Quite naturally the arch nemesis to remembering is forgetting. Teachers spend 75-90 minutes per class with one goal in mind: helping students develop a conceptual understanding of standards, concepts and skills and how it all connects across subjects. Students spend 75-90 minutes in 8 different classes trying to memorize enough information to regurgitate on the test so it can all add up to an “A” or a passing grade. For decades, we all have known that rote memorization is an imposter of understanding that is soon forgotten. Since the Common Core, most educators and researchers agree that to fully grasp a concept or skill, students need to know and understand in order to be able to do. Yet, because the brain is wired to forget, it is important for students to have memorization strategies in place to help make as many connections as possible.
Brain-based learning strategies can help students grasp conceptual understanding and make connections that stick in the back of their minds.
- Peer-to-Peer Explanations: After introducing a new concept or reading, have students turn and talk to each other explaining what they’ve learned to peers. This strategy can be used before, during, and after to strengthen or reactivate learning.
2. Reteach/Review: While many teachers don’t like the idea of re-teaching a lesson, research shows that students perform better when given multiple opportunities at different times throughout the year to review learned material. To help students understand how to connect ideas, revisit key topics and connect them to other lessons throughout the year. Think of it as reinforcing the learning.
3. Implement Practice Test: Test anxiety impairs memory regardless of how well a student understands the concept or skill. Over the years, I have learned that giving practice test and reviewing test-taking skills can be very effective. The most recent research indicates that gains in learning and retention can occur when students take a practice test on studied material before taking a final test on the same material. This is known as the testing effect.
5. Multiple Sensory and Multiple Format Instruction: For anyone, it is easier to remember what’s been read, seen, and heard, instead of one or the other. When information is taught in different ways using multiple senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting) students tend to develop a conceptual understanding and remember it better.
For more tips, check out this video from Edutopia.