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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dear Hannah: LEarning - Talk To Me (A Game That Teaches The Language of ANY Subject)



 
Dear Hannah,

LEarn to do math, then learn what math does.

I developed the game Talk To Me to support this LEarning journey.


Love,


Daddy


Purchase & Download Talk To Me - Arithmetic

Purchase and download "Talk To Me (Arithmetic Edition)" via TeachersPayTeachers.com!


Purchase and download Talk To Me - Arithmetic problem sets below to prepare for July 2017 Talk To Me Tournament!

7. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 7) (50 Cards) (321-370) (Published 8-1-2017)

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6. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 6) (50 Cards) (271-320) (Published 7-24-2017)

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5. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 5) (50 Cards) (221-270) (Published 7-24-2017)

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4. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 4) (50 Cards) (171-220) (Published 7-17-2017)

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3. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 3) (50 Cards) (121-170) (Published 7-10-2017)

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2. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 2) (50 Cards) (71-120) (Published 7-3-2017)

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1. Talk To Me - Arithmetic (Season 1, Volume 1) (50 Cards) (21-70) (Published 6-26-2017)

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"LEarning (Talk To Me (A Game That Teaches The Language of ANY Subject))"
By Derrick Brown
6-25-2017

Language and discourse are more important than vocabulary.

Vocabulary is knowledge of words.

If you say "Chuck D's stentorian cadence commands his audience's attention" - you probably have a large vocabulary.

Language is the means by which we use words, numbers and sounds to communicate.

If you instead say "Chuck D's loud, booming delivery commands his audience's attention" - you have impressive language skills.

Discourse is extended verbal expression in speech and writing.

If you instead say "Denzel's smooth delivery captivates his audience" - you, my friend, are skilled in discourse.

But I digress.

Similarly, numeracy (being able to communicate using numbers (and number sentences)) is more important that rote (repetitious) memorization of calculations.

"Talk To Me" is a game show (in the tradition of Taboo and Pictionary) that helps teams of contestants to build language, discourse, and numeracy skills.

It does so by providing correct answers formed from number sentence clues presented by a single teammate.

Our newest Arithmetic version of "Talk To Me" emphasizes "mental math" (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).

For example, a clue giver who sees the number 80 – and the operator ‘X’ (multiplication) – on their card (or screen) can say (or write) “20 times 4”.

If their teammates respond “80” – then their team scores a point!

If they do not respond "80" - then the LEarning starts.

A skillful clue giver might then try "16 times 5" or "2 times 40" as clues ... they might also gently challenge their teammates to check their calculations.

This is why the game is called "Talk To Me" - the clue giver has to effectively calculate AND communicate!

Teams take turns giving and guessing clues for 1-2 minutes per round.

The game host and commissioner decide the actual length of each round, as well as the number of rounds per game.

At the end of the game, the team that provides the most correct answers wins!

This approach generates a simple, portable game that can be quickly taught, set up, and played.

This makes it perfect for in-classroom use as a review, enrichment, or reward tool.

It can also produce a entertaining gameshow where students (and adults) compete for real prizes.

This ends my description of the "what" - now let's talk about the "why".


Why Did I Develop "Talk To Me"?

Math is viewed by many of our communities as "esoteric" - something that is understood only by a few.

Conventional wisdom suggests that if you dislike and do not understand math, then you are "normal".

If you like and understand math, my friend, then you are "strange".

This is a mind game that is as old as time itself - one where the advantaged and priviliged even use their disadvantages to create more advantages.

But I digress.

In school, students embark on a journey to LEarn to *do* math, then to learn what math *does*.

For many, that journey is never completed - because learning what math *does* requires comprehensive, intentional, skillful acquisition and use of language.

This language acquisition often does not occur because it is not deemed important.

"Doing" math is what is deemed important.

People think "language" and "vocabulary" are synonymous.

So, students may have random homework and test problems that ask them to define words.

They respond with rote, memorized definitions from the textbook glossary ... then we "check the box" designating the standard has been met ... and we move on.

