TGI Newsletter Issue #43 Learning CAN be fun. Training SHOULD be fun.
Training Games ARE fun!
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TGI's New Products
We've recently placed a bunch of new products on our website We're excited about them, and naturally want to tell you what they are. First of all we have (6) Reflections Quiz Shows. Six of them, because they are content specific as in, Customer Service, Leadership, Diversity, Sexual Harassment, and Team Builder Trivia. I know that's only five because the last one is a blank template. We realize that your training materials are often so specific that you need to write the questions yourself; ergo a template (no content) Reflections Quiz Show is available. If you are offering a customer service program, for example, these games are written in PowerPoint and are easily edited. Therefore you can use what you like of the content-specific games, and edit over the rest.

The reason we are excited about this product is because it is a game designed to deliver your training program information, as opposed to simply reviewing it. The TGI Reflections Quiz Show uses three training elements to increase learning potential. First of all we certainly understand the power of games to focus and hold the participant's attention. In general, people love to play games; they have fun competing, and of course, enjoy winning the game. Traditional teaching methods have seen the instructor using a PowerPoint presentation to deliver 50 -75 slides of information. The problem that we all have come to know and understand is that people lose focus after 10 15 minutes. Learning retention levels decline from 70 to 20 percent as class members struggle to retain focus. This of course, does not occur when participants are playing a game.

Secondly, we know that people learn best when they are engaged and practice active learning. After each game question is presented, the instructor has the option to move to an interactive reflections exercise. Each reflections exercise is designed to have class participants think about, reflect upon, and discuss the information presented in the question. In this way learners assimilate the information while creating multiple learning associations resulting in better retention.

Finally, the facilitator is given an "Additional Information" tab for each of 24 program training questions. These tabs allow the trainer to easily move to PowerPoint slides within the game, to further expound on the question just presented. By pulsing in and out of the game the instructor is able to retain participant attention while also being afforded the opportunity to deliver important program information to the audience. Read more or purchase Reflections Quiz Shows now

Next we have the PowerPoint Meeting Introductions. We know that getting a meeting started off with a bang is important. They say that you either capture or lose your audience within the first 30 seconds! So, begin your presentation with a color explosion, electrifying music and riveting content. These six professionally designed PowerPoint Introductions will engage your audience with humor, animation, music, and the key program concepts. Choose from five of the most popular business training concepts, or get our general meeting introduction to get things started. Available PowerPoint intros include: General Meeting, Customer Service, Coaching, Team Building, Diversity, and Leadership. Read more or purchase Meeting Intros now

Top Five Feud Frenzy Icebreaker Game is also new. Every trainer likes the excitement generated by a feud style game. This is actually a 6 pack of feud games and each game has five rounds, and a bonus round. The rules of the game make for great fun. Two opposing team members face off to guess the top answer given to a Top Five Question. For example, a question might be The Top Five longest rivers in the world. Whoever gets closest to the #1 answer gets the round for their team, and their team gets to play out the round, each member trying to guess in turn a top five longest river in the world. If they fail to do it, the round goes over to the opposing team. Now you might be saying that it would be hard to name the top five longest rivers. True, so the game allows the team to play with clues (List of the top ten) or solo, without clues for greater points per guess. Any way you look at it , this is a fun icebreaker game to play. And because it's totally editable , it could be modified to play with top five categories, specific to a training program, or specific to your team, or specific to your organization. Read more or purchase Top 5 Feud Frenzy now

Anyhow that's enough about new products. If you didn't skip the ad, thanks for listening, and now let's read on. Don't worry, we've slipped in an ad or two towards the bottom of this newsletter.

Learning as Taught by the Brain
I guess we could entitle this article "If We Only Knew Then, What We Know Now". You see we've learned a lot about learning in the past 10 years, but unfortunately, it is difficult to change the educational systems we've created over the past 200 years. Now it is perhaps a matter of taking what we know about how we learn, and somehow melding it into our current learning methodologies. This is done quite well in a book by John Medina entitled Brain Rules. I want to review some of John Medina's key points within this article.

