Thursday, November 11, 2021

Sequenced Details: Working Memory Expansion - Your Best Mental Skill Created

Every moment of our day is rushed, serial. Each event becomes part of a singular-one-piece, holistic grid, creating unbearable tension, pressure, and stress.

Enveloped with daily fast driving, quick texting, constant, communicative blunders and demands, our thoughts become disrupted. We hurry, multi-task, resolve problems, issues; but, with a holistic, one-track mind. We remain fixated, less productive, in our daily routines.

Unwittingly, we create our own frantic, strange inner world that seldom interfaces with the outside hurried, demanding world. There is never enough time to enjoy life as we would like. Exhausted, we need and want some kind of relief.  Can a strategically trained mind, with sequential thought, become liberated, finding new, focused self-assurance,  even possible?            

Solution: We can upgrade ourselves to be a sharper, more autonomous, individual by applying strategic working memory training. [1] We can transition to a methodical mindset capability by applying detail awareness, through sequenced, chunked-coded, information. [2]  Series of step-wise operations require focused speed and accuracy. This will add not only proficiency to our tasks, but create a calm, methodical, mindset.

Thirty years ago, I wrote a similar, but technical article, on this same venue, [3]  and now sorely see the disastrous, dangerous, outcome of detail issues that are routine now, in all academic and professional fields.

Change Can and Should Begin Early

The best scenario is to begin sharp cognition enhancement early on. If young and teenage students become routinely aware of their own learning brain skill strengths and weaknesses, like athletes and musicians know their improvement goals, mental enhancement then becomes an habitual, ongoing process. [4]

The school learning process has always been a chicken/egg – ying/yang question as to why the student was not learning the content (lack of motivation, behavioral), or poor teaching (poor choice of lesson applications, or lack of class control). Subsequently, many children may wade through the academic process, unknowingly with cognitive shortcomings, and then, as adults, must create their own upward mobility through determination, insight, and courage through advanced education and training.  

And then, to find they have the same cognitive weaknesses that can further decline with age.

An old adage: “The Devil is in the Details”

You might say; “Why should I care about detail errors – I get paid anyway. Even double, with constant re-work.”

Yet, even with this faulty logic, steps can not be omitted, or the entire operational system fails. The end consumer pays. Mental, procedural skill abilities are now in high demand. We can interface with this demand, by showing awareness of, and then applying, good logical-sequential, solutions to avoid, or rapidly correct, these routine detail errors.

Understanding detail function is your  best career route, as supervisors notice your proficiency ;evel. And, you could spend years spinning your tires at low wages, job uncertainty, unnecessarily.

Working Memory Recognized and Understood
There are two primary memory and cognition processing types: visual and auditory-listening memory, (details and sequential). [5] Optimally, they should work in sync. Working in tandem cerates conceptualization, with understanding, and higher thought levels. There are sub-ordering categories within each type: words, letters, numbers, and sentences. [6] Subsequently, integrated visual and listening sequencing is the root of all academic and technical learning: following oral and written directions, reading writing, spelling and math.

Use it or Lose it with Continual Detail Workouts: Pills Will Not Create Sequences

 You can;
1) practice with the many existing, online, memory exercise routines like athletes and musicians do. But, they have their own specific practice drills, as they expect continued drill and practice as basics of their discipline, for excelling and maintaining performance edge.  

Or, 2) engage in a researched, data-evidenced, sequencing-skill building program, offering your own personal outcomes. You can use practice routines as a family, or within other group units.

A Numerical Practice Sample

Continued rehearsal practice can jump start your working memory for increased strength and capacity.  As a former “Mind and Brain - Vision” Kansas City chapter editor, and national contributor for the Association of Training and Development, (ASTD, Now, ATD, The Association for Development Talent), I wrote about the necessary skills of brain building through detail-sequencing: “Building a More Powerful Brain”. [7] All operational procedures, as in computer programming, technical skills, business management, or surgical routines, are a series of coded details and spans.

You may discover that keeping numerical figures straight, while listening to feedback instructions during data entry situations, is particularly difficult.  Additionally, many of us can not apply telephone numbers without looking.  We have most of the numbers we routinely use, entered into our cell phones. But, there may be non routine telephone numbers to enter at times. And, we generally look at them.

