Mirror Therapy and Other Study Methods

October 20, 2016

Dear Families,

Warm weather continues to fade into the sunset that makes its way into our day earlier and earlier. One of these days, I will remember my coat for morning traffic. Most likely, the day after the first snowfall.  As a child, I learned most of my lessons through trial and error. My mom liked to call the error consequences. I don’t like to play semantics. I digress.

Throughout Fall Break, I reflected and pondered this week’s topic.  I realized that my topics the past few updates focused on the opportunity for two unique learner profiles.  So this week, I determined that I would provide families with a variety of study strategies.  Each strategy aims at engaging learners regardless of learning style.  In my humble opinion, the first strategy produces the greatest result. 

A few weeks into Maddy’s freshman year, I came home to find writing on the bathroom mirror. I walked past the bathroom unphased by the scribbling.  Three hours later, in the middle of grading papers, I blurted out, “Why is there writing on the mirror in the bathroom upstairs?”  Maddy responded, “I’m studying.”

Excuse me?

Turns out, my daughter taught herself a study technique after learning about the benefits of Mirror Therapy for amputees.  This technique became her go to study method. She primarily used it for classes that gave her the most challenge.  I seldom remember a day in the school year that the mirror was void of writing. The reflection of the writing in her brain triggered stronger retrieval for challenging information. Mirror Therapy provides amputees relief from phantom pain. The brain retrieves the memory of the limb. The mirror sabotages the brain into believing the limb is attached.

As Maddy rewrote her notes on the mirror each day, her brain created long-term memory stores. Her study time decreased and her recall increased. Her test scores improved. To this day she uses this technique on work that creates the biggest challenge for her. I would encourage you to try this or any of the methods listed.  Try each of them. Brainstorm techniques that are not listed. Establish a pattern of studying…even when you’re told, “I don’t have any homework.” I will spare you the boring details of short term to long term memory challenges. But believe me, I have details readily available complete with case study support if you ever want to chat for a few hours. I digress. I hope that one or all of these methods help.

1.  Use Expo markers, and write charts, vocabulary words or other key learnings from your classes on your bathroom mirror (with parent approval of course). You can read it every day. The color and reflection will stimulate your brain and improve your recall. It comes off with steam (beware) or Windex and a paper towel.

2. Make 3 x 5 cards with vocabulary words and definitions on the front of them.  Then, post them around your house on specific objects.  Walk your house reading the definition and word.  The concrete object and physical action will help your brain connect the word to the item. You will be able to visualize the word quickly on a test.

3. Create a graphic organizer from my site and use it for other classes.  A timeline would help in history.  A Venn Diagram would help with comparing and contrasting topics from any class.

4. Illustrate your notes.

5. Teach your notes to a parent, friend, or pet.

6.  Use an interactive quiz site like Quizlet to help you learn the information discussed in class.

7. Play charades with your notes, vocabulary words, or key terms.

8. Rewrite your notes in different colors.

9. Spend 10 to 15 minutes a night creating questions from current class notes. Then practice the notes for 10 to 15 minutes each night until the test.

10.  Make a flip chart out of 3 X 5 cards and a file folder for vocabulary words, math formulas, historical events, and new terms or vocabulary for Spanish.

As always, please know that my primary goal is to keep your child safe as they navigate the murky waters of middle school.  It is developmentally appropriate for them to be forgetful, emotional, and unpredictable. If your student demonstrates one or more of these, congratulations! You are doing everything right!

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley

Food for Thought: Cool at 13; Adrift at 23


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