The darkened portion, housed within the medial temporal lobe of the brain is the hippocampus. And it's tasked with moving information from short term memory to long term memory.
Stress has been found to shrink the hippocampus, so if you're teaching students who are living with chronic stress or trauma, you may need to explore additional options.
Studies have shown, when art is incorporated into content, it increases retention, and retrieval. Think of it this way - you're offering your students a different way to remember the information. Maybe it's a flow chart to visualize process, or a funny comic strip (complete with stick figures) to map out complex sequences.
Still not sure where to start?
This list of graphic organizers might help. Graphic organizers help to organize content heavy instruction, into manageable, bite-sized pieces.
2. Consistent Note Taking
Taking notes is key. But what does it mean to have good notes? Start with giving your students a format for note taking, outlining the central idea at the beginning of the lesson and the goals for the section. This helps to narrow their focus and outline the expectations. Recommend a two column method - one column for making notes, and the second for the questions generated by the notes. Build in a few minutes where students can share their questions; this will help you to understand both their knowledge gaps and their perspective.
This format is from Cornell University and while it's recommended for high school and up, I think it's easily adapted to early elementary and middle school year.
3. Relevancy and Recall
The more you can connect information to real-world examples, or things that are relevant to your students, the greater the likelihood it will be remembered. Things make more sense when we have some degree of personal connection, we can discern a similarity, or connect it something we already know. That's why, when we are explaining something, we usually say, "It's kind of like...", in an attempt to connect the new, to the known.
In this clip, from the trailer of Grey Matters, at second 0:33, Zoe talks about wanting things to be more connected, to see the bigger picture.
4. Active Retrieval
Encourage students to quiz themselves. Whether it's covering up the information and trying to remember everything on a list or using flashcards where the definition is on one side and the vocabulary word on the other, or whatever the content lends itself. Additionally, work in quizzes into your instruction, as well as, review time.
Read more about active retrieval practices here.
When it comes to long term memory incorporate the visual arts into your lesson; offer students a choice of how they would like to demonstrate their knowledge in a visual format - maybe it's a graphic organizer of some kinds, a poem, or a drawing. Consistent note taking is key; ensure students know the objectives of the unit study. Following on this, illustrate the connection of what they are learning to what they already know. And finally, encourage active retrieval practices or quizzes.
Share your in-class practices in the comments.