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Working Memory, a component of executive functioning, allows a person to temporarily hold and manipulate information to apply in other processes. With our Working Memory, we recall and apply the knowledge stored in our Short- and Long-term Memories to help understand what we are reading. When Working Memory is overtaxed, a reader can seem to be distracted because they struggle recalling and using information they read.
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 that reduces some components of cognitive load:
Teachers can support language development by using and providing syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g.
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.
With this interactive technique, teachers help students become storytellers by listening and questioning.
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.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
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 motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthen recall.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Easy access to high frequency words promotes sight word recognition as students see the words repeatedly.
Independent reading promotes reading development 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.
Literacy centers with reading games, manipulatives, and activities support learner interests and promote the development of more complex reading skills and social interactions.
Providing physical representations of concepts helps activate mental processes.
Through short but regular mindfulness activities, students develop their awareness and ability to focus.
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.
Teachers sharing text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections models this schema building.
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 reading 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.
Reading aloud allows students to hear and practice reading and fluency skills.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
Visuals help students recognize relationships within words and sentences to develop reading skills.
Talking with students 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.
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.
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.
Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and practice narrative skills.
Transforming written text into audio activates different parts of the brain to support learning.
Students develop reading 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.
Videos developed with discussion guides can teach students about SEL skills.
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.
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