Okay then, let’s practice a few simple chunked number spans to improve our numerical sequencing.  Have someone read the number series to you, so you do not see the text.  Since telephone numbers are easy seven spans, try saying a few both forward and in reverse.  Scanning backward will help you visualize the numerical placement to avoid transposing. Then say it forward again. You can find many similar online practice games like this example.

Say this number series:  932-4737

Now in reverse:  7374-239

Repeat the correct number series forward:  932-4737

Here are two more.  Now, you can create your own as you drive home or to work:

1)          832-4787

2)         239-5782

You can now start developing your own sequencing skill, working memory, with continued practice. Mental toughness improvement can also soon be achieved through Mem-ExSpan’s short, online, practice sessions applying puppetry, comedy, acting, and music.   

Mental skill sequencing awareness and change gives ultimate job and career-choices for autonomous, life-long, personal freedom.

Jan Kuyper Erland, is a Performance Analyst, Content Development Researcher, and Intervention Specialist for Mem-ExSpan, Inc. 

[1] Erland, J. K. (1999). Retraining cognitive abilities: A longitudinal study. Journal for Accelerated Learning and Teaching, 14. 1. 3-42. (ERIC ED #436 962).

[2]  Erland, J. K. (c 1989). Hierarchy of Thinking. Mem-ExSpan, Inc.

[3]  Erland, J. K. (1992). Cognitive skills training improves listening and visual memory for academic and career success. Journal of Accelerated Learning and Teaching. 20. 1. ERIC Clearinghouse (ED #353 286).

[4] Erland, J. K. (© 2008). unpublished document. Five Generations, 27-years of Iterative Brain-Based Accelerative Learning Experimentation, Demonstrate Cognitive Skill Improvement Enhances Academic Achievement and Career Goals.

[5] Guilford, J. P. (1986). Creative talents: Their nature, uses, and development. Buffalo, NY: Bearly Ltd.

[6] Woodcock, R. W. & Johnson, M. (3rd ed. 2001, 1989, 1977). Tests of Cognitive Ability: Psycho educational battery. Hingham, MA: Teaching Resources Corp. Standard and Supplemental Batteries Examiner’s Manual. Allen, TX. DLM. 

[7] Erland, J. K. (Winter 1998-1999). Building a More Powerful Brain. Performance in Practice. ASTD. pp.13-14. (ERIC ED #439 445).

Saturday, September 18, 2021

When Things Get Tough, Blossom through a Flexible, Creative Mindset


In an overly difficult world we now live in, we need to move forward with empathy and understanding for each other, blooming with a flexible mindset. Tough times, like a pandemic, can overwhelm, even painfully gripping, the most devoted, talented parent/educator with student instructional demands that should reveal positive improvement outcomes.

Having taught many puppetry workshops in the Kansas City area, it became my open door to the creativity process. You might consider applying creative puppetry to your classes as a learning tool. There are many online examples and options.

Accessing your own talents is your open doorway to connecting with learners positively, happily, and reach self-actualization in the process. But, you might ask – how can I do this? It does take time and patience, but I can relate my unusual story, as an example of making worthy progress in bettering lives.

Creating and Realizing Your Inner Mindset

A mindset takes inner resolve of taking action through mental planning. Many teachers and parents feel they have enough to do with student/classroom management without trying to figure out new, creative activities, or wade through the best online applications for every subject. It simply is not their bag when their hands are full enough. There can be simply too many hourly demands. Now, you can decide to expand your mind to energize your own inner resolution that will give you endless hope joy, and peace of mind.

Jump Into Action Tips

1. Spring your own ideas from inspiring, moving, reading/media material.

2. Follow your own inner intuition, rather than including outside influences, to create your personalized mindset. Agreeing with others’ comments, opinions, or criticisms will affect your own creative process. Competing derails your own originality.

3. Use trial and error. Experiment, and then adjust as needed on following days. Have fun with different variations. Make it your own game plan.

4. Build and elevate. Subsequently, your creativity will build more and more, bit by bit, just like mine did into a crescendo, for a new, fluid, mindset.

