Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Memory? What Memory?


Science fact:  Fish Have No Memory!

Quick short-term memory quiz (for those who just watched the video above):
1. How many strike outs were there in the game?
2. How many requests did the yellow fish make for a hot dog?

While the fish above have no memory, they seem to survive just fine in school.  Our kids, though, absolutely need memory to survive and succeed in and out of school. Today I look at memory demands kids face in a typical day, and then show and tell suggestions to help boost memory. 

Part I. Basic school day demands:

Preparing for school our kids must remember what they have to take with them to school (homework, books, lunch, snacks, change of clothes for after school or for gym, the comic they promised to share with friends during recess, etc.).  They must also remember their schedule before, during and after school each day, and how they are going to get to the required destinations.

Arriving in school they must remember what they need for each class for that particular morning or portion of the day before they can get back to their lockers or cubbies.

Regardless of subject matter, students must remember where the class is meeting, what the teacher just said or demonstrated as well as what was said a few minutes ago, last class, last week, and what was read for homework, all while remembering the strings of information they want to relay and how best to relay them.  They also have to remember to take out and hand in any homework due.  In addition, when giving directions, teachers typically give them verbally and students must remember each step of those directions.

Math class demands: Students must remember math facts and formulas (for geometry, converting fractions, etc.). Students also must remember sequences for solving problems (commutative principle, associative principle, when to add and multiply numbers in and out of parentheses, and when and how to do long hand subtraction, division and multiplication, etc.), computation short-cuts, as well as the prompts given in the examples to be solved.

Language arts class demands:
  • When reading students must remember sight vocabulary and phonics in order to recognize and decode the text in front of them.  They must also remember the meaning of the words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters they just read - all while keeping track of the names, dates, and events, they just read.
  • When talking or writing students must remember what they want to write or say, in the order they want to say it, while remembering the words they need, their spelling and punctuation (when writing), and the best way to say or write it.
  • If responding to a question they also have to keep that question in mind checking and making sure they staying on topic as they answer it.
In science classes, not only do students have to remember all those items of a language arts class (if they are reading or writing anything in class), but they must also remember lab sequences and safety rules to follow.

In social studies classes, not only do students have to remember all those items of a language arts class, they also have to remember sequences of names, dates, and events and their significance to a particular time or times in history.

Then there are memory demands of gym, music, art, and after school programs, and remembering social conversations they had with friends, parents and other adults...but I am assuming you get my point and want to move on to constructive memory training suggestions.


Part II. WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS REMEMBER:

1. Repetition and Rehearsal- teaching students to repeat strings of facts over and over - either chanting to themselves or through songs (my kids learned the state capitals in a song and years later, still remember them).

2. Visualization - sometimes visualizing directions and items helps us remember them and their required sequence.


Here is a video from Sesame Street demonstrating the power of repetition and visualization.

Sesame Street Animation:  Repetition to help memory...visualizing to help memory

3. Rhyming - turning strings of information into rhymes helps kids remember.  It does not work for Grover however in the following Sesame Street clip, but you and your child can watch this together and figure out why.  Different types of strategies work for different types of kids and for different tasks.  You will have to experiment which one works best for you.

Using rhyming to help boost memory.

 

4. Mnemonics- are finger / hand/ word games, tricks, or rhymes kids can use to help remember sequences or strings of words, numbers or events.  I learned to remember which months of the year had 30 and which had 31 days by reciting the months across my knuckles.  Roy-gee-biv or short sentences with ROYGBIV - represent the visual color spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo[thank you, Roger], violet).  What are some of the mnemonics you used?  What are some your child uses?

5. Build Associations.  Teach kids to make associations and connections between what they know and have to remember.  The more personal you can make something, the more one thing is associated with another, the more memory connections and channels there are to retrieve the information (see my blog on humor it discusses how humor connects various memory channels).

Let's continue the conversation.  In the comments, please leave your favorite memory strategies or your child's favorite mnemonic device.  Why constantly re-invent the wheel?  Also, please watch these videos with your kids, talk about different strategies she or he can use to remember.  Also talk about how different strategies may work for remembering different types of things.  What works best for you?  What works best for him or her?  These should be ongoing conversations.  Let's learn from each other.

35 comments:

  1. Who am I again? And where am I? I have some tips now..and always love a Sesame Street song..Jae :)

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  2. LOL... and, me too. I loved watching Sesame Street with my kids and still get a kick out of the songs and skits.

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  3. Why am I here? Who are you again? Come to think of it - who am I?

    Great! Loved this.
    Denise
    ABC Team

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  4. I taught my husband a mantra to repeat before he went to work - glasses,passes, keys, wallet, phone - he's easily distracted;-)

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  5. Really interesting post for the M Day -- as always! And these days I need all the help I can get where memory is concerned -- not one of the joys of old age, that's for sure!! Have a great day!

