Monthly Archives: April 2018

Working Memory

How much “working memory” have you got?

This is a simple activity designed to break up lessons using the Spaced Learning method of teaching.

Students will learn a little about cognitive psychology and compete to see who has the best memory.

The Rules

  1. Students work in pairs.
  2. One student gets a sheet of paper with a three strings, consisting of a jumble of letters and numbers. (They also have a set of answers on the sheet.)
  3. The first student clearly reads the first string, making sure the other student cannot see the sheet of paper.
  4. The second student using only their memory – no pen and paper – attempts to re-sort the string of numbers and letters using the following system – first come all the numbers from lowest to highest, followed by all the letters from a to z. They must say it, no writing.
  5. For example “54F7A” should be become “457AF”
  6. Each letter or number in the correct place gets a point.
  7. For example a student attempting the string in 5 above says “45AF7” and receives two points for “4”, “5”.Swap over.I suggest that the teacher demonstrates the game to the class first.

The Results

Students report their scores and the teacher puts them on the whiteboard.

If there is time, the teacher might get the best two – especially if they have equal scores – to do the test in front of the class!

Learning & Memory

Related image

If there is time the teacher might like to go over the model.

Working memory can be improved with purposeful practice that stretches and challenges the learner.

This is why I get students to repeat and practice some skills.


Here is further reading on working memory and a specific example of why we don’t remember peoples’ names.