Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Can't Some Students Remember the Facts?

There are usually a few students in each class who really struggle to remember the facts.  The facts they work on and learn today, they forget tomorrow.  How do we help them?

Selective Memory?
Their memory problems seem to be selective, don’t they?  They can tell you all about their favorite TV show or sport, their family and their friends.  Why is that?

1)     The things they can remember, like the TV show or their family, are not abstract.  While a math fact is, unless you use pictures or objects, and counting.  Abstract things don’t make very many connections in the brain.

2)    Math facts, in and of themselves, are boring.  Our brain is programmed to forget boring things, otherwise, it would become overloaded.  You can easily identify a $20 bill, but how well can you describe the details of it?  You don’t need to remember such information, so your brain never puts it in long term memory.  If we decide we have to put it into long term memory, our brain will create a minimum amount of connections to it.

3)    The information is rarely used successfully by this student, so the road to get to it is small.

To increase our ability to recall information, we need to increase the number of connections (make it relevant, interesting, fun, emotional) and increase the size of the connections (successful repetitive recall).  How to do that is the trick.  We'll give you some suggestions in the next post.

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