Memory at Work in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Underachieving Students

Memory at Work in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Underachieving Students

Memory at Work in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Underachieving Students

Memory at Work in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Underachieving Students


Why do some students struggle to understand and retain information, while other students don't? The answer may well lie in the memory system, which is the root of all learning. In Memory at Work in the Classroom, Francis Bailey and Ken Pransky expertly guide you through the aspects of human memory most relevant to classroom teachers. Real classroom examples help to deepen your understanding of how memory systems play a central role in the learning process, as well as how culture plays a sometimes surprising role in memory formation and use.

The memory systems covered in the book are

• Working Memory: the gateway to learning

• Executive Function: the cognitive skills children need to independently orchestrate their memory systems in service to learning

•Semantic Memory: the storehouse of a person's knowledge of the world, including academic concepts, and the part of the memory system most affected by culture

• Episodic Memory: rich, multisensory personal memories of specific events

• Autobiographical Memory: one's sense of self, tied directly to student motivation

Although the techniques described apply to all students, the authors concentrate on explaining the source of struggling students' academic challenges and provide effective strategies for helping students become better learners.

Whether you're a new or a veteran teacher, this book will offer fresh insights into your students' learning difficulties and move you to explore classroom practices that align with the functioning of memory and the ways students learn.


Ken writes:

In the early 1990s, I was several years into being an English as a Second Language
teacher at an elementary school in a small, relatively affluent western Massachusetts
town. While I was pretty successful teaching students from families associated with
the five colleges in the area and students who were from professional families, I was
increasingly dissatisfied with my work with the children of Cambodian refugee fami
lies who were being settled in the area in large numbers. The school had creatively
organized around supporting the students and their families, and while the students
were making academic gains, they were not achieving like other populations of English
learners, let alone other students at the school. As the population in the town grew
more economically and culturally diverse, other pockets of underachievement began to
develop. I had been trained in cutting-edge ESL techniques and was well-versed in the
progressive pedagogy of the school, but felt I was still missing something important. I
knew I needed to think outside the box—but I didn’t know the nature of the box I was in.

Francis writes:

I bumped into Ken at a party in the early 1990s. He was an acquaintance from our
days as graduate students at The School for International Training, and I was now a

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