How Did I Develop a Creative Mindset?     

As a first year teacher, I had a forward looking, enthusiastic, mindset graduating from college early, ready to teach, and create a positive, happy, day for eager learners. Taking a second grade position, with a wide variety of disabilities in my own generational background, I knew that I wanted to address each child independently with as much undivided time and attention as I could possibly muster. Subsequently, I soon had five individual reading groups at different levels for several years in the teaching profession.

For my student teaching practicums, I had understudied with an amazingly creative veteran first grade teacher who taught through poetry. Then, I also did practice teaching the following semester with a traditional, second grade veteran. I hated every minute of it, and decided then and there I would apply art and science methodologies that included music, drama, story- telling, and poetry that I was highly proficient in. The days would brighten. But, I was not certain how I would do it, as diverting from “old school” teaching methods was not the norm.

Accessing my music-speech-drama-science-literature studies background, I began designing special activities to encompass a large variety of learning levels and abilities. Nonetheless, I soon found myself with a school principal that welcomed creativity in a progressive school district. Students applied reading, spelling, language and math learning into writing poetry, songs and dramatic plays. This progressed to combining all subject matter into one dramatic musical episode for parents, teachers, and admin. Soon, I became recognized for giving end-of-semester auditorium performances.

As a family also enjoying books, poetry, music, and science, we soon created a charming puppet play with a home-made stage and hand puppets, for a summer church school event.

An enthusiastic church troupe formed, and we toured nursing homes, facilities for those with special needs, and offered public grade school musical events. Elderly, disabled, patrons often waited an hour in anticipation of our amusing “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” puppet show. 

Meeting a Wood-Carving Puppeteer Strapped in Performance History

While touring with the clever “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, I was asked if I had met the local puppeteer, Foy Brown, whose livelihood was a fireman who carved ventriloquist puppets in off moments. He had grown up with a father who traveled nationally to the New York stage, as an entertainer and wood carver at the turn of the 20th century.

Foy Brown lived near our high school.  Enchanted with this history, I purchased the first two puppets. Enjoying his ongoing carving process, I made another upcoming purchase, “Professor Do Little Higgins”.

Foy introduced me to another nationally recognized, vaudeville/Hollywood stage performer, Lucile Elmore, who sold Lily La Teur to me. This created the puppet ensemble necessary to create our “Voco Poco Puppets” advertising productions.

Foy’s and her enthusiasm had become contagious for my family of three children who wrote the scripts, created costumes, lighting, and set designs, as done earlier. We now had three large ventriloquist wooden puppets that sang and had silly, comeuppance story lines, accompanied by my 12-year old son playing the electric piano. Soon, we found ourselves as a big show stopper with advertising demands for the then trendy shopping malls and department stores, for every holiday imaginable.

We gathered large crowds of hundreds enjoying our unique ventriloquist puppets. Noticing that the puppets caught fixated attention, I began wondering if they might be good role models for my teaching with special needs children, as a learning disability teacher.

Lucile attended our productions and was enthralled with our family show.  I enjoyed her ventriloquism lessons with my ongoing vocal studies. When she passed away, I sat behind her attorney at her funeral. He was with a little ventriloquist wooden, Hollywood studio-made puppet, a red-haired, little boy, stage-named Butch O’Malley. Surprisingly, she had bequeathed me Butch, of her early Hollywood 1930s, stage show tours.

When the attorney presented Butch, he announced, “Lucille knew you would do something important with him, and would prevent his storage in a box lost in a museum (that did happen with many of the early puppeteer performers’ stage puppets, props). I was not only astounded, but deeply touched. 

My classroom teaching segwayed into research projects with small, homogonous, group instruction in a home studio. This created my own research and content development company, Mem-ExSpan, Inc. The cognitive skills research and practice work indicated that the lessons required filming for scalable, sustainable, expansion. The Voco Poco Puppets family team created the initial home-filmed lesson segments for test site application, decades ago. Updated filming became paramount, now a reality.

