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Based on an experiment, conducted many times by Bransford and Stein (1993), I have developed a classroom learning sciences plan to help students better understand and craft skills to enhance information retention.

The plan for this exercise assumes a classroom environment with a class of at least four students.  The instructor will provide an item to represent each of the designated items in the question spaced in logical places around the classroom (ie. a label of ‘the roof’ on the floor in the middle of the room, an egg on a desk, etc.)

The instructor will place the following sentences up on a board or digital display in a place where all of the students can see it.  The students will be given Take 4 seconds to read each sentence, once and only once, as effortlessly as they can.

The instructor will remove the sentences at the end of the 4 seconds.

Fred walked on the roof.
Wendy picked up the egg.
Andria hid the axe.
Karen flipped the switch.
Jim flew the kite.
Ron built the boat.
Mark hit his head on the ceiling.
Reulan quit her job.
Mike fixed the sail
Sue wrote the play

The students will take 10 seconds to look over the room from their seats and create mental connections with the items dispersed around the room.

The students will then pair with a partner and take 30 seconds to write down each of the names on a colored note card provided by the instructor.  Each group will have a different color note card to distinguish them.  At the end of the 30 seconds the student groups will be given 5 minutes to properly place their note cards with the name down, to their appropriate item.

At the end of the 5 minutes, the instructor will go to each of the items and turn over the cards to display the names.  To close out the exercise, the class will discuss the process of determining the connection between each person and item.  The object of the lesson will be to determine how each individual processed the information and made the necessary connections to find the correct answer.  If the students were not able to make at least half of the connections, the class will discuss reasons why it’s difficult to make these connections and brainstorm some better learning aids to help store and retain information.

  1. Source: Bransford, J.D. & Stein, B. (1994). The ideal problem solver: A guide to improving thinking, learning, and Creativity
    (2nd ed.). New York: 
    Worth Publishers.​
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