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Author Topic: Memorization method  (Read 122918 times)
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« Reply #90 on: May 28, 2012, 12:58:33 AM »

Absolutely- arguing with an open mind expands the mind!

There are a lot of points here that you are assuming (of my stance) that are incorrect - eg that I am advocating for something that is widely accepted as 'best practice'. If it was then our children wouldnt be in the situation there are. My point was the what most believe is 'best practice' is NOT in the best interests of our children. And if they didnt believe it to be best practice why use it? So my posts (see new thread about the Reading Whisperer approach) are speaking out about what is widely used!!! Instead I am urging people to think about what really is best practice regardless of ingrained beliefs. And when we look at brain plasticity research etc we see alot more about what is actually happening in the brain to response to certain 'training'. We can now see brain imaging studies- looking at how poor readers brains can be changed- to function as good readers. The children who learn easily no matter what we do arent really of interest to me- my area of interest are the others. And thats alot of children! So until we really look at how we can best help these children- who have very similar difficulties- then we cant really assume what 'best practice' is.
Parents often advocate for whatever they used with their own child- if it worked- but I am interested in those who dont and in preventing this. To prevent it we need to get in early- and so my stance is that we should be educating and empowering parents so they use what is likely to be the best approach (not program or method) even if they dont know yet how their child's brain works. In most cases parents and teachers follow what theyve done - that works with other children. Then they think the child just needs to do it more often, or that they have special needs etc... but actually they dont have a brain that processes this easily- and need to be taught in specific ways (usually to develop phonological - and especially phonemic- awareness)

I am a big fan of the Dr Paula Tallal etc. - and Im unusual in that Im not just fascinated by research but Ive actually been teaching children for 20 years and as I said on another thread, many children have suffered because of my learning journey. I look back now and realise I could have done things better for that child, now that I know more- not just about the 'what' to teach but the 'how' to teach it - to the many different learning styles, interests, personalities etc of my students. One of the most important concepts I grasp now is that we need to focus on oral language first- in the early years- in a specific way- as a way to prevent reading and spelling difficulties - and that we can identify these 'non reading' brains early- the brains with that potential if we DONT do certain things. Thats not every child of course- but its the children who need this in order to develop reading brains that I am interested in. Because we are on the whole failing these children in English speaking countries, miserably. As was shown on another post non-English speaking countries can often be seen to teach English in the 'non' widely accepted ways- no teaching of letter names or sight word memorising etc. Infact many refugees coming into Australia outperform Australian students (there was an interesting article about it in the Australian not so long ago)
I am definitely flouting the widely accepted wisdom - see my posts and how they have been criticised - because I am not agreeing with their methods. Widely accepted ideas are NOT what most reading scientists tell us! Or government reports....But society continues to ingore them because they go against their own belief system. Instead I look to what actually changes brains- I look to the latest research - combined with what Im am learning from teaching.

<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

Im actually not disagreeing Im saying they could be even better...prevent more difficulties and confusion- children could have learnt more quickly - and with more curiosity and more of an intrinsic motivation to self-discover. You mention a child being self-directed- this as at the heart of my approach! Id love for more parents to learn more so more children could be home schooled (effectively)

You also mention that on occasion you insist he does things- so you may have an internal dilema going on there between the path you want for him and the path he may actually want. A struggle we all have...:-)  I am also hoping that you have as much interest in him developing social and emotional intelligence - with children of his own age...again the dilema of home schooling. A different discussion....

You say that my belief is that the purpose of reading in the early years should simply be a focus on language - I have never said that. I have said that the foundation is developing oral abilities - especially phonological awareness- so that they can understand print (through phonics) more quickly and easily. 
Scientific learning is at the centre of my approach- not widely accepted beliefs:-)

And if you watch the video link I sent you youll see that I actually point out that we wouldnt teach a mathematical theory and ask them to just memorise it - we would teach them the underlying principles so they understand it.

Its here again

Great to have such an interesting discussion - thank you! If you read my posts youll see that we are actually very much on the same page. However with my female brain the focus for me with children is just as much on the emotional part for the child- and in their emotional resillience and 'life skills' etc as the academic outcome.



« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 01:14:00 AM by ReadingWhisperer » Logged
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« Reply #91 on: May 29, 2012, 03:15:29 AM »

Hi Em, Loved the point about teaching the underlying priciples. As a child and  still today as an adult I am able to pick things up quicker and more likely keep them in my long tearm memory if I know the hows and the whys behind things. I'm wired up that way. In my case I really enjoyed maths in school until I had a really incompetent teacher in grade 9 who actaully wasn't a maths teacher. He couldn't tell my why and how things worked and I went from being a straight A student in Maths to a D student. I found most students where happy being told that this is what works and this is what we use but I wonder if they every retained any of that knowledge for the long term.

The other thing that hindered me retaining things for the long term was teachers saying silly things when students asked if they were ever going to use what they learn in a real life situation. I even recall in primary school teachers replying that no they will never used it in a real life. If only the teacher took time to realise that math skills and commuincation skill are so important if you want to be sucessfull in so many different areas of your life.

Daddude I know for me something like spaced repetion (especailly for the subjects I loved) would have helped me to retain information beyond exams. I never truely studdied even at university and retained enough information to pass (in subjects I wasn't really interested in) and sometimes even achive high marks (in subjects that I really loved) in an exam. But ask me about it now 5 years down the track and I wouldn't have a single clue. On the other hand ask me about the books that I own in my library and I would be able to give you detailed information simply because I read them approximately once a year. The ones that i received in childhood and haven't read for a few years would be the same.

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« Reply #92 on: August 30, 2012, 12:59:24 PM »

 I'll be brief because I am on the ipad.
I didnt read this thread until now and found it highly interesting.Thank you, daddude for starting it and for letting us learn from your experience. May I ask for an update on how you are doing and if H's Retention of the reading content has risen as much as you hoped for?

Thanks in advance


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« Reply #93 on: August 30, 2012, 03:53:26 PM »

OK, here's a report!

I love Supermemo. Although we didn't study so much over the summer, we continued to do Supermemo review daily. During summer we stopped adding questions and tried to get the daily commitment down to something manageable, but then about a month ago I decided to upgrade to the latest Supermemo which enabled us to put questions in priority order and "postpone" any items that are left over. So now we review 40-50 questions per day, no more. Now we're adding lots of questions every day, 10-15 per day I guess. We now have over 1,000 questions in the database, and according to Supermemo's statistics, he has 92% retention of this material. It used to be 95%, but went down after we started using the priority+postponing feature. This is to be expected: if you increase the amount of material in the database more than you can effectively memorize, your retention rate will drop. But I say it's better to have 90% retention of virtually all the material we want to retain than 95% retention of only a very modest amount of material. The most difficult part of the priority+postponing feature has been going back and prioritizing ~800 old items. I still have 400-500 items to prioritize. But it's really a great system--works excellently. We almost always review the stuff that I think is important, and we do eventually get around to less important stuff.

We've added questions from two new sources. Beginning this new school year, H. has been reading (to himself, during his hour-long reading period) Tom Sawyer and Treasure Island, the originals, without much complaint and even with a bit of enthusiasm. But since these are quite advanced, of course he doesn't know quite a bit of the vocabulary. So I sit him down with my iPad, with the dictionary app open (and a stern warning not to open any other apps), and he looks up words he doesn't know. Afterwards, sometimes (only 1/3 or 1/2 of the time) I mine his words looked up for items to add to Supermemo. He has memorized a few dozen vocab items that way. Another thing he does now is read to himself nonfiction a half-hour and sometimes a full hour, in addition. This is because I am now using mealtimes to read to baby E., not H. Since I have no time to read and analyze this nonfiction material for him, I have him make questions after he's done reading. He ends up making far too many questions, half of them being about trivia that he needn't memorize, but half of them being perfectly fine. This is also an excellent way to get him to think about what he has just read. I type in a selection of his questions and I think he enjoys seeing material that he read to himself.

This has made it possible for him to read and learn a lot from various books about the human body (his latest "what I want to be when I grow up" is a doctor). We got the entire "Horrible Science" series in a box, $50 or so for 3000+ pages (, which looks great and he's been reading them just for fun quite a bit. It has a lot about the human body, about 5 books relevant. Very much a boy's series of books. Anyway, sometimes he makes questions about those, but more often his questions are from the "True Books" we got.

In just the last week we switched from one long review, which was cutting into evening reading time, to three short reviews, before breakfast, after lunch, and before bedtime reading, each session 15 questions in 7.5 minutes. Often we do more than 15 which is good. Timing the review sessions keeps H. on track--otherwise he gets distracted. 7.5 minutes turns out to be an excellent review length: long enough to do a substantial amount, short enough to seem, well, short. Occasionally we've done 10 minutes three times a day but that seems like a little too much.

