Monday, January 23, 2012

What is a Memory Master?

About this time last year, our director called to find out if Stephen would like to try to become a Memory Master.  At the time, I thought it meant he would have to have all three cycles of material memorized, and the daunting proofing tables at the back of our Foundations Guide filled me with apprehension.  But instead of taking you through that whole experience in this blog post, feel free to read about when we decided to try for Memory Master during Cycle 2

Now that the spring semester is upon us, we are once again preparing for the Memory Master Proofing Process.  I take great courage in knowing that we were able to "catch up" when we were SO MANY WEEKS behind at this point last year.  So if you are saying, "We can't do this because we left timeline back at about week 3... and math back at about the 7s times tables," take heart!  You can still do this thing, EVEN IF you're that far behind!

What do Memory Masters Memorize for Cycle 3?

·         160 events and people in a chronological timeline
·         24 history sentences to “put some flesh” on our timeline (including the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution,  the Bill of Rights, and U.S. historical events from Columbus to 9/11)
·         44 U.S. Presidents
·         120 locations and geographic  features in North America:
o   States & Capitals
o   U.S. Rivers, Mountains and Deserts
o   U.S. Bays, Canals, and Great Lakes
o   Historical Trails
o   Territories, Terrains, and other prominent features
·         24 science facts, including (but not limited to):
o   Anatomy:  Parts of 8 major systems of the human body
o   Chemistry: The first 12 elements of the periodic table (along with their atomic number and mass) 
·         Latin rules and vocabulary.  Emphasis:  The text of John 1:1-7 in Latin with its English translation
·         English Grammar facts (including the principal parts of 12 irregular verbs, sentence parts, clauses, and sentence structures and patterns)
·         Multiplication tables up to 15x15, common squares and cubes, basic geometry formulas and unit conversions, and the algebraic laws of addition and multiplication

What does the Memory Master Proofing Process Look Like?

Although the overall requirements are the same across the nation, Classical Conversations Communities conduct their proofing process in slightly different ways.  I have heard that some wait until after the end of the year to start the proofing process (though this is not how it is stated in the Memory Master guidelines), while others start a little earlier and double up on the memory work the last few weeks that they meet.  I describe here what our community does, but be sure to check with your director to see how your proofing schedule may differ from this schedule.

Our CC Group's Memory Master Testing Schedule
Note:  Those trying for Memory Master should learn weeks 21-24 in advance and must know them for their proofings by Week 21. 
 
First Proof:  Parent Proof (Week 21 for our CC group)
Student is quizzed by one of his/her parents; that parent fills out the Memory Master form from the Foundations Guide showing whether or not the student knows the answers to all subjects for all weeks, Weeks 1-24.  
First proof:  Student has no more than three X’s (errors) per subject.

Second Proof:  Other Parent Proof (Week 22 for our CC group)
Student is quizzed by another parent outside his/her immediate family. This person does the same thing -quizzing all subjects for all weeks.  
Second proof:  Student has no more than one X per subject.

Third Proof:  Tutor Proof (Week 23 for our CC group)
Student is quizzed by tutor; student is quizzed on all subjects for all weeks.   
Third proof:  Student has no more than 2 X's total.  If anything is missed, the student is re-tested on that material along with other material later that day.

Fourth Proof:  Director Proof (Week 24 for our CC Group)
Student is quizzed by the director, who goes over a predetermined subset of the entire cycle’s content, about 20 minutes, total. It is a “spot test," and includes material for all weeks and all subjects.

Instructions per Subject:

Math -- Students (ages 10 & up) can say or write multiplication tables and the laws (Associative, Commutative, Distributive, Identity).  Students under age 10 may skip count the math facts.  Other math questions are answered with prompts as written in the Foundations Curriculum Guide.

Timeline recitation does NOT receive any prompts.  All events must be said in order without assistance.

Geography - Two Part Test (This is specifically how we plan to proof this material.  Other groups may have a different way of proofing.)
1.) States -- Students point to and name all states and capitals without prompts.
2.) Features -- Students will be given a map on which to draw all features (their "drawing" can be simple dots, stars, mountain symbols, etc.  As an alternative, students may apply small symbols or star stickers on their map to point out features).  They may receive prompts for anything omitted such as, "Don't forget Red River, the Cumberland Road, and Mt Mitchell."  After students have taken a few minutes to plot everything on the map, they will meet with the Tester and point to all places, giving the name of each feature without prompts or help

English -- Students are permitted to point to the Verb Parts Headings (Infinitive, Present, Past, Present Participle, Past Participle) while categorizing each verb's principal parts.  Another option is for the student to say all parts of a verb (to break, break, breaks, broke, breaking, broken) and then the Tester asks, "Tell me which one is the infinitive.  Tell me which one is the Present tense; etc."

