5 Tips to Help Your Students Retain Information

5 Tips to Help Your Students Retain Information

classroom  You know by the glazed over eyes and the fidgety feet when your students aren’t engaged in a lesson. But presenting material in a way that gets their attention is only the first challenge; helping students retain the information they need to succeed in school may be an even bigger one. With so many factors outside of a teacher’s control (budget, family involvement and the student’s participation to name a few) it may feel that your options are limited. Fortunately there are some effective and easy strategies you can employ to improve retention in your classroom. 

Back to Basics

Adequate sleep and nutrition have a big impact on a student’s ability to comprehend and retain information, especially during the early part of the school day. As a teacher there’s only so much you can do to remedy these problems, but if you do suspect a student is coming to school hungry or sleepy discuss your concerns during a parent-teacher meeting. Bringing a morning snack or joining the school’s breakfast program may be a solution.

Combination Learning

Combining “see, hear, discuss and do” teaching methods is common in early grades but it’s not always practiced as frequently as it could be as students get older. An article in “The Journal of Extension” suggests that a combination of methods can enhance the learning experience and help students retain information. For example, if teaching a segment about Native American history, combining lecture, reading and peer discussion with hands-on experiences like visiting the Fort Worth Cultural Center and creating an art project based on traditional Native handicrafts can have more impact than any amount of classroom lecture or homework.

Map it Out

According to the University of Wisconsin, students can absorb new information better if they have a complete framework before details are presented. For example, instead of opening a history lesson about the American Revolution with the Boston Tea Party and slowly making your way to the Declaration of Independence, present a short explanation of the colonists’ dissatisfaction with English rule, the English response, the call to war and the signing of the Declaration. This gives students an overall big picture on which they can arrange and connect the coming details.

Take a Break

Give students time to absorb new material after it’s presented. Introducing too much at a time can decrease the amount of information they’re able to retain. Focus presentations on one or two main concepts and follow up with question-and-answer sessions or group discussion before continuing with more new material.

Recap and Repeat

A short reminder of yesterday’s lessons will help students engage with new material as it’s presented. Without review, many students will spend the first several minutes of a lecture trying to remember the material that was previously covered. Call on students to assist you with recapping; the repetition will help every student in the room.

Every teacher knows the frustration of students who don’t pay attention, don’t complete homework and don’t participate in class, but you also know those behaviors aren’t always the student’s fault – at least not solely. Presenting lessons in a way that appeals to all learning styles and taking steps to improve your students’ ability to retain information will not only help your students, but can also help you keep feeling passionate about the career you love.

Author Bio

Grady Winston  Grady Winston is an avid internet entrepreneur and guest blogger from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients including education.

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