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5-10 minutes


Junior / Intermediate


Working memory tip card


To help students develop practices to improve their working memory and their ability to keep key knowledge in their mind


  • What are the strategies students use to remember something new?
  • Students to read the “Working memory tip card”. (See “Supplementary resources”.) Ask students to identify if this is an area of strength or a challenge for them.
  • Students can pick examples of self-talk that they have either used in the past or think might be helpful to them.
    • They can add their own tips and self-talk as well.

Next steps:

  • Ask students to identify one new strategy they wish to try for the week.
  • Follow up with them to see how their experiment went and if they want to continue this strategy or try something new.
  • Repeat.

Working memory tip card:

  • When you develop practices to improve your working memory, you will improve your ability to keep key information in your mind.
    Working memory tips Self-talk
    • Use coloured markers to highlight instructions (use different colours to signal different things, such as green for the most important, red for things I might forget).
    • Set reminders with time and sound cue on my smartphone.
    • Make checklists.
    • Visualize a picture of something, to connect with what you need to remember.
    • Find ways to connect information in ways that make sense to me.
    • Teach it to someone else so I also learn it.
    • Repeat it.
    • Do all work on my iPad or tablet so it’s always with me.
    • Other strategies:
    • “Am I forgetting anything?”
    • “Check my list.”
    • “Check my agenda.”
    • “What picture did I make of that in my mind?”
    • My own idea:
  • Adapted from Peg Dawson & Richard Guare, Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits, 2012

Consider incorporating movement, rhythm and mind breaks to help with information retention and integration. 

Working memory is the “ability to retain and operate information in our minds” (Dias & Seabra, 2016).  Teachers model the use of working memory constantly – every time they answer a question or provide a new lesson. Students at all levels need to use working memory to manage their learning. Their learning, especially their ease of learning, depends on strong working memory skills. Dias & Seabra (2016) saw that teacher-supported working memory development was carried on by students one year later.

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).

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

Dias & Seabra, 2016 Intervention for executive functions development in early elementary school children: effects on learning and behaviour, and follow-up maintenance. Educational Psychology

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.

Reflecting on our uniqueness and adopting practices that improve our thinking helps us to contribute meaningfully, allowing us to become centred in our faith, and building a calm foundation for productive work. Peer support and collaboration. 

(3c) A reflective creative and holistic thinker thinks reflectively and creatively to evaluate situations and solve problems.