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Use Your Best Mnemonics

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Think about how you remember something:

- When you want to remember a phone number, do you repeat it to yourself several times until you get the whole number dialed-

- When you get to the grocery story and want to remember four items, do you hold up four fingers to cue yourself to remember-

- When someone asks you about a wedding you went to a few years ago, how do you call up the memory- Some people may first think of the food. Others may recall the bride's dress. Still others may recall the decor. Once you have a hook into the memory, each recall seems to trigger additional aspects of the event.

- What do you do to remember an important phone call you must make as you're driving home- You know that when you enter the house the dog will be barking and your children will each have something urgent to tell you. You don't have any paper to write a note. Some people may sing a little song or chant: "call so-and-so, call so-and-so." Others may visualize an association so that when they walk into the den to put down their package, that action will trigger a reminder to make the call.

Using strategies intrinsically mean slowing down when you do something. It's a process of deceleration so you can exercise quality control.

We all use strategies throughout our day to remember the variety of facts and ideas we need to retain. Strategy use forms a critical part of our learning experience. Strategies help us organize information into patterns and encourage purposeful learning. Our brains are selective. Brains tend to remember information that forms a memorable pattern.

It is valuable for us, as teachers, therapists, and parents, to have a basic understanding of how we remember information so we better appreciate the need for strategies. As we understand the purpose, we become better equipped to help our students understand and use strategies.

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