H. can do review by himself, although I don't usually ask him to. I'm fairly confident that when E. is ready to start Supermemo, when he's 4 or 5 or so I guess (I wouldn't have wanted to do it with H. before age 5), then H will be 9 or 10, and I think he'll be able to take over all aspects, question-writing and review. I'll be sad because I won't be able to learn everything H. is learning. I'm learning a lot too!

Occasionally H. resists review, but not as much as in the past. Doing it three times a day has made him even more amenable. He is often quite enthusiastic about adding questions and requests that questions be made out of this or that.

One excellent side-benefit of this system is that there is now an easy way to get H. to solidify his memory of all the little pieces of background information: time, measurements, directions, family birth dates, etc. We also use it to solidify his memory of things like skip counting by 3s, 4s, and 6s, and the random addition or multiplication fact that just isn't sticking.

The bottom line: H. really is learning a lot. If we keep it up, then I am convinced that with significant time investment and support from me, in the first years of doing it, he's going to know boatloads about everything by the time he is 10. He'll have memorized zillions of facts he has studied about every period of history, every branch of science, geography, math, grammar, etc.

Reading Bear's benefactor is very interested in adding a spaced repetition feature to Reading Bear. This will take money and time so I don't know when you might see it.

H. is no longer reviewing just occupies too much time and we couldn't fit it in along with the Supermemo review.

End of brain dump!


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« Reply #94 on: August 30, 2012, 04:05:59 PM »

Thanks for the brain dump!!!!

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« Reply #95 on: August 30, 2012, 06:46:40 PM »

Thank you so much, dadDude! You get me motivated for looking into supermemo which at first didnt seem so attractive when you remarked you had to read long manuals and did a bit of research by yourself. I contacted them and they said they offer an iphone app and plan on launching their ipad app in the 4th quarter 2012 - is anybody using this and can share his/her opinion of it please? Thanks


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« Reply #96 on: August 30, 2012, 08:54:33 PM »

daddude do you use window version of super memo ?? or ipad ??


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« Reply #97 on: August 30, 2012, 09:05:07 PM »

I had been waiting to bump this thread once Reading Bear was completed, but decided to give you extra time...  LOL

It's great to read these updates, I mean really really great. I have absolutely no doubt that H's learning is accelerating and will be far advanced from where he would have been without. Thanks again & keep up the great efforts!


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« Reply #98 on: August 31, 2012, 04:10:11 AM »

@PokerDad - thanks!

@viv, we use the Windows version. The problem with the iPad version is that (as far as I could tell, last time I looked) there is no way to export your (all-important!) data from the iPad app to the desktop app. It's very annoying. I really like Piotr, the Supermemo guy, but if he doesn't want to do something (like make the program more user-friendly), he doesn't do it! But maybe they'll fix that. Anyway, for now, even though I would much prefer to use my iPad, I'm using the desktop.

Besides, when you get down to it, you'd have to have the software & the app accessing your data "in the cloud." There'd be no other way to make it work, because you constantly have to be at the keyboard, and I don't want to input questions using the iPad. There are also lots of features of the software that I use that I'm pretty sure I couldn't use on the iPad. Maybe we'll do it by accessing my desktop via my iPad, with one of those programs that lets you do that, but...nah, the desktop has to be on and not sleeping, and to ensure that, we'll already be at the computer. So...


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« Reply #99 on: October 16, 2012, 02:28:01 AM »

Thought I might give the thread a little bump in hopes to know how H's memorization is coming along. In particular, I'm wondering if you've noticed his retention beginning to influence further uptake, or stated another way, if he's learning faster than he was before. I'd also be curious if you've noticed any other ancillary benefits


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« Reply #100 on: November 04, 2012, 02:41:02 AM »

Hi PokerDad,

Wish I had more time to chat here, but lately I just can't seem to find the time.

Learning faster than he was before? I wouldn't say so, not in any noticeable way. If anything, we have to read more slowly because time to record and review questions is time taken away from reading. Still, even if we aren't reading as much, I think it's totally worth it, because he remembers so much more than he was able to before. I think his ability to produce a quick answer has increased a little, perhaps; perhaps his capacity for memory has improved since we started doing this memory work.

