Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Body Memory

I have already bragged about the Professional Development I attended last year on memory strategies for students. I found this PD so beneficial, I couldn’t help but to leave you with one more strategy!

You learned from my last post that 7 + - 2 pieces of information is the appropriate chunk of content for our memories to retain at a time. Beyond my Chunking Phone Strategy, which applies this theory in a traditional organizer, comes an unconventional strategy that will not only help students to remember information, but will get them up and moving!    

I call it: Body Memory

The theory behind this strategy is that location and association are key factors for your memory. Ever feel like your brain is a deep sea of floating content that you are struggling to grasp at?  Yep. That’s a lack of location and association for your memory at work. 

The concept of this theory is simple: Assign your 7 + - 2 pieces of information to a location on your body.  When you do this, you give the content something to associate with, and you give it a place to “live" so to speak, both physically, and within your memory.

Let me give you an example:

My students were required to memorize the 8 crucial parts of a map. (Perfect 7 + - 2 pieces of information!)

The 8 parts of a map were as follows:

My Co-Teaching partner and I saw this as a perfect opportunity to use Body Memory in action. What we did was assign each part of the map to a part on the body. We tried as best as we could to link the map parts to body parts that would make sense. We then practiced saying the map components and pointing to the parts of our body like you would in “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.”

Here were our associations and locations: 

1.     Title
Forehead. Students dragged their finger across their forehead
2.     Latitude
Left Arm. Students used their right hand and wiped down the length of their left arm
3.     Longitude
Right Arm. Students used their left hand and wiped down the length of their right arm
4.     Key
Heart. Students made an "x" over their heart
5.     Compass
Stomach. Students drew a circle on their stomach
6.     Scale
Thighs. Students patted their right and left hands on their thighs
7.     Color
Cheeks. Students patted their cheeks
8.     Symbols
Students pointed to their nose

After a few repetitions of this, the students quickly and easily remembered the parts of a map, much more effectively than if we would’ve simply discussed maps and taken notes. The kids also loved the chance to get up and move around. And I have to admit, it was pretty amusing to watch them take the quiz while silently going through the motions!

And don’t forget that this strategy works for adults too. Particularly I have found this useful for the times you run to the grocery store to buy a handful of items.  Instead of jotting down a quick list on paper or in your phone, give those items a body location and give your memory some exercise!

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