First of all is this idea of exercise. Yes I know, it is something I've harped on before, but Medina has a lot to add to this topic. He tells us that we have developed our terrific brains because we, as people, moved. A lot. When the rain forest and subsequently, our food supplies began to dry up, we needed to move to more plentiful environs. So we walked, virtually around the globe to sustain ourselves. Beginning with Homo erectus, 2 million years ago, all the way up to our direct ancestors, Homo sapiens, around 100,000 years ago. Scientists estimate our little nomadic bodies pushed on about 12 miles each day. So for most of our existence, we were in pretty good shape with our brains thriving on a grand oxygen supply brought to us through exercise.

Medina explains, when we consume food, glucose and other metabolic substances are absorbed into our blood stream through the small intestine. Glucose, a sugar of course, is one of our body's most treasured sources of energy. When it reaches the various cells in our body, they go bonkers, tearing away and obliterating the glucose molecule just to absorb its energy. Not a pretty sight, resulting in a lot of rampaging renegade electrons known to us as free radicals. Yep, now you're getting it, the same free radicals that you've heard are so bad for you, because they age you.

Well these electrons, now spinning out of control, literally smash into other molecules within the cell, transforming these into a vile toxic waste and obviously wreaking havoc on the cell itself. In fact, eventually we would expire from this cellular electron overdose, but for one thing, and that thing is Oxygen. You see just behind this energy-rich glucose comes an army of clean up guys with their little oxygen sponges. Oxygen combines with these free radical electrons transforming them into carbon dioxide, which of course, via our blood stream, is delivered to the lungs and expelled into the atmosphere. Exercise increases blood flood, which transports oxygen into our tissues, especially our brain tissue. Our brains are real energy junkies, requiring about 20% of the body's overall energy usage. This of course means our brains are also in desperate need of oxygen. Think about it, we risk seriously damaging our brain if we go without oxygen for more than just 5 minutes. So how do we ensure we're getting enough oxygen? You nailed it, EXERCISE.

So if exercise is as Medina says, "cognitive candy", why are we eliminating it in our schools? No physical education, no recess, instead students sit quietly in seats and attempt to learn while falling asleep. Would we learn better if we could in some way incorporate a means of moving as we learned? Based on the science, we would!

Okay, enough about exercising, it's making me tired already. According to Medina, "Memory may not be fixed at the moment of learning, but repetition, doled out in specifically timed intervals, is the fixative." We know that we can retain about 7 to 9 pieces of information in our short term memory (working memories) for about 30 seconds. Great for remembering phone numbers as we run to dial that number. But if we wish to retain these fleeting bits for any longer than 30 seconds, we need to consistently re-expose ourselves to the information.

Medina relates a story of when he was a young boy, and saw a plane fall from the sky. Tragically 8 men were killed in the crash. The young man, fascinated, as most would be, ran to tell his friends. Medina was enthralled in his own conversation, and literally could not stop talking, thinking, and replaying the event over and again to anyone who would listen. The phenomenon he tells us is called "elaborative rehearsal", and is absolutely best for long term retention. It makes sense if you think about it. An emotionally-charged event provides the energy to revisit an occurrence from all sides with many different individuals. Now think of learning in a typical classroom, lecture hall or company meeting. The information is poured over the unsuspecting listener; relentlessly flowing, never repeated, and always with the same dismal result minimal retention.

There are indeed two elements at play here, spaced repetition of the thing to be remembered, and the elaborate and engaging exploration of the information.

Regarding repetition, scientist Robert Wagner designed an experiment in which students were asked to memorize lists of words. One group crams for the upcoming test, while the other studies the information over moderately spaced intervals. Naturally, the second group far outpaces the former. If you want to commit information to your long term memory, it is best to deliver it with spaced repetition.