Science & History -- Answer with prompts as listed in Foundations Guide.  Science is to be stated in a complete sentence, re-stating the question in the subject of the sentence.  (e.g., "Some parts of an atom are...")

Latin -- Two part test
1.)Student may recite or sing the entire Scripture passage in Latin, or student can quote each Latin phrase with weekly prompts.  
2.)Student must also know the translation of each word.  Prompts may be given in either Latin or English.  Student should know it either way.  For example, if the Tester calls a Latin Conjunction "et," the student will give the English equivalent, "and."  Or, if the Tester calls out the English preposition "with," the student will give the Latin equivalent, "apud."  

How we prepared last year

Last year, we were literally NINE weeks behind on timeline memorization and SIX weeks behind on math memorization.  We had to come up with a system to tackle it.  Many people use a system like Simply Charlotte Mason's Memory System or the downloadable flashcard computer program Anki, but we simply had a memory work focus each day of the week where we reviewed ALL the material to the current date (and threw in the last 4 weeks of material as we got closer to Week 21!).  It went something like this:


Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
History Sentences
Timeline/Presidents
CC Meeting Day
Math
Geography
Timeline
English Grammar
Latin
Science
Timeline

Because we are still in skip-counting mode for math, we can easily drill math in the car on the way home from CC.  We also practiced timeline more frequently than anything else, as it was the one thing we needed to practice more often last year given that we were so far behind (we actually practiced it every day until we caught up!).  We will also likely practice Latin 3 times per week this year, since it is the one thing we need to drill more at this point. 

Becoming a Memory Master is quite a feat - one to really celebrate.  Actually, Gary and I had planned a special family vacation to Destin, Florida just because of Stephen's willingness to take on such a challenge (not because he actually became a Memory Master, but because of the effort he put into it!).  

For those who think their child is too young, one parent last year told me about a Kindergartner who had become a Memory Master! A Kindergartner! (WOW!!) (Not that I encourage pressuring a young one to do it, but it is possible to attain for those students who possess a gift of memorizing and understanding the material at a young age!)

I would encourage all families and students to participate and at least try the first proof with your child(ren).  After all, it is what you are ultimately aiming for before your child enters the Challenge program.  For David, I intend to "test" all of the material over a couple of days to see what he knows and give him a sticker for each piece of memory work he remembers.  I know he is not ready for Memory Master at this stage, but he will feel like a big boy and enjoy getting a bunch of stickers!

But what if my child fails?

This is a serious thing for us.  The fear of failure can really grip one of my children (and even me!).  We thought the achievement of becoming a Memory Master would be enough of a reward in itself, but... what happens if our child doesn't make it to that point after all the hard work?  Last year Gary and I planned a special trip and did not tell the boys about it.  Our intention was to use it as a pick-me-up if at any point Stephen did not make it through a proof.  Gary was overseas during the entire proofing process and was calling every Tuesday to see if it was time for him to "spill the beans."  (It ended up being a form of torture for us as Stephen worked through the entire 4 weeks.)  We had to wait that whole time to tell him that we were going to stay on a beach for a week, simply because he put in the effort to do such a challenging thing!  

So here we are, facing those fears of failure again.  Even if your child has become a Memory Master in the past, it does not mean it's a piece of cake for him!  He is really struggling with one subject right now, and we are really trying to plow through it together!  We are planning to have another special trip up our sleeves once again to celebrate the EFFORT, but we have not yet selected a destination... It will likely be an amusement park this time around.

By the way, for those who don't much care for Timeline and Latin (which happens to be our two least favorite memory work categories.... ahem...), I have been told that those two are the most helpful after your child graduates from the Foundations program.  (Rats!)

Good luck, and may God bless your endeavors!

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for your encouragement. My 9 and 7 yr old are excited to become memory masters, but we also are behind (not as far behind as you were). Can I admit I'm afraid it would devastate them if they worked so hard and then didn't make it?

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  2. Thanks so much for the great tips and advice with Memory Masters. This being our families first year and tutoring as well. I can't even wrap my mind around it at this point. My boys aren't really go getters when it comes to stuff like this. I am not pressing them this year. Maybe after they see a memory master in action they may get an urge to go for it next year. Blessings to you and yours.

