Do you have vocabulary words you’d like to stick in your students’ brains? Whether you teach upper elementary, middle school, or high school, I’m guessing you’re nodding your head, yes! It encompasses all subjects- we all have key terms that will improve our students’ learning.
It’s always a teacher’s goal to improve retention, in other words, help our students move information into long-term memory. If students retain key terms, our jobs are so much easier!
Visual "Memory Triggers"
The way that we can blend text and images in a doodle note strategy leads to better comprehension and retention of our lesson material. This combination of visual and linguistic input is based on Dual Coding Theory and supports student learning.
I call these blends of text and graphics “visual memory triggers” because the student brains process the text and image together in a way that builds connections and helps them to remember the concept later on.
A solid visual trigger is based around an image that either fits the lesson material or fits into an analogy that will help students remember. They’re a key component of doodle notes. For example, this school bus is a visual trigger for the commutative property.
“Commutative” Property – to move back and forth: Students write one letter per bus window and remember “commuting” to and from school as the connection.
In the same lesson, I have students write “associative” inside an image of two people or an image of a handshake. This one helps them remember that associates are like partners and that math property is all about switching “partners” in an equation. We accompany these graphics with examples that will help connect the abstract analogy with a concrete principle. The hand’s action of lettering and sketching leads to a brain pathway that helps store each memory as a blend of visual and linguistic input. This has been proven to be the most effective way for the brain to ensure that information gets into long-term memory.
Here are more samples of what visual "memory triggers" look like. Students can develop these blends of graphic and linguistic content themselves to help a big concept or key word stick in their brains:
How to Help your Students Develop their Own Visual Memory Triggers
A way to instantly boost memory and retention is to have your students create their OWN visual memory triggers. To teach them how to do this, start with specific prompts.
You can have them create a visual magazine cover for a key term like the one below for the term “gravity.” Or you can encourage them to design a t-shirt for a term, sketch it, or use it in sentences.
Or, if the given topic has various layers, have your students show that in scoops on an ice cream cone or layers of a cake. The opportunities are endless!
Show them more examples of visual triggers for inspiration!
This pack of Visual Vocabulary Prompts: Doodle Note Review Card Templates makes this process a breeze for you and your students! The cards already have a variety of creative prompts built in, as well as designated areas to doodle, color, and visualize on paper a given term.
The graphic layout of these study guides allows students to mentally organize the information in their minds, understand the relationships and connections between ideas, and remember the lesson material better!
Why this Helps Them Remember
There is psychological research done on visual note-taking. Dual Coding Theory originated with Paivio in the 70s, and explains how visual and linguistic information is processed in two different areas of the brain.
In essence, as new input enters the brain, it's stored in short term memory in two distinct categories. Graphic information, images, and other sensory input are processed in the VISUAL center while auditory input, words, and text are processed in the LINGUISTIC center of the brain.
This is a great way for our brains to constantly take in both types of information, and the system works very well as we are on the go. However, in order to actually convert new information into true learning, we need it to be saved and stored in long term memory.
To do this, we need referential connections between the two zones. We have to CONNECT the information in the visual area with the information in the linguistic area.
When we are able to blend the text/auditory input together with the images, we boost the potential for retaining the information!
Not only are the individual words and ideas committed to long term memory more effectively, but the associations between them are retained as well. With this strategy, our students can understand the big ideas and concepts AND remember the vocabulary and small details more consistently.
In addition to the learning benefits of visual note-taking, when students develop their own visual memory triggers, they are essentially able to teach others. According to the Art of Problem Solving, “The best test of whether or not you really understand a concept is trying to teach it to someone else. Teaching calls for complete understanding of the concept. You can’t just ‘kind of get it’ or know it just well enough to get by on a test; teaching calls for complete understanding of the concept.”
Even if you don’t use the visual vocabulary in groups or partners, your students still have to interact with the term from a different perspective. They have to think about the key term as if they were teaching it; they have to fully understand it in order to build a visual memory trigger. It's all about coming up with their own brain-friendly memory boosters!
The templates and prompts shown above are part of this set.
For support and more information as you explore the different opportunities that visual note-taking can offer your classroom, download the complete Doodle Note Handbook for free here.
Related Posts on Brain Based Visual Notes:
Click to set custom HTML