Stepping into a new year, every teacher is concerned about what students have retained from the previous year—and what they can help students retain from the upcoming one. It can be tricky business, especially since studies show us the significant loss of knowledge traditionally incurred over summer breaks.

So, how do you maximize learning, no matter the students or the content? You work with the brain, not against it. That sounds mysterious, but it’s not when you understand how the brain learns and the easy, practical, and completely worthwhile steps every teacher can take to support that learning!

In her dynamic books on brain-powered strategies and lessons, LaVonna Roth offers clear steps to make the most of learning. Key among them is “supporting memory retention.” Easier said than done, right? Not when you know the five keys to retention.

Support Memory Retention

As Roth writes, “If we want our students to retain what we teach them, then it is important that we keep in mind what causes our brains to retain that information.” This chart includes five keys to making the most of retention for every student.

Key Elements to Memory Retention Why
Emotions We can create an episodic memory when we connect emotions to our learning.
Repetition Repetition increases memory as long as there is engagement involved. Worksheets and drill and kill do not serve long-term memory well.
Patterns/Organization When our brains take in messages, they begin to file the information by organizing it into categories.
Personal connection Linking learning to one’s self is a powerful brain tool for memory. This, too, can be tied to emotion, making an even stronger connection.
Linking new and prior knowledge Taking in new information automatically results in connecting past knowledge to what is new.

(Roth, 2012)

As Roth continues, “The bottom line—explore, have fun, and ask your students how they feel about lessons taught. They will tell you if they found the lesson interesting, engaging, and relevant. So get in there, dig in, and have some fun with your students!”

Excerpted from Brain-Powered Lessons to Engage All Learners (Shell Education, 2014)


Available Resources by LaVonna Roth:

50772coBrain-Powered Strategies to Engage All Learners

Set-Fanned-Right-BPLBrain-Powered Lessons to Engage All Learners