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Hook Your Students to Strengthen Memory

June 11, 2012

Hermann Ebbinghaus served the world one fact that is difficult for teachers to swallow, “People usually forget 90 percent of what they learn in a class within 30 days” (Medina, 2008). Making early connections is about knowing your students and willing them into your learning environment. It requires a great deal of intentional planning, action, and evaluation. Brain research suggests you can counter that forgetful student by creating a learning environment that supports complex encoding.

Recalling information is connected to the environment at the time of learning. The elaborate nature of the brain causes many actions to occur at the moment of encoding information. Astoundingly, the brain splits up the memory and sends pieces of the puzzle to be scattered throughout the brain. Information comes into the brain and it automatically begins pulling from all parts of the brain connections to support processing new information.  The more pieces of the brain you immediately connect to, the stronger the memory, the easier it is to put the puzzle back together.

In the classroom, there is one thing educators can do right now to support automatic processing and help students recall complex information without rote memorization: hook the student with interesting unit openers.

Recall a great lesson you once experienced. You may find yourself easily recalling details you did not have to memorize. Maybe the teacher dressed up like a Revolutionary War soldier and you remember everything down to where you were sitting and how it was the first time you enjoyed his lecture. It is because of this experience you chose that essay for the exam and got an A.  Medina calls this “Automatic Processing” and compares it to “Effortful Processing” which requires energy burning attention. An example of effortful processing is when an evaluation (activity or test) was different or did not match what or how the information was taught.

Marketing professionals make a great deal of money and are most successful when they use encoding research. They make it their job to know you have a very short window to hook interest. In a movie, it is less than 3 minutes, in the mall, it is less than 2 seconds. In the classroom, Medina suggests you have 30 seconds to hook the students.

Make use of powerful introductions to your lessons by hooking interest through the use of a physical object. Hold the object and describe the connection to the unit objective. This will create complex connections in the brain and will help students create elaborate, meaningful, and contextual information. Enhance your success by getting to know your students which will help you identify real world examples that are relevant and of interest to the students.

Please comment on this post and let us know how you successfully hook your students!

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