Learning and Memory: The Brain in Action

By Marilee Sprenger | Go to book overview

7
The Lanes Less Traveled:
Instructional Strategies for
Episodic, Procedural, Automatic,
and Emotional Memory

Throughout the school year my students work together on teams. I like this brain-compatible strategy because it helps in classroom management and bookkeeping and adds to students’ feelings of security.

As I change units of study, I usually change teams. This provides variety for both the students and me. It also guards against the inevitable hierarchy that develops on all teams (Sylwester, 1997b). If a student feels uncomfortable about a position in the hierarchy, I try to keep that position as short-term and as painless as possible.

After a particularly tough nonfiction unit in literature, I decide the kids need a change, and I form new teams. They enjoy the teams so much that I decide to use these same teams in their language arts classes. The students do not object when they come to this class, and I assign teams to their new seating arrangements. We are studying indirect objects. I am trying to prepare them for a unit test, so I begin the class with a review. The sentences on the board are ready for the students to classify in our usual way. Many of my students look at the sentences on the board as though they were written in another language. They do not know how to classify the sentences. I am outraged! How could they have forgotten? Have they left their brains at home? We have been working on this idea for three days! What is wrong with these students?

A feeling of security is necessary for the brain to access information and form new memories.

It is easy to contaminate learning and confuse memory.

-72-

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