In a certain way I guess it does help, a little, to have learned certain facts more reliably. In both history and science we go over the same topics sometimes several times, in different sources. We get it in one source, start memorizing the basics, and then when we go through it the second time, we can start focusing on more of the details or filling in the gaps. But this is a feature of how we study that others might not use. Where they might do a bunch of exercises or a project, we'll read another book...not to say we never do projects. Mostly, though, beyond math, Latin, and piano, studying means either reading, writing, or reviewing with SuperMemo.

Anyway, you might find this video interesting:

<a href="" target="_blank"></a>


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« Reply #101 on: November 04, 2012, 11:09:58 PM »

Thanks for the video.  I have been very interested in how the super memo application would work.  It makes sense that if you are going to teach you would teach in a way so that its retained.

I have been using Memrise on myself lately.  I find it to work very well.  I have expanded my vocabulary garden in both Chinese and Spanish to 200 words each.  I have noticed that the more you add the more your time spent on the site grows.   I have wondered if this levels out at all.  I spend about twenty minutes a day total on the site which isn't too bad at all considering that in the last 2 and half weeks have have grown my vocabulary in two languages by 200 words.  I can say though that I will have to create my own courses if I want to use them with my children as some of the vocabulary is very adult oriented. 

I have thought about Anki cards because it free.  Someone made a course for the first Story of the World book.  I thought it might be interesting to try out, but I am waiting to get the book to start.

As you add more information and words it does appear that time studying grows in order to retain the information for the long term.  Have you found that right amount of information to put into the memory card systems that isn't too much that slowly adds a steady amount of information without becoming too overwhelming?  Five facts a day per subject?  Two or three facts a day?  Would a unit study regiment be more preferable with this technique where you focus on a particular subject at a time (for example studying the human body for a week or month or greek myths) or is it preferable to just study several different unrelated subjects (like biology, history, Latin, etc) and add a few facts of each subject per day to your memory card system?

Thanks for any insights.  Love his enthusiasm for Super Memo.   


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« Reply #102 on: November 04, 2012, 11:48:29 PM »

Thank you for the video. I really enjoyed it!

To chime in with an answer to cokers... I've found in using Anki that study time is directly related to NEW content. When I was introducing 20+ new things per day and they were "cold" (having to learn it via Anki and not refreshing my memory necessarily) my study time was substantial (like 30 minutes plus and probably more on the plus). When very few items are being introduced, it's all review and it goes much faster. I'm just starting back up from not doing it since Cub was born, and in all my decks, I have about 8 hours to catch up on 4 months of missed review (it gives you a time estimate until you're finished). I'll get there.... slowly! Fortunately, most of it is now review, but I've been adding things here or there the last 4 months just so that I didn't forget, ha ha.


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« Reply #103 on: November 05, 2012, 02:20:15 AM »

Thanks, PokerDad and cokers4life. I agree with PokerDad's answer, study time is most closely related to new content. That said, even if you stop inputting new content, while you'll fairly quickly drop down from any ultra-high review levels, your daily review commitment goes down only very slowly. At least, that's what we discovered last summer when we went for 4-6 weeks without adding any (or very few) new questions, but were still reviewing religiously.

We do not review all of the questions assigned to a given date. We always, every day, "postpone" 40-50 items. But it's OK! It still works out quite well! SuperMemo has a nifty (but time-consuming) feature called "prioritization" to assist with this. Basically, it makes sure that the higher-priority stuff remains at the highest memory levels, while the lower-priority stuff can be more hit-or-miss. Works quite well, except for the clunkiness of the interface for inputting the priority data. Right now I've got a backlog of hundreds of items I need to estimate priorities for...

« Last Edit: November 05, 2012, 02:24:06 AM by DadDude » Logged

Larry Sanger -
How and Why I Taught My Toddler to Read:
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« Reply #104 on: November 06, 2012, 11:20:04 PM »

Hi...  I love this memorization method.  I am also closely watching this.  I do wish the softwares were more integrated with the iPad because it is easier to review for the kid on the go. 

Daddude, thanks for the informative video.  Your sin is doing great, you are inspiration to many of us, as I am sure you already know.   Just one other thing, I noticed his glasses at such an early age.  You might have already looked over this, but I really recommend going here:    I really thing you should give plus glasses a try otherwise his eye sights will only get worse with negative powered glasses because I assume he is reading quite a lot.

Take care....good luck.

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