Thursday, January 3, 2013

10 Things Thursday (because it's a good week for lists)

My students started presenting today on their study strategies for learning vocabulary. Here are some of the ways they've found to be successful:

1. Flash cards. Some have pictures, some have individual phonics cheats, some have hints--there are so many ways my kids use them.

2. Make Gestures. A surprising number of my bunch learn very well from by simply making gestures to go with the words or expressions they're working with. It's funny to watch them make funny (and sometimes very extravagant) gestures during their exams!

3. Competitive Games. Nothing pushes some of us better that a good contest! Sometimes it's simple stuff like hangman, but I've seen them make their own rules and just go.

4. Lists, read right before bedtime. The genius piece of this is the time. The brain has this wonderful ability to recycle the last things it sees right before we go to sleep (it's why tend to have bad dreams after watching horror movies). Recycling French vocab in your sleep is like learning by osmosis!

5. Write words out over and over. For many, the act of writing is tedious and distasteful. For some, however, it is the perfect thing to get something to stick in the brain. My wife is one such person. I am most decidedly not.

6. Make diagrams and webs. An example is below. For people who process well through their eyes, this is a wonderfully effective way to see not just words and definitions, but context.

7. Mouth feel. I have a student with a hearing impairment who learns well via a combination of seeing phonics and watching someone say the words so that he knows how to set his mouth to recreate the sounds. We're still developing this, but it's proven pretty effective even in its beta form.

8. Drawing pictures. For whatever reason, I can't upload the image a student did that illustrates how it might be done with classroom objects, but trust me, it's impressive. Some students love to sit with words and doodle with them in my class. I figure this has to be a good thing.

9. Recording into their iPhone. Most schools would have a problem with this, I think, but I support this as a more-than-appropriate use of technology. Hearing one's voice like this is an excellent way to improve pronunciation and, for people who process well by hearing, it's a convenient way to have vocabulary at their disposal wherever they are. Have you ever seen a teenager without their iPhone?

10. Walk around. This is another thing most schools would chafe against, but allowing students who are highly kinesthetic learners to move around does a lot to improve their ability to retain information. You'll often see kids walking around my school with a partner and a pile of flash cards when they know there's an exam coming.

Do you have a trick for memorization that works for you? Tell me! I'd love to know!

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