tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-67372426095755979102014-10-01T22:48:15.261-07:00Memvance - Memory AdvancedHave you ever wished you could enhance your memory? We all have forgotten important things in our life, but there are many techniques to help improve our ability to remember. Learning to learn is one of the most valuable things we can teach ourselves and our children.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.comBlogger12112tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-24229071742165780672012-03-23T22:55:00.000-07:002012-03-23T22:55:54.947-07:00Will.I.Am and Dean Kamen Want Kids to be excited about STEMThere is an interesting piece just posted by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william/wouldnt-it-be-cool-stem-education_b_1376435.html?ref=education">Will.I.Am and Dean Kamen</a>, they want to get children excited about Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. They have teamed up with several sponsors and have launched a contest that aims at doing just that, <a href="http://www.wouldntitbecoolif.com/">Wouldn't It Be Cool If</a>. The aim of this contest to get children to dream up the coolest idea to make their lives more awesome. It is open to kids ten to fifteen years old, here are the <a href="http://www.wouldntitbecoolif.com/rules">contest rules</a>. The submission deadline is next Wednesday, March 28th.<br />I really like ideas that improve the chances that we will have more Scientists and Engineers among us in the future. I hope that they have contests like this when my son is old enough to participate.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-39711670551941621442012-03-19T04:53:00.000-07:002012-03-19T04:53:00.577-07:00Site News - Added Discussion ForumI spent some time last week installing software to host a discussion forum. As of now there is only the roots of a discussion or two, but I expect it to grow over time. The link to the forum is available from the sidebar on the main site, and directly by clicking on the following link: <a href="http://www.blogger.com/forum.memvance.com">MemVance Discussion Forum</a>.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-30349462295329442132012-03-19T04:47:00.000-07:002012-03-19T04:47:42.664-07:00Learn a Foreign Language - Method of LociSo for the readers that have learned about the <a href="http://blog.memvance.com/2012/03/method-of-loci.html">Method of Loci</a> and are working to improve your memory, you might be asking yourself what would be a good thing to practice committing to memory? It turns out that the Method of Loci and other mnemonic techniques are very good for learning vocabulary in a foreign language. I personally already have a functional understanding of Brazilian Portuguese, due to being married to a wonderful Brazilian woman. I have decided that I wanted to improve my Portuguese vocabulary and wanted to share some resources that I have developed, and techniques I am using to help me memorize more vocabulary.<br /><br />Even though I already have knowledge of a foreign language these resources and techniques are quite useful for even the beginner. Learning common words is very important to get a feel for a language. I have found that learning words that occur very frequently, you can quickly gain some proficiency with a language.<br /><br />I have a Google spreadsheet that contains <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AukwFkAAap8pdDhEMHVIY3FJUjV3NnNtdGo4Q0hwT3c">Portuguese word frequency lists</a> that I am working on. This spreadsheet is built from information available online in the <a href="http://www.corpusdoportugues.org/">Corpus Do Portuguese</a>, an online repository of 45 million words from various Portuguese texts, Google translate, and a few other sources. I have included as well a tab in this spreadsheet of 100 common conversation words, it might be a good idea to start with them if you are a complete beginner. It is quite easy to remember these 100 words, but they will greatly help your ability to converse.<br /><br />Try to learn around 10 - 50 words a day. There are a little more then four thousand words in the spreadsheet currently. If you learn them at a rate of 50 a day, you will take around 80 days to gain a working vocubulary in Portuguese. I would suggest that you try to come up with images related to these words that are unique and are a little absurd. One method that seems to work for me for doing this is the break the word into its syllables, then you have some small sounds you can try and find english equivalents. Cabeça is a good example, you can break down this into three parts by sound: 'Cab' 'Bees' 'Ha'. Armed with the sounds you can imagine a person with a giant head sticking out of a moon roof of a New York cab, filled with a bee hive, while he is laughing ceaselessly. You can further imagine that he has one of those cartoon bubbles filled with "Ha Ha Ha!!!". Images constructed in this way should be easy for you to remember using the Method of Loci.<br /><br />I will report to everyone how I progress, for those wanting to join me learning Portuguese I wish you good luck. This spreadsheet will be evolving over time as I work through it. I plan on a few follow up posts describing more mnemonic techniques for foreign language.