We sweep deficits under the rug until education is "reformed" (now the new sexy thing to say is "rethought").

Then we waste lots of time arguing about who is most responsible for our deficits, and engaging in "agenda-driven" studies that are often called "data-driven" ones.

But I digress.

Let's get back to completing the journey to LEarn to *do* math, then to learn what math *does*.

I am investing my time in understanding and defining how to complete the journey - so that every student goes as far as they would like to go.

I developed the game "Talk To Me" to support this LEarning journey.

In summary - the game research and development was informed by my own learning journey - which ingrained some sobering, fundamental truths ...

1. *Every* subject has a language that is communicated through words, numbers, and / or sounds.

2. Subject teachers impart knowledge through both language and demonstration - and assume that students are well-versed in both.

3. Math, science, and engineering courses require an unusual amount of demonstration - which often occurs at the expense of language acquisition.

4. I performed well in courses where I acquired and used both language and demonstration.

5. I did not do well in courses where I was deficient in either (or both) language and demonstration.


What Have Been The Greatest Challenges With "Talk To Me"?

The biggest challenges are also the biggest potential rewards ...


1. COMPETITION. The thrill of victory can distract the human spirit and psyche. When students focus more on defeating each other than on defeating ignorance, arrogance, and deficits - things go awry quickly.

I address this in my dual roles as "coach" (helping students prepare for the tournament) and "gameshow host" (facilitating the game in "entertaining" and "educating" ways).

Here's a simple example - in this new Arithmetic version of "Talk To Me", division problems are the most difficult.

So, if a student's card presents "85" and "division", they make take the easy way out and say "85 divided by 1".

This can lead to a right answer, but destroys the learning spirit of the game.

The first time this occurs during the game, as host I "call it out" (in love), then create a rule ... for the rest of the game, using the number "1" will result in the loss of 1 point.


2. HIDDEN FIGURES. We live in a world that is obsessed with never appearing concerned with "details", and never looking "dumb".

Math is often dismissed as a "detail" that has been made obsolete by calculators, smartphones, Google - or employees whose reward for being "too smart" is to handle all the boss' "details".

It is also dismissed as a "detail" because even well-regarded, well-spoken, intelligent people can be "shaky" with numbers.

What better way to hide weakness than to pretend it does not exist (or matter)?

For the record, I think that all these notions are silly, and I do not respect the ideas - nor their practice.

As silly as they are, though, I have learned to respect the power of conventional wisdom and "crowdthinking".

There is safety in numbers (pun intended).

The majority rules, and the majority sometimes fools.

As a man thinketh, so is he.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Changing thinking, hearts, and conversation is best done by changing MY thinking, heart, and conversation.

This can be initiated and sustained by fasting from opinions, and feasting on empathy.

Yes, I am talking about so much more than math.

Selah.


About Derrick Brown (Principal Consultant)
 


I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

My *other* passion is empowering people via methods that balance skill & will, analysis & synthesis, ideas & execution, and activity & achievement.

I solve problems.


Copyright © 2017 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dear Hannah: LEarning (Got Floppies? (Thoughts On Healing & Stewardship))



 
Dear Hannah,

You have been given relationships, possessions, talents, a mind, a body, and time.

Take care of what you have been given.


Love,

Daddy


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"LEarning (Got Floppies? (Thoughts On Healing & Stewardship))"
By Derrick Brown
5-28-2017

For years, I have repaired, recycled, and redistributed broken / obsolete laptop & desktop computers.

It began as a hobby.

When I was young, my Dad fixed large and small electronics to make our living.

I soon noticed that we never bought stereos, radios, TVs, refrigerators, washers & dryers - never.

I liked that.

I did not quite understand why we never bought them - but I liked that we never bought them.

So, I decided that after buying my first computer in 1992 for $1500 - that I would never buy another one.

I got a "broken" surplus computer from school, found out it was not broken at all - and I was captivated.

You might call this an "a-ha" moment.

Maybe even an "oh snap" moment.

It goes without saying that this was not the last "broken" computer I was ever given.

