Through this activity students create short rhymes to assist in remembering a concept, process, or set of facts. This process develops students’ metacognition, and helps them to become more mindful and effective in their studying.
Identify a concept, fact, or process that you would like students to work on remembering. You can also allow students to choose their own topics to work on from a unit of study.
- The teacher leads students in a brief discussion about what mnemonics are, and why people might use them. Students share mnemonics that they are familiar with.
Students should know that mnemonics are tricks or tools that people use to remember something more easily or more completely. You may want to make sure that students recognize the common etymology of the words “remember,” “memory,” and “mnemonics.”
- Teacher introduces the idea of rhyme-based mnemonics, and presents some examples to students.
Rhyme-based mnemonics use a short set of rhyming lines to aid in recall. For example, most people know the rhyme to remember the number of days in each month, and others such as “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Since rhyming words sound similar, our brains easily associate them. As a result we can use this ease of association to guide our brains in associating novel concepts.
- Teacher presents students with the topic that students will be working on. Students prepare to work individually or in pairs.
As mentioned above, you can give students a very specific fact or idea to remember (such as the names of the continents, or the meaning of a word, or the distinction between the x and y axes), or you can direct students towards a unit of study and ask them to identify facts that they need help remembering.
- Students work to create short rhymes (probably four or five lines at most; two lines are fine) that contain the information they are trying to remember.
Circulate as students are working to help them to identify the most critical information, and think of rhymes that might help. Encourage them to be creative, since the most surprising and strange mnemonics are often the most memorable. Consider allowing them access to a rhyming dictionary or rhyming app to aid them.
- Students get into small groups, and each student shares his/her rhyme. Students revise them as desired.
Encourage students to give each other advice on how to make each mnemonic even more useful and memorable. If each student created a mnemonic for a different concept, you may consider putting them together into a shared class resource to help all students to study.
- Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.
Students respond to questions including: · How will this rhyme help you to remember this idea? · How will this rhyme help you to study for a test? · Why do rhymes make information easier to remember? · What other tricks might you use to remember something more easily or more completely? · When else might you use this rhyming mnemonic strategy?