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Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate"

Activity: Flash Plates

Flash_Card_plate.jpg (9810 bytes)

You've heard of flash cards?  Consider Flash Plates.

Some people suggest young children learn concepts better when the material is presented on a circular medium.  Next time, instead of showing children rectangular flash cards, show equations that are written on round paper.  Build a stack of small plates with equations written on both sides for economy and for conservation.  Perhaps write all addition problems on the fronts of plates and all subtraction problems on the backs of plates.  Mix the stack and flash.

Maria Almendarez Barron writes:

Research on the brain and learning is providing exciting insights for teachers, in many ways providing new understandings, in other ways giving authoritative confirmation for classroom practices. Below are intentionally provocative statements, each with a brief description of how this implication can be drawn from the research.

The children who can learn from flashcards will learn better if the card is round. The brain has evolved into a finely tuned thinking organ, but an evolutionary pitfall lurks! When humans are under stress, their brains automatically "downshift" to a lower functioning level. This design allows fingers to pull away from a hot pan before the thought "I need a potholder" can even be formulated, but it just as easily sacrifices thinking and learning to such "survival" responses. Under stress, humans drop from the thinking level, to the emotional level, and eventually to the "fight or flight" survival level.

Shapes can be ranked developmentally, based on the age at which each shape can be easily recognized and copied. The circle is first shape learned, at about developmental age three. Those children who can benefit from flash cars will be most successful when they are working at a slightly challenging level where they can safely extend their skills. This means they will feel a small amount of stress. To keep them from "downshifting" their thinking, flashcards should show the least stressful, most recognizable of all shapes: the circle. Circular cards generally allow children to focus more strongly on the content of the flashcard, because the round shape is least distracting. Pennsylvania teachers who have tried this report that their students did actually recall the content of round flashcards better than the traditional flashcards.

See: Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. Renate & Geoffrey Caine, Addison Wesley, New York, 1991. Also, books by Barbara Meister Vitale.

Source:  Surprising Truths : The Implications of Brain Research by Maria Almendarez Barron; Early Childhood Educators' and Family Web Corner at http://users.stargate.net/~cokids/brain.html

Contributed by Chuck Bueter.

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