Do your students struggle with learning and remembering large amounts of information? One of the best methods to help them learn how to remember chunks of data is the use of mnemonics. Wait… what is it? Mnemonics! Trust me, I’m not making it up! (nəˈmäniks)
Mnemonics are a series of letters or words that help us remember specific content. They are aids which can be used to assist the learners’ memory.
They can be a short rhyme or phrase that is easy to remember. They can be an image that provides us with a visual cue or they can be acoustic such as a song that will trigger the memory. For example, in school, you most likely learned your ABC’s by singing a song. To this day, if I’m filing, I still sing the song to myself to figure out where to put a folder!
When you took music in school, to remember the names of the musical notes you learned the phrase “Every Good Boy Does Fine (or Deserves Fudge)” and to this day you know the musical notes are E G B D F.
When trying to remember the names of the planets, you might have learned “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Of course, Pluto got downgraded from a planet, but you get the point!
And then there is “I before E except after C”.
All these are tools that we have used through our life to help us remember information.
Mnemonics can be very effective in our classrooms, especially when the students are learning science chapters or anything that has a large amount of information to retain. It is simply a memory technique to help the brain encode the information and allow us to recall it later.
Make mnemonics more memorable by:
Use positive pleasant images. The brain often blocks out unpleasant ones.
Exaggerate the size of important image parts.
Use humor. Funny or peculiar things are easier to remember than normal ones.
Use symbols. (Red traffic lights, pointing fingers, etc.)
Use vivid, colorful images. They are easier to remember than drab colors.
Use all the senses to code information. Your mnemonic can contain sounds, smells, tastes, touch, movements, and feelings as well as pictures.
Bring 3 dimensions and movement to images. This makes it more vivid. Movement can be used either to maintain the flow of association or can help to remember actions.
As an educator develop some that you can share with the students, but also encourage the students to create their own. Any time the student creates something on their own, it will have a greater impact!
To help you out, here are a couple mnemonics that you might use.
To remember the four types of tissue in the body, simply remember that “Every Cow Needs Milking”. Take the E, C, N, and M and identify the 4 types of tissue.
E – Epithelial tissue
C – Connective tissue
N – Nerve tissue
M – Muscle Tissue
For the 11 Systems in the body, remember “I C Reminders”. Take each letter in that statement and identify a system that starts with each letter.
Lisha Barnes is a Cosmetology/Barber Instructor with over 25 years of experience. She started out in a small private school working in Admissions, Financial Aid, Education, and School Director. She was a Director of Education for a chain of Private Cosmetology schools. Currently she serves as the Academic Development Manager for Milady where she supports schools and educators around the nation with continuing education, curriculum development and product knowledge. Lisha has served as an Educator for Milady’s Career Institute; NACCAS Commission; Career Educators of America Committee Member; and has authored numerous writing projects for Milady. This industry experience allows her to see the industry from a variety of viewpoints, which helps in sharing information and ideas with educators all around the world.