Thirteen national test sites were set up through research and low cost availability. In-depth individualized, standardized cognitive and academic assessments formed remarkably large data pools. This in-depth assessment, evaluations, and data analyses for a wide wage of ages and demographic groups explained the extraordinary, novel methodology. Participants were pleased as they obtained unusual, yet visibly apparent, assessment and outcome results in a short period of time at low cost. Thousands benefited and blossomed.

Throughout this endeavor, I remained in scholarly class work at the University of Kansas, a nearby campus.  Applied research in a variety of settings, was my noteworthy, enwrapped focus.  Testing company executives, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, NJ, and professors, doctoral students, from five different universities joined and worked on the pre-digital data outcomes. I wrote scientific articles that were submitted to journals, juried, published, and eventually received awards as landmark research having completed 5 longitudinal research reports.

This is my story, as to how a flexible mind set created inspirational, lasting, teaching methods, now completed. Never give up. Give it a try and see. What will your self- empowerment story be?

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Cracking Math and Science"

Why Students May Not Perform Well in Science and Math

Unfortunately, there is a reason learners may not progress in science and math as expected. Many do not have enough underlying memory capacity to learn the varied sequential information and then apply it logically.

Furthermore, assuming this, students are unable to understand and follow procedural instructions basic to conceptualizing mathematical and scientific information.

Why is this?

Numerical arithmetic is taught in grades one to three, and there is a major shift in the curriculum in grade four. Right-brain spatial numbers shift into left-brain sequencing with advanced concepts. National test scores show that math scores, including advanced concepts, drop off  beginning in grade four.

Understanding science requires not only doing simple experiments and reading scientific stories out of textbooks, but requires procedural, stepwise learning.

Procedural learning requires the mastery of learning step-wise procedures. Following directions is usually taught with simple question and answer digital question/answer assignments taught by animated characters that may speak and move too quickly for the necessary absorption needed.

Why do we fall behind other foreign countries -- how can these children encode-decode information while ours do not? Perhaps their students have more musical training and learn foreign languages that train auditory (listening) memory, critically needed for learning technical sequences.

What is missing?

Students may be unable to listen to complex instructions (teachers spend hours daily repeating directions continuously). Subsequently, students work in teams where one member does the application "thinking" and fills out the required responses on devices. Others work in small tutorial groups with simple assignments that can be below grade level work. These students may then "fall through the cracks" with their math instruction and output.

Every student processes information differently, with different learning styles and capacities. The missing link is teaching students how to encode and decode sequential information with "mental toughess training", and expand their visual and listening memories an underlying requirement for conceptualizing formulas and mathematical equations.

Yet, teachers do recognize each child's proficiency level in math and science. Unfortunately, completion demands may be placed upon students who naturally lack the necessary "brain-power" to sequence and code math and science instructions.

Yet, we need to understand and expand our technological capacities with performing students in science and math.

Parents can now help fill in this gap - the missing link. There soon will be more parent "how to" information readily accessible through digital learning. Applications will be pleasurable, scientifically tested, and learning will be fast.

The ability to encode/decode sequential information will be taught through specific, scientifically tested training regimens. It might be something for all of us to consider. Let's look to future, innovative possibilities to foster advanced learning in science and math.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How To Be Your Child's Learning Advocate

What You Can Do Now To Save Headaches Later 

Keep your child enrolled in high school and on the right curriculum path that includes state guidelines. If college is not your aim, focus on obtaining fundamental work skills, so they can be self-supporting.

Focus on a college and/or trade school preparatory coursework in junior high school, especially in English, math, and science.

Follow your child's grade school math, reading, and language skills carefully. They will become the basis for more advanced learning in junior and senior high school, and college.

Grades at all school levels are often inflated, and this camouflage can fool you into false complacency. Future catastrophic career blocks may occur with a lack of performance and achievement in high school and college.

Watch for lost learning experiences that can impede high school, college and career success. Language and math courses are sequential and progressive.

Skills not mastered in the 3rd through 7th grades result in missing links in the student's progressive learning chain.

Differentiated Learning is the new trend. Ask if your child has been placed in an ability level class and which differentiated level he/she is in. Some ability groupings are positive ways of effective classroom instruction, as students are at the same learning pace. Once in middle school or junior high, students may be placed in English and math classes according to their demonstrated ability.

