Get Sticky!

girl with la binder, affix chart, and vowel chartHere at Rooted in Language, we often use the word "sticky" as in:

  • "Here is a sticky idea"

  • "This strategy has sticky-ness"

Sticky is our word for memorable-concepts and skills that "stick" in kids' brains. We want to help you help your students remember and use the concepts they learn. This is why we teach the LA Binder Educator Class as well as the Foundations for Teaching Reading, Writing & Spelling Educator Course, where we teach the Vowel Chart and Affix Chart—so students build and engage in creating resources, then use those resources to recall and connect ideas!

Using memory strategies and tools sounds simple, but of course, it's not. Memory is not simple—it's tricky. So how can we go from tricky to sticky?

Research provides us with models about memory that are helpful. I often refer to Baddeley's model for working memory. His model includes an important component we often talk about called the Phonological Loop System. This is the verbal rehearsal system—the link between memory and language. Connect learning to language (i.e. build words around concepts) and that learning becomes more sticky!

So what are some of the strategies that help learning stick? Here are a few:

  1. Talk about it. As I said, link to language. Engaging in conversation on a topic is, well, engaging. Formulating words into whole thoughts helps build memory.

  2. Write about it. Writing is a "hands-on" link to language that has the added benefit of being multisensory. When kids write by hand, their understanding of concepts and their memory of the information improves.

  3. Draw it. There is a visual-spatial component of working memory, so drawing helps students represent concepts and retain them visually.

  4. Think about it. When students connect new ideas with what they already know, they are more likely to remember.

  5. Manipulate it. Encourage students to connect ideas by having them view information from different perspectives: compare, contrast, summarize, hypothesize, organize, synthesize.

These last three go together:

  1. Teach it. We all know this one. When we have to teach, we typically employ the strategies listed above to convey a concept to others. We have to organize, write notes, draw or find visuals, make connections, and talk about the concept.

  2. Build it. Building a model of a concept requires lots of problem solving, using multiple skills that help ideas stick. Working on physical projects requires lots of time spent thinking about the ideas and concepts.

  3. Create it. Create a metaphor to represent a concept. Metaphors are a high level comparison that reveals deep understanding in the creator. Metaphors also improve understanding in the receiver-resulting in those "ah-ha" moments. Metaphors are often used to teach others.

Want learning to be sticky? Engage students in all of these ways!

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