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Improving Memory Skills, Part 1
Sharon Longert

One of the most called upon resources of the human brain is memory.  There are very few
academic tasks that do not call upon our ability to remember.  Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the verb remember:  to think of again; to bring back to mind by an effort; recall; to be careful not to forget; to call to mind.  All tasks from the simplest to the most complex in the classroom and social environments ask students to use their memory.   These memory tasks require auditory, visual or kinesthetic remembering.  One of the first rules for students with memory skill limitations is to have their hearing checked.  The following suggested activities can help to establish improved memory skills.

Auditory Tasks

  • Give the student a verbal message to deliver to another teacher, secretary, or school personnel.  Increase the length of the message as the student is successful.
  • Have the student practice repetition of information (naming objects, daily routines, addresses, phone numbers, days, months, colors) to improve short-term memory skills.
  • Stop at various points during a lesson/presentation of information to check the students’ comprehension.
  • Have the student repeat/paraphrase directions, explanations, and instructions.
  • Have the students memorize the first sentence or line of a poem or song, increase the length as the student is successful.
  • Give the student one task at a time to perform; introduce the next task when the first one is completed.
  • Reduce distracting stimuli when information is presented.

Visual Tasks

  • Allow the student to play concentration games with symbols, letters, numbers, familiar objects.  Increase the number of pairs as success is achieved.
  • Teach chunking, that is, organizing information into tiny bits, rather than long strings. (34125670 into units of 34, 12, 56, 70).
  • Show a picture of an object for a few seconds, ask the student to recall specifics about color, size, shape.
  • Provide environmental cues to improve classroom/home success with charts of rules, schedules, steps for solving problems and daily routines.
  • Give the student written/pictorial lists of things to do and materials needed.
  • Break large tasks into individual units to be learned one at a time.
  • Make sure the student is attending to the task or the source of the information.
  • Make sure the student is looking at the assignment, making eye contact as appropriate.

Kinesthetic Tasks

  • Record a message on tape and have the student write the message as it is heard.  Increase the complexity as the student progresses.
  • Actively engage the students by having them physically perform sequential activities such as solving math problems, following recipes or operating equipment.

Combination Tasks

  • Teach information gathering skills in sequential steps:  Listen carefully, write the important points, ask for clarification, wait for complete instructions before beginning a task.
  • Use associative cues and pneumonic devices to remember sequences.

Combination tasks require more complexity as students progress. Start simply and then move on.

To Improving Memory Skills, Part 2


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