Share the RARE

A lot of Eric Jensen’s work revolves around four pathways toward building long-term memory: recall, action, relevance and emotion (RARE). Students will learn a lot from a lesson that includes those four factors, but I’ve found that they learn even more when they understand why the factors matter.

RARE is now one of the first things that I share with my students in any subject. Why are we taking so many quizzes? Why are we always moving around? Why are the stories always so ridiculous? Understanding the how’s and why’s of building acquisition helps them get invested in the process, which can make a world of difference.

Make RARE commonplace in your classroom and your students will thank you for it. It’s an approach that they can apply not only to your class but to their other subjects!

Sharing RARE can also make a big difference during teacher evaluations. My evaluators don’t always understand French or know anything about TPR and TPRS. But when they see that my students can relate an activity back to its RARE purpose, they know I’m doing something right.

You can use RARE to structure student-driven activities as well. When students create a skit based on a TPRS story, I want them to include lots of familiar vocabulary (recall), use good actions and props (action), add real or funny elements from their own interests (relevance) and make the story funny or surprising (emotion).

Make RARE commonplace in your classroom and your students will thank you for it. It’s an approach that they can apply not only to your class but to their other subjects!

Understanding RARE

Recall happens when students are required to remember or use information on their own. It’s not the same as repeated exposure, which can be scaffolded. Independent TPR commands are a good example.

Action is fairly straightforward, the more the better. TPR commands, TPRS gestures, manipulatives, props and dance are all examples of action.

Relevance means incorporating student interests, realism and purpose into activities. Don’t be afraid of restructuring your curriculum so that language elements can be introduced at moments when students want to use them the most, and leave room in every lesson to tailor material to things that matter to your students.

Emotion involves capturing student interest with bizarre, exaggerated and personalized details (BEP). Unbeknownst to many textbook publishers, a story isn’t really TPRS until it includes the emotion factor. Keep track of things that excite and engage your students to help you plan future lessons.

Emotion can be a negative factor as well. Be mindful of the emotional effects of your own classroom management habits. It can be easy to lose your cool when things get rough, but undoing that memory can take a long time.

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