Sometimes it is necessary to teach
a concept that is difficult for students to grasp,
but that you know is essential for them to learn.
Academic anchoring, or cueing, works well for such
One reason that students may find
a concept difficult to understand is that they have
no prior association with the concept. If we are
teaching sequentially, or part to whole, using small,
logical steps, students might miss the main idea.
By introducing a global association, students may
make the connection more easily. They can visualize
the goal, even if they don't yet understand it.
It is wise to increase the use
of the senses. Stimulate the visual by use of size,
color, shape, and distance. Increase the auditory
by introducing volume, pause, pitch, sounds, and
voices. Introduce kinesthetics by using texture,
temperature, movement, weights. Get the students
involved in as many ways as you can. Find a way for
students to demonstrate that they, in fact, understand
what they have learned.
Here is an example of how I helped
reinforce students' understanding of the states of
matter (solid, liquid, and gas). I formed three groups.
Each group had to work together to demonstrate their
state. The others had to guess which concept they
were demonstrating. The solid group stood closely
together, hands at sides, and moved slowly in a formation.
The liquids chose to "flow" by moving along the floor
in waves. The gaseous group became molecules that
floated throughout the room, taking up the volume
of their container. By involving the kinesthetic
with the visual, the demonstrations remained with
In math, students often have a
difficult time understanding which zeroes are necessary
or unnecessary when working with decimal points.
A teacher hung up paper numbers on the board, placing
a decimal point in the middle. After the teacher's
explanation, the students identified that the outermost
zeroes on either side of the decimal point were unnecessary.
The teacher then had students remove each unnecessary
zero. She took scissors and excitedly cut up each
unnecessary "0" and threw it into a garbage can.
As these students encounter additional problems focusing
on the necessity of zeroes, their blackboard experience
will help them recall the rules.
At any age, our students can benefit
from our creativity if we give them some association
to help them recall new and difficult information.
Be creative, and by all means, share your ideas with
Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.