    Sylvia
    ABC Team

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  6. For them? What about for me? Truth: I can remember three items easily, but four? AI need the list! (And be able to remember where I put the list...)

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  7. Here's a blogpost about mnemonic devices. BTW, what do you have against INDIGO, the I of Roy G Biv? ;-)

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  8. Thank you, Roger. Adding Indigo (my bad - as my daughter says) and I love the link!

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  9. Oh, the the Idigo omission...clearly I was testing your perception and attention to detail. Or...was it another senior lapse :-(

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  10. I still use the "30 days hath september april june and november" rhyme, all these years later. I worked with someone who was forgetful, he travelled a lot, so used to make sure he counted the items he travelled with as he picked them up to combat this. Think that might come under basic school day demands, but that luckily was taken care of by his PA:-)

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  11. Um, what was your post about again? Oh yeah! Memory! Mine seems to be petering out these days. I guess the brain is just too full of facts...or I'm gettin' old. Jest kiddin' However, as a teacher I find your devices to be right on! I think kids today have too much to remember - at least even more than when my own kids went to school! Great post...

    Leslie
    abcw team

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  12. Memory is very important in education and life. I know as I grow older my memory is shot. When I was a student I was lucky in that I could remember what I read fairly easily but not at my age.

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  13. They have to remember a lot of things every day! WOW! I never thought of it. Thanks for your nice visit and your sweet comment.

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  14. interesting..i was a teacher and i liked to use those methods mentioned. In fact, I did a tesis on mnemonics.

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  15. A great post for M, Meryl, - do you have any suggestions for the ancients who, when they stop on the landing, forget whether they are going up or down the stairs???

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  16. I have the same problem myself, and would like to think (despite the wrinkles I see in the mirror), that I am not that ancient (my kids might disagree).

    I often rehearse, saying to myself over and over what it is I am going to get. I also try visualizing what it is I am looking for. And when all else fails, I tell myself if it is important, I will remember at some point...

    Thanks for your comments.

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  17. Informative reading with entertaining videos interlaced. Nice post!

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  18. I too often visualize and say things out to make it easier for me to remember it. Love the Sesame Street clip.

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  19. What an interesting post for M!! I try to remember things based on acronyms.
    ABC Wed: M

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  20. Great tips! They'll definitely come in handy when the kiddos troop back to school in June. :)

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  21. Do you think our digital world has reduced the perceived need to remember things? After all, the answer is only a click away. Why commit it to memory A detriment to our youth for sure. Your tips are great!

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  22. You ask a really good question. The thing is that there are time we cannot rely on digital help. Remembering strings of verbal instructions, or sequences to solving a math problem, for example, are at least for the time being still bound on old-fashioned memory (unless teachers write out directions as well - WHICH I highly recommend). It may come, but I think there will always be things we need to retrieve the old fashioned way.

    Thanks for the visit and food for thought!

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  23. Great tips. Memory is so important. I could use some improvement myself.

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  24. Interesting post, I will pass the tips onto my son who is a teacher.

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  25. My mom was so good at mnemonics and helped me do a lot of memorization as a kids using them. That also how I memorized all the British monarchs, though that one must not have been very good because I don't remember them anymore.
    By the way, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my wordless Wednesday post. I checked out your blogger profile. My husband is actually going to be a psychologist for the Air Force. A little something in common...sort of. :)

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  26. Very interesting take on letter M.

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  27. What a thought provoking offering...I so loved that girl with her shopping expedition as a child and often joke with my children about it now...repetition was and is definately my style, as well as associations...particularly around remembering peoples names. I never did get the hang of mnemonics...maybe they're more for audio learners??
    Thankyou, you've given me a smile for the day :)

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  28. im your newest follower, hope you'll follow me back...and thanks for the comment..;)

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  29. Thanks for sharing this..I learned so much here. Thanks for the ABC comment.

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  30. i'm an expat living in thailand. appauled by the education system, illiteracy, and child care here, my husband (who is thai) and i recently got into a discuss about WHY things are as they are here and what needs to change. turns out.. they don't have sesame street (or really any sort of decent educational shows for children). you may think i'm joking but i really think it's a contributing factor for the state of education here in thailand.

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  31. My husband is the worst for laying down his sunglasses, keys, paperwork, remote (why do you walk around with a remote attached to your hand?) and then "looses" them!! He is terrible! And its not a memory thing its a distraction thing. lol. I ask him to make a list and before he leaves the house to glance at it to make certain he has everything he needs. He doesn't! Every time I get a call "Could you go into the garage and check the saddlebags on the bike and see if I left the (fill in the blank).....life with him is an adventure!

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  32. Those are great tips! My memory needs sharpen. Thanks for stopping by. Your newest follower via GFC! Happy Thursday!

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  33. Great tips! I use #1 and I guess #2 because I often create 'sign language' to help my younger students remember the meaning of words in French.

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