Saturday, April 4, 2015

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Book Study: Chapters 9 & 10

I don't know about you...but I've been LOVIN' this book study!
Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites has been forcing me to really reflect upon my teaching.

This book presents 20 field tested, brain-compatible instructional strategies that maximize engagement, learning and recollection for every student.

What I've found during the study has been that I am doing a pretty good job at already using some strategies....yet, I need to step up my game with other strategies.

The chapters I'm posting about today echo those facts!  
I need to amp up my game with Strategy #9....
and, of course while there is always room for improvement, I feel like Strategy #10 is a strength of mine! Let's find out what I'm referring to, shall we??

Strategy #9 - Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are techniques a person can use to help them improve their ability to remember something. In other words, it's a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information. 

The book stresses that according to research, to be used correctly, mnemonic devices should be used only AFTER students have had an opportunity to thoroughly process the information, even if their understanding is incomplete (Marzano, 2007).

What I found interesting about this topic is that I personally use mnemonic devices all the time to remember important information.  I also remembering using mnemonic devices ALL THE TIME in junior high, high school, college and grad school to help me learn complex information and recall it.  However, when I reflected on my teaching... I realized I really do NOT use it much at all with my students!  Now, I do believe that the main reason for this is that I teach kindergarten and our learning standards don't usually include overly complex, multi-step concepts.   However, I know FOR SURE that this is an area in which I need to improve.  Here are my thoughts...

One of the ways I do use a mnemonics in kindergarten, is by teaching about...
Image result for mnemonic device
when I do my rainbow science unit!  
I teach ROY G. BIV as a scientist who LOVES the colors of the rainbow!  
{I have a poster of him... and he looks like a mad scientist with rainbow hair!  However... I don't have a picture of it here at home, and since it's spring break...I won't have access to get one for a few days! Sorry!  Trust me...he is colorful and cute!}

According to research, learning is increased two-fold to three-fold when people rely on mnemonic devices rather than their regular learning habits (Markowitz & Jensen, 2007).  That's powerful, my friends!

Another suggestion that is supported by research is that you should allow the students to CREATE their own mnemonic devices (Feinstein, 2004).  When students create their own mnemonics, they have a stronger recall of the information.

Here is a great example of a teacher given mnemonic... and a way to encourage students to create their own!  Click on the images to view their links!
Image result for mnemonic device 
                                                                             {Above TPT freebie item by Jane Loretz}

Since it was evident that I need to improve my use of mnemonics, I decided to do a little research on some of the most used mnemonics in education.  With the help of BRIGHT HUB EDUCATION.COM,  I found the following ideas for using mnemonics:
  • General Information Mnemonics:

    • Colors in Rainbow Order: ROY G. BIV (Red,Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
    • How Many Days in a Month: 30 Days Hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, but February's the shortest one. With 28 days most of the time, until Leap Year gives us 29.
    • Weather Temperature: High to Low, Look Out Below; Low to High, Clear Blue Sky!
    • Weather: Red sky at night, shepherd's delight; Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning.
    • Weather: Rainbow in the morning, traveler's take warning; Rainbow at night, traveler's delight.
  • Geography Mnemonics:

    • Longitude is the line on a map that stretches vertically from North to South. Latitude is the line on a map that stretches horizontally West to East. Ways to remember this include: LONGitude is long (North to South) ORLongitude has an N like North.
    • Names of The Great Lakes: HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).
  • History Mnemonics:

    • Dates Alaska and Hawaii Became States: '59 was the date, when Alaska and Hawaii became new states.
    • What Happened to Henry VIII's Wives: Divorced, Beheaded, Died; Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
    • When Columbus Found America: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
    • Geological Time Periods in Order: Cows Often Sit Down Carefully. Perphaps Their Joints Creak? Persistent Early Oiling Might Prevent Painful Rheumatism (Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous,Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene,Recent).
  • Language Arts Mnemonics:

    • What is a pronoun? A pronoun is a common word that is a PRO at taking the place of a noun.
    • Difference Between Synonyms and Antonyms: Synonyms are the SAME (both start with S). Antonyms are the opposite. (Antonym starts with ANT, just like Anti, which also means opposite).
    • The Seven Conjuctions: FAN BOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So).
  • Mathematics

    • Steps of Long Division: Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother, Rover (Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down, Remainder).
    • Order of Operations: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add,Subract).
    • Letters and Values for Roman Numerals in Value Order: I Value Xylophones Like Cows Dig Milk ( I=1, V=5,X=10, L= 50, C=100, D=500, M=1,000).
    • Metric System Prefixes in Value Order: King Henry Died Drinking Chocolate Milk (Kilo=x 1000, Hecta=x 100,Deca=x 10, Deci=x 0.1, Centi=x 0.01, Milli=x 0.001).
    • Trigonometry Formulas (where O=opposite, A=adjacent, and H=hypotenuse): Two Old Angels Skipped Over Heaven Carrying Ancient Harps (Tangent = O/ASine = O/HCosine = A/H).
  • Music Mnemonics:

    • Lines on a Treble Staff: Every Good Boy Does Fine ( E, G, B, D, F).
    • Spaces on a Treble Staff: FACE.
    • Lines on a Bass Staff: Good Boys Do Fine Always ( G, B, D, F, A).
    • Spaces on a Bass Staff: All Cows Eat Grass ( A, C, E, G).
    • Circle of Fifths: Father Charlie Goes Down And Ends Badly ( F, C, G, D, A, E, B).
  • Science - Elementary Mnemonics:

