Hover to see how factors connect to Working Memory. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.
Working Memory, a component of executive functioning, is what allows us to temporarily hold and manipulate information in mind to apply in other processes. With our Working Memory, we recall and apply the knowledge stored in our Short- and Long-term Memories to understand what we are reading and to plan and structure our writing. Because Working Memory is limited in its capacity, if Working Memory becomes overtaxed, a student may seem to be distracted because they are having difficulty recalling and using information when they read and write.
Working Memory can also be called updating as it involves working with and updating information in memory. One influential model of Working Memory lays out four components, each considered to have a limited capacity. These separate components are responsible for maintaining verbal Working Memory, visual and spatial Working Memory, and for integrating information from these components that serves as a link between Long-term Memory and Working Memory. In addition, there is an executive control system which directs activities within these systems, including shifting and focusing attention between them.
Cognitive Load is another important element of Working Memory and refers to the amount of mental effort being expended by Working Memory during different tasks. Cognitive Load Theory proposes that instruction can be designed in a way to reduce Cognitive Load. It also differentiates between different types of Cognitive Load:
Teachers can support language development by using and providing Syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g., short, simple structure for young students).
Teachers support language development by using and providing Vocabulary that is appropriately leveled (e.g., using word wall words).
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and to experience books above their reading skills.
Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory.
Checklists and rubrics help students develop their abilities to self-assess and revise their writing.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise their compositions, their writing quality improves.
Easy access to common words promotes sight word recognition as students see the words repeatedly.
Dictation can allow students with transcription difficulties to still participate in the writing process and generate ideas.
Dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.
When teachers provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and model when to use them, students learn how to flexibly apply them to make meaning of texts.
Explicitly teaching strategies for different genres, like narrative or persuasive writing, helps students write for different purposes and audiences.
Teaching students how to create and use strong keywords for Internet searching is critical for helping them know how to find accurate, relevant information.
Formal spelling instruction improves not only students' spelling skills but also their reading skills.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
Explicitly teaching strategies for planning, writing, and revising texts improves students' writing quality.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Games help students visualize how to connect one fact to another.
Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as by making time for free reading.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Rhyming, alliteration, and other sound devices reinforce language development by activating the mental processes that promote memory.
Full sentence manipulatives allow students to practice producing more complex Syntax and writing.
Providing physical representations of parts of a sentence activates learners' mental processes.
Through short but regular mindfulness activities, students develop their awareness and ability to focus.
Short breaks that include mindfulness quiet the brain to allow for improved thinking and emotional regulation.
Creating patterns for remembering classroom processes, narrative structures, etc.
Multiple tables and chairs on wheels allow for setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes of each classroom activity.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their literacy work.
Multiple display spaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
Visuals help students recognize relationships within words and sentences to develop literacy skills.
Helping students think about what they know about the topic of upcoming work helps activate their Background Knowledge or reveals gaps.
Maintaining consistent classroom routines and schedules ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
Cards with strategies for managing emotions help students remember how to act when faced with strong feelings.
When students read models of the type of writing they are doing, they can identify effective elements to incorporate in their writing.
Reading aloud regularly exposes students to new and familiar Vocabulary and texts.
Reading aloud books about skills children are learning provides another model for their development.
Through one-on-one conferences, teachers can provide individual support to each student to deepen comprehension and interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Books for vision differences support reading development for learners with visual needs.
When students engage in a dialogue with themselves, they are able to orient, organize, and focus their thinking.
Sentence frames or stems provide language support for students' writing and participation in academic discussions.
Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and expand their Genre Knowledge.
Transforming written text into audio supports learning by activating different parts of a learner's brain for comprehension.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Students develop literacy skills by listening to and speaking with others in informal ways.
Tossing a ball, beanbag, or other small object activates physical focus in support of mental focus.
Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.
Visual supports, like text magnification, colored overlays, and guided reading strips, help students focus and properly track as they read.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
Web-based dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as visual and audio resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.
Word sorts are multisensory activities that help learners identify patterns and group words based on different categories.
A word wall helps build Vocabulary for reading fluidity.
Writing conferences allow students to share, reflect on, and receive feedback about their writing, which promotes Motivation for revising.
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