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Beth Samuelson_ M. A. Director_ Student Organizational Services


									                   Beth Samuelson, M. A.

Director, Student Organizational Services
Weaknesses in memory
and organization can
hamper academic

               strategies and tools can
               help compensate…
}  Executive Functioning
}  Working Memory
}  Facets of Working Memory

}  Challenges
}  Strategies and Tools

}  Pop Quiz
What If there was a Pop Quiz?
}  Would you take notes?
}  Record on your phone?
}  Discuss it with a colleague afterwards?

}  Ask for last years quiz?
}  No worries, you’ll remember everything?

}  Walk out?
Action: Activate Your Memory
}  What do you already know?
}  What do you want to learn?
}  New information can be linked to what you
    already know to speed storage and recall.
Executive Functioning
 Planning      Transitions

Prioritizing                  Attention

   Time          Self-
Management     Regulation
Working Memory
}  Used for thinking and learning
}  Holds and manipulates information
}  Information degrades quickly unless in use

}  Both verbal and visual spatial plus the
    “central executive”
}  Through application and rehearsal may
Long Term Memory
}    Autobiographical
      ◦  Stories from my childhood
}    Procedural
      ◦  Riding a bike (without “thinking”)
}    Declarative - Episodic
      ◦  What I had for breakfast
}    Declarative – Semantic
      ◦  Who wrote Catcher in the Rye?
      ◦  What is the Pythagorean Theorem?
When Working Memory is Working

Attention         Encoding            Retrieval
                   (storing)        (remembering)

 Processing       Capacity
(understanding)     (volume &
                   complexity)   Strategies & Tools
Typical Challenges with Attention
}  Problems with working memory often
    misinterpreted as just an attention problem
}  Working memory requires the ability to….
      ◦  Attend to information for a period of time
      ◦  Prevent interference of irrelevant information
      ◦  Shift attention to what’s important and salient
}    Distractions - internal and external
Minimizing Distractions
}  No texting, Facebook or surfing opportunities
    that interfere with processing and learning
}  Music –less black and white-case by case
    works best-reading and writing most
}  Multi-tasking creates a fragmented approach
    to learning new material and delays or
    eliminates encoding, slowing down retrieval
    later under pressure
Challenges with Processing
}  Complex information needs more time for
}  Speed of processing varies greatly
      ◦  Huge impact on capacity of working memory
}    Visual versus Auditory processing –learning
      strengths can be harnessed to facilitate
Frontload Material
}  Deliver new info in an easy to digest modality
}  Relate to current knowledge
}  Give student time to process material without
    pressure and hand out notes to refer to
}  Content presented in chunks makes
    attending to information easier on a cognitive
}  Improves working memory efficiency and
    expands capacity
Capacity Challenges
}  Volume and complexity of material is
    mismatched to developmental level and
}  Lack of process for tasks placing high
    demands on memory
      ◦  e.g. multi-step activities
}    Weaknesses in auditory or visual memory
      ◦  E.g. verbal modality may overload a visual learner
Capacity and Organization
}  Better organizational strategies can reduce
    demands on capacity
}  Organizing materials and workspace

}  Organizing information-efficiency puts less
    stress on working memory
Strategies to Lighten Memory Load
}    Reduce memory demands
      ◦  Fewer instructions, shorter reading assignments,
         fewer vocab words at a time
}    Repeat information
      ◦  Prompt students with questions that trigger recall.
         Ask student to repeat! Same info in another form
         to reinforce!
}    Relate material
      ◦  to something familiar and meaningful. Make it
}  Simplify new and complex material to make it
    easier to retain
}  Paraphrase and identify the gist of the
}  Clarify the learning objectives to cut away
    irrelevant information for the student
Encoding Challenges
}  Sleep Deprivation
}  Anxiety and Depression
Dual Encoding
}    Strategies involving both visuospatial and
      verbal processing
      ◦  Creates multiple retrieval routes
      ◦  Significant long term memory benefits
}    Students can learn verbal rehearsal and
      visualization strategies
Tip: Encoding
}    Have strategies in place to move from
      process to storage quickly to avoid losing the
Boosting Encoding
}  Make meaningful connections between new
    information and what’s already known and in
    long term memory.
}  Use memory strategies to move info to long
    term memory

}    Use what you know to boost retention of what
      you don’t know!
Challenges with Retrieval
}  Time Constraints
}  Lack of cues
}  Poor Encoding

}  Anxiety
Retrieval Tips
}  Rehearsal
}  Limit working memory overload to ensure
    efficient connection to long term memory.
}  Practice retrieval in different modalities
Challenges Organizing Materials
}  Losing homework
}  Forgetting to complete homework
}  Lack of organizational system or routine
}  Parent created system; no student buy in
}  Difficulty solving organizational problems
}  Lacking awareness of problem altogether
}  Chaos interferes with learning, memorization
    and attention
Set up Study Space & Systems
}  Set up study space and binder systems that
    fit & are easy to use
}  Student involvement and investment in
    creation essential. What works? What would
    be optimal?
}  Systems and study space must be dynamic
    and flexible based on needs and changes in
    student’s life
Set-up Routines for School Work
}  Regular time to sort papers
}  Nightly procedures for ensuring assignments
    are in the backpack in an easy to locate place
    (ex Homework folder)
}  Create a visual reminding student of the
    routine step by step and prompt student to
    use it until it is automatized.
Challenges in Organizing Information