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-76315844313571716082012-03-13T20:03:00.004-07:002012-03-17T11:10:14.877-07:00Ted Education - Video Lessons for StudentsTED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), the organization based on ideas worth sharing launched a new initiative this past Monday. It is called TED-Ed, it aims to engage students with unforgettable lessons. There are many places in the world where a wonderful teacher or mentor is teaching something mind-blowing, but as it stands now not many people have access to that powerful experience. Ted-Ed aims to bring that engaging experience to everyone who has an internet connection.<br /><br />I have had a chance to review the material and was quite impressed by their quality and how the videos were engaging. It is my opinion that as education evolves initiatives like Ted-Ed and Khan Academy will take a bigger and bigger place in educating our children.<br /><br />I thought these lessons were so profound and I wanted to take a chance to share each of these videos with you and my initial thoughts upon viewing them.<br /><br />TED-Ed's aim to bring engaging educational experiences to everyone who has an internet connection appears to be on a good start. I'm excited to see how this progresses, I hope it becomes as successful as TED itself. While the Khan Academy is a powerful model that teaches lessons in small digestable pieces, I believe it doesn't always do enough to engage the viewer. I think TED-Ed has a chance to fill that gap. Engaging experience can have a profound impact to a growing mind. I wish them luck, there is great good to be done by capturing the hearts and minds of our children and students.<br /><br />You can read more about this new project at the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/ted-offers-free-video-lessons-for-high-school-and-college-students/2012/03/09/gIQAuw5O6R_story.html">Washington Post</a>, <a href="http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/03/12/ted-launches-its-ted-ed-youtube-channel-short-animated-videos-for-teachers-and-students/">The Next Web</a>, or view the videos at <a href="http://www.youtube.com/tededucation">TED-Ed's youtube channel</a>.<br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Introduction</span></b><br /><div><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/FfJ5XG5i2aw" width="480"></iframe><br /><br /></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Adam Savage</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>It is very easy to come up with some concept in science that is beyond our understanding. Let it inspire you and you might discover something profound about our world.<br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/F8UFGu2M2gM" width="480"></iframe><br /><br /><br /><a name='more'></a><br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Sir Harold Evans</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">How containerization shaped the modern world</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Something that annoys you can make a wonderful impact in you and everyone elses life, if you just let it inspire you.<br /><br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Gn7IoT_WSRA" width="480"></iframe></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">David Gonzales</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Symbiosis: a surprising tale of species cooperation</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>The whitebark pine and the the clark's nutcracker are two entities that have developed a reliance on each other. Like bees and flowers they both need each other. This video discusses the remarkable relationship between this small bird and the forests in our northern states.<br /><br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2AM3ARs9MMg" width="480"></iframe></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Mark Honigsbaum</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">How pandemics spread</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>It is remarkable the impact that bacteria and viruses have had on our species over the ages. Coming out of the savannas of Africa, we have battled countless times with this tiny threat. Now in a globalized world these infections can spread faster and more completely then ever before.<br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UG8YbNbdaco" width="480"></iframe></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Greg Gage</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">The cockroach beatbox</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>Neuroscientist Greg Gage talks about how electrical signals are what makes our brain work. As a demonstration he proceeds to do some very crazy things with a cockroach's leg.<br /><br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/tr4gWi9Jf6k" width="480"></iframe></div><br />There is an interesting article about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/ted-fellow-2012-gregory-gage-_n_1335259.html">Greg Gage's Backyard Brains</a> and Ted at the Huffintonpost.<br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Jason Munshi-South</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Evolution in a big city</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>This video describes how evolutionary pressure on newts and mice in New York city have made measurable changes to their DNA. In a very short time we are having profound impact on nature, changing and shaping it in ways we never imagined.