In fairness, many of them *were* broken - but many more were not.

Learning how to repair and reuse them taught me some dangerous work and life skills.

It alerted me to our (society's) wasteful habits and stewardship challenges.

It also saved and redirected my life - by giving me the opportunity to help people, which helped me to start healing.

This project helped me learn who I was (good, bad, and ugly), and discover my real passion for learning and uplifting people.

It helped me to stop "marking time", "running in place", "treadmilling", and suffocating as a "professional student".

It helped me to stop hiding behind my "busyness".

This was a time when life slowed down enough for me to feel every pain that I had numbed.

It helped me to start slowly "marching" towards freedom, courage, and victory.

I ran a summer camp for years teaching kids how to rebuild and reuse "broken" computers.

The camp was about so much more than broken computers - but people were quite drawn to that idea.

The camp helped me to continue my healing, and gave me a lot of opportunities to help other people heal.

Not quite in the way melodramatic way you see in churches or formal counseling - this approach was kinda quiet, subtle and unspoken.

Sometimes it just works better that way.

But I digress.

I financed the program through corporate sponsorships and resale of the repaired computers - or the working parts harvested from the unsalvageable ones.

The model I built is still a robust and viable one - 20 years later.

I am now using this approach to engage and organize local families.

This organizing effort is purposed to help them build positive, accountable relationships with the people who govern, run, and support their child's school.

It is also purposed to help them build skills, resources, and strategies.

'Cause you can win if you are in the game ...

... you can win if got some game ...

... and you can win if you have a plan, and know how to adjust.

If you are smelling what I am cooking, you see the overt and covert purposes in this mission.

The covert purpose (building skills, resources, and strategies) is the ultimate mission.

The overt purpose (engaging school stakeholders) is the supplemental mission - it will facilitate (and finance) the ultimate mission.

That is how I roll.

But I digress.

Let's get back on track.

I have limited time and space now, so sourcing and storing computers - while still important - is more of a challenge.

So, several months ago, I started thinking about how to adjust.

What other viable tools do we now throw away and even mock - that are still just as useful now?

Since the beginning of the year, I have had my memory jogged several times about how floppy disks were like Swiss army knives in the "old days" of computers (before CDs, DVDs, USBs and flash drives).

You installed software with them.

You backed up your computer with them.

You could use them to start and clean your computer if it had a virus (or some other issue).

If you had a Sony Mavica digital camera, you stored your pictures on them.

If you had a MIDI keyboard, or an Akai music production center (MPC), you stored music patterns on them, or used them to start your machine.

If you are a court reporter (stenographer), your recording machine uses them.

If you embroider, your machine uses them.

They also pack and stack well, taking up very little space.

But floppy diskettes have disappeared.

They are considered obsolete and archaic by most segments of society.

People will laugh at you silently and aloud if you even mention them.

When diskette drives were removed from computers, I threw all of my floppies away - except for one that I called "MacGyver".

"MacGyver" contains some special tools that have solved many problems for me.

A buddy called a few days ago with a dilemma.

We have a mutual friend who designs and builds custom car stereo speaker cabinets using some old computer programs.

They were installed on his computer for him in the 1990s, and he was given no installation diskettes.

His computer only has a diskette drive, and he now needs to move the design program to another computer.

"MacGyver" is the only tool I have that can help him - but it is the only tool I need.

Floppy diskettes are still useful in this world.

The fact that most people disagree only increases their value.

I'm in the floppy game, and can win the game - because I know how to play, have a plan, and can adjust.

As I close, there are a few layers to this message, so let's peel them back ...

1. One person's trash is another's treasure. I make my living this way.

2. Don't let the smooth face fool you - I am a purposeful strategist who does not think with his eyes. I make my giving this way.

3. We are all treasures in earthen vessels - with strengths that emanate from healed weaknesses (2 Cor 4:7-9). I hope that I am living my life this way.

----------------

About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)



I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2020 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.


Dear Hannah: LEarning (Friends & Influence)



 
Dear Hannah,

Your friends will be the people who accept and affirm you, hold you accountable, and present you with authority that you respect.

