The Five Steps to Successful Memory-Building
One of the most exciting facts about the plastic brain is that the brain is never quite the same and is changing with every new piece of information we learn. This means that the brain can just keep getting better and better with mental practice, provided you are operating in your gift and building memory correctly. The systematic thinking-to-understand mental process captured within the Switch On Your Brain 5-Step Learning Process will forever change the way you learn and will stretch your potential to untold horizons. It will change your brain. It will change you and can be applied in all spheres of life!
Please be aware that this process will not work properly unless all five steps are used correctly. Each is designed to take you beyond short-term memory and into building effective and useful long-term memory. Each is also designed to take advantage of a particular brain process, with all steps collectively moving toward the goal of memory building and learning. The five steps are:
- Input: read, listen, watch
- Reflect: ask, answer, discuss
- Write: create the Metacog
- Recheck: check for accuracy
- Output: reteach
Step 1: Input
The goal of input is straightforward: to understand what we are hearing, reading, and experiencing, and to get the information into the brain properly. Information enters the brain as a quantum signal through our senses and as an electromagnetic signal close to an area called the entorhinal cortex
Here’s how you can ensure that information is properly entered in the Input process:
- Always read with a guide. This is an instrument to guide your eyes while you are reading. This could be your finger, a pencil, or a pointer—not a ruler, folded piece of paper, or bookmark, as these block the text.
- Read out loud. Do this wherever and whenever possible, which obviously depends on your immediate circumstances.
- Read a chunk of information at a time . A chunk is between one to three sentences long, a bite-sized amount of information. We cannot build memory properly when we read through a large section of work at once and try to memorize it.
- Have the right attitude about what you read.
A wrong mindset affects the quantum and electrochemical reactions in the brain, which, in turn, will affect your understanding of what you are reading, slowing you down. Be as interactive with the material as you can.
Step 2: Focused Thinking/Reflect
Think to understand the information you are trying to remember. Thinking to understand involves three steps: asking, answering, and discussing. For the Focused Thinking step:
- Read a chunk of information—between.
- Stop and ask yourself what you have read.
- Now, answer yourself by looking at what you have just read.
- Next, discuss this chunk of information with yourself, still looking at the sentence(s) you have just read.
As you are discussing, check how much you have circled . If it is more than 40 percent of a page, you have circled too much and probably don’t understand yet. Go back and reread and rediscuss until you can reduce what you have circled down to 15 to 35 percent of the content.
Step 3: Writing/Metacog
The Writing step involves writing the information down that you selected during the analytical Focused Thinking step. Caroline recommends you use the “brain friendly” way of writing she has created, called the Metacog (Learn What’s a Metacog and How to Create One).
It is really important to write concepts down through the ask/answer/discuss process, because this reinforces healthy dendrite growth and really forces you to think about your thinking. The brain operates like a quantum computer, and deep-thinking mind action provides the signal to the quantum computer. As you think you create signals in your brain; as you write words down in the brain-friendly format, you reinforce and strengthen the quantum signals and what you have just grown in the dendrites. You are literally influencing your genetic expression and growing your brain at will!
Step 4: Recheck/Revisit
Recheck is the fourth step of the Switch On Your Brain 5-Step Learning Process. This is the next important step that contributes to the building of useful long-term memory into the dendrites.
It’s a very simple yet extremely powerful process.
All you have to do is deliberately and intentionally go through your Metacog to see if it makes sense and if it has all the necessary required information on it. It goes without saying that you can’t learn from something that doesn’t make sense to you. The Recheck process is a cross-evaluation of the content of your Metacog.
For the Recheck step:
- Make sure you understand the Metacog you have made.
- Make certain you are happy with the information you have selected, which will be in concept form.
- Look for whether you have too much or too little information.
- Ask yourself if the Metacog makes sense, and if it doesn’t, edit till it does.
- Check whether you have organized the information in a logically associated way.
- Check for cross-linking of information.
- Check if you can make the concepts easier to remember by adding more pictures, symbols, or colors, or maybe even deleting some words or images.
Step 5: Output/Reteach
Output/Reteach is the final step of the Switch On Your Brain 5-Step Learning Process. In this step, you need to play “teacher” and sequentially reteach all the information that is on your Metacog.
Teach it to your dog, your cat, or whoever will or won’t listen to you! You can even reteach yourself in the mirror. Explain what you are learning out loud. Using all your senses will make your brain work harder, and your memory will be more effective as a result
How to do the Output step:
- Since this is the step where you reteach yourself, stick your Metacog up somewhere.
- Teach it to someone or something—even to a pet, or to yourself in the mirror. If you don’t have another living being handy, you can even teach your pencil!
- Reteach in the way that you would like to have had the information explained to you or as though you are explaining to people in a second language. This involves explaining what you have learned carefully in multiple ways and in detail, and elaborating by way of extra examples.
- The Output/Reteach step involves imagining and seeing as though watching a movie of exactly what it is you are learning. Paint a picture in your mind of the information on the Metacog. In other words, make the information on your Metacog come alive. Use your imagination—research has shown that imagination leads to great physical changes in the memory.
- Continue reteaching until you can answer difficult questions without even looking at the Metacog.
- You will normally have to go through the Metacog at least three times before you can confidently teach with full understanding, better than your teacher or lecturer or boss.
- It is at this point that you are ready to go into the test or examination, give the presentation, run the meeting, or solve a problem, with or without looking at the Metacog.
- If you find while reteaching that something is not clear on your Metacog, then this is the time to look back at your notes or text and fix it up.
- Look for trigger words, phrases, or images that bring back whole chunks of information into your mind.
- This step should be done two to three days before a test, exam, or presentation. Before the test, you should go through the previous three steps daily or weekly, working through sections of information and making your Metacogs.