Memory Anchors

What we learn with pleasure we will never forget.

How true is the above statement for you? Are there learning events in your life that you will never forget because they way you were asked to remember the information was so much fun? If you remember one of those moments than your teacher provided you with a memory anchor.

Using memory anchors throughout your teaching is an amazing tool to have, most students enjoy getting a helping hand in memorizing information.

Music memory anchor         Musical_intelligent.jpg

You can use a distinctive piece of music, play it at that most important part of your lesson after you have shocked them, you ask them:" So what do you need to say/remember/do next time you hear this music ? (and play it again). This technique can be used for a range of reasons. 

For example : when training first aid CPR, the student needs to remember a set of instructions and actions. Make them practice over and over again, once they are competent introduce the music as it is a drill they need to jump into without thinking. So throughout the rest of the training you play the music at random times and students will know what to do. This will anchor the drill with the music and what will happen in real life is that when the students need to apply CPR and think about the drill they have to go through, they will remember the music which will trigger the instructions/actions etc.

Story telling memory anchor  Storyteller_1_1.jpg

Allowing the students to develop a story around a range of words, instructions or using it as a summary.The best way to do this for you to start the story and put some action with it to set more anchors.

For example: your topic is European geography. Students need to learn a list of European cities. Allocate each student one or more cities (depending on how many in your class and the length of the list), ask them to locate it on the map and identify the country.

Next task is for them to do some research on that city and find one interesting point about that city. Set the scene that you are going to visit a group of friends (all your students) while travelling around Europe. So you can start off the story by saying: " When I go to Europe, I will start in Amsterdam, The Netherlands because I want to see a diamond factory, after that I will go to Adam."

Then Adam takes over and says: "When  (tutor name) has visited Amsterdam in The Netherlands and visited the diamond factory he/she will visit me in Berlin, Germany and I can show her the remains of the Berlin Wall. 

Together we will go to Jenny. Jenny (the next student) will now repeat what has been said and add her own country to it. etc etc. You find that very soon the story will become very amusing and it will keep on changing which does not matter.

The memory anchors that you are setting here are the association of the city with the student name/country and why they are visiting. Make sure you repeat this story on a regular basis and you will be amazed by the recollection of the story. Students will look at each other and that is sometimes enough to remember.

Make a mistake   

If you have noticed that the students continuously make the same mistake, either with spelling or a calculation etc. Tell them that you are going to do a recap on what they have just learned. Than make the same mistake they are making. It is guaranteed that you will have one or more students picking up on it.

They will either start whispering to the other, having a giggle or just tell you that you made a mistake. Play the total fool ( you need some great acting skills for this) and ask the students to explain where you went wrong.  Again you have just planted a very subtle memory anchor.

Next time the students come to that particular point they will think about you making a mistake and how foolish you acted. We guarantee you that they are now doing it correctly. Only use this technique if you feel comfortable with your acting this out and having students laugh at you.

On the bright side it shows that you are not perfect and it is also telling the students that it is OK to make a mistake as long as we learn from it.