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Mnemonics: What Are Acronyms?

Defined in broad terms, a mnemonic is a device, procedure, or operation that is used to improve memory. Defined in narrow terms — and what is usually meant by the word — a mnemonic is a specific reconstruction of target content intended to tie new information more closely to the learner's existing knowledge base and, therefore, facilitate retrieval.

There are a variety of mnemonic techniques, including keywords, pegwords, acronyms, acrostics, loci methods, spelling mnemonics, phonetic mnemonics, number-sound mnemonics, and Japanese “Yodai” methods.

An acronym is a word that is made up by taking the first letter from each word that you want to remember and making a new word from all those letters. For example, if you want to remember the names of the Great Lakes, you could learn the acronym HOMES — Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. Below are several more examples.

It should be noted that there are at least two problems in teaching mnemonics to children with learning disabilities. The first problem is that it overlooks the sequential fashion of learning. Mnemonics instruction is, to a large extent, instruction in memory techniques, which should be taught only after the skill of memory has been learned. It can be compared to a child being taught soccer tactics, such as the “wall pass,” while he has not yet adequately mastered the skill of passing the ball. As stated in Knowabout Soccer, “No matter how good your passing technique, if the quality of your passing is poor, your technique will not be effective.” The second problem is that by teaching the child to use memory crutches, the result is that, “on more complex applications, generalization attempts [are] less successful.” If the skill of memory is taught, however, the child can apply it in any situation.

Edublox programs teach — among other skills — the skill of memory, which makes it possible for a child to apply his memory in any situation.


Examples of Acronyms:

BEDMAS Brackets, Exponents, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction
Sequence in which you should tackle any math problem with multiple calculations.
BRASS Breath, Relax, Aim, Sight, Squeeze
How to shoot a rifle.
FACE The letters of the treble clef notes in the spaces from bottom to top spells “FACE”.
FAN BOYS Use a comma between two independent clauses separated by one of the “FAN BOYS” (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So).
FOIL F stands for first terms; O stands for outer terms; I stands for inner terms and L stands for last terms.
The steps involved in factoring algebra problems.
HOMES Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior
Names of the Great Lakes.
IPMAT Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase
The stages of cell division.
MET DR THIP Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus and Phoebe
Saturn's moons
NEWS North, East, West, South
The points of the compass.
PEN Proton, Electron, Neutron
The parts of an atom.
ROY G. BIV Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
Colors of the spectrum.
STAB Soprano, Tenor, Alto, and Bass
Four voices in a quartet.
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