You and your friends will exert powerful influence over each other.

Your charisma will give you powerful influence in the world, too.

Everybody you influence will not become your friend - and that is OK.

The most powerful influence, though, is exerted via self-control.

Love,

Daddy


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"LEarning (Friends & Influence)"
By Derrick Brown
5-29-2017

I read books and articles to weigh and consider - even to "wrestle" with - the ideas conveyed by authors.

Sometimes I understand, like, and embrace those ideas - and sometimes I do not.

Sometimes I discern that the author's experiences are different than mine - therefore, their assertions, opinions, and conclusions are different.

Sometimes that is OK, and simply is what it is.

Sometimes I have to "unlearn" the author's assertion, then "relearn" and apply it in the context of my own life.

I often read and wrestle with Dale Carnegie's classic book "How To Win Friends And Influence People".

Its principles have helped me to become a more effective, charismatic leader.

They have also equipped me to fight for freedom and equality.

It may go without saying to some, but the fight for freedom and equality in this world is still a long, difficult, uphill climb.

It is a war with many battles against obvious and subtle opposition.

The freedom fighting contributions are easy to miss in this book's positive, conversational, idealized wisdom - about navigating a world that may only exist for some of us.

But they are easier to see with some creative, skillful "relearning" and contextual application.

My relearning is guided by the awareness that

1. We are not all treated the same way.

2. Nor do we treat each other the same way ...

3. Mature people do not seek to control other people and situations. They are adept at the art of self-control.

Let's work through and wrestle with a few of these ideas ...

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
PRINCIPLE 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

It is wise to be a careful observer of human behavior, and to listen more than you talk.

It is just as wise to avoid ever voicing personal (or ad hominem) attacks of any kind.

I have come to realize, though, that anything you say other than "yes" and "amen" can be misconstrued as negative behavior - and can work against you in the court of public opinion ...

... especially telling people "no".

Sometimes you will need to say "no" to requests and expectations.

Sometimes you will have to say "no" to the way you are treated.

The recipient of that "no" may become aghast at your unmitigated gall ... your lack of couth.

" ... how dare you".

" ... well, you know ... you were just so abrupt".

With all that said, though - remember that there is a reason why the letters "n" and "o" are next to each other in the alphabet.

Do not attack, but do not be afraid to take a step back - or walk away.

Vote with your conscience and your feet - and accept that people will think whatever they want to think about your stance.

-----------------

Ways to Make People Like You
PRINCIPLE 2 – Smile.
PRINCIPLE 5 – Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Let's wrestle with these two ideas together.

Smiles convey your inner peace, happiness, and goodwill to all who engage your countenance.

Smiles can charm and disarm ... they can warm even the coldest soul.

There is also a type of smile (the one where you drop your chin, feel your forehead wrinkle, and your eyebrows arch) that says "watch yourself there, player".

I say that to say that smiles can convey a range of emotions.

I am a member of a few communities whose interests are frequently overlooked and underrepresented - perhaps even misrepresented - by well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) folks.

In effect, I am usually talking in terms of the other person's interests - by default.

So, in difficult circumstances, my best approach is to listen, to try to think in terms of the other person's interests - and to then be prepared to act in my own best interests ...

... what is their position?

... what do they want?

... what do they mean?

... what are they not saying?

This is easier said than done.

Here's a quick story that helps me with my wrestling and self-reflection.

I was an invited member at a board committee meeting with a group of people that I regarded as close-minded, condescending, and detached from reality.

This was not somewhere I wanted to be - but I needed to be there (this is frequent theme in my life).

When you are the invited member, the unspoken, unbroken rule is that you kinda speak when invited to speak.

I reserve the right to break that rule, and assume all inherent risks (this is another frequent theme in my life).

Anyway, let's just say the discussion reached a tricky, sticky point where I interjected with some force.

I am known for being an intense listener in meetings (often characterized as "quiet") - but I am not "silent".

So, when I speak up and speak out, it surprises folks.

