Memory Improvement Hack For Middle School

Help your middle school students retain more information with this quick and easy hack!

My students are preparing for our state's big writing test.  We've been working on essays all year long but they still seem to be struggling with the basics?  How can this be?  

They aren't internalizing the basics.

Why?  Well, I sat down to try and figure this out when I read this great post by Secondary Sara:

Secrets From the Tutor: What Your Secondary Students Need This Year

In that article, it explains how even though we as teachers think we have said something 100 times, it's because we say it 6 times a day and so it feels like we're repeating ourselves incessantly.  However, to the student, they have heard that information just one period a day and that information is competing for space in their brain along with 6 other classes, after-school sports, clubs, and other activities.

It was like an "Ah-ha!" moment for me as I realized that my students need more repetition than I thought they did; They need more re-teaching and more time.

My solution:  Flashcard books!

Flashcard books are great teaching tools for kids to help them with organization of ideas!  #vocabulary #DIY

Every day we review some part or function of an essay.  Then we record it in our flashcard book.  That night, they are to study all the flashcards that have information on them.  The next day, I ask each student one question from what was on the cards out loud at the start of the period.  If the student gets it right, it's a 100.  If the students is on the right track, but not "there", it's a 75%.  If it's wrong or they do not remember, it's a 50%.  I mark this on a copy of my roster and at the end of the week I average their scores and enter that average as one grade under the title "Verbal Quiz".  

To make sure that I ask every person a question, I have all my students' names on popsicle sticks.  As I draw a name, I put it back inside the cup but inside a paper towel holder.  

This is how to make flashcards work in your middle school classroom!  #engagement #study

As we add at least 1 card each day, any question can be asked of any card so it's a cumulative kind of thing.  Each day we are building up our knowledge.  It's also quick and easy to see who is studying.  Since my students care about their grades, this works very well.  I have seen students who were not able to answer the first or second day, come in on the third ready to go.  

I tend to come up with my questions on the spot, but that's probably because I have been teaching for 26 years.  If you think you might need a little more structure, then maybe these task cards would help:

Review the structure of an essay with your middle school students using these task cards!   It's low prep, fun, and easy to grade!

These task cards go over the 6 steps in the writing process, the 3 sentences included in an introduction, the 8 sentecnes in a body paragraph, the 6 sentences in a counterclaim paragraph, and the 3 sentences in a conclusion.

You can use these for the daily questions and then later, play a Scoot or Scatter game a with them!  This way these cards do double duty!

You could also try adding in a little friendly competition with the Essay Challenge!  This requires students to apply their knowledge of structure.  You can read more about it by clicking here.

Add in a little firendly competition as you review essay writing with your middle school students using this challenge!  It's fun, gets the job done, and makes a great display!

I have also had success with using these Cloze Activities.  This is where students have to apply their knowledge of the terms.

Review essay writing structure with this cloze activity.  Students read through the passage that "talks through" what an argumentative essay should have structure-wise. There are blanks to fill in using a word bank.  This quickly and easily tests students' knowledge so you can prepare any last minute review before their big state writing test!

Whatever you do, I hope one of these ideas helps your students to be ready for their state test in writing!  

Thanks for stopping by!

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Quick and Easy Memory Improvement Idea for your Middle School Classroom!  #memory #teaching