Memory Difficulties: How to Help Students Conquer Them

What is working memory? Working memory is the ability to hold information in the brain and do something with it. For example, this is the skill that is needed to help us remember a phone number that we heard on the radio and then dial it on our phone thirty seconds later.

Causes for Poor Working Memory: ADHD Inattentive Type, Traumatic Brain Injury, Deafness, Oral Language Deficits, or Genetic Disorders

Students with Poor Working Memory Might:

  • Forget what was assigned for homework
  • Struggle to copy from the board or a book
  • Fail to remember multiple steps

Strategies to Help Students with Poor Working Memory:

  • Chunk Information into Smaller Bites
  • Use Visuals
  • Make it Multi-Sensory
  • Use Songs or Rhymes
  • Reduce Background Noise and Distractions
  • Avoid Multitasking

What is short term memory? Short term memory is the system in the brain that allows you to hold limited amounts of material for small periods of time. We use this part of the brain when we try to remember where we parked our car, what we had for lunch, or what happened in the book that we read yesterday.

Causes for Poor Short Term Memory: Lack of Oxygen to the Brain, Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, Concussions, Head Trauma, Seizures, Epilepsy, and Depression

Students with Poor Short Term Memory Might:

  • Do great in class then poorly later, such as after recess or while doing homework
  • Have trouble recalling details from lessons or activities that have been done very recently

Strategies to Help Students with Poor Short Term Memory:

  • Make Cheat Sheets
  • Train to Make Notes
  • Ask for Additional Examples

What is long term memory? Long term memory refers to the part of the brain that stores information for long periods of time. For example, your long term memory is at work as you remember things that you did as a child, in high school, vacations, or milestones that have happened in your life.

Causes for Poor Long Term Memory: Neurological Medical Conditions, Head Injuries, and Aging

Students with Poor Long Term Memory Might:

  • Have difficulty with unit or end of semester tests
  • Struggle with chapter reviews
  • Show poor performance on standardized tests

Strategies to Help Students with Poor Long Term Memory:

  • Avoid Learning a Lot of Information at One Time
  • Use Visuals to Organize Information
  • Mnemonic Devies
  • Say It Aloud
  • Read Text Aloud to Yourself
  • Spiral Review
  • Technology to Help Recall Details, Reminders, and Notes

What is sequential memory? Sequential memory describes the area of the brain that recalls things that were seen or heard in a specific sequence. You utilize your sequential memory when you make your grandma’s famous cookie recipe from memory or croquet a baby blanket.

Causes for Poor Sequential Memory: Weaknesses in Auditory or Visual Processing

Students with Poor Sequential Memory Might:

  • Be unable to say the days of the week, the months of the year, the Pledge of Allegiance, or nursery rhymes
  • Have difficulty remember daily procedures
  • Be unable to tell time
  • Fail to accurately count money
  • Struggle to solve large computation problems

Strategies to Help Students with Poor Sequential Memory:

  • Have Students Repeat Steps Aloud
  • Make the Steps into a Song or Rhyme
  • Use Mnemonics
  • Find or Create Visuals with Steps
  • Practice Attempting to Remember the Order of Objects, Colors, or Numbers
  • Use Auditory Methods for Those with Visual Weaknesses
  • Use Visual Methods for Those with Auditory Weaknesses
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