I catch them "slipping" sometimes.

On this day, the committee chair offered a dismissive wave of the hand and said something like " ... oh, smile Derrick ...".

Her words seemed subtle then.

I understand now that she talked down to me in a room full of people - and may have said what more than one person was thinking.

It was somewhere between patting me on the head, and smacking me in the face.

I gave her a big smile, but it was not a "yes, ma'am - happy to be here" smile.

This was more like a "I know somebody's chili just got a little warmer" smile.

Truth is, perhaps both our chilis were a little warm.

That was the last committee meeting I was invited to - and that may have been for the best.

I don't have a clever summary for this one.

Let's go with this - commit your energy to understanding your "temperature" and maintaining self-control.

That provides the best opportunity for people to like you.

Know, though, that you may still encounter circumstances that result in your being disliked.

If that is the case, then it is well.

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How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
PRINCIPLE 8 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Here's some truth that helps me learn from this book - and to not toss it against the wall.

I do not have many encounters with people who can be "won over".

My encounters are often with folks who like to "run over".

I am - again by default - only allowed to consider their point of view.

My challenge, if you will, is to "slow their roll" ... to give them cause to pause and consider (or reconsider).

So the "win" for me is not to have them think what I think.

Rather, it is to have them someday ... in some small way ... acknowledge and think *about* what I think.

My best opportunity to do this is to offer the truth about my perspective.

Listen carefully to what I am saying - I said "truth about my perspective" - not "truth" (in an absolute sense).

No matter how true "our truth" might seem - understand that you cannot force others to embrace "your truth" as "the truth".

See, today we all take "our truth" as "the truth" - and we all support our truth with irrefutable facts and convenient wisdom.

This can lead to a lot of time wasted with arguments and fights - that amount to little more than thumb wrestling.

I am learning to offer the truth about my perspective with a skillful balance of grace, humility, and firmness.

... and to understand how that truth might be heard ...

... and to then let it be.

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Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving or Arousing Resentment
PRINCIPLE 1 – Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
PRINCIPLE 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
PRINCIPLE 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.
PRINCIPLE 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
PRINCIPLE 5 – Let the other person save face.
PRINCIPLE 6 – Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
PRINCIPLE 7 – Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
PRINCIPLE 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
PRINCIPLE 9 – Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

This title once paralyzed me, but I now understand why.

I reject the idea of exerting energy to control other people by coercive, manipulative, patronizing multi-step "recipes" ... no matter how gently and eloquently they are delivered ...

... largely because of several negative experiences of people trying to control me with these approaches.

I accept that I often invite this behavior by being "me".

I am quiet and observant - but not silent.

I am solitary - unafraid to stand alone.

I will speak on it, and say what I think I need to say with confidence, precision, efficiency, rhythm and firmness ... even if it opposes conventional wisdom and trends.

I ain't scared to sound "crazy".

I am also short ... and small ... and still have a bit of a babyface.

My personality intimidates some, and causes some to roll their eyes and dismiss.

My personality, stature, and countenance often invite both passive and active aggression from others.

Some folks cannot help themselves - they experience all of the above.

I intimidate them, and invite their aggression.

This special group of people may never become my friends, or acknowledge my influence.

But I digress.

This principle offers an eternal opportunity to "chew the meat, and spit out the bones".

I embrace exerting energy to practice self-control through empathy, honesty, humility, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

If I need to deliver a tough word, I become the audience ... and consider how I would say it to myself.

Even then, your words can still be received as an attack.

In that case - it is well.

Let it be and leave it alone.

-------------------

CONCLUSION

What have I said?

I hope I said that ...

Friends accept and affirm you, hold you accountable, and present you with authority that you respect.

You and your friends will exert powerful influence over each other.

Your charisma will give you powerful influence in the world, too.

Everybody you influence will not be your friend - and that is OK.

The most powerful influence, though, is exerted via self-control.

About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)



I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2020 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.


Copyright © 2019 Derrick Brown and KnowledgeBase, Inc. All Rights Reserved.