Secondly there is this idea of exploring the learning in an elaborate engaging way. This is more difficult than it sounds, because few folks are going to get as excited as John was when he, as a young boy, witnessed the tragic plane crash. But his level of excitement in a sense, riveted his attention, and resulted in his discussing, debating, questioning, comparing, visualizing, hearing, and touching every aspect of the incident; one which he will certainly never forget. Within our classrooms the task is, let's face, efficient dispersal of the data. But now that we have real insights into how we learn, shouldn't this be changing? We now understand how neurons are physically changed when learning occurs through a process called "Long Term Potentiation or LTP". When learning, if activity is recorded (fMRI) within a specific area of the brain (the left inferior pre-frontal cortex), we can reliably predict that the individual will be able to successfully recall that learning. We know that the brain's hippocampus acts to somehow capture and cortically file similar learning in the same spot in an individual's brain, and actually maintains connected to that learning for over a decade. So indeed, now that we do know now, what we didn't know then about learning, surely we must be ready to apply this knowledge in schools, colleges and businesses across the land. Well, I think there is a saying that goes, "Big ships are slow to turn". And this I think is understandable. I also think it is exciting for scientists, business managers and educators and certainly a goal worth pursuing.

Some Interesting Brain Facts (landmark discoveries)
1. In 1791 Luigi Galvani, an Italian physicist, discovered the electrical basis of neural activity by stimulating a frog's leg to twitch. Do you think he was also the original mean little kid pulling wings off of flies?

2. In 1873, Camillo Golgi discovered the silver nitrate method of staining neurons. For the first time we could actually see neurons under the microscope. He was awarded the Noble Prize in 1906 for his work. You have to hand it to those Italians.

3. In 1914, British physiologist, Henry Hallet Dale isolated acetylcholine, the first of the neurotransmitters to be discovered. He won the Noble Prize in 1936, with only one regret, "I wish I was Italian" (just kidding).

4. 1992, Mirror neurons were discovered by Giacomo Rizzolatti in Parma. Mirror neurons are thought to be the theory of mind, mimicry and empathy. The discovery was by accident. One day, one of Rizzolatti's researchers happened to be mimicking the movements of a monkey while viewing the neural activity in the monkey's brain. Oddly enough, when the monkey saw this (mimicking behavior), it stimulated the identical brain activity observed when the monkey actually performed the action itself.

Famous Quotes
Woody Allen — "You can live to be one hundred, if you give up all things that make you want to live to be one hundred."

Nadia Boulanger — "Life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or writing a masterpiece."

Jose Ortega y Gasset — "Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are."

Products From TGI
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How Important is a Good Night's Sleep
A good night's sleep is obviously very important or we would not be making a point of it. I really wanted to tell you about some of the studies that link sleep and learning. You probably know that your brain is as busy or busier when you're asleep. The thinking is that your brain is organizing the past days' events and helping you to solidify the past days' learning.

Let's begin with a 17-year-old science fair project. Randy Gardiner decided to experiment on himself by staying awake for 11 days straight. The experiment actually caught the attention of William Dement, a scientist studying sleep for most of his career. Dement actually received permission to observe Randy during his eleven day experiment. What happened? Well in short Randy's mind malfunctioned. According to John Medina in Brain Rules, Randy "became irritable, forgetful, nauseous, and extremely tired. Randy began to suffer from what could pass for Alzheimer's Disease. He was actively hallucinating, severely disoriented, and paranoid."

We've all had the experience of sleeping on a problem and being able to solve it in the morning. A formal study was conducted with students by first prepping them to solve a series of math problems. In addition, the students were told that there was an easier way, a shortcut for solving these problems. The experimenters discovered that if, after the initial teaching, they allowed 12 hours to pass, 20 percent of the students would discover the shortcut. However, if within those 12 hours, the students were allowed to sleep (8 hours), 60 percent would find the shortcut. Within the experiment, the sleep group consistently outperformed the non-sleep group 3 to one!

Another study involved soldiers operating complex military hardware. The results proved lack of sleep hurts learning. One night's loss of sleep resulted in a loss of both cognitive ability and performance of 30 percent; two nights, 60 percent. Medina sums it up by saying "The bottom line is sleep loss means mind loss."

A 6 Pack of PowerPoint Quiz Shows
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