<br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ckGB5lHyzME" width="480"></iframe></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">David Gallo</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Deep Ocean Mysteries and Wonders</span></b><br /><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>This video takes us on a voyage through the oceans wonders. David Gallo discusses the fact that we have only explored 5% of the ocean, and that something is discovered on every expedition to the ocean floor. Our Earth is primarily ocean and we really don't know much about it. Awesome things like the Vampire Squid and untold others await discovery.<br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Uqly8ERIkHM" width="480"></iframe></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Terin Izil</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">The Power of Simple Words</span></b><br />Complex vocabulary might convey a sense of intelligence to others, but often the best way to communicate a message is with short simple words.<br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Dz8E8UOBFJQ" width="480"></iframe></div><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Awele Makeba</span></b><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;">Stories: Legacies of Who We Are</span></b><br />Storyteller Awele Makeba uses art and history to tell a story of the America civil rights movement. This is a powerful eyeopening video discussing how even the smallest person by becoming a participant in democracy can make profound differences in society.<br /><div><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="293" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5UD0RjZdUHk" width="480"></iframe></div><br /></div>Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-49766957315310390352012-03-13T18:00:00.001-07:002012-03-13T18:00:41.060-07:00Pi Day is TomorrowTomorrow is a great day, it is an official holiday to celebrate the mathematical constant Pi. Pi is a beautiful thing, it is the constant that represents the ratio of the circle's circumference over its diameter. However, it is so much more then that. There are so many relationships in nature that involve Pi, and tomorrow is a great time to teach the wonder of mathematics to your children.<br /><br /><br />With that in mind, I felt compelled to share one of the most remarkable pieces of mathematics, Euler's identity.<br /><br /><br />Pi is one central part of this identity, one of the most beautiful jewels of mathematics. It is a consequence of a more general piece of mathematics, called by the physicist Richard Feynman "one of the most remarkable, almost astounding, formulas in all of mathematics". He was talking about Euler's formula.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KbWNwhzRDbU/T1_s_hu7XKI/AAAAAAAAAGQ/CKnvUbdrq_k/s1600/eulers_formula.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KbWNwhzRDbU/T1_s_hu7XKI/AAAAAAAAAGQ/CKnvUbdrq_k/s1600/eulers_formula.png" /></a></div><br /><br />Euler's formula describes the connection between algebra and geometry in one simple condensed formula. It relates the complex numbers with the geometry of the triangle, forming a deep connection between two things which to most of us seem separate.<br /><br /><br />By substituting Pi into Euler's formula, we arrive at Euler's identity.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-d5fzJeLJwyk/T1_tI8yvt7I/AAAAAAAAAGY/vp-6WA_TNX0/s1600/eulers_identity.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-d5fzJeLJwyk/T1_tI8yvt7I/AAAAAAAAAGY/vp-6WA_TNX0/s1600/eulers_identity.png" /></a></div><br />In Euler's identity three basic arithmetic operations are used exactly once each, addition, multiplication and exponentiation. The identity links 5 fundamental mathematical constants:<br /><ul><li>The number Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle over its diameter.</li><li>The number e, the base of the natural logarithms.</li><li>The number i, the imaginary unit that allows us to solve any polynomial equation</li><li>The number zero, which is the additive identity</li><li>And finally, the number 1 which is the multiplicative identity.</li></ul>So much of the foundations of mathematics can be summarized in this tiny little formula. This and countless other relationships in mathematics and nature involve the number Pi. It is so basic and beautiful, it deserves to be celebrated. <br /><br /><br />So when 3/14 rolls around share a little mathematics with your child on Pi day. Try and show the mathematics around you, bake a round cake or pie, decorate it with some geometric shapes. Teach your children the area formula for a circle by helping them write it on some sugar cookies. There are countless other things you can do with your child, use tomorrow to instill wonder in mathematics. You won't regret it. <br /><br /><br />You can find plenty of other ideas at the <a href="http://www.piday.org/">Pi Day official site</a>Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-72453785226746119592012-03-12T20:43:00.000-07:002012-03-12T20:43:16.374-07:00Multiplication – Times TablesI've been teaching my kindergartner multiplication recently.