Mnemonic devices

Posted on September 20, 2020

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Okay, I’ve found something in the _Antiracism and UDL_ book that makes me cringe: the statement that
“Each time you provide an acronym or a pneumonic device
that serves as a guide for how to decode text, and mathematical
formulas or scientific symbols—you have torn down a barrier
and built an on-ramp. When you have provided translations, pictures,
songs, webtools…”

Sometimes we’re taking down barriers. Sometimes, though, “Nix the Tricks” is in order. When we teach students to memorize PEMDAS without making sure they understand it, they tend to get those assessment questions wrong that are set up to trap the people who just learned the mnemonic device.

Whenever that mnemonic is a shortcut at the cost of understanding, it’s adding a barrier and lowering an expectation.

That said, every description in this book is in a context of taking the time to teach the understanding, too.

And now that’s out of the way, I *love* the phrase “customized instruction” instead of “personalized,” which so glibly rolls off the Big Time Publishers but just means “same product, but you don’t get to see the next step until you’ve performed some arbitrary task.” UDL is about “okay, let’s start with what you know and *build* on it,”or as the title of that section in the book says, “Use what you have to Gain what you don’t.”

And I’m reading a pre-publication PDF and hoping the other cringe will be taken care of 😉 Pneumonic means ‘related to pneumonia….’

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