UDL 3.4 UDL 6.3

Mnemonics is a visual enhancement strategy that relates new information to prior knowledge using visual and verbal cues. Using these cues, students are able to accumulate new information and retrieve it more effectively. Teachers can support student learning using Mnemonics by providing keyword and letter associations. The keyword method helps introduce vocabulary or key concepts by selecting known words that sound similar to the new term, paired with a visual (e.g., the scientific term for common frogs is ranidae. A helpful keyword is rain, with a paired image of frogs hopping in the rain). Letter association Mnemonics use acronyms (e.g., PEMDAS) or phrases (e.g., Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally for order of operations) to provide an easier method for students to remember a series of facts, terms, or steps.

Implementation Tips

Making Mnemonics Stand Out
Use [[ | colorful ]] or [[ | distinguished ]], bolded text to highlight the initial letters of letter association Mnemonics to attract student attention and bring focus to the acronym or emphasized phrase. Include vibrant images to help make terms even more memorable for students.
Identify key information that might pose a challenge for students prior to a lesson (e.g., processes with multiple steps). Choose the type of Mnemonic strategy to use depending on the content. For examples of commonly used Mnemonics, click [[ | here ]].
Creating Engaging Mnemonics
Create engaging Mnemonics by incorporating rhymes, tunes, poems, shock factor, or silliness to make each “trick” memorable (e.g., Spelling RHYTHM: Rhythm Helps Your Tiny Hips Move; Writing Process Steps: Pretty Dolls Rarely Ever Punch Criminals: Pre-Write, Draft, Revise, Edit, Publish, Celebrate).
Modeling the Strategy
Model how to use Mnemonics by explaining that the keywords or phrases used to remember the strategy do not always reflect the meaning of the new concept, and that it is simply a way to jog our memory (e.g., “ROY G. BIV is not someone’s name, but a quick way to remember the spectrum colors”).
Using Mnemonic Charts as a Reference
Display Mnemonic charts associated with content students are currently studying with its related content area (e.g., Long Division Steps: Daring Monkeys Steal Bananas ( ÷, x, -, bring down) placed on a wall with math content). Remind students to refer to Mnemonic charts before asking a teacher for help.
Student-Generated Mnemonics
Encourage students to generate their own Mnemonics to welcome individuality and inspire creativity. Remind students to identify and define the new term in order to find a supportive keyword and invite students to pair it with a self-created illustration.
Make Mnemonic References Live On
Incorporate process Mnemonic charts into portable checklists or tool cards so students can easily reference areas of success and steps for improvement, similar to this revising and editing [[ | example ]].


Building Independence
To deepen understanding while students edit realistic writing pieces, a teacher introduces the Mnemonic [[ | COPS ]] (i.e., Capitals, Order and Organization, Punctuation, Spelling). The teacher explains that by using this keyword, students can use each letter as a step when proofreading their writing. First, students use colored pencils or pens to independently edit their writing, using the acronym as steps (e.g., capitalizing proper nouns/beginning of sentences, making sure writing “flows,” adding in missing punctuation, checking for spelling errors). Next, students confer with a writing partner to cross-check each other’s edits before meeting with the teacher for a formal writing conference.
Community Building Mnemonic
Instead of presenting a list of class rules, a teacher asks students to create a Mnemonic to represent their classroom community rules together. Students generate keyword suggestions (e.g., LEARN, RESPECT, CLASS) and then votes on the keyword to build. After choosing LEARN, students are separated into small groups (i.e., one group per letter). Each group is assigned a letter and collaboratively brainstorms a valuable class rule using their letter as the initial sound in a word/phrase. After, each group shares their rule, building a student-centered list of rules (e.g., Listen attentively, Encourage others, Always participate, Respect yourself and others, Never give up).

Related Strategies