}    Student tries to keep everything in head
      ◦  No planner or calendar use
}  Poor note taking system
}  Difficulty identifying main ideas

}  Overwhelmed by volume of information
}  Too much verbal or visual info without
    supplemental support in another modality
}  Lack of scaffolding
Planners & Calendars are Essential
}  Don’t let students rely on homework web
    sites as the final word
}  Plan as a family to model the skill

}  Student should break down multi step tasks
    and note all “to dos” as well as homework.
}  Put all reminders in phone or calendar and
    note personal appointments
Use Visual Memory Aids
                 Online or in   different
     Cards          hand          sizes
                                            and colors

     Charts        diagrams     cartoons

     Symbols        verbal

     Cut down on lots of text for students with
     stronger visual memory otherwise they will
              get lost with all the text
Customize Memorization Tools
}  Use different approaches for different content
}  Character charts for tracking novels with
    large “casts”
}  Blank diagrams and maps to label multiple
    times until process is automatized
}  Mnemonics for vocabulary or terms that can
    be memorized in a list (eg loci or peg link)
Ease of use of tool is critical
}  Can I find it?
}  Is it close at hand?
}  Is there a simple procedure to use the tool (a
    routine that is posted in a step by step list,
    for example
More tools for memorizing
}  Reference sheets (word banks)
}  Mini outlines
}  Narratives

}  Practice tests that mimic real tests-
    experience in format decreases anxiety and
    thus memory capacity increases
}  TIP: Suggest alternative approaches for
    memory as IEP or 504 accommodations
Audio Tools

     Smart Pens
     • Takes the place of older recording devices in many ways; student can be
       more specific about what they want to replay and find information more

     Audio Books
     • Work well for certain students but should be accompanied by a note taking
       component that allows student to easily recall plot, themes and character
Model Techniques and Reinforce
}    In classes give explicit instruction in strategy use
      ◦  Better for older kids than from parents
}    Use strategies in small groups
}    Post strategy suggestions
}    Have students study together using memory
}    At home, integrate techniques into daily routines
      ◦  Verbalize your to do list; post routines to cue memory
Note taking and memory
}  Fifth graders and up should be learning how
    to take notes (Beware of highlighters!)
}  Add different approaches and volume of
    material as students mature and demonstrate
    independence –teach brevity and abbreviation
}  Give specific feedback on notes and show
    students how to use them to memorize and
Organization of Notes is Essential
}  Online- labeled folders and titled notes make
    it easy to locate them
}  Keep notes grouped by class and topic with
    titles that make sense for easy reference
}  Knowing how to take them is half the battle.
    Students must know where they are and how
    to use them to study
Characteristics of Students who
need Memory Strategies
}    Tend to not volunteer to speak in large groups
}    Can appear distracted or unfocused
}    Problems recalling or following directions
}    “Zone out” especially with lengthy verbal input
}    Partial recall of instructions or other content
}    Inaccurate reporting of what was learned
}    Bailing on tasks midway-looks like loss of focus
}    Losing place in reading or needing to read over
      what came before
Problems with memory when…
}  Volume of content and processing demands
}  Material is more complex- e.g. move to
    middle school can exacerbate problems
}  Environment is distracting- noise or visuals

}  Lack of clarity about learning objectives and
    what’s salient
Organization Issues- Consistent
Management is a Necessity
}    More boys but many with LD or ADHD
}    Escalation with multiple classes and teachers
}    Struggles with a greater volume of material to
      process and paper work to manage.
}    Middle school often the first time this problem is
      highlighted and it can significantly impact grades
      if not addressed.
}    Generate options for easy to implement systems
      with the student.
First Steps
}    Assessment(can be informal) and identification of
}    Course specific or general?
}    Input from student
}    Evaluate student’s organizational strategies
}    Identify solutions in collaboration with student
}    Who is the best person to provide support and
Tap into intelligences and learning
styles-let student guide the way
}  Don’t get locked into “my way or the highway
    approaches when helping students boost
    memory or organization. Mnemonics don’t
    work for everyone.
}  Older students often know what works for
    them and are old enough to implement
    strategies if they feel they’re a fit and they
    come naturally.
Final Thoughts for Parents and
}  Recognition of the role of working memory
    and organization in school success is
}  Goal is to lighten the student’s load in both
    areas, enhance executive functioning and
    deepen learning.
}  Partner with students to identify breakdowns
    and encourage self advocacy towards
Further Information
Beth Samuelson, M.A.
Student Organizational Services

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