<br />Many people might think this is not a good thing, and I partly would agree with them.<br />I would only agree with them if they were talking about forcing a child to learn the multiplication tables by rote memorization. I don't think introducing math concepts early is bad, you just have to explain things conceptually rather then force them on your child. Teach the concepts slowly and at your child's own pace. Some kids will get this concepts quickly, others might take a lot of time and practice to internalize the concepts. If you try and force a concept onto a child and don't explain it, you risk making something interesting and fun into something that they do not enjoy. You risk taking the wonder out of math, so be careful.<br /><br />There are two prerequisites for a child to learn to multiply:<br />The first thing to teach is the basic concept of counting and adding groups of objects. My son picked this up awhile ago, but it is the first thing they need to know to learn multiplication. Do not start teaching multiplication without the child understanding addition and counting well. They don't have to be fast at it, but they have to know it before you begin this journey.<br />Second, teach counting by 2's, 5's and ten's.<br /><br />Once they have these two skills down pat you can begin teaching your child multiplication.<br /><br /><br /><b>Teaching Multiplication</b><br /><ul><li><br />Begin by teaching the concept of multiplication. Multiplication is just addition of number to itself a given number of times. For example: If you want to multiply 7 by 3, you add seven to itself 3 times. You should also point out that multiplying 3 by 7 will give you the same answer as well.<br /></li><li><br />Teach the concept of the multiplicative identity, any number multiplied by one will yield the same number.<br /></li><li><br />Teach the multiplicative property of zero, any number multiplied by zero will always yield zero. I used the analogy that zero is a black hole, and that multiplying numbers by it will result in the zero eating them up.</li></ul>Once your child understands the concept behind multiplication, it is time to practice applying this concept. The way that I found works best is to have your child build their own multiplication table. I like to leave off the '1' column, since you really don't need a table to do them.<br /><br /><br />Create a 2 by 2 grid with the numbers 2 to 10. If you would like you can print the images I created for this purpose.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XtNc-_WM-x0/T16-pr5V0VI/AAAAAAAAAE4/Ors-seeUXqw/s1600/multiplication+table+-+blank.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XtNc-_WM-x0/T16-pr5V0VI/AAAAAAAAAE4/Ors-seeUXqw/s320/multiplication+table+-+blank.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />Fill in the 2's column by adding two to each of the resulting answers above it. Right after you finish the 2's column, point out that the column's contents can also be copied to the 2's row as well.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-leLbbumGm34/T16-x-n_aSI/AAAAAAAAAFA/sfwLhxAVyTE/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-leLbbumGm34/T16-x-n_aSI/AAAAAAAAAFA/sfwLhxAVyTE/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+1.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />Do the same with the 5 x 5 row and column and then the 10 x 10 row and column.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7I79AIPjLDI/T16_FdjzlaI/AAAAAAAAAFQ/StotGT1ARq4/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7I79AIPjLDI/T16_FdjzlaI/AAAAAAAAAFQ/StotGT1ARq4/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+2.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-o79BosRUSeo/T16_Mm4EJ_I/AAAAAAAAAFY/pD-cPrA4Pm8/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-o79BosRUSeo/T16_Mm4EJ_I/AAAAAAAAAFY/pD-cPrA4Pm8/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+3.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />All three of those rows are very easy since the child already knows to count by 2's, 5's and 10's.<br /><br />Now you should teach the 'finger trick' for multiplying by nines. All the digits of all the multiples of 9 from 1 - 10 will sum together to 9.<br />9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90.<br />Because of this fact, you can quickly multiply by nine by counting out the number you want to multiply by nine on your hands, going left to right, placing the finger down as you go. The numbers to the left of that finger will be the tens place. The number after your finger will represent the ones place. You can quickly read off the answer this fashion.<br /><br /><br />Use this technique to fill in the missing values of the 9x9 row and column.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ZyyIfwcxB8Y/T16_ZvI1PMI/AAAAAAAAAFg/MK7iKwARO6c/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+4.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ZyyIfwcxB8Y/T16_ZvI1PMI/AAAAAAAAAFg/MK7iKwARO6c/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+4.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />Having done the above, we will have just a small number of grid columns that need to be filled in:<br />3 x 3, 3 x 4, 3 x 6, 3 x 7, 3 x 8<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--Fy9OJRZ8Oc/T16_jB4ZTnI/AAAAAAAAAFo/QL6R0y9QJ5g/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+5.