A FASL Syfr Learning Blog

By Richard Erdmann and Christine Drew

For those of you who do not live in California, imagine that you move there. You want the climate, the outdoors, the food and restaurants, the colleges and universities and finally the entertainment, from sports to theater. You get there and enjoy all of it. It is everything you hoped for but eventually you say enough – I don’t want to pay the taxes and you leave. What do you remember best – the fun you had for years or the taxes that caused you to leave?

Daniel Kahneman talks about California in one of his TED talks. In it he tells of the power of remembering versus the weakness of experiencing. As it turns out, an average of the peak experience and what comes last determines what is remembered rather than the duration of an experience. You remember the taxes and some truly great experiences but overall your memory is more heavily influenced by what comes last – the ending, the taxes.

Some of the most interesting experiments about this human characteristic were done in the medical field. A good meal at the end of a hospital stay changes the memory of the entire stay. 

Now imagine that you are a teacher and it is nearing the end of the class session. Your students will remember that day’s class mostly for what happens at the end both in terms of content and attitude. You have two challenges – you want the student to remember what was learned and you know that the ending activity will influence the remembering, and you want the student to want to come back for more. You want the student to enjoy the ending. It is really not that difficult to figure out. You need a kind of game that involves recall and application. 

A game that involves cold calling results in all students retrieving the memory because no one knows who will be called on. You want the experience to be positive so a quick and entertaining review before the cold call would help. Finally, you want it to be fun, so you might use something like a wheel of fortune that stops on the student’s name to be called. You could even try keeping a class average on right answers to see if that helps. It isn’t hard to make the ending memorable and the chance element let’s  you use the same activity every time. 

For those of you who would like to try this idea, here are some wheels for you to pick from:

https://wheelofnames.com/ (this is the one used in the session)