How would you design a memory course for students?

I am designing a memory technique course for junior high school students here in Taiwan and am looking for input on how to improve the curriculum to make it more engaging and practical for the students. I am very interested in ideas for activities (such as using acting, or arts and crafts) to make the teaching more engaging.

I am considering the following approach to the curriculum:

  • Link Method Introduction
    • Students work in pairs to create story for 5 (or 10) items
    • Students share story with Group

Discussion:

    * Which were the hardest to remember & why
    * Which items were the easiest to remember & why?
  • Peg Method
    • Shape Pegs
      • Intro
        • The problem with the link method: if you forget one item
        • Build Shape Peg system as group, memorize 5 or 10 items together
        • Group practice: 10 items
          • Draw: students draw one scene on paper
            • Focus on making it impactful; unexected, intense, dramatic, humorous
        • Recall 10 items together as a class.
    • Rhyming Pegs
      • Introduction
      • Build in group
      • Drama activity: Act out scenes
        *** Lesson 2 Journey method**
    • Intro/history
    • Demo/discuss
    • Design Journeys
      • In teams, take some time to design your journey – 10 locations
      • Write on worksheet
      • Draw map
      • Practice:
        *** Lesson 3 Vocabulary and Abstract concepts**
  • Worksheet practice: breaking down abstract concepts into mnemonic scenes
  • Discussion of spaced repetition:
    How to combine mnemonic scenes and spaced repetition

Thank you all in advance for your input!

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Nice! Usually when I give workshops the topic is on mental calculation instead, but when I’m covering memory techniques with a group, I like to make sure that everyone is working in the same memory palace if possible. If they’re physically in the same school then this should be possible. Then the students can memorize a list of words using the same journey around the memory palace, but each individual or group will of course independently create a different story. Then it’s interesting for students to see how there are many different possible ways to incorporate each item into their palace.

For example, if the word is “ice” and the location is some stairs, students might think of the following:

  • Someone is carrying ice up the stairs
  • Someone slips on some ice
  • It was snowing indoors and now there is ice
  • It is cold and feels like ice
  • Someone is sitting on a stair drinking an iced drink

I’d also recommend having a sequence of 20 locations (not just 10) as when I previously did 10 with high school students, some of them memorized the items directly (no palace/journey) and it didn’t illustrate the power of the method. With 20 items, it is harder to do without mnemonic techniques.

Other ideas:

  • Make it a game to see which group can memorize the items the fastest.
  • Discuss the problems with memory palace re-use / pollution.
  • Consider whether the memory palace activity is best done individually or in groups.

Nice to see mind sports being put on the curriculum!

4 Likes

Daniel,

Thank you for the input and support! If anything else comes up for ideas, I’m very interested in listening and incorporating. I am doing this entirely on a volunteer basis for one of the schools, but my hope is that after i have some success at one school, I will be able to take it to other schools and develop a sustainable model to keep it going. If it really takes off as I am hoping, I would like to see if we can get some competitions organized. But first, I just need to start getting the word out.

Great ideas! My suggestion would be to, instead of having them memorize random words, have them memorize something practical, that they can “show off” and use outside of the class. I like to use 10 body locations (head to toes, is the order I go in) to memorize Top 10 lists such as:

  • Countries with the highest population
  • Largest countries by land mass
  • Tallest mountains
  • Longest rivers
  • Fastest sprinters
  • Homerun hitters

I store many lists this way, and prevent confusion, or overlap of lists, by assigning different lists to different people’s bodies.

Other ideas for lists longer that 10 items that might be fun:

  • 37 Works of Shakespeare
  • 20 works of Dickens

Looking forward to see others’ ideas!

5 Likes

Hi Hsingfoo and everyone in this discussion,

I have started doing workshops in schools and university / college level on memory methods. I base the ideas on Indigenous memory methods because that is where my research starts, and reference to Australian Aboriginal knowledge systems is an exciting new component in education here. Indigenous cultures are dependent on memory for their entire knowledge system, so they have developed the best methods over the millennia. But the methods overlap heavily with those familiar to memory groups like this forum - as is clear from responses above.

I suggest that you also offer your course to teachers for them to incorporate the methods in they own curriculum. Most of my bookings are teacher inservice workshops, but some are with students. I did research in primary and secondary schools for my book, Memory Craft.

  1. I start with methods which can be used for items without a list or specific order. These methods can be combined with all memory methods and any school subject.

Story
Song
Dance (any form of movement)

Example: really good for memorising fundamental definitions. In one school we did Force - they’d studied it in science and almost none of them could just give a quick definition (force = push or pull). So we sung the definition, with actions, to the Imperial March from Starwars (given a lot of them said: May the Force be with you). Weeks later on retesting, we got 100% swift recall of the definition. So many teachers are building on sand when the students forget the basic definitions of words in the context of the subject.

They acted out stories, such as the actinides in the periodic table, the planets in order coming to dinner at the Sun’s home. Jupiter was stormy, Saturn wore a lot of rings …

  1. Characters

I add in the role of characters, and having one, or more, to mentally act out knowledge. Or bring abstract ideas to life. We call them Rapscallions, but it is the way indigenous cultures use ‘ancestors’ or other characters which make their stories so memorable. Kids used favourite toys (you’d be surprised how many older kids still have a teddy or suchlike) or pets or favourite characters from books or films or TV - but it works better with real physical characters. In one school, the art teacher had students make the characters in art class. We had a great result when they wrote argumentative essays, and we then experimented by putting one of the other kids’ Rapscallions on the table and said that character didn’t agree with them. They rewrote and the essays were so much stronger! Rapscallions act our multiplication tables and grammar and anything.

  1. Memory palaces - The teacher(s) and I set them up around the school grounds and the same palace can be used for anything and any teacher. I stack multiple items into a single palace with no trouble. We used them for history, periodic table …

  2. Lukasa - hand held memory boards. I am doing this workshop with year 3 students next week, university students the week later, and teacher inservices in June! This is based on the handheld memory boards of the African Luba people.

I have done a lot of work on these boards - I have found the equivalent in every Indigenous culture. It is extraordinary how well these work.

We talked about them in this thread: Who used lukasa memory board before ?! - #2 by Josh

I have the local charity shop collect all the broken jewellery which they would normally throw out. I have a huge supply of beads and other items from that. I get sheets of pin board and cut it up and the students use pins to put on their beads and then glue them. It is the process of choosing the right bead and the pattern on the board they make which makes it so memorable.

  1. Art. I am currently working on using art as a memory technique for schools. I am basing this on the narrative scrolls of the Chinese and other Asian countries, much like the Bayeux Tapestry. I also use a lot of the ideas from the medieval times, which made books highly memorable because there were so few. I will be experimenting with these in schools, and presenting them at teacher inservices over the coming months.

I hope that may give you some ideas.

All the very best with it!

Lynne

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Just use the PDF from Harry Lorayne HOW TO DEVELOP A SUPER POWER MEMORY.
Do not waste the time with creating something of you own. You are not a celebrity !
The PEG-SYSTEM of p48ff is the best that I know ! We still honor SIMONIDES OF KOS.

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Hmmm I believe Harry does not teach memory palace in the book and just dismiss it.

Yup, I’ve read most of his memory books from the 60’s onwards and while he’s mentioned Simonides, I don’t recall any words about memory palaces.