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5-10 minutes


Multiple times daily




To help students develop practices to improve their working memory, improve their ability to keep in their mind key knowledge and retrieve it when necessary

Colour-coding can be very useful in engaging working memory (see “Evidence” section). Identify for students that highlighting information using the colours green, yellow and blue can be used to support their memory and studying. At the end of class ask students to review their notes to:

  • highlight in green: what I understand and know well
  • highlight in yellow: indicates I “kind of know this” and is a cue to slow down and review
  • highlight in blue: needs further study, review and I need clarification

Research has shown that colour is an important part of our visual experience, significantly increasing memory performance (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013). Colour coding activities provide students the opportunity to improve their ability to recall knowledge while increasing working memory (Dzulkifli & Mustafar, 2013) . Working memory is the “ability to retain and operate information in our minds” (Dias & Seabra, 2016). Higher working memory skills allow students to better manage everyday tasks such as following instructions, and tasks that require holding information in the mind such as literacy and numeracy (Mann, et al., 2017). Teachers model the use of working memory constantly – every time they answer a question or provide a new lesson (Mann, et al., 2017). Students at all levels need to use working memory to manage their learning because their ease of learning, depends on strong working memory skills (Dias & Seabra, 2016). In their study, Dias & Seabra (2016) saw that teacher-supported working memory development was carried on one-year later by students.

Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2012). Coaching students with executive skills deficits. Guilford Press.

Dias, N. M., & Seabra, A. G. (2017). Intervention for executive functions development in early elementary school children: effects on learning and behaviour, and follow-up maintenance. Educational Psychology, 37(4), 468-486.

Dzulkifli, M. A., & Mustafar, M. F. (2013). The influence of colour on memory performance: A review. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences: MJMS, 20(2), 3.

Mann, T. D., Hund, A. M., Hesson‐McInnis, M. S., & Roman, Z. J. (2017). Pathways to School Readiness: Executive Functioning Predicts Academic and Social–Emotional Aspects of School Readiness. Mind, Brain, and Education, 11(1), 21-31.