Acronyms
Jingles or Sentences

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Mnemonics

 

There are a variety of techniques that individuals use to improve their memory by organizing and associating things to be learned.  Mnemonics (nee-mon-iks) is the term used for these techniques.  Mnemonics have been used for centuries to remember such things as points of a speech, grocery lists, dates, lists of facts and much more.

The most commonly used mnemonics in schools appear to be acronyms and silly sentences or jingles.  To use mnemonics, the student is helped by some ability to visualize and a playful sense of humor.  Study doesn't have to all be dull!

Acronyms - Many have committed the names of the Great Lakes to memory by associating them with the word HOMES.  Perhaps they visualize themselves lolling on a yacht on the Great Lakes and looking ashore at their palatial homes on shore--2 or 3 of them.  (This is where the ridiculous or absurd is encouraged.)  That little mental picture ties or associates the Great Lakes and "HOMES" together.  From there the student has the first letter of each lake and that there are 5. 

H - Huron

O - Ontario

M - Michigan

E - Erie

S - Superior

 Acronyms can be used with sentences or phrases by selecting a key word from each sentence or phrase.  Use the first letter of the key words to form your acronym.  Remember, the more visual/graphic and silly, the better.

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Jingles or Sentences.  "30 days has September, April, June and November" that's part of a mnemonic jingle most people learn in elementary school.  Usually with jingles or sentences, the person uses the key word or the first letter of a key word to create a silly sentence or a jingle.  For example, students in Algebra often use the sentence, "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" to help them remember the order of operations.

Please - Parenthesis

Excuse - Exponents

My  - Multiply

Dear   - Divide

Aunt  - Add

Sally  - Subtract

Creating an acronym or silly sentence does take a little time and effort.  But once a student has tried mnemonics a few times, he/she often finds the time spent in creating the mnemonic is about the same or even less that repeating the material over and over until memorized.  The bonuses are:

1.  Creating silly or ludicrous sentences/jingles injects a little humor in otherwise dull study.

2.  Once learned, the silly sentence may be retained longer.  Why?  Students must actively focus attention to create the mnemonic.

3.  The acronym or silly sentence gives a peg so students know if they have omitted something.

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