How We Learn & Remember
This is part 3 of 3. Go back to the beginning
Activities: Essential for Learning & Remembering
The first step in this presentation was the book, Multiplication Education, the second was the repetition to bind the neurons together, and this section on Activities is the last. Usually the last sections are the conclusions because they summarize everything, they are important. Activities, especially at the grade school level and even through high school are essential for learning and remembering and in a sense; this is the most important part of this article.
Have you watched a motivational speaker on TV? A program to lose weight, to buy into an investment plan, a church evangelist… what are all of them doing? If they have to standstill for 30 seconds, they are gripping the sides of the rostrum and their knuckles are turning white. They have to move! If you put a seat belt on any one of them and forced them to sit in a chair for an interview you would be the only one talking. Take off that seat belt and give them their freedom, they will walk and they’ll talk, non-stop, for hours.
These speakers are not children and they are not teachers, these are professional speakers who have tuned their skills to that of an extra sharp razor blade. They know their jobs, they know how to get an audience wound up, they know how to create excitement, they know how to build enthusiasm, and they know how to get to that important “Yes” response. Watch them, they’ll begin with a smile on their face, they are happy to see the audience, they start talking and the smile goes away, this is serious stuff now, everything is important. A little bit later the smile comes back, why, because the speaker knows some are hooked, the audience and the speaker’s emotions are rising, there is total involvement and at the end the speaker and the audience are as one. That’s not a grin on the speaker’s face, no that’s an ear to ear smile, “Hey, I’m good, I’m the best, I love this job!”
This is important. There are several lessons here.
First: The obvious, motion by a teacher and the parent is absolutely essential. It doesn’t have to be walking, but walking is usually the least distractive and it can be an aid to the speaker to remember where they are in their presentation. Don’t sit at a table or desk, move. If you are teaching at home create movement by placing the easel with the pad of pages on it someplace where you have to walk to it. Learn from the professionals on the TV. Anytime they sense even one in the audience isn’t with them, they move, they may stop talking, but they get that person’s attention back by moving.
Second: The obvious, unlike you sitting in front of the TV, your audience is a child whose days before the school year started were filled with action between getting up out of bed in the morning to going to bed at night. I think 10 minutes of talking is about the maximum attention you can expect from a child and maybe less at the start of the school year. Then you have to get them involved in something. The teacher has to move and their students have to move. Sometimes the student has to move to get the information in their brain to unlock so that they can present it. Another way of saying this is, “Movement is required to talk, movement is required to learn and movement is required to remember”, and this is true for the teacher and the student.
Third: Another obvious, if you’re a teacher you know this. The TV professionals have their presentation timed to the second. Your presentation probably can’t be timed this close but you do need a mix of activities and teaching that will fit the time for the class period. For the home schoolers, you are expecting the best from your child and your child is expecting the best from you. Be prepared for the occasion when the lesson is finished early; always have something for back up,
Following is one of the ways the Multiplication Education book can be used to have activities and teaching at the same time. There are many examples in the book and you can be creative as well.
Fourth: The less obvious: The Multiplication Education book uses a tic-tac-toe grid to locate the numbers. I would have a compass that I would show them and I would explain and show them how the needle of the compass always stayed in one place and points north. Then on a piece of paper I’d draw the grid and above where the number 2 would be I’d print a large N with an arrow pointing up. It will take some time to do it but it’s worth it. I’d have a yardstick and some masking tape and I’d keep talking until someone says, “Lets do it.” (This is a probable leader and probable left side learner.)
You may know where I am going with this. I’d show them a map, North is at the top and North on our grid is at the top and the other letters, E, W and S match those on the map. We haven’t done any multiplication, but now they know what a compass is and how it can be used. They know which way is North in the classroom and the other directions. They learned a little about maps and that North is always at the top.
Next they’ll use some crayons to color some paper to match the colors of the numbers in the Multiplication Education book. The plan will be to do a couple facts a day and to repeat these two facts several times each day. In the morning the first child, without looking into a sack of numbers, takes a number from it, takes the paper with the right color and stands in the grid on the correct square. This is repeated with a second child. With the two children standing in the grid in the correct places I would tell the story for these numbers, the rhyme and answer. Then we all say the rhyme and answer together a couple of times. We talk about the story and a few minutes later the children tell me the rhyme and answer. Then we do another fact.
These facts are reviewed every day and others are added until they are learned. Over and over, don’t give up, show enthusiasm and smile. Children don’t learn anything by participating in a spelling bee type of contest, the less intelligent sit down first and the smart one always win, nothing was gained.
Design the activities so that the ones that need help the most are still participating at the end of the game. Encourage your students not to guess, if they don’t know the answer have them raise their hand and go to the next child, and keep doing this until someone knows and gives the correct answer. Then go back to all those who didn’t know and have them give the correct answer. Finally it’s reward time and everybody applauds!
Once they know the facts, review them over and over, using the random problem pages to maintain interest. This is how the single neuron becomes as a rope to move information eventually into a permanent file where it is always accessible. You don’t want to get your children wound up the way those TV professionals do, but your “Yes” response is the improvements in grade and attitudes. Children will know they are improving, school work isn’t the work it used to be, they will discover that learning is rewarding, they will feel better, they will be better. They will want to be in the school environment because this is where they are learning and you can end the day with one of those ear-to-ear smiles thinking, “Yes, yes, I love this job!”