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Using Mnemonics to Teach Students to Think & Write Quickly

Roy G. Biv...Every Good Bird Does Sing...My Dear Aunt Sally...

Sound familiar? They probably do. These are examples of mnemonics we all memorized to learn key pieces of information in various subjects. And not just memorize concepts, but  they help us to remember things quickly.

If they work for art, music, and math why can't they work for learning key concepts in writing? 

They can and if your student writers are struggling with memorizing parts of any writing, then you should give mnemonics a try! 

You know those pesky timed writing tests? Yeah, me too. I feel your pain & so do our students. Regardless of which writing test your students take, if it's like the one my students take, they are required to think & write quickly to even have a chance at finishing a complete writing. Oh, and we want them to not just write & finish but to write well. 

Too much to ask? It can't be done you say? I always thought so till I started using the best old-school secret to getting students thinking and writing quickly...MNEMONICS! 

Mnemonics are phrases or words, or even made up words to help us remember things, ideas, concepts. Remember Roy G. Biv I mentioned? That's what we all used to memorize colors of the rainbow. We could live a hundred years and we'd never forget them thanks to Mr. Biv. That's why you should be using mnemonics to teach writing. They work the same way & can help your students save time on those timed tests. 

For students to be better writers & write well, they must recall the required parts of any given writing. Students will spend less time sitting there trying to remember the parts of that intro paragraph. Instead, they'll immediately think of the mnemonic they practiced and start drafting during that all-too-short timed writing test.

Here are some of the mnemonics I use to teach writing:

HTTP: for basic parts of informational intro paragraph (hook, topic info, thesis+preview)

TRain Must Take People There: for body paragraph topic sentences (TRansition, Main Topic, Paragraph Topic or Tr+MT+PT)

SCAFED: the best idea development strategies to use in body paragraph (S= stats, math, numbers; C= cause/effect chains; A= anecdotes & analogies; F= facts; E= examples & experts; D= definitions, descriptions, details)

First, Last, & 4 or More in the Middle: for capitalization rules in titles (first word, last word, & any words with 4 or more letters in the middle of a title are capitalized)

IBx3C: for paragraphs in 5 paragraph essay (I= intro, Bx3= 3 body paragraphs, C= conclusion)

Good writing is a skill and will strengthen with experience, exposure, & practice, but students will not be able to practice & strengthen their writing skills if they can not remember key parts of the writing in the first place. And they certainly can not score well if they can not finish a writing task on a timed test.

Using mnemonics is a huge short-cut in getting students ready to practice & strengthen their writing, as well as making the most of the time they are given on a timed writing test. That's where students really progress & become strong writers. 

Mnemonics is a great instructional & learning tool to get students practice-ready in writing & a huge time saver on those timed tests!

What mnemonics do use? What mnemonics can you think of that you might use? I'd love for you to share!

Happy Writing!

Mrs. B


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