Monday, February 17, 2014

Did I Forget to Remind Myself?

My last education-related post dealt with memory. 

Dr. Judy Willis
This week I want to quickly recommend another expert in the area of learning and the brain: Dr. Judy WillisI encourage you to check out her "Top 10" list on "How to be Your Child's Memory Coach". Her book, Learning to Love Math, was a terrific resource that impacted my teaching when I was in the classroom. I explicitly taught my students some of the concepts I learned in the book. You can read the Introduction and first chapter here.

Last time I wrote about the fact that the brain looks for patterns or relationships among the bits of information coming in to the brain. The truth is that so much stimuli is bombarding the human brain every second. The only way we can function is for the brain to instantly be able to filter all this incoming data. Dr. Willis talks about the parts of the brain responsible for that filtering process. Again, I want to stress that this is a part of normal human functioning. The brain must filter out boring, non-essential, un-emotional, irrelevant pieces of information for survival and thriving. The brain cannot and will not pay attention to such things.

It probably wouldn't hurt for us to slow down in our schools and reflect on that simple truth. How does this reality affect our practice? How do we get beyond theory?


  1. Check this out:

  2. Here are more practical ways to improve memory. These tips have to do with how the brain consolidates (and "re-consolidates") memories.

    *SPACED PRACTICE: 1/10 to 1/20 relationship. If you teach something, then review it one week later, it is more likely to be remembered for 10-20 weeks. If you re-teach something a month later, then it can be remembered for a year.

    *TESTING: The actual act of bringing up the memory again helps with the process of retention itself. This helps with re-consolidation when it is open-ended, not multiple choice.

    *DOWN TIME: (aka. Sleep After Studying) Studies show that rest helps people remember something they have studied immediately prior to resting.

    *FOCUS ON ONE THING: Multitasking is a myth. There is a cost of time and mental resources as the brain switches back and forth between tasks. The switching can happen so quickly that you don't realize it is happening. This is why many people think they can multitask.