Chunking = Bundling Information

“Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.” – Jonathan Kozol

Chunking is a computer term that means “bundles of information.” It refers to breaking information or a task into smaller pieces to make them manageable.

1.reposted from helping students with learning disabilities:

Suppose a student is complaining about an assignment and makes a statement such as, “This chapter is way too long. It’s not worth reading.”

  • First, acknowledge their feelings with a statement such as, “You’re right. This is a long chapter. It may require a lot of energy, but think about how proud of yourself you’ll be when you finish it. Also, realize how it will help you get a better grade in your discussion or on your test.”
  • Then proceed to help the student divide the activity into manageable chunks. For example, determine how many days he has to complete the reading and divide the task into that many chunks.
  • If the chunks are still too large, divide each of those chunks into a smaller chunk or section to complete.
  • Have the student read only one chunk and then use a concrete strategy to summarize what he read.
  • Then have him read another chunk and summarize it.
  • After reading all of the chunks, have the student pull together each summary and use those to review the chapter.

Help your student appreciate these important aspects about the chunking process:

  • Students can store and organize information more efficiently in small chunks.
  • Everything begins with one small step.
  • It’s the small steps that add up to a bigger accomplishment.

2. Quoted from a book on memory called “Moonwalking with Einstein”:

Chunking is a way to decrease the numbers of items you have to remember by increasing the size of each item.  Chunking is the reason that phone numbers are broken into two parts plus an area code and that credit card numbers are split into groups of four.

And chunking is extremely relevant to the question of why experts so often have such exceptional memories.

The classic explanation of chunking involves language.  If you were asked to memorize the twenty two letters HEADSHOULDERSKNEESTOES, and you didn’t  notice what they spelled, you ‘d almost certainly have a tough time with it.  But break up those twent-two letters inot four chunks- HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES and TOES- and the task becomes a whole lot easier.  And if you happen to know the full nursery rhyme, the line “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” can effectively be treated like one single chunk.  The same can be done with numbers.  The twelve-digit numerical string 120741091101 is pretty hard to remember.  Break it up into four chunks 120, 741, 091, 101- and it becomes a little easier.  Turn it into two chunks, 12/07/41 and 09/11/01, and they’re almost impossible to forget.  You could even turn those dates into a single chunk of information by remembering it as “the two big suprise attacks on American soil.”


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