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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 while serving as a link between Working Memory and Long-term 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 that reduces some components of cognitive load:
While the executive functions Inhibition and Working Memory are very much related processes and show similar developmental trajectories in childhood, they become more distinct processes during adolescence. The rapid development of the brain during adolescence leads to improvements in Working Memory capacity and efficiency.
Using language that is accessible and appropriately leveled for each student allows all students to feel successful and participate in learning.
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.
Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and experience books above their reading skills.
Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory and ensure students are directing their Attention to the relevant information.
Checklists and rubrics help students understand expectations as they navigate more complex tasks and assignments.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise during the Composition process, their writing quality improves.
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, as they provide easy access to definitions and similar words to help students remember words and meanings more readily.
As part of a varied curriculum, explicit instruction in reading comprehension strategies from teachers can help older students use strategies meaningfully and flexibly.
Teaching students how to effectively search the internet is critical for helping them learn how to find accurate and relevant information and aids in developing information literacy.
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.
Interpreting and composing discipline-specific texts requires tailoring literacy strategies, like annotating or asking questions, to the disciplinary goals and practices.
Teaching students how to systematically evaluate sources prepares them to navigate in an increasingly complex, digital world.
During reading, giving students the opportunity to explain their thinking process aloud allows them to recognize the strategies they use, solidify their comprehension, and move knowledge into their Long-term Memory.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
When students are aware that learning involves effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement of strategies, they are more resilient when they struggle.
As students move through multimodal stations pertaining to a particular unit, the social and physical nature of the activity supports deeper understanding.
Games help students practice their literacy skills in a fun, applied context.
Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding, particularly within content area instruction.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
During guided inquiry, teachers foster student autonomy by designing lessons centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as setting the expectations that everyone is a reader.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
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 content information, important Vocabulary, narrative structures, etc.
Creating student-driven, flexible learning spaces involves setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes for each 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 and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.
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.
When students provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve their writing, and engage in Metacognition.
Using visual aids, such as pictures, diagrams, and charts, allows for additional processing time and supports learners by breaking down content and skills into more manageable parts.
When teachers ask questions or have students create questions before introducing a text, they activate student interest and help them assess what they already know about a given topic.
Maintaining consistent routines, structures, and supports ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
Providing guiding prompts and questions for students to use when reading or participating in discussions deepens their understanding of texts and gives them space to question and grapple with issues of power, justice, and equity.
When teachers provide students with model texts for their writing, they learn to identify effective elements to incorporate into their own writing.
Reading aloud to adolescents models Reading Fluency as texts become more complex and disciplinary in nature and therefore, more difficult to understand.
Using texts to discuss complex emotions and perspectives with students can help them see how they influence behavior and draw their own personal connections.
Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Providing texts in braille, large font, and with text-to-speech allows learners with visual needs to access content.
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 or concept map prior to lessons or having students create their own maps during or after reading helps learners identify and organize key elements of a text.
Transforming written text into audio supports learning by activating different parts of a learner's brain for comprehension.
Think-pair-share encourages meaningful student discussion by allowing for extra processing time and multiple shares.
Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.
Visual supports, like text magnification, colored overlays, and text manipulation, 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.
Word sorts are multisensory activities that help learners identify patterns and group words based on different categories while promoting Vocabulary development.
Displaying academic Vocabulary on a word wall can reinforce key terms and concepts that students are learning.
Writing conferences allow students to fully immerse, share, reflect, and receive feedback during the writing process, promoting Motivation for continuing the sometimes lengthy revision process that occurs in the upper grades.
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On this page, using your heatmap, you will be asked to select factors to further explore, and then select new strategies you might incorporate into upcoming instruction. Once done, click “Show Summary" to view your Design Summary Report.
On this page, using your heatmap, you will be asked to select factors to further explore, and then select new strategies you might incorporate into upcoming instruction. Once done, click “Show Report” to view your Design Summary Report.
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