember the word, the word becomes a cue for the visual image. It’s that easy.
Studies show that in order for you to retain information, you have to be focused and pay attention. If you are not, then the information will be disregarded within 30 seconds. Try giving your students this piece of information next time you really want them to pay attention. They may be surprised by this fact. Encourage students to work to retain the information you are giving them by using visualization or by taking notes.
Children love technology and they also love tapping away on the keyboard, texting, and messaging their friends. Try using a tablet or an iPad and have students text or message a classmate the information that they just learned. By doing this, they are learning the information not only once, but twice. Students will have to take the information that they learned and put it into their words in order to send their point of the view of what they just learned to their classmate. This can be a fun and effective way to cement the information into her brains.
Studies show that if you connect an emotion to something that you want to remember, you will more likely be able to commit that information to your memory. The next time your students are struggling to remember something, ask them to try and emotionally connect to it. For example, if students are learning about Rosa Parks, ask them to put themselves in her position at that time, and try and connect their feelings about the situation to what they need to remember about her. If they find that they feel sad or angry about this historical event, then they will be more likely to remember the details about it.
Do you have any tips or tricks on how to teach memorization? Please share your expertise in the comment section below, we would love to learn from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.