Friday, April 24, 2015

Memory Master- Why & How?

Last week I posted about Flower achieving the status of Classical Conversation's Memory Master.
What exactly is that, you ask?  Memory Master means that a student has mastered the 24 weeks of memory work in 7 subject areas to the point that they can recite it word- perfect, not just once, but multiple times.

In order to achieve Memory Master, kids go through 4 proofs. Week21- parent proof, Week 22 other parent proof, Week 23 Tutor Proof, Week 24 Director Proof. The third proof is actually the most rigorous as the student must go through the entire year's worth of memory work with 100 % accuracy. The first three proofs take about 2 hours each. This is a test of knowledge as well as stamina and performance!
What did we do? CC Cycle 3
This year the kids memorized over 400 pieces of information
160 point Timeline that includes people and events
24 History Sentences based on the cycle (this year was Cycle 3 so Age of Exploration to the present), including the Bill of Rights and Preamble to the Constitution
44 Presidents
120 geographic features and locations in the U.S.- states and capitals, rivers, mountains, deserts, bays, canals, great lakes, historical trails, territories, prominent features
24 science facts, focusing on Human Anatomy and Chemistry
Latin rules and vocabulary and John 1:1-7 in Latin
English grammar- focusing, on verbs and John 1:1-7
Multiplication tables through 15 X 15, squares, cubes, geometric formulas, unit conversions and algebraic rules.
Word Perfect. 
It's a big deal. 

How did we do it? 
1- Flower made the decision to do it. This was a huge part of the task, because without internal buy-in, you will be kicking and screaming and so will they (because, believe me, even with a highly motivated child who memorizes well, this will take intentional time and effort on the part of the parent).
2- We jumped ahead on memory work by weeks, going through week 24 by week 12.
3- Then, we followed the weekly review schedule on 1/2 Hundred Acre Woods, going over 2 subject areas, in their entirety,once a week. We also went over John 1: 17 in Latin and English and the Presidents 3 times a week,
4- The CD's were integral to our program, as Flower listened to the Subject CD each day that she proofed that subject areas, went through the Timeline at least twice a week and did the weekly CD 3 times per week. That's a lot of listening!
5- We formed a Memory Master wanna-be study group with others in our community and met several times together to drill, play games and offer encouragement- all 3 participants succeeded in their goal of attaining MM!

Why did we do it? 
1 -There is the obvious answer is proving that you can. Some kids are ready for a rigorous academic challenge. Some kids want to know that they can go up against something hard and win.
2 - As is proved to me in living color each year during Shakespeare Camp season, there is deep and meaningful learning that takes place by the very act of committing information to long term memorization. One's understanding grows and develops, even if the only thing you do is memorize (that's why Memory is the Mother of learning).
3- Your kids will learn what it takes to work for and accomplish something difficult
4 - Along with #3, your kids will always have this as a benchmark in their lives that they can refer to and draw strength and courage from
5- It prepares students for the rigor and fun of the Dialectic and Rhetoric stage, as they have vast amounts of knowledge committed to memory- they own it and it is theirs to draw from and refer to at will, for the rest of their life! What a gift!
6- You will have the added benefit of younger kids learning more than they would have if there wasn't a Memory Master student in their house and the added benefit of older students (including Momma- redeeming 2 generations at a time, baby!) reviewing material they've already over viewed or mastered- either way, it's a two-fer! 

What if they work hard and don't make Memory Master? Celebrate the time on task anyway. Perhaps they accomplished 1-6 subject areas perfectly. Do something to reward that. Take the first two proofing's very seriously and if the kids can't pass them, re-focus, celebrate what they've done and commit to next year. 

What if they work hard and do make Memory Master? In our community that means community recognition and a Memory Master's t-shirt. In our house, that also meant a reward of choice- for Flower that's a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo (complete with brothers in tow!). Road trip, animals and family are where it's at for our happy, talented Memory Master. 

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