Are your students having difficulty memorizing information for tests? Learning steps in a process, lists, or simple facts can be a challenge for most students. Try some of these memorization techniques. They will make a difference.
Some facts must be memorized in a specific order. Name mnemonics and acrostics as well as using the Method of Loci help students recall details in a specific sequence.
In name mnemonics, each letter in the name is substituted for the the first letter in an item that must be remembered. For example, ROY G. BIV helps students remember the order of the colors of the spectrum.
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
Another order mnemonic uses sentence substitutions. The first letters in the list of items that must be memorized are converted into a memorable sentence. Below are six examples of acrostics.
|The seven articles of the United States Constitution…
Large Elephants Jump Slowly And Sink Rapidly
|The order of math operations…
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.
|To recall which U.S. statesman portrayed on each denomination of the dollar bill…
When Juries Lack Honor, Justice Gets Forgotten.
George Washington ($1)
|The 7 levels of classification of living things…
Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach.
|The order of planets…
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pancakes.
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos.
|The signs of the zodiac…
As Times Goes, Cowboys Love Viewing Little Stars So Cool And Pretty.
Method of Loci
Loci associates information that must be memorized in specific order to locations in a room or house. I first learned the order of the first 10 Presidents of the United States with this method using each corner and wall of a room plus the floor and ceiling with a visualization of what was taking place in that location. In the video below, the method is explained using multiple locations in a house.
Sometimes students must memorize a list of information, but the order is not important. Using acronyms works well for memorizing lists. Homes, Fanboys, Pies, and Facts are examples of acronyms.
|HOMES helps students recall the names of the five Great Lakes.
|FANBOYS helps students remember the seven conjunctions.
|PIES names four purposes of writing.
| FACTS identifies the symptoms of flu.
Most of us can recall catchy commercial jingles, words to songs, and rhymes. Try placing information students need to memorize in a rhyme or song to help students recall facts. Here are a few well-known examples.
|To remember how many days each month contains, learn this short poem.
30 days hath September, April, June, and November.
|To identify poison ivy:
Leaflets of three, let it be.
|This rhyme helps students remember the spelling rule.
Use “i” before “e” except after “c” or in sounding like “ay” as in neighbor or weigh.
|This poem helps predict the upcoming weather.
Red sky at night
Memory Techniques [Association, Chunking, and Visualization]
Have students make connections or associations with material they are trying to learn. For example, Whitney is the lady with white hair. Both Whitney and white begin with w-h-i-t. Bob is the man with brown eyes. Bob and brown both begin with ‘b.’
Have students ‘chunk’ material to be memorized in groups of seven. The average person has difficulty memorizing more than nine items at a time. Memorizing telephone numbers in groups of four numbers instead of a list of ten single digits is an example of chunking. For the telephone number 4237224692, memorize the numbers 423, 722, 46, and 92.
Have students draw pictures to help visualize information. Students are more likely to remember images, diagrams, charts, graphs, and so on than a paragraph of information.
These anchor charts help students spell difficult words. The first chart uses name mnemonics to remember the correct form of the prefix in-. The second anchor chart uses mostly acrostics or sentence mnemonics to help remember the spelling of specific words. The final spelling rule on the chart uses association to remember the spelling of the word dessert. A few other spelling associations include the following:
- She screamed EEE as she passed the cEmEtEry.
- StationERy is for a lettER.
- My skin shows resisTANce to a TAN.
- Bad gramMAR will MAR a report.
- You hEAR with your EAR.
Research has proven that students recall alliterated phrases more easily than random words. Try enhancing memory by using alliterated terms. These two anchor charts use alliteration to help students recall information.
In chaining, a story is created in which each word will cue the next idea to be recalled. These stories can be oral or both oral and visual. This video provides an example of chaining using both oral and visual cues. Take the two tests included in the video. You will be surprised at how powerful visual chaining can be. [Note: My intent is not to sell the course the video offers at the end, but instead provide a clear example of chaining.]
Physical Movement While Learning and Memorizing
Studies have shown that walking while memorizing increases memory formation by 25%. Having students walk in place while reciting facts such as multiplication tables is a great way to implement this.
Studies have also shown that 15 minutes of sleep after studying a complex task helps the brain make connections. One way to implement this is to provide study sheets. Ask students to go over the information for 10 minutes directly before going to bed.
Students who hand-write notes remember 80% more information than students who type their notes. Handwriting stimulates portions of the brain that promote learning.
Try a few of these memorization techniques. I hope your students ace their upcoming tests!