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What is Working Memory
Charles Dickens Primary School
Working Memory
• Working memory is responsible for keeping
information in mind, while you use it in your
thinking.
• It is also responsible for maintaining focus,
blocking out distractions, and keeping you
updated and aware about what’s going on
around you.
• It is the desk of your brain.
Capacity and Function Varies
Capacity and Function Varies
What Does Working Memory Do?
Working Memory
How good is your memory?
Smarter UK
Auditory memory v. Visual memory
Is your visual memory better than your auditory memory? Or do you
remember things better when you hear them? Let’s put them to the test…
Next, you will see a series of objects. Do not write them down but try to
remember them.
Now, using a pen and paper,
write down as many objects as
you can remember in 30 seconds.
Smarter UK
Auditory memory v. Visual memory
How many did you get right?
Smarter UK
Auditory memory v. Visual memory
Now, let’s test your auditory memory.
Smarter UK
Auditory memory v. Visual memory
How many did you get right?
Cat
Bucket
Penguin
Telephone
CrayonMicrowave
Rattle
Trousers
Picture Frame
Iron
Balloon
Sequin
Kangaroo
String
Bicycle
Working Memory Difficulties
Multiple Processing
• Doing more than one thing at a time.
• Integrating information from different
sources.
• Completing multiple-step
• tasks.
What to do
• Short, chunked tasks
• Prompt lists
• Billet point summaries
• All the information in
one place/page
• Repetition
• Familiar frameworks
• Pre and post teaching
• Talk partners
Working Memory Difficulties
Organisation
Organisation of time, equipment, language and
approach to work.
What To Do
Organisation
• A place for everything, a time for everything
(routines), rituals and landmarks.
• Visual time tables.
• Zoning.
• Prompt lists.
• Teach planning skills.
Working Memory Difficulties
Writing
Holding the sentence, essay title, or learning objective in
mind as you work.
Integrating all the elements of
writing; handwriting, syntax,
punctuation, spelling and the
content.
Organising, prioritising,
sequencing and holding
your ideas, as you work.
How to Help
• Say it, act it and draw it, before writing it.
• Frameworks/ plans.
• Visual prompts.
• Memory buttons.
• Laptop.
• Clicker 7.
Working memory Difficulties
Reading
• Holding phonemes in mind as you blend them.
• Integrating information from the picture, syntax,
content of the story.
• Remembering to use phonics and whole word
recognition.
• Decoding and
comprehending at
the same time.
Working Memory Difficulties
Mathematics
• Forgetting elements of multiple-step tasks.
• Solving word problems.
• Telling the time, working with money
• Recalling number bonds and tables as you
work.
Memory Techniques
How can we improve our retention?
Smarter UK
Mnemonics
Mnemonics are memory tricks, or techniques which are used to help us
remember something. You may need to memorise a list of objects, a string of
numbers or a sequence of information. Techniques you can try include:
• Acronyms
Acronyms take the first letter of a group of words,
to form a new word – this is especially useful for
remembering words in a particular order. ASAP (As
Soon As Possible) or DIY (Do It Yourself) are
examples of acronyms that might be familiar to you.
Acronyms are even more useful if they also spell out
a word e.g. the health campaign for helping
someone suffering from a stroke, uses the acronym
FAST, which stands for:
Face
Arm
Speech
Time to call 999
• Sentence acrostics
Acrostics are similar to acronyms, taking the first
letter of each word you wish to remember. But
rather than creating a word, that letter is used to
create a new word, which forms part of a sentence.
e.g. If you wanted to remember a list of
neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Glutamate,
Oxytocin, Acetylcholine and Norepinephrine.
You might remember it as: Don’t Go Out At Night.
Acrostics are also useful, for remembering strings of
letters e.g. when learning the notes on the lines of
the treble clef, music students might remember:
Every Good Boy Deserves Favours instead of EGBDF.
Smarter UK
Mnemonics
• Chunking
Chunking is a great way to remember numbers. People can only really only hold an
average of 7 items in our working memory. But chunking means we have fewer items to
remember
e.g. If we wanted to remember a string of eight numbers: 49217356 , we might find it
difficult. But, if we split those numbers into 29, 21, 73, 56 – the number of items we
need to hold onto in our memories is reduced to just four (larger) numbers.
Chunking is made even easier if the chunk of numbers we remember is familiar to us e.g.
the current year, or your year of birth.
Smarter UK
Mnemonics
The journey method
The journey method requires the use of a path (or journey) that you are very familiar with e.g. your route to school,
or moving through your house. If you can master it, and use a sufficiently long journey, you can remember very long
lists of information.
Thinking of landmarks at each step of your journey e.g. your front door, a statue, a roundabout, the car, the gates to
school etc, you associate one of the things you need to remember, with each landmark on your journey.
Smarter UK
Mnemonics
• Rhymes & songs
Rhythm, repetition and melody are a great way to
aid retention. Do you remember the rhythm you
used when learning the alphabet? It relies very
heavily on auditory memory.
Some rhymes are useful for helping us to remember
a series of information e.g. the number of days in a
month: ‘30 days hath September, April May and
November…’
Using a familiar tune can also help us to remember
information, particularly if we want to remembers
something exactly. E.g. if we wanted to remember a
speech or the lines of a play, we could memorise a
sentence to the tune of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’.
• Practice!
Repetition is a great way to remember something.
Chanting a sequence, whether out loud, or in your
head, will help you to hold on to the information.

