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Making Lessons Meaningful

How do we teach in a brain friendly way so that our learners will be more likely to recall the information? Five simple strategies will enable us to optimize memory formation. We will continue using a mnemonic device called CROME to help us remember the five strategies.

C stands for “Chunk” Information.
R reminds us of the importance of repetition.
O helps us remember the need for oxygen and glucose.
M means that we must link the learning to something that is “meaningful” or relevant for the learner.
E helps us understand that our emotional state impacts what and how we remember.

In this issue, we will look at the importance of creating meaning, or relevance, for our learners.

Relevant-Meaning-DictionaryHave you ever sat in a class and wondered to yourself, When will I ever need to know this? If learners don’t understand why a concept is meaningful or relevant to their lives, they are easily distracted and don’t give the topic their full attention. In order to remember something, we have to attend to it. The best way to get a learner’s attention is to help them understand why he or she needs to know it.

If you help the students understand why this information is useful to know, they will more likely pay attention. When learners pay attention, they are able to transfer information from short-term to long- term memory. This is the basic building block of learning.

Ideally, we give the learners opportunities to explore why this information is meaningful. For example, if I tell learners why they need to know algebra, they may believe me or they may not. But if I can challenge them to find two reasons why they should learn algebra, and I offer them extra credit when they do (or candy bars, or whatever motivates them) then they are much more likely to find a reason that resonates with them.

A few more examples:

  • Come up with three reasons why memorizing sections of God’s Word is important.
  • Why is it important to understand terms like justification, sanctification, or transubstantiation?
  • For what reasons will learning the Ten Commandments help us make sense out of life?
  • How can you use what we’re learning in class to help carry out the Great Commission?

When we ask these types of questions, the class members begin to understand why it is worth their while to learn what they are studying, and they are more likely to pay attention. This increases their chances of learning and remembering the information.