Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Long Term Memory

It's been a while since my last post (first month of school = constantly busy) so I wanted to write a quick post about the importance of long-term memory learning.

From the beginning of the year, I teach my students the difference between short-term and long-term memory.

Here's how I explain it to my students:

Short-term memory-You'll remember it for your test tomorrow, but a week from now, it might be gone.  It is almost certain it'll be gone a month from now.

Long-term memory-You've been talking/learning about it each day this week, you'll talk about it next week, then next month, and bring it up a few more times over the next few months.  By the end of the school year, you will most likely retain the information from the beginning of the year.

What do I do to help them create long-term memories of the content?
  • At the start of the school year, I go through the standards and pull out the most basic facts and details from each standard (including any enduring understandings).  I compile this into a list and create Unit 1.
  • I teach like my hair is on fire for the first 3-4 weeks of school.  I usually use powerpoints, graphic organizers, real-world connections and videos for these lessons.
  • I greatly encourage my students to study the concepts at least 20 minutes a night, along with sending home many emails (to parents) with back up info for home learning/questioning.
  • At some point, I give a pop quiz (with some warning that it may be coming) to check & see if kids are really studying.  They really sweat this one!!
  • I give the Unit 1 study guide a week in advance and spend a week solid reviewing. 
  • After we take the test, we loop the information for the rest of the year.  Students are exposed to the information again once per month until the end-of-year assessments.
Even if this kind of plan won't work for your subject, you can use looping throughout the year to reassess the concepts.  Put several questions from a previous test onto the next test in a "looping" section.  Or have a looping quiz once every few weeks.  Any way you do it, long-term memory is key for student achievement.

What study skill do you reinforce all year long?  Comment below to share!

Just keep swimming!!  :)

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