Teachers: Get free custom memory materials for your class (Fall 2011)

Do your students forget what you teach? With the right study techniques, they could ace all your tests. The hard part isn’t memorizing. The hard part is preparing the memory materials. So let me do it for you. I’ll prepare custom study materials for your specific class. For a limited time, I’ll even do it for free.

You don’t have to change how you teach. Simply look over your class materials and decide on the specific things you want your students to memorize: facts, concepts, quotations, whatever. It could be as easy as marking up your syllabus, or collecting several old tests. Or you might photocopy your lecture notes, and go through them with a highlighter.

Once I get your list, I’ll transform it into custom-made memory materials. After you approve them, I’ll make a special page on this site for your class. All you’ll have to do is direct your students to the page.

Why will your students suddenly remember these things?

Let’s get something straight: you’re already a good teacher. The problem isn’t how you teach, but how your students study.

There are two keys to keeping what you learn. The first is to use mnemonics, or memory prompts, to translate difficult information into things your mind can understand. For example, think of the rhyme, “Thirty days hath September.” Most cultures have relied on mnemonics since the dawn of history.

Memory books usually focus on mnemonics. However, the second key is even more important: smart reviews, or “spaced repetition.” Spaced repetition has only been developed since the late 19th century. Scientists have discovered that the brain has a specific “forgetting curve.” And they’ve designed software to conquer this curve.

Not every piece of information needs a mnemonic – most don’t. But every piece does need to be reviewed correctly, with spaced repetition.

What memory materials will you receive?

The most important memory material you’ll receive will be a “deck” of virtual flashcards. Each flashcard will focus on one item you want your students to memorize.

Your students will study these flashcards using a free software program called Anki. As they learn new cards, the program will track how well they know each card. Every day, the program will show them exactly which cards they’re about to forget.

Spaced repetition is the most efficient study technique available on the planet.

Imagine: a custom set of flashcards for exactly what you want to teach! Making them would be a lot of work. But with my help, all you have to do is mark what items you want in the cards. I’ll take care of the rest. Easy.

Of course, you can also download Anki and make these cards yourself. I encourage you to try it! But there’s a certain technique to making flashcards. When you start out, you’ll tend to put too much on each card. I’ve been studying this way for years, so I’ve learned how to present the right amount of material on each card.

Also, some material is just too tricky for flashcards alone. Lists and dates can be especially difficult. In those cases, I’ll also work out custom mnemonics.

Finally, I’ll set up a page on this site where the students will download the deck. The page will link to instructions on how to use Anki, as well as the kinds of mnemonics used in the deck.

Will flashcards and mnemonics work for everything?

No. But they can always help. If you’re teaching a skill, like composition, there’s no flashcard for, “Write a good paragraph.” But you probably want your students to know the parts of speech, key points to consider when forming a paragraph, and so on. They’ll need to know those concepts before they can write well.

Freely licensed

The decks will be licensed in both our names, but with a CC-BY-NC license. That means that others will be free to reuse and modify them, as long as:

  • They properly credit us (BY)
  • Their use is non-commercial (NC)

I’m open to more restrictive licensing on a case-by-case basis, but I think the CC-BY-NC will usually be the best choice.

Since the license is in both our names, we will both be independently free to use the decks commercially in our independent projects, e.g., in a book.

Why would I do this for free?

Ultimately, I plan to offer this as a paid service. But first, I’ll need to demonstrate what a difference it makes to have custom-made memory materials. That’s why I’m happy to offer this to you for free. Your feedback will be invaluable.

Let’s get started

Ready? Contact me and let me know you’re interested.

For the fall 2011 semester, I’ll need your materials by the end of July.

Offer subject to my available time. I’ll update this page when my time slots are filled. Thanks for your interest!