“Unless new information makes meaningful connections, it remains in working memory for about 20 seconds and is then discarded (Watson & Gable, 2011).”
Because visual imagery can improve memory, it can help students make those connections. Visual images can help students make sense of math problems, remember fictional text, and comprehend a reading passage.
Students who can use their working memory (WM) as a temporary workspace to hold information are more able to pay attention, control impulsive behavior, and learn academic skills. Students use working memory to make sense of classroom instructions, comprehend a reading selection, or solve a math problem as they transfer that information into short and long term memory. Students’ WM deficits are often associated with deficits in social skills, mathematics, and reading (Watson & Gable, 2011).
As noted by Willis (2007), “Unless new information makes meaningful connections, it remains in working memory for about 20 seconds and is then discarded” (p. 114). Because visualizing can improve memory, it can help students make those connections. Visual images can help students make sense of math problems, remember fictional text, and comprehend a reading passage. Use these ideas in your classroom as you guide students’ visual images and make meaningful connections to academic content.
- Educator Definition: Readers create images in their minds to reflect or represent ideas in the text. Images may include the five senses and enhance understanding of the text.
- Student Definition: “I create a movie in my mind while I’m reading.”
Sketch to Stretch Strategy is an instructional strategy developed by Harste, Short, & Burke, (1988). Students draw quick sketches to stretch their thinking and understanding of concepts.
Writing: Story Wheels can help student visualize story elements and practice summarizing.
Science: Snapshot Sentences teach student authors to make pictures with words using sensory details that help a reader visualize ideas.
Math: Draw a Math Story: From the Concrete to the Symbolic.
Social Studies: Use Artifacts to allow students to be eye-witnesses to history. Teaching American History has created this vetted list of online resources.
Watson, S., & Gable, R. (2011). Using knowledge of student cognition to differentiate instruction. Reaching every learner: Differentiating instruction in theory and practice.
Willis, J. (2007). Brain friendly strategies for the inclusion classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.