If you work with kids, you know that some kids struggle with retaining information. I’ve put together 5 ways you can help increase student memory in the classroom. These strategies are all components of good teaching. In fact, you may already be doing some or all of them.
Ways to Increase Student Memory
Let’s take a look at some strategies to boost retention.
1. Explain Thinking With a Peer
When students explain their thinking or explanation with a peer, they are actively strengthening their connection with the topic. A great way to encourage this is using collaborative grouping often in the classroom. This could be with partners (think-pair-share), or small groups. We use grouping puzzles to quickly get into small groups. For partner sharing, they are paired up and stay with that same partner for the month.
2. Revisit Topics Often
We all know that kids don’t learn things after one-time instruction. So instead of teaching a topic and then moving on, revisit key ideas throughout the school year. For example, let’s say early in the year you teach about bats and how they adapt to hunting at night. Later in the year, you are now teaching about weather. You could talk about how we adapt to weather changes. The overarching idea is adapting or adaptions. If you revisit the main topics often, that helps students retain the information. Students perform better academically when given multiple opportunities to review learned material.
3. Frequent Practice
We all know that we need to practice things to get better. Practice helps to build muscle memory, which leads to retention. Frequent practice is different than the previous tip. When I say frequent practice, I mean more often than a re-visit. If you have older students, this might be in the form of a quiz. But, as a primary grade teacher I am not giving frequent quizzes to my littles. So as an alternative, I like to use exit tickets. There are plenty you can purchase, but my tried and true favorite are sticky notes! I pose a question and have students respond in picture or writing on a sticky note. They return the note to me and I am able to quickly glance to see if they were correct.
4. Mix Things Up
The fourth tip is to mix things up. If you are teaching a specific strategy to solve a problem be sure to include those type of problems intermixed with others. For example if you are teaching students how to use number bonds to solve subtraction problems maybe include some number bond organizers for some of the equations, but number lines for the others. This way students need to practice various strategies, instead of limiting them to one way.
5. Use Visual Aids
The last tip I have for you is to use visual aids whenever you can. It’s often easier to retain information that’s been presented in various ways, especially if visuals can help students retain the information. Look at the two charts below. Students are probably more likely to remember the information from the chart with visual clues. You can read more about making anchor charts here.
There you have it. Five ways to help boost student memory in your classroom. Can you think of any other strategies to help learning stick?