Sprite learnt a valuable lesson about her part in her own learning this week.
When she returned from visiting Meredith and Merebith she was angry with her Memory Elephant for not creating files and folders where her memories could be filed and easily found when needed.
I found her scolding the Memory Elephant and demanding to know why the elephant had not put any of her memories in files or folders.
I reminded her that Starjump Starfish, Maxine Cowie had advised her in a response that she should create images of files and folders in her mind in order to file and be able to retrieve her memories and instructed her to contact her again; but Sprite had never actually taken the step of creating files.
The Memory Elephant was looking most aggrieved! “I tried to tell her that I can only put the memories in files and folders if Sprite tells me where they have to go! She has to be responsible for setting up the files and telling me where to put all the different memories if she wants to find them again! If I just file them for her without her even thinking about it, she will never know where to find anything! A Memory Elephant can only do so much, you know!”
I was trying to explain to Sprite with the help of Intellectual Dabrowski why the answer to the maths problem was 5 and not 2.
We were going quite well until the other Dabrowski dogs joined the conversation.
Intellectual:” It is really very easy. I am sure Sprite really understands the tables and the number grid and the formulas. She probably just wrote the number facing the wrong way. I told her she should check it again and she didn’t!”
Sensual: “No, it is not just really easy! Sprite did check it again but the numbers don’t look the same in the book. In the book the numbers are just flat and black on white paper but really they should be 3D and all different colours. The colours all have different smells too.”
I had wondered before whether Sprite had a degree of synaesthesia https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/what-colour-is-christmas/ and had spent some time researching it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia and http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/2005/02/autism-imagery-synesthesia-and-genius.html and http://www.mixsig.net/
And then, of course, little Imaginational Dabrowski wanted to add some embellishment to Sensual’s comment.
Imaginational:” And all the numbers have characters and stories too. Two is a graceful swan. Maybe Sprite thought she needed a graceful swan to balance the equation.”
We have used Allie Golon’s maths strategies for Visual Spatial Learners http://www.visual-learners.com/support-files/nbf-6-9-10.pdf and one of these was to create poems or pictures or stories about maths facts.
We have also used the memory training methods on the Memory Sports website at http://memory-sports.com/category/memory-techniques/
And I have shown Sprite how numbers can be turned into pictures as a mnemonic devise for remembering lists such as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21)
“It IS really simple! She understands it. She just drew the number backwards!” reiterated Intellectual.
“I’m not sure now” said Sprite.
Emotional Dabrowski pressed her head against Sprite in a comforting way.
“Ok how about we work through the problem again “I said “Let’s illustrate it with butterflies”
“I like butterflies” said Imaginational “they are so pretty and they float around on the air currents. I could watch them all day!”
“Why bother counting them when you can chase them?” called Psycho Motor as he rushed outside.
“I want to go outside now!” said Sprite.
Dear Starjump Starfish
I did try to design a Dimmer Switch for the Memory Elephant. I tied his trunk in a knot so he would not be able to smell as well and I put a volume control slider on him for his trumpet.
This is what it looked like
But it upset Emotional, the Dabrowski dog. She said it was cruel and wrong to dampen down senses and emotions and the she would report me to the R.S.P.C.M.E. (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Memory Elephants)
And it didn’t really work properly anyway. So I put the Memory Elephant back to the default settings.
Then the Memory Elephant was so happy he went on a creativity retrieval binge and kept me awake all night. That is the circles, bubbles, balloons series. Apparently there will be a triangles and pyramids series coming soon.
I could see that the problems Sprite had been having with studying for the History exam were due to the way the subject had been taught to her and also that she did not have enough understanding of her learning style to make notes in a way that would help her to remember.
The History text book had been very dull with large blocks of small font text and very few illustrations and the teacher had been mainly reading from the text book and only writing the occasional word or date on the board. Sprite had only written down the things that were written on the board; so now when she reread the notes they did not make any sense and the Memory Elephant had not been able to add anything more.
I could also foresee that if Sprite started drawing and appeared to be doodling and fiddling in class the teacher would probably assume she was not paying attention. Sprite and I did some role playing of Sprite asking permission to make pictures with her notes in a respectful way.
