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working memory, executive functioning skills, attention, focus in the classroom

9 Ways to Model Working Memory

Posted In Teaching On July 18, 2023

Working memory is an executive function that describes the ability to use and recall information stored in the memory to complete tasks. Students who struggle with working memory often have a short attention span and are distracted by their environment. They tend to have difficulty remembering not only information, but also what they need to be doing. This can lead to a myriad of problems when it comes to learning, and modeling working memory strategies to students gives them practical ways to stay on task, pay attention, and remember important information.  The following working memory behaviors can be modeled in the classroom:

  • Show students various mnemonic devices you use to remember information.
  • During a discussion with students, explain how your behaviors show you are paying attention to their ideas.
  • Share a time when you struggle to pay attention and explain what you change in your mind and body to regain focus.
  • For a task with multiple steps, explain your process to help you remember to complete each step.
  • Share one of your distractions, and then show how you brainstorm three solutions and decide which one to try first.
  • Show students how you use strategies like setting reminders, using timers or taking small breaks to stay on task.
  • Share something you did that made you get off track and explain how the consequences affected you.
  • Show students how you use a checklist to maintain focus on a large assignment or project.
  • When you begin to lose focus, explain your process to check in with yourself to see if your focus is where it should be right now.


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