Like a lot of teachers out there I have difficulty getting students to remember the material that we have gone over. I use a variety of techniques and go over the material in a variety of ways, but some of my students just never get to the point where they own it. This is understandable because aren’t we all that way. Seriously we all have had some schooling, but how much of it can you recall. Can you name all of Newton’s Laws of Motion, or all 50 state capitals? If we do not use it then we lose it. Unfortunately, for some of my middle school students who choose not to study or, like many middle school students, have so much on their minds from home, to friends, to the opposite sex that it becomes hard to concentrate on information in the class.
Now my students do a really good job and all my classes throughout the years have made me really proud because they usually score at the top or near the top year after year at my school. I still think they can do better so this year I was wracking my brain trying to find more ways to help my students remember. I usually do my best thinking at the last moment I guess it was from all those years of practice at being a procrastinator. So one day right before my 1st hour class I was thinking of ways of having my students review the material. I could do the same tired but somewhat effective methods I had been doing or I could take it up a notch and try something new. I guess I was feeling somewhat adventurous that day because I went with a new approach. I had my students do a creative writing story using the words from the chapter. The catch was I wanted them to be as creative as they could be, but they had to use the vocabulary words in context of my U.S. History class.
Not knowing how things were going to turn out I was not very optimistic, but I hoped for the best. My students did not disappoint one story that I particularly remember was about a magical candy land where the 5th gum drop President James Monroe teamed up with a onetime enemy the gummy bears of the island nation of Britain to create his Monroe’s Doctrine. The story went on from there. So were they creative? I would say yes, but the question is did it help them. On my next test my students did slightly better than what has been there test average, but I was not completely sure until a student told me that writing that creative story really helped them remember for their test, which is what it all really boils down to for me, finding ways to make my students as successful as they possibly can be.
So, the next time you are trying to have your students remember material that they might be struggling with, help them by having them do creative writing while keeping those concepts in context of your class. It not only covers some of the standards in the new common core where every students needs to be writing more, but it provides your students with a creative outlet while getting your material across.