I also made an appointment to talk to the teacher and looked for information about the Visual Spatial Learning style that I could take with me. I chose the article ‘I Think in Pictures, You Teach in Words’ by Lesley Sword which I found on Lesley’s Articles and Handouts Page of her Gifted and Creative Services Australia website http://giftedservices.com.au/handouts/index.html
Fortunately when the teacher read the article she could see very clearly how it related to Sprite and also several other students in the class and was anxious to learn more.
I lent her the book ‘Upside down brilliance’ by Dr. Linda Silverman http://www.visualspatial.org/udb.htm
She wanted a copy of her own and I referred her to Helen Dudeney at Australian Gifted Support http://www.australiangiftedsupport.com/index.html
I read the parent companion book ‘Raising Topsy-turvy Kids’ by Alexandra Golon and found that she also had a book for teachers and one for students. http://www.visual-learners.com/books-visual-spatial-learners.html
So Sprite is now happily reading ‘If you could see the way I think’ and I will be giving the teacher a Christmas gift of The Visual-Spatial Classroom Differentiation Strategies that Engage Every Learner http://www.visual-learners.com/the-visual-spatial-classroom.html
Sprite had also received this comment in a Comment Boxfrom Starjump Starfish, Maxine Cowie:
You need a dimmer switch? Hmmm, so do I! But I haven’t been able to find a dimmer switch. Are you sure you want a dimmer switch? If you dim down all the nasty things you see and feel, you will also dim down all the fantastic things you see and feel. Do you really want to be dimmer?
I need not have worried that Sprite had completely given up on studying for the history exam. I found that she had received a reply from Starjump Starfish, Maxine Cowie in the Comments Box and was trying to implement the advice she had been given
Starjump Starfish said:
You’ve had a lovely time, Sprite, avoiding your history notes. Visiting Mrs. P and listening to stories, and reading Stephanie Tolan’s Change your story…. Fantastic. You know why? Because Stephanie is right. Did you know, if you have a picture in your mind that makes you feel no good, try changing the picture and see what happens.
Now about the history notes. I guess when you were in class you didn’t know how to put the information into your memory elephant. No wonder the memory elephant said he doesn’t have them.
OK next time you are in class, and your teacher is talking about something you have to remember, why don’t you try building one of Jo’s fantastic mind maps with pictures, and colours, and words and lines and anything else that you can draw onto your whiteboard to help you remember. Take what she is saying and be creative with how you record it on the whiteboard in your mind. I’ll guarantee your memory elephant will be able to find it for you when you need it.
PS Don’t forget to visualize the picture that you draw on your whiteboard. You might even want to put that picture into a special history box in your mind… There you go… see what you can do with that and get back to me.
HELP Starjump Starfish!
I can’t find the Control Panel on the Memory Elephant!
There must be some way to turn him off or at least turn him down a bit!
Whenever the Memory Elephant brings a memory picture into focus with the telescope I don’t just remember how the scene looked but I can hear all the sounds and smell the smells (I HATE hospital smells!) and feel all the sensations and the emotions. I even feel queasy now just thinking about it.
It is like being right back there again!
I don’t want to do this now!
I just want the stupid elephant to give me back my history notes!
Dear Starjump Starfish
I have found the Mind Map which could be the key to all my memories!
It is the Feetspeak:2E Shoes Quest Map which is the overview of the Feetspeak program. It has signposts and little pictures on it to show all the milestones on the journey.
I have given the Memory Elephant a telescope and we will be able to focus on the different memories one by one.
Maybe I will find my History notes hidden along the Teaching Strategies Road.
Dear Starjump Starfish,
It’s beginning to look like ‘A Beautiful Mind’ here!
The Memory Elephant filled up the whiteboard and then he started painting on the walls.
And some of the stuff I don’t even need to remember any more.
And the Memory Elephant has lost my History notes! I am sure he should have them but he says I didn’t ever give them to him.
How can I make the Memory Elephant show me the memories I need when I need them?
Dear Starjump Starfish,
This is really great!
The memory elephant has written stuff on the whiteboard in my mind that I hadn’t even realised that I had memorised!