Improving Memory

Improving Memory:

Lately I have become obsessed with the topic/concept of “working memory”.

It all started the other day when I was thinking about the fact that for years now the overwhelming majority of my students have struggled with (& have been identified on their psycho-ed reports as having) weak working memories.

“Working memory is the ability to hold information in your head and manipulate it mentally. You use this mental workspace when adding up two numbers spoken to you by someone else without being able to use pen and paper or a calculator. Children at school need this memory on a daily basis for a variety of tasks such as following teachers’ instructions or remembering sentences they have been asked to write down.” (

Studies and articles on the importance of working memory abound. The majority demonstrate effectively that working memory is so much more important than IQ, and furthermore can be strengthened.

Take the following excerpt for example:
“Working memory: a better predictor of academic success than IQ? … The findings revealed that a child’s success in all aspects of learning is down to how good their working memory is regardless of IQ score. Critically working memory at the start of formal education is more powerful predictor of subsequent academic success than IQ in the early years.
…. In summary the present article suggests that the traditional reliance on IQ as a benchmark for academic success may be misguided. Instead schools should focus on assessing working memory as it is the best predictor of reading spelling and math skills six years later….
Problems with working memory can be easily addressed in schools … Early intervention in working memory could lead to a reduction in the number of those failing schools and help address the problem of under-achievement in schools.” (

With this in mind, here are some of my classroom accommodations that address student needs & working memory:

Classroom Accommodations:
– Chunking: Break concepts down into smaller, more manageable units
– Give directions using multiple formats
– Know what kind of learners my students are (e.g. visual, auditory, etc,) and tailor information to their individual styles
– Multi-modality teaching
– Supplement lessons with visual aids, and concrete materials (e.g. posters, charts, props)
– Use manipulatives int eh classroom; hands-on learning
– Model/introduce meaningful organization
– Linking Connect facts/concepts/information to what the students already know
– Make mind maps
– Teach/model visualization techniques
– Teach/model association techniques
– Provide time for discussion
– Provide additional processing time
– Provide opportunities for students to paraphrase instructions
– Provide opportunities for students to rehearse concepts
– Provide retrieval practice
– Ongoing repeated review of skills
– Encourage students to over-learn concepts/facts/ideas
– Highlight key words on written assignments
– Use colour coding strategies
– Provide/model/teach the use of graphic organizers
– Use mnemonic devices
– Use rhymes, jokes, songs, poetry
– Encourage students to eat well exercise and get plenty of rest
– Stay motivated
– Make having a positive attitude a habit

See also: Great Sites for Improving Memory:
*”Improving Your Memory: Tips and Techniques for Memory Enhancement” (great general site on how to improve memory)
*”Working Memory”:
*”Working Memory Training and RoboMemo: Interview with Dr. Torkel Klingberg”
*”Brain-Friendly Teaching: Strategies to Improve Memory”:
*”Memory Improvement Techniques”:
*”Memory Improvement Techniques”:
*”10 Strategies to Enhance Students’ Memory”:
*”Sharp brains” Bairn Fitness for all”: (I like this site!)

Now here’s where you come in … I need your help ….!
I have always focussed on teaching specific strategies to individual students in the classroom.
What I am on the hunt for now is a program(s) that I can deliver in the classroom. I am looking for the best program(s) aimed specifically at strengthening working memory; a program(s) that I can start in September and one that will carry me all the way through to June.
Your expertise, support and suggestions are invaluable … and very much appreciated!

All the best,


5 responses to “Improving Memory

  1. >Here's a Great suggestion left by my twitter friend! (RT @Clane: _) fsb an d thanks!!! xo

  2. >From another FAB twitter friend : @sara__winter @FlyontheCWall….. We use chanting a LOT to spark memory. Something about the framework of the rhythm helps with sequencing..

  3. >gr8 suggestions"First I would read The Misdiagnosis of Gifted Children by Webb et all that will teach you a lot.Read The Executive Brain as well!Training is usually on a tool such as Cogmed or Captains LogTraining schedule You often need to buy the tool.A free way to learn a lot is Smart KitIf you train ur brain you'll see what exercises are best, all ppl differ a bit LuminosityBraininsightsonlineHope that helps you!"

  4. >Thank you for the post! I'm gearing up for my son's IEP renewal and have felt his working memory issues (low average or high below average) have been largely ignored, so this was very helpful!

  5. >Hi "Anonymous",I am glad that the post was helpful! Hope you have a really positive "IEP renewal process"!Ally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s