Learning strategies should be introduced early in the tutoring cycle and reinforced on a regular basis. Memory Pegs and Triggers is one of the twelve learning strategies that are the cornerstone of our tutoring system, the primary goal being to help transform children into effective independent learners. Once these learning strategies have been mastered, the student can eventually be weaned off of regular tutoring sessions.
The principle of Memory Pegs and Triggers applies to all subjects. A student may know many rules (Memory Pegs), but cannot access the needed rule when required. Each rule needs to be filed with an index (Memory Trigger). When a situation arises where a certain rule is needed, the student will recognize the trigger and can then access the needed rule.
In fact, the Memory Trigger should precede the Memory Rule in a student’s mind and on all Summary Pages. Next we will outline examples that apply to Mathematics, as well as to the Arts, Social/Natural Sciences, and Humanities.
In Mathematics, help your student to learn the triggers for rules or procedures. For example, a student will know BE[DM][AS], a Memory Peg for the order of operations, but when she sees 2+3×4, she never thinks of it, but jumps in and incorrectly writes 5×4=20. Unless the memory peg BE[DM][AS] is triggered by the sight of a mixture of operations, there is little use in her knowing that information. As you go over concepts, old or new, write down the trigger as well as the peg. Keep emphasizing this technique until the student automatically creates summaries with the recall triggers first and then the concept or rule after. It is important to keep practicing the continuous use of these triggers.
Memory Pegs and Triggers are also useful in subjects that require sentence-based written answers. Memory Pegs such as Never Eat Shredded Wheat (words that begin with the letters N, S, E, and W – the points of the compass), and MR. GRIEF (letters which stand for the seven characteristics of living organisms – movement, reproduction, growth, respiration, irritability, excretion, and feeding) are useless unless the sight of a compass or the discussion of living organisms triggers their recollection within the student. As you cover and review concepts, have your student write down Memory Pegs and Triggers. Quiz your student: “What are the points of the compass?” If he can answer: “Never Eat Shredded Wheat…oh, I remember! North, South, East, West!” then he has successfully made use of this strategy.
Ensure that your student keeps a file of all the Memory Pegs and Triggers he has learned so that he can refer back to them during exam preparation or for everyday use.
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