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--Fy9OJRZ8Oc/T16_jB4ZTnI/AAAAAAAAAFo/QL6R0y9QJ5g/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+5.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />4 x 4, 4 x 6, 4 x 7, 4 x 8,<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xZghx0CH1QM/T16_owYi5JI/AAAAAAAAAFw/xE6hsN2VDK4/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+6.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xZghx0CH1QM/T16_owYi5JI/AAAAAAAAAFw/xE6hsN2VDK4/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+6.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />6 x 6, 6 x 7, 6 x 8<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mSfIWAFZ94I/T16_wtR45ZI/AAAAAAAAAF4/Mgdi2M0hL_g/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+7.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mSfIWAFZ94I/T16_wtR45ZI/AAAAAAAAAF4/Mgdi2M0hL_g/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+7.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />7 x 7, 7 x 8<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZjoGGXvmswE/T16_3EKRqEI/AAAAAAAAAGA/mKtsY-Josbw/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+8.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZjoGGXvmswE/T16_3EKRqEI/AAAAAAAAAGA/mKtsY-Josbw/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+8.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />And finally, 8 x 8<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LulO5dAGVns/T16_9ZZb6mI/AAAAAAAAAGI/J1lVGOhP9wU/s1600/multiplication+table+-+step+9.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="multiplication table" border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LulO5dAGVns/T16_9ZZb6mI/AAAAAAAAAGI/J1lVGOhP9wU/s320/multiplication+table+-+step+9.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />You have now created a multiplication table from scratch with your child, and got a lot of practice doing addition and counting along the way. Teaching multiplication in this manner focuses on the concepts of multiplication and addition, instead of just rote memorization. Once the concepts are cemented, only then is it appropriate to have them memorize and commit the tables to memory.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-58423751614399370272012-03-10T09:13:00.000-08:002012-03-10T09:13:30.257-08:00K Anders Ericsson and Deliberate PracticeWe all want to be an expert in our given fields. Have you ever heard that practice makes perfect? Well, it turns out to be true. Sort of. It turns out that there is a large body of work describing the process to become an expert. A professor at Florida State University, K Anders Ericsson has spent a great deal of time analyzing experts in a wide variety of fields. Based on his findings, he has found that the most likely trait that determines an expert is daily deliberate practice over a period of years and decades. If you want to become an expert you need to work hard at it, but not just any practice will do.<br />Deliberate practice focuses on two things, improving skills you already possess and extending the reach and range of your skills. To do this effectively, you must perform this practice with intense concentration. Because of this intense concentration, the time you can spend doing so is limited. Often experts practice deliberately only two hours per day, but over time since they continually work to eliminate their weaknesses they continuously improve. If you focus and do the right kind of practice with regularity, you can sharpen nearly any skill. Two hours a day adds up to 700 hours a year and 7000 hours in a decade.<br />Deliberate practice requires that you constantly step outside your comfort zone. If you only practice what you are already good at, you will plateau very quickly and not improve. Only if you focus on what you aren't good at, and attempt to figure out how you can do better at it, will you succeed at becoming an expert.<br />For those interested more in Deliberate Practice, I have found an online copy of <a href="http://www.coachingmanagement.nl/The%20Making%20of%20an%20Expert.pdf">The Making of an Expert</a> for your review. This article by Ericsson is definitely an eye opener, and Deliberate practice is a very important concept to keep in mind while on your path to expertise, Good Luck.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-20078173540185833192012-03-08T17:52:00.000-08:002012-03-08T17:52:26.077-08:00Engage Yourself to LearnBy critically thinking about a subject you remember it better. If you do the work to boil down a subject to its key concepts you are engaging your brain. You need to summarize the key concepts instead of just passively learning. <br />I find myself making outlines all the time, it helps to cement knowledge in my head. There are some people that would recommend that you do not take notes while listening to a lecture, they think that you should just make an outline while you are in class. Another might suggest that you use some other alternative note taking techniques that just record key concepts, perhaps mind maps. I personally do not like these techniques, but they might work for you. What I do find