Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper
Activity: Flash Plates
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
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
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.