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How Memory Booster can be used in the classroom and at home

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Sometime during secondary schooling, most pupils spontaneously begin to develop strategies to help them learn and remember, although some children are better than others at doing this. Very few primary school children discover these memory strategies of their own accord but research has shown that memory strategies can be successfully taught before the child reaches secondary school. These strategies must then be practised so that they become automatic. If given this opportunity children are much better equipped to cope with the learning tasks that confront them in school, which improves their all-round educational achievement.

Memory Booster is especially beneficial for all children in primary education because very few will otherwise spontaneously develop the memory strategies that are so advantageous to them in learning. It will also be very useful for many pupils in secondary education, especially those who experience difficulties in learning and remembering.  Memory strategies can be taught in various ways, but teaching memory strategies can be a time-consuming task, especially if done on a one-to-one basis. It can be done with a whole class or small group, but the teacher will still need to check that each child in the group has assimilated the strategies and can apply them successfully. This will still generally demand a lot of teacher time and in a busy primary classroom it can be difficult to fit in the necessary time.  One advantage of Memory Booster is that it does not require teacher input to be effective, because the program teaches the memory strategies, provides structured practice in applying those strategies and gives a print-out of the child's progress that the teacher can review at leisure. The program can automatically adapt to the individual child's needs and provide prompts where necessary, so that learning is maximised.

About the strategies in Memory Booster

The strategies that Memory Booster teaches (in order) are:

  1. Rehearsal - simple repetition of verbal information.
  2. Visual imagery - creating pictures in the mind to represent the information that has to be remembered.
  3. Creating stories - generating a narrative that links together the information in the form of a story; if the story is amusing then it is more likely to be remembered.
  4. Grouping - using higher-order conceptual categories (e.g. 'living things', 'things we use in the home') to group items together.

Although these are not the only memory strategies that are useful in education, they all have the benefit of being easy to acquire and are applicable to most types of material that the child is required to learn in school. They do not require complicated pre-learning (e.g. of number links). These strategies are also extremely well-tried and tested in the classroom and so are widely advocated by experts in this field. Substantial research in psychology and education has established that when children use these strategies their learning and recall is significantly better. These strategies are introduced in this particular order because rehearsal is the simplest and easiest to acquire, visual imagery is the next most difficult, and so on. This order also fits with the sequence which seems to develop spontaneously in children who have not been trained to use memory strategies, but of course for these children it usually develops much later in schooling.

Classroom organisation

Memory Booster can be used with a whole class of pupils or just with individual pupils who the teacher feels need the benefit of memory training. Each child in the class can be registered on the program and can use it whenever the teacher permits. This could be organised using a class rota so that children know when it is their turn to use the program, or simply on a first come, first served basis, so that children who complete their work early can spend time using the program. However, since children who are slow to complete their work are probably the ones most in need of the training given by the program, and danger of the latter approach is that these children do not receive the help they so desperately need. A solution to this is to suggest that parents purchase Memory Booster for use at home.  If desired, teachers can provide additional input on the memory strategies that Memory Booster teaches, e.g. by devoting some class time to explaining them and perhaps engaging in some simple games that will demonstrate how they work. The children can then be left to practice the strategies on Memory Booster. Children may enjoy having competitions to see how far in the adventure they can get, and how many points they can score. Although Memory Booster is beneficial for all children, some teachers may prefer to reserve the program for use with children who have difficulties with learning and memory. Memory Booster has an SEN option that the teacher can select for suitable children, or alternatively the teacher can configure the program to suit the needs of individual child. How to do this is explained in the Guide for Teachers and Parents that accompanies the Memory Booster program.

For information about supporting children with dyslexia visit the British Dyslexia Association's website:
www.bda-dyslexia.org.uk

Using Memory Booster at home

When using Memory Booster at home, most of the points outlined above will apply. If Memory Booster has been recommended for home use by the child's teacher or Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) it is a good idea to ask them if the program should be configured in any particular way to meet the child's individual needs.  For most children using Memory Booster at home, the standard settings in the program will be appropriate because the program will automatically adapt to the child's individual abilities. But the program can be configured to make it easier or harder. How to do this is explained in the Guide for Teachers and Parents that accompanies the Memory Booster program. The 'Golden Rules' for using Memory Boosterat school or at home are:

  1. Start easy and gradually get more difficult.
  2. Use Memory Booster in frequent sessions that are not too lengthy.
  3. Reward effort and achievement.

 

For information about helping children dyslexia visit the British Dyslexia Association's website:
www.bda-dyslexia.org.uk


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