Wednesday, October 8, 2014

memory's role in writing

"oh, if I could just remember how to make that letter 'd'"

"I can't do it. I just can't"

Maybe you have heard your child say these things, or maybe you've heard someone else talking this way. Sometimes our kids have a hard time remembering how to form the letters. They don't 'see them in their mind' the way the "rest" of us do. Each time they are asked to write, they begin to feel tension building inside them. They hope the bell will ring so they can avoid writing one more time. They may begin to think of themselves as stupid or dumb.

It isn't true! You can be the smartest one in your class but if your memory is overloaded already, it will be difficult to sort through all the files.

"Students with working memory difficulties can hold fewer pieces of discrete information in their mind at any given moment. They hear what you said, or see what is presented, but as more information overwhelms their memory system they lose previous information needed to successfully complete the task."

There are plenty of things we can do to help ourselves remember how to form those letters, though! Take a shallow container and pour some table salt in it, just enough to cover the surface. Laminate some upper and lowercase letters. Take a letter and stand it up against the side of the salt container and, using a small brush, write the letter in the salt, sand, or panko, even!

Use crayons to trace letters on flowchart paper, on an easel. The friction from the crayon helps cement the image in the brain, making retrieval a little bit easier.

Take a peg board and some pegs or golf tees and form letters on the board, copying them from a printout or using the laminated letters from the salt container activity.

Create a game board with lowercase letter words. Make them sight words if you like, using a Dolch word list or Fry's list. Use Scrabble pieces to spell the words, comparing the upper and lowercase letters, for identification. Once you have spelled a word, read it out loud.

SO much fun to be had, casually, while strengthening our visual and auditory memory

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