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Working Memory

  • 1. What is Working Memory Charles Dickens Primary School
  • 2. Working Memory • Working memory is responsible for keeping information in mind, while you use it in your thinking. • It is also responsible for maintaining focus, blocking out distractions, and keeping you updated and aware about what’s going on around you. • It is the desk of your brain.
  • 5. What Does Working Memory Do?
  • 6. Working Memory How good is your memory?
  • 7. Smarter UK Auditory memory v. Visual memory Is your visual memory better than your auditory memory? Or do you remember things better when you hear them? Let’s put them to the test… Next, you will see a series of objects. Do not write them down but try to remember them. Now, using a pen and paper, write down as many objects as you can remember in 30 seconds.
  • 8. Smarter UK Auditory memory v. Visual memory How many did you get right?
  • 9. Smarter UK Auditory memory v. Visual memory Now, let’s test your auditory memory.
  • 10. Smarter UK Auditory memory v. Visual memory How many did you get right? Cat Bucket Penguin Telephone CrayonMicrowave Rattle Trousers Picture Frame Iron Balloon Sequin Kangaroo String Bicycle
  • 11. Working Memory Difficulties Multiple Processing • Doing more than one thing at a time. • Integrating information from different sources. • Completing multiple-step • tasks.
  • 12. What to do • Short, chunked tasks • Prompt lists • Billet point summaries • All the information in one place/page • Repetition • Familiar frameworks • Pre and post teaching • Talk partners
  • 13. Working Memory Difficulties Organisation Organisation of time, equipment, language and approach to work.
  • 14. What To Do Organisation • A place for everything, a time for everything (routines), rituals and landmarks. • Visual time tables. • Zoning. • Prompt lists. • Teach planning skills.
  • 15. Working Memory Difficulties Writing Holding the sentence, essay title, or learning objective in mind as you work. Integrating all the elements of writing; handwriting, syntax, punctuation, spelling and the content. Organising, prioritising, sequencing and holding your ideas, as you work.
  • 16. How to Help • Say it, act it and draw it, before writing it. • Frameworks/ plans. • Visual prompts. • Memory buttons. • Laptop. • Clicker 7.
  • 17. Working memory Difficulties Reading • Holding phonemes in mind as you blend them. • Integrating information from the picture, syntax, content of the story. • Remembering to use phonics and whole word recognition. • Decoding and comprehending at the same time.
  • 18. Working Memory Difficulties Mathematics • Forgetting elements of multiple-step tasks. • Solving word problems. • Telling the time, working with money • Recalling number bonds and tables as you work.
  • 19. Memory Techniques How can we improve our retention?
  • 20. Smarter UK Mnemonics Mnemonics are memory tricks, or techniques which are used to help us remember something. You may need to memorise a list of objects, a string of numbers or a sequence of information. Techniques you can try include: • Acronyms Acronyms take the first letter of a group of words, to form a new word – this is especially useful for remembering words in a particular order. ASAP (As Soon As Possible) or DIY (Do It Yourself) are examples of acronyms that might be familiar to you. Acronyms are even more useful if they also spell out a word e.g. the health campaign for helping someone suffering from a stroke, uses the acronym FAST, which stands for: Face Arm Speech Time to call 999 • Sentence acrostics Acrostics are similar to acronyms, taking the first letter of each word you wish to remember. But rather than creating a word, that letter is used to create a new word, which forms part of a sentence. e.g. If you wanted to remember a list of neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Glutamate, Oxytocin, Acetylcholine and Norepinephrine. You might remember it as: Don’t Go Out At Night. Acrostics are also useful, for remembering strings of letters e.g. when learning the notes on the lines of the treble clef, music students might remember: Every Good Boy Deserves Favours instead of EGBDF.
  • 21. Smarter UK Mnemonics • Chunking Chunking is a great way to remember numbers. People can only really only hold an average of 7 items in our working memory. But chunking means we have fewer items to remember e.g. If we wanted to remember a string of eight numbers: 49217356 , we might find it difficult. But, if we split those numbers into 29, 21, 73, 56 – the number of items we need to hold onto in our memories is reduced to just four (larger) numbers. Chunking is made even easier if the chunk of numbers we remember is familiar to us e.g. the current year, or your year of birth.
  • 22. Smarter UK Mnemonics The journey method The journey method requires the use of a path (or journey) that you are very familiar with e.g. your route to school, or moving through your house. If you can master it, and use a sufficiently long journey, you can remember very long lists of information. Thinking of landmarks at each step of your journey e.g. your front door, a statue, a roundabout, the car, the gates to school etc, you associate one of the things you need to remember, with each landmark on your journey.
  • 23. Smarter UK Mnemonics • Rhymes & songs Rhythm, repetition and melody are a great way to aid retention. Do you remember the rhythm you used when learning the alphabet? It relies very heavily on auditory memory. Some rhymes are useful for helping us to remember a series of information e.g. the number of days in a month: ‘30 days hath September, April May and November…’ Using a familiar tune can also help us to remember information, particularly if we want to remembers something exactly. E.g. if we wanted to remember a speech or the lines of a play, we could memorise a sentence to the tune of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’. • Practice! Repetition is a great way to remember something. Chanting a sequence, whether out loud, or in your head, will help you to hold on to the information.

Editor's Notes

  1. See the Smarter UK resource pack for your list of objects to test auditory memory.