    • Names of the Planets (Including Pluto): My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (Mercury,Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto).
    • Names of the Planets (Not Including Pluto): My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nachos (Mercury, Venus,Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune).
    • Simple Machines: PG JAIL (Pulley, Gear, Jackscrew, Axel and Wheel, Inclined Plane, Lever).
    • Properties of Matter: Monkeys Dance Very Well. (Mass, Density, Volume, Weight).
  • Science - Secondary Mnemonics:

    • Levels of Taxonomy: King Philip Can Order Five Greek Salads (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family,Genus, Species).
    • Flow of Electrons: OIL RIG (Oxidation = ILoses, Reduction = IGains).
    • Metric System Prefixes in Value Order: King Henry Died Drinking Chocolate Milk (Kilo=x 1000, Hecta=x 100,Deca=x 10, Deci=x 0.1, Centi=x 0.01, Milli=x 0.001).
    • Order of Mohs Hardness Scale from 1-10: Toronto Girls Can Flirt and Other Quirky Things Can Do (Talc,Gypsum, Calcite, Fluorite, Apatite, Orthoclase feldspar, Quartz, Topaz, Corundum, Diamond).
    • Essential Amino Acids: Ptv. Tim Hall (Phenylanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Methionine,Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine).
    • Nerves of the Eye: On Old Olympus's Towering Tops, A Finn and German Viewed Some Hops (Olfactory,Optic, Oculomotor, Trochlear, Trigeminal, Abducens, Facial, Acoustic, Glassopharyngeal, Vagus, Spinal Accessory, Hypoglossal).
    • Bones in the Wrist: Never Lick Tilly's Popsicle, Mother Might Come Home. (Navicular, Lunate, Triquetrum,Pisiform, Multongular Greater, Multongular Lesser, Capiate, Hamate).
  • Spelling Mnemonics:

    • General Rule: I before E, except after C.
    • Remembering the Difference in Principal and Principle: A principal is your PAL. A principle is a RULE. (Both end the same as their meaning).
    • How to spell Saskatchewan: Write a S... then it's Ask A Chew An.
    • How to spell desserts: Desserts is the opposite of being stressed. (Spell it backwards.)
    • Spelling BECAUSE: Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants.
    • Spelling ARGUMENTS: A Rowdy Girl's Underwear!!! MEyes Need Tied Shut!
    • Spelling ARITHMETIC: A Rat IThe House May Eat The Ice Cream.
    • Spelling OCEAN: Only Clowns Eat ANoon.
    • Spelling GEOGRAPHY: General Eisenhower's Oldest Grandchild Rode A Pony Here Yesterday.
    • Spelling RHYTHM: Rhythm Helps Your Tiny Hips Move.
  • Writing Mnemonics: 

    • Steps to Editing: CUPS (Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, Spelling).
    • Steps of the Writing Process: Pretty Dolls Rarely Ever Punch Criminals (Pre-Write, Draft, Revise, Edit, Publish,Celebrate).
On to Chapter 10....  

According to research, the one most detrimental barrier to learning and recall of information may be a teacher's deliberate attempt to stop students from moving in the classroom (Jensen, 2002).  You see, the brain fuels itself on the oxygen in the blood, which is produced by physical activity (Sousa,  2001).  Movement not only assists with reading, gets blood and glucose to the brain, it actually changes the state of mood of the brain and also provides lots of fun during learning!  Not to mention, movement assists with our strongest memory system...procedural memory (Sprenger, 2007).

Is that enough information to point out the value of using movement in your classroom?!

I actually feel like using movement in my classroom is a strong point of mine.   I mean, movement is essential in k.  It works like this, if you provide lots of opportunities for appropriate movement within your lessons AND during transitions, the kiddos stay focused and on-task. If you fail to provide the appropriate amount of movement in kindergarten, the kids move anyways...just in INAPPROPRIATE ways and they are very UNFOCUSED!  So either way you have movement.  You just need to decide if you want it to be on-focus movement...or a distracted movement!  LOL

Here are my personal reflections on movement in my classroom...

As stated above, our school implements a very innovative program called Minds-in-Motion.   Check out the details on the video below:

 For more information, go to!

Of course, I use GoNoodle in my classroom on a regular basis too!
GoNoodle is an online website that provides hundreds of brain-break music & movement videos for classes to exercise and move to! Teachers set up their own free account and choose a silly creature-like mascot, who grows and grows with each exercise minute banked!  So.Much.Fun.

EVERY kiddo in the world would love GoNoodle!!!

Let's be real people... every TEACHER in the world probably secretly loves GoNoodle too!
Just check out the picture below from our Teacher Blogger PJ Party a few weeks ago!

Check out GoNoodle by clicking on the button below...
It will change your teaching life!!!

I also encourage more "subtle" use of movement in my classroom by having students...

* Stand, jump, hop or clap to answer agree/disagree and true/false questions in the classroom, instead of simply raising their hands and having only ONE student answer.

* I assign students each a "pair-up partner" (who sits on the opposite side of the classroom, when possible).  During the day, I often have students find their "pair-up partners" during lessons to provide the students with opportunities to stand up and walk to meet with one another to discuss the activity, share answers or teach each other what they have just learned.

* When practicing simple recitation skills, like counting by 5's or 10's, I add a clapping,  hopping, or patting to add movement and rhythm to the skill memorization.

* When doing group sequencing activities, like  # or ABC order, I often play upbeat, popular kids music and have students (who each have a card, etc.) try to get in the correct order (with their bodies) before the music stops.

How do you use MNEMONIC DEVICES and MOVEMENT in your classroom??

I'm anxious to read about how YOU implement these strategies in your classroom, 
so be sure to link up below! 

In April and May, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)