We all remember the adage of “In order to remember something, it has to be said or done seven times.” There’s even a marketing strategy called the Rule of 7, where prospective buyers should hear or see the marketing message at least seven times before they buy it. There are many reasons why sharing (or experiencing) something only one time may not be the most effective strategy to help students master content. Instead, let’s focus on a few ways to help them hear our messages more than once. We could drill students with memorization strategies all day long, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what are more ways the information can be retained after you’ve taught it? In education, we call it scaffolding. Here are some scaffold strategies to help your students internalize information beyond memorization.
- Dry Run/Rehearsal: I can recall practicing as a musician until my fingers cramped and my brain shut down. Having the song on repeat for hours and listening to every nuance of the song helped me perfect how I was going to approach the song. That practice became #bleh, but it wasn’t until the entire production did a dry run rehearsal (where the lighting, video/audio team, singers, smoke machines, etc.) performance, where everything clicked. I could see when the camera was going to cut to my keyboard playing, when the smoke machine would fade in with the lights dimming creating that special effect to amaze a crowd. Think the same way with your students. Try a dry run of the presentation beforehand. Do a rehearsal with all of the elements in play to prepare the students applying their new knowledge.
- Physical Cues: A dear friend always had students up and moving during his math class. They were assigning hand gestures and motions to almost every lesson. The gestures helped trigger the content. He got it from the phenomenal teaching legend, Harriet Ball.
- Peer Share Outs: Have you ever shared content and the students don’t understand it, but when their friend says THE EXACT SAME THING, the student gets it? Yep, sometimes it’s that simple.
- Make Connections: When students can make authentic connections to what they’ve learned, they remember it better.
- Songs/Poems/Acronyms/Mnemonic Devices: If I asked you, “What is the 17th letter of the alphabet” would you know it without singing the song? Does Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally ring a bell? They are just as powerful of a strategy today than when they were created decades ago. Use those to your advantage!
- Graphic Organizers: Students love to draw, visualize, and see the step-by-step approach to what they are learning. This is one of the reasons why YouTube has become the video manual of the world. Have students use graphic organizers to help categorize and apply their learning.
- Model: You become the student and speak out loud your ideas from a discussion or the content shared. You share what you think, pause (modeling to the that you are processing new thoughts), then ask a questions. Afterwards, you repeat he same steps until you get to a conclusion. Students then can see your processing and can customize how they approach content in a similar way.
And, there’s even many more ways to scaffold online. If you provide the information in many forms, your students will get to that golden number 7 and remember the content.