Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Two #WorkingMemory #ExecutiveFunction Skills That You Can't Do W/O


If ever their were two most popular executive function skills, they would be in the Working Memory Family.

Short and Long Term Working Memory get called into action and impact just as much when they are used, to when they are not in use. Short-Term Working Memory's definition is the ability to hold information while outputting/ inputing new information. For example, when Short-Term Working Memory is exercised, it works swimmingly well for the ability to listen to a professor speak new information, while writing notes of information said by the professor just three to fifteen seconds or so. At the same time, Short-Term Working Memory connects and collaborates with other Executive Function Skills present to not only play its part, but to do so as part of a larger orchestration that includes his bigger sister, Long-Term Working Memory. 

She is known for her ability to retrieve long-ago information from weeks, to months or decades, and bring it to her little brother Short-Term WM who works the 'front end.' Long-Term works the 'back end'... Short-Term works the front end. They synchronize and each's job is integral and needs the other. Long-Term WM's abilities make it possible to recall memories that include, but are not limited too 'stored information' that can be cross-file retrieved by a similar sound, touch, voice, smell, visual, thought or feeling. 

Golden Nugget of Intellectual Property

If one can cross-file retrieve information and the definition, or the current definition of Working Memory EF skills implies the ability to store and retrieve information, then we can also purposefully cross-file store information in scientific ways. For example, in elementary school mathematics class, a student may learn a term which is a 'helper' to remembering something bigger, like PEMDAS, which is a mathematical order of operations to follow, (Parantheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction). The acronym is like a 'short cut' button that 'brings forth' stored information easily. 

If One can cross-file retrieve information, and cross-file store information actively and passively, then the ways we can cross-file store information need not be restricted to acronyms, but be viewed as almost unexplored territory. 

I sat down with a high school buddy just the other day.. a banker. But he didn't talk banking to me. He talked to me about how he now stores and retrieves information for the long-term. Here I thought, what an odd conversation to have, but being a Special Educator and Executive Function Skills Coach, it was welcome. I liked the fact that he's the one who brought it up, and not me. I was intrigued, and what followed was amazing. He did not recreate the wheel, but he has cornered the market in two ways already. He has come up with an innovative, practical, easy to use executive function long-term working memory tool and strategy to tone said skill in a laser-focused way that invites the participant to be creative and imaginative about HOW they go about storing this information. Secondly, you don't need to keep revisiting the website over a lifetime and use that specific software over and over again because you learn to cross-file store in a natural way. Their is a 'break away' moment whereby the mind itself adapts the practice and experience of using the software and extrapolates it with usable 'shortcut methods' that resemble or mirror key cross-file storing principles acquired from the software.

Thus, the person can think outside the box, and get rid of the box altogether via the acquisition of the principles outside the confines of having to sit in front of a computer screen.  I think this is genius, it is generous, and it is an example of open source information that parents and educators can take from or integrate into their home coaching or instructional approach.

My three children like it when I start creating a story right on the spot. They gravitate to this kind of interaction and it is interesting to gauge their response to having storytelling be a part of the daily or weekly routine. By no great feat of the imagination, students of any age can store information by coding a story in their mind, complete with mental images. The use of the software offers different methods or pathways to practice the long-term storing of information, as well as allowing you to create your own.

I think it is an important new tool that should be noted. He has not recreated the wheel, but he has something significantly helpful to children and adults across who struggle with learning and remembering what they learned.

From my teaching experiences across the country, including Boston, Hawai'i, Connecticut, New York and now Puerto Rico, working in both public and private schools, and at family homes, for student-age children and young adults with executive function skill deficits, ADHD, and autism, the single most challenging aspect is remembering information long enough to be able to use or act on it successfully. Continuity does not catch on quick if you can't remember what you needed to remember..much less if it is not engaging. Back-door approaches to learning on the other hand can 'jimmy' your ability, or your kid's ability to circumvent frustration, anxiety, tension, and wasted study time into rapidly storing information in an effective way.  This applies to middle school kids trying to study for tests, college students who wish they could do better 'smart studying,' or even someone studying for a legal exam, or in graduate school.

A visual, storytelling online platform that helps tone long term working memory in a laser-focused way that is unorthodox to commonly known study skill tools can engage children to study differently, and THINK ABOUT studying differently. 

In the next post I will talk about how the practice of 'thinking about studying differently,' is the golden goose that lays the golden metacognitive eggs.

CoachBill is available in person in Puerto Rico, New York City, Connecticut, Martha's Vineyard or by video chat. www.CoachBill.US




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