Better Teaching with Mnemonics

Open Mind Technologies, Inc. pic
Open Mind Technologies, Inc.

Education consultant Willy Wood uses the latest research in neuroplasticity to help teachers develop strategies that function based on the way students’ brains absorb and retain information. As president of Open Mind Technologies, Inc. in Columbia, Missouri, Willy Wood creates training sessions and one-on-one coaching on brain-compatible teaching.

One strategy for information retention is the use of mnemonic devices that help people remember information by associating it with certain images or words. Students tend to enjoy learning mnemonics and may become more involved in the lesson. Loci, or the memory-palace technique, is one of the earliest used mnemonic devices. Using Loci, students visualize a place familiar to them and then place the information they need inside that space. For example, to help students remember the order of the planets in our solar system they could think of their own home. As they walk in the front door, the first planet they see in the entryway is Mercury. Moving down the hall, the planet Venus would appear on the shelf. They’d then place the rest of the planets in rooms in their home that are further and further away. When students need to recall the order of the planets they do a mental walk through the house. This helps students visualize the answers and gives them a narrative to keep them in the correct order.

Wood shows teachers how to develop a Loci or other mnemonic device for students: starting with a list of information they need to memorize, students choose the mnemonic that is most appropriate and connect it to the information.