The following is an example of what you might have recommended to Jennifer:
Contact Sam before the first instructional session to find out what he should know.
This will allow you to plan the session. Then, at the beginning of the session, plan to
ask a few questions to find out what Sam already knows. You might ask something like:
"Sam, do you already know the names of any Presidents of the United States? . . .
What are their names?"
Before your first session, obtain a list of all the Presidents.
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
Since there are more than about seven, plan how to chunk them (how many in each
chunk, and how many chunks). Since the names seem like they would be fairly hard for Sam
to remember, eight chunks of five names would be a good starting point.
For the same reason, repetition and mnemonics would be helpful. Study the list of names
and see if you can come up with a mnemonic. Do the first letters of the last names
make up anything that would be easy to remember? WAJMM? AJBHT? In this case, I don't think
so. What about a saying. "Washing Adam and Jeff made Monroe happy." Maybe you
could make a drawing that would help Sam to remember the scene. If that fails, perhaps you
can come up with a rhyme or a song. Try to be creative! But you may just have to give up
the idea of a mnemonic. Good mnemonics can save your learners a lot of time, but they can
also take a lot of time for you to develop. The expense may not be cost effective in your
situation. In the end you may just have to rely on repetition. However, you might find
another way to simplify the task, such as teaching just the last names at first. Then only
after they are mastered, teach the first names.
The practice might then be initiated by something like, "Okay, let's give
it a try now! Don't look at the list. Who were the first five Presidents?" If Sam
gets stuck and can't remember who comes next, prompt him: "Jefferson."
Whenever there is an error, correct it right away. When he says "Monroe"
after Jefferson, you just say: "Not yet. Madison." Encourage him:
"That's closer!" Give praise: "All right! You got it this time!
You're smart!" Use lots of repetition: "And again ...." And after Sam has
mastered the second chunk, don't forget to review: "Great! Now tell me the
names of all ten!" You might even use a game like "Hangman" to