Memory Joggers to Frame Your Lessons

Helping Students Retain Information Through Memory Joggers

Hand posting colorful post-it notes. Klaus Vedfelt/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

A difficulty that many students have after spending a day in class is crystallizing the key points and retaining the information taught. Therefore, as teachers we should devote time in each lesson to helping students see through the details to the core of what is being taught. This can be done through a combination of verbal and written cues. Following is a look at some of the ways that you can help students as they work through daily lessons in your class.

Start With the Focus for the Day

Start your class with the day's overall focus. This should be broad enough to encompass the subtopics that will be included in the lesson. This provides a structure for you and a preview for your students of what to expect during the day.

State What Students Will Be Able to Do at the End of the Lesson

These statements could take a couple of different forms. They might be objectives written in behavioral terms such as "Students will be able to convert fahrenheit to celsius." They could be goals that look at the higher level of Bloom's Taxonomy such as "Determine the pros and cons of using fahrenheit or celsius as a temperature scale." They could also be in form of questions that the students will be able to answer by the end of the lesson which in this example would be practice of the students actually converting from fahrenheit to celsius.

Daily Agenda Posted With Topics/Subtopics

By posting a daily agenda on the board, students can see where they are in the lesson.
You can choose to make this one or two words or more detailed depending on your preferences. You can also choose to include a time element if you desire, although you might want to keep this for your own use to make sure the lesson is moving along properly. Students can use this as the basis for headings in their notes if they are required to keep them.

Provide Students With a "Notes" Outline

Students can be provided with a list of key words to listen for or more formally an outline with certain lines already filled in that they are to use as they take notes in class.
This can help them focus in on the key points for the notes. The only issue with this is that sometimes students get caught up with "getting it right" and you spend more time explaining what should or should not be included than actually presenting the material.

Materials and Equipment Lists

This is not so much of a memory jogger as an organizational technique. However, by listing all the materials used and the order in which they are used, they can get a feel for the important elements of the upcoming lesson. You can include textbook pages, supplementary materials, equipment used, maps, etc.

Activity Structure

The structure of activities themselves can serve as memory joggers for the key elements of the lesson being taught. This is much more than just a list of questions to be answered. This could include things like evaluations, cloze paragraphs, and charts to be filled in.

End of the Day Review

Summing up what you've learned at the end of each lesson provides you with the ability to highlight the key points covered in class while giving students the opportunity to ask questions and clarify information.

Relevance for Tomorrow's Lesson

Just like television shows end seasons with cliffhangers to whet the appetite and excite viewers for the next season, ending lessons by building interest for the next day can serve the same purpose. This can also help frame the information taught in the larger context of the unit or overall topic being taught.