helpful is to distill traditional notes into a workable outline within a day after listening to the lecture. Coming back to the material after a short break gives your brain the repetition that it craves. The act of building the outline will make things more engaging. I should also note that I don't completely discount the alternative note taking methods because they both engage your mind, and that is a powerful thing. Active learning is something that I firmly believe in, and it is something that personally helped me to learn several very hard subjects. <br />I used to study with a woman who was having trouble in Calculus. I was always a pretty good math student, but I was lazy about doing the right amount of practice homework. By studying with and teaching her the difficult parts of the subject, I ended up learning the subject much better. I was forced to critically think about the concepts and figure out ways to help her learn. Learning by teaching is a powerful technique, and the classes I did this in were the ones I learned best. The key to this technique is that it forces the critical thinking about the subject, because you have to figure out how to teach someone else. <br />You will generally not become engaged in a subject if you aren't applying the knowledge in some way. Passive learning techniques might still be useful, especially for introduction to a subject. Mastery, however, comes from applying what we learn. The general consensus is that there should be a traditional introduction to a subject, and then engaging practice to cement the learning. Class discussions, written exercises and student debates are some other common examples of active learning techniques. All of them can be powerful tools to help you study and to learn.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-70987648837289592662012-03-08T17:49:00.000-08:002012-03-08T17:49:46.772-08:00General Study SkillsLots of people seem to have problems studying effectively. There are plenty of people I encountered as a student that would have seemingly endless cram sessions to prepare for a test. In the professional world I see people often preparing for presentations in marathon sessions right before they have to give them. This is the wrong way to do things, you brain will not effectively learn material in this fashion. It might end up working, but it is not an efficient use of your time. You can usually get better results by slowly repeating the information over a period of time. If you brain is not bored, it will tend to be much easier to remember information. Take breaks and learn your material over several days and weeks instead of hours before you need it. You will spend a lot less effort, and probably a lot less time in total. <br />There are lots of things that can help your studying. I like to use mnemonic techniques to aid my memory, it takes some effort to create the images or rhymes but you tend to remember them better. Anything that actively engages multiple senses is also very good, with multiple sensory cues to help categorize information in our memory it is more memorable. There are extreme cases described in the Neuroscience literature like Solomon Shereshevskii, who literally would remember almost everything he experienced. He could not forget, nearly everything he dwelled on for a few seconds was permanently etched in his memory. What made him special was he experienced his world in a very strange way. Numbers would have images and personality associated to them, colors might have sound, his world was basically one unforgettable combined sensory experience after another. He had a form of something the Neuroscientists call Synesthesia. He ended up having severe problems due to his inability to forget, so we don't want to be exactly like him. <br />We can consciously make ourselves a little like him though by using multiple senses to remember information. If you need to remember things about the dust bowl you might try going through the following sensory imagery while you commit the information to memory. <br /><ol><li>Imagine the gritty taste of dirt in your mouth </li><li>The feeling of sand blowing on your skin </li><li>Imagine you have not eaten all day, and being intensely hungry and thirsty </li></ol>Adding these sensory cues to your studying will act like a highlighter pen to your mind. You are making the facts more memorable, and they will likely be much easier for you to recall. <br />There is much to be said on the subject of studying effectively. While it is not complete by any stretch of the imagination I have some more information on <a href="http://www.memvance.com/how_to_study">how to study</a> on the main MemVance site.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-13940092501862355152012-03-07T05:09:00.000-08:002012-03-07T05:09:59.106-08:00Mental Math - Multiplying two digit numbers in your headI learned a cool trick recently that I wanted to share with you. I found a really easy way to multiply any set of two digit numbers in your head. <br /><br /><br /><br />I have always been good at math, but traditionally rather poor at mental calculation. I'm trying to change that, since I found that my peers who were good at mental calculation had a lot less trouble with complex mathematical concepts. While it won't make you a math savant by itself, with practice it will give you a serious edge over your peers in math class. <br />Given a set of two digit numbers, say<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">ab * cd</div><br /><br /><br />Where <b>a</b> is the tens digit of the first number, <b>b</b> is the ones digit of the first number, and <b>c</b> and <b>d</b> are the corresponding places for the second number.