Preparing for a Higher Education or Job Placement

Those who decide to work at semi-skilled labor in industry need the mental abilities to follow sequences of procedures.

These jobs require that a person be able to read manuals, do mathematical calculations and remember details crucial to job success. Students should learn visual sequencing through support computer programs designed for this purpose.

Competency in language, reading, math, and science is essential for entering college curriculums or obtaining skilled jobs to become self-supporting.

Mastering these subject areas is crucial for those who desire gaining admittance to out-of-state or private schools. Many college fields require several hours of foreign language, science, and math. Often, they require a "B" average for admittance into a major field concentration. Therefore, these foundations must be mastered in earlier grades.

Many college-bound students arrive on campus functioning at junior high school levels in basics such as English and math.This creates a problem as college instruction is faster paced than high school and demands more independent work.Classes start at high functioning levels, leaving no time to "catch up".

As a result, when freshman students are required to take basic math or English courses that they should have mastered in high school, typically, more than 60% can receive a "C" average or lower. For example, remedial math courses in 4-year colleges have increased by 75%.

Remedial college classes are the most highly endowed by the federal government. Parents are then forced to pay extra years of college tuition, which can run $18,000 -$60,000. per year to learn the basic courses that should have been mastered in earlier grades at a lower cost, if any.

If You Don't Prepare Early: There Will be Strain on Both Students and Parents

The consequences of being poorly prepared and getting off to a poor start on the job or in college profoundly affect students and parents alike. Let's consider:

A poorly prepared student may be forced to drop out of high school or college. Plans and goals are reoriented to accept a lesser job or career working for a lower wage.

It is difficult to live on a low wage, which precipitates not only personal hardships but creates social dilemmas.

A struggling student may take a minimum college course load and require extra semesters of work to graduate, achieving only a modest grade point average.

If admittance is not obtained in a desired field, alternative fields must be considered. Often the easily accessible majors or career schools have saturated field entry in which job competition is fierce.

Some students take minimal course loads in order to ease study pressure, and many need five to six years to graduate. This extended luxury costs $18,000 to $60,000 per extra year in tuition costs alone.

Increasing numbers of young people in their 20s are living at home or under the parent umbrella. More parents than ever are subsidizing their young adult offspring, still hoping for miracles. Unfortunately, they request "study skills", search for costly tutoring programs, and the dilemma lies within personal information processing deficiencies. Tensions at home direct that the student reside in their own apartment, which is additional family cost.

Your Personal Involvement Checklist

Education will be a priority in our home. I will research online resources. Parent information portals exist, like our 501 c 3 nonprofit Innovative Learning Stratagems, Inc., and offer many low- cost, affordable directions for assistance.

I will observe my child's speaking, reading, handwriting, and spelling abilities, beginning at age six. If there is any difficulty, I will have him/her tested by a qualified professional. Add-itude magazine offers a free download Learning Disability checklist, and a form letter a parent can write requesting a referral for school special services assistance.  Free Download Learning Disability Checklist

I will carefully follow nationally standardized tests given by my school district, and will look at the percentiles and understand where my child fits into the total picture.

I will communicate with my child's teacher if I have questions.

I will meet with the guidance counselor to see which academic path my child has been placed.

I will review my child's cumulative folder for negative notations.

I will investigate whether my child qualifies to take higher levels of math, science, and English.

If I have any concerns about his educational progress with the basics, I will seek professional cognitive skills testing either by the school or by private professionals.

I am aware that in many cases grades can be inflated, and that my child may not be an A or B student as described by his teacher. Those who receive failing grades receive such for incomplete or missing assignments, not for how well they are completed.

I will make sure homework is not only monitored, but completed and turned in on time with the schools' dashboard of assignments.

I will monitor and limit TV viewing, the Internet, computer video games, and focus on applying quality reading materials.

I will visit my child's school at least twice a year, especially on Parent's Night plus other activities.

By observing and following these procedures, you will save yourself from having life-long financial support of your child and double the expenses spent along the way. These suggestions will make your life less hectic and stressful for all the members of your family.