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The Power of Transfer

On the last episode of the brain series, I talked about how to make sure your students remember EVERYTHING you teach. On this episode, I am going to talk about THE POWER OF TRANSFER!!!

Now, transfer is just another way that the brain learns. We all want our students to remember what we teacher them, and are baffled when they can’t remember what happened yesterday. This is when a crafty teacher utilizes the power of transfer.

When I was in undergrad, I was in an educational psychology class and my professor had us

complete the following activity. He listed about twelve words and told us to see how many we could remember without writing any of them down. I guessed maybe two or three of the words. Then, the professor changed the process. He told us to imagine that we were walking in our front door, and right in front of us, we saw the first item on the list, then we walked into the living room and saw another item. He continued on until the list was done, THEN asked us to list all of the items we remembered. Amazingly, I’d remembered the majority of the items of the list! This is what transfer does for us!

Now, the question is, how do you use transfer in your classroom?

#1: Take advantage of what your students already know. Just as my professor did, use background knowledge to help them make sense of new knowledge. Get to know students personally and have them make relationships between old knowledge and new knowledge. Use familiar examples in class to illustrate new topics.

#2: One word: INTERDISCIPLINARY. This word is something that we hear, and some of use have mastered, but take advantage of those interdisciplinary opportunities. If students are enrolled in US History and American Literature at the same time, take advantage of the similar content that each class uses. Use this as an opportunity to build on students’ knowledge.

#3: Create a schema. Transfer works in two ways: from past to present and from present to future. When planning, be purposeful in all of the strategies and information that you use. Use information that can be referred to in the future as well. For example, when I first starting teaching, we used a program called “Step up to Writing”. The program first taught students to write paragraphs. In order to write essays, the students had to “stretch” their paragraphs into essays, mimicking the same concept to write paragraphs in order to help them write essays. You know what, every 6th grader I had could write a phenomenal paragraph, so this process definitely worked!

If you would like to know more information about this week’s topic, you can always refer to David A. Sousa’s wonderful book How the Brain Learns. The book is very easy to read and it includes examples of activities you can use in your classroom! To access the book, just click the link below.

If you haven’t checked out my video on this topic, all you have to do is CLICK HERE!

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