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  3. We were totally in the same boat last year! To combat those fears, my husband and I had a special reward trip planned in advance, just in case Stephen did not make it through one of the proofs. I was prepared at any point to tell Stephen about our special trip that we were giving him just because he tried. (So if he failed, I could boost him up and encourage him for his hard work and tell him we were going on a special family trip just because of his hard work!) Turns out that he made it, so we didn't get to tell him until he had passed all the proofs! We plan to do something like this again, as he is still pretty young and rising to a significant challenge once again (and even though he made it last year, he still battles those fears of failure)!

    May God bless you and your children in taking on this challenge! (You will be blessed! Be sure to read our experience from last year if you haven't: http://halfahundredacrewood.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-do-memory-masters-memorize.html)

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I have a nine year old and my approach to reviewing CC grammar has been to review all subjects everyday. We don't do every single week but we may start at the beginning of the current quarter week and go forward from there. It just seems to me that if we don't do it daily it doesn't stick. What I don't like is that this takes up about 30 - 40 minutes daily. How do you schedule your grammar review in your regular routine? I see you are planning on doing your latin 3 times a week but what about your other subjects? Thanks again.

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  5. We review all weeks for each subject as I have noted in the table above: Mondays we review all of history, tuesdays we review all of math, wednesday we review all of geography, etc. We review timeline and Latin two-three times per week. As we get closer to proofing, we will review a little more intensely, but we prefer not to drill all weeks of all subjects every day because it causes burnout and resentment (instead of joy and love of learning). We also review the current week's memory work by listening to the songs, and when are out and about, we are usually listening to our memory work songs. Our 8yo recalls most of the material with ease using the schedule we have above - mainly because we use songs to memorize almost EVERYTHING. The only things we have to really drill are Latin (flashcards to go from English to Latin) and timeline (at least twice per week). We are also now getting used to labeling the physical features using a blank map. Hope this helps!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. We review all weeks for each subject as I have noted in the table above: Mondays we review all of history, tuesdays we review all of math, wednesday we review all of geography, etc. We review timeline and Latin two-three times per week. As we get closer to proofing, we will review a little more intensely, but we prefer not to drill all weeks of all subjects every day because it causes burnout and resentment (instead of joy and love of learning). We also review the current week's memory work by listening to the songs, and when are out and about, we are usually listening to our memory work songs. Our 8yo recalls most of the material with ease using the schedule we have above - mainly because we use songs to memorize almost EVERYTHING. The only things we have to really drill are Latin (flashcards to go from English to Latin) and timeline (at least twice per week). We are also now getting used to labeling the physical features using a blank map. Hope this helps!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for this post! I did not know what all a Memory Master included, this was very helpful. I would love for my boys to try next year, at least doing the parent proof at home with us. They will only be 4 and 6 so I really doubt they can remember it all but if I say "Memory MASTER!!" in a really cool voice, it will motivate them :D

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  8. LOL! I have a memory-master proofing stickerbook that may be an added incentive, though your really cool Jedi-knight voice may do the trick! ;) You can download the template at http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com/2012/03/in-our-lives-this-week.html (I offer this link so that you can see the photos of how I used it as well.)

    Blessings!
    Brandy

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  9. This is my second year in CC. My son is 8 and is planning on testing for memory masters. He was a memory master last year. I was surprised and upset that my director asked this year to test before the last weeks new material was presented. Becoming a memory master is difficult and requires work through out the year not just at the end. Telling people they need to proof two weeks before the end of the year is ridiculous and unfair. The Classical method in CC in my opinion is that the tutors present the new material and than the parents review it at home. Asking parents to teach the new material cramming two to three weeks in one week is a cruel and disrespectful practice to the parent and the child. I believe that CC should standardize the proofing process so all directors must allow their memory master children one week after the last class to proof for their material. Why should we have to pay tutors and directors if the parents are asked to teach the new material anyway?

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    Replies
    1. I understand your frustration and dismay. I can only speculate why it is approached in this way (with inconsistency between CC groups and requiring the proofing before the end of the year). I'm assuming that if we had been in CC from the beginning, our child(ren) would have waited to do Memory Master until 4th grade and would have already been through the Cycle previously, but, again, that's just speculation. In our community in past years, the lower-level students were invited to join the Masters class, and the tutor for the Masters class introduced all material before memory master testing began (which still does not address the issue of "cramming"). This is actually the first year our first proof will not be due until the last day of CC, but my MM son has already memorized everything ahead of time (because he wanted to work ahead). I encourage you to provide this feedback to your director or state manager, or directly contact upper management via the Classical Conversations website. (Also possibly post in CC Connected...? I'm sorry I'm not better help. I'm just a mom, too! LOL)

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