<br /><br /><br /><br />Because of the natural of numbers, this can be written another way. The first number is really 10 * <b>a</b> + <b>b</b>. The second number can be expanded in a similar way. So we have the following<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">(10a + b) * (10c + d)</div><br /><br /><br />Using the foil method this reduces to<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">100ac + 10ad + 10bc + bd</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">100ac + 10(ad + bc) + bd</div><br /><br /><br />We should rearrange this so that the middle term comes first, taking advantage that our memory will tend to work better if we do this calculation first. Our mind for numbers typically will just hold around 7 things.<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">10(ad + bc) + 100ac + bd</div><br /><br /><br />This final equation can now be used to quickly calculate the multiplication as a series of much easier multiplications and a few sums. Lets do a quick example.<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">76 * 34</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">10(7*4 + 6*3) + 100(7*3) + 6*4</div><br /><br /><br />First lets figure out the first part<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">10(28 + 18)</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">10(46)</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">460</div><br /><br /><br />Now lets figure out the rest<br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">460 + 100(21) + 24</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">460 + 2100 + 24</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;">484 + 2100</div><div style="font-family: "Helvetica Neue",Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;"><b>2584</b></div><br /><br /><br />If you use your calculator you will see that you now have the correct answer. With practice this technique becomes easier and easier to do. Because of the way we broke up the numbers, the sums will be pretty easy generally. There is also a technique for doing sums left to right in your head that I will share in another future post that makes them even easier to do in your head.<br />Now get to practicing, with persistence you might eventually be able to do this faster then someone can put the numbers in a calculator.Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-72966605442648188682012-03-05T20:18:00.000-08:002012-03-05T20:18:34.397-08:00Donald Duck in Mathmagic LandA few days ago my son came up to me and stated that he was bored. I decided to show him a really cool cartoon called Donald in Mathmagic Land. This is film is pure Disney, you suspend disbelief and feel immersed in the strange mathemagical world along side Donald duck.<br />Donald, being the duck that he is states very early in the film that he thinks math is just for eggheads, but by the end of the film he has a very different attitude. The narrator takes him through a journey where he learns about the mathematics in music, nature, and even the math in a game of pool. This is something that I highly recommend showing to your children, it will help instill the priceless sense of wonder and imagination about our world in them.<br />You can click the link below to order a copy of this wonderful cartoon for your library. You and your children will not be disappointed.<br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=memvance-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00287Z1F2" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"></iframe>Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6737242609575597910.post-79205462232964369702012-03-05T04:51:00.000-08:002012-03-05T04:51:35.168-08:00Method of Loci<div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">There is a powerful tool you can use to remember lists of items, actions, and facts that is very easy to learn. Its power lies in the fact that our memory for places and images is much better then our memory for words and phrases. I recently taught my kindergartner how to use this method, and he is now very good at it. We usually forget a list of items quickly, there is a process that scientists have called the forgetting curve that describes this process. While numbers are hard to apply since there are so many variables in memory, generally forgetting follows an exponential decay. After a period of hours or days, your memory can easily be half of what it was when you committed something to memory. When I asked him yesterday to tell me the items in our grocery list, he remembered all of them with ease.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> I am going to give you a well described example including the images we can up with. This is not for you to learn the associations that my son and I came up with, but the process itself. Part of what makes this technique powerful is you engage your mind coming up with the images.