Mnemonic Weekly Tip: # 24          March 9, 2003
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The Problem
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Spring is near and it cannot come too soon for us here in the Northeast.  At a training last week at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, I asked the participants for a word that they would find difficult to spell.  One teacher suggested the names of flowers in the garden.  We all agreed that chrysanthemum and forsythia were words that most of us would have difficulty spelling.  The problem is that we do not write these words often, usually only during long winters when we make lists of things to do in the garden.  This is similar to the problem that many people who have learning problems encounter.  They do not spell many words because they do not write much.  Making a mnemonic clue can help you remember even those words that you write infrequently.

The Mnemonic: # 24

One of the principles that I use when developing mnemonic clues is to do it with the student rather than for the student.  At the workshop, we worked together to find ways to remember the spelling of chrysanthemum and forsythia.  I cannot remember all of the ideas that were put forth as ways to remember these words, but I can tell you there were lots of ideas and lively discussions.  The workshop participants came up with a couple of variations of the same theme.

The first idea that was put forth was the mum.  That was the easy part of chrysanthemum.  The beginning of the word took a while longer, but slowly the names Chrysler, Chris and Anne came to the top of the ideas.  Now getting the extra letters out of Chrysler and Anne or a y into Chris took some creative thinking.  Some of the teachers saw a very short Anne or an riding in a Chrys(ler) holding the mum.  Others saw Chrys or Chris spelled with a y to root him to the ground giving the mum to his girl friend Anne who is so short that her name is shortened to an. 

The word forsythia stacked nicely. 

                       for                                    for

sy                  or                sy

th                                      thi

ia                                      a


Together we found ways to remember the spelling of two words that added a little spring to another day this long winter when the temperature did not get above freezing in Pennsylvania. 

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Richard Cooper