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> The basic idea of the Method of Loci, sometimes called the memory palace, is to imagine a house, building, or path that is very familiar to you. My son and I used our house, since he knew that quite well. I would suggest your childhood home for those following along and trying out the technique.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> Once you have the place firmly in your head, imagine a fixed path through it. A good place to start is the front door. We then will imagine at regular intervals that we are placing images on this path that represent what we want to commit to memory. Here is the list we had to memorize:</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><ol><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Bacon</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Bread</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Eggs</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Sugar</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Milk</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Flour</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Chocolate chip cookies</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Orange Juice</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Noodles</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Bottled Water</div></li><li><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Cheese</div></li></ol><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><br /></div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> To commit this list to memory, imagine that the from under the front door, just like a bad horror film, that there are zombie hands reaching out trying to grab you. However imagine that they are from some sort of zombie made out of bacon, and he smells good enough to eat. Once this image is firmly in your mind, move on to the next item on the list.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> We move to the first room right inside the front door, a small alcove my wife has for crafting. In this room we imagine that there is a huge bread monster. Imagine he looks like a pile of French bread, with teeth made out of crusts of bread. Further experience the wonderful stench of his breath, the smell of fresh baked bread, and the chomping sounds he is making.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> Next, in our office, we imagine that Humpty Dumpty is sitting on a wall in front of the computer. He is perched in a way where he is barely balanced, and might fall any second.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> In my sons room, we imagined that his drum set was made with sugar cubes.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> In the bathroom, there was a great big black and white cow washing herself in a shower of milk, all while singing “Moo Moo Moo” in the shower.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> Moving to the great room, we imagined Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters (one of our favorite shows) swinging a large sledge hammer on a bag of flour to make a giant explosion.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> Next is the Kitchen, and we tried to picture that we had a gigantic cookie man sitting on top of our stove. He was so large though, approximately the size of a planet, that he had his own gravity. He promptly said “Hi” as we enter the room, and are pulled onto the surface of the cookie.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> After we escape from the cookies gravity, we make our way to the laundry room and there in front of our washer and dryer is a giant orange with hands, legs and a mouth. He quickly picks you up and throws up orange juice all over your face and mouth.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> Moving into the garage, it is getting quite dangerous, we now see a huge mass of noodle snakes Indiana Jones style in a pit in the floor. We swing across this mass of noodles to grab onto the attic ladder, and swiftly climb up. There we find a giant blue bottle of water that is squirting all over the floor, making the floor slippery.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> Lastly, we climb down and open the garage door. There we find the family car, but seemingly carved out of mozzarella cheese. Its wheels are intricately carved out of cheddar, and your mouth is watering wanting to take a large bit out of it.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> There you have it, an illustration of how to use the Method of Loci to memorize a grocery list. It is a wonderful exercise for your brain, and gets you used to using this powerful method that you can use to remember just about any list in order. As a side effect, since the information is now stored spatially in your mind, you also should have no problem reciting the list backwards.</div><div style="margin-bottom: 0in;"> You can find out more about this powerful method and how to apply it on the main MemVance site, there I have a set of notes and a link to the <a href="http://www.memvance.com/adherennium">Ad Herrenium</a>, the earliest book known detailing this technique. </div>Jeffhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12874869060495436306noreply@blogger.com0