January 7 2015

Advice From A Drummer

Sheila E Drumming“If you are really passionate about what you do and what you want, here’s my advice: Continue to work hard at it. Practice, practice, practice. Play and perform any chance you get, with any kind of musical genre you can. While I believe playing from your heart and soul is most important, learning to read music will also help. I recently visited a school’s music department and overheard the teacher telling his students, ‘Practice makes progress.’ I love this message. Becoming ‘perfect’ shouldn’t be the goal. Just keep trying to do your best. Growth, in and of itself, is the real goal.” -From, “The Beat Of My Own Drum” By: Sheila E

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September 14 2014

The Importance Of Drinking Water, Eating A Healthy Breakfast & Maintaining Your Glucose Levels

“Brain cells consume oxygen and glucose (a form of sugar) for fuel. The more challenging the brain’s task, the more fuel it consumes. Therefore, it is important to have adequate amounts of these substances in the brain for optimum functioning. Low amounts of oxygen and glucose in the blood can produce lethargy and sleepiness. Eating a moderate portion of food containing glucose (fruits are an excellent source) can boost the performance and accuracy of working memory, attention and motor function.

Water, also essential for healthy brain activity, is required to move neuron signals through the brain. Low concentrations of water diminish the rate and efficiency of these signals. Moreover, water keeps the lungs sufficiently moist to allow for the efficient transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream…

Many [people] do not eat a breakfast that contains sufficient glucose, nor do they drink enough water during the day to maintain healthy brain function…The current recommended amount is one eight-ounce glass of water a day for each 25 pounds of body weight.” -From, “How The Brain Learns” By: David A. Sousa

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August 22 2014

I Love Steno: The Student Edition: Helpful Anxiety vs. Harmful Anxiety

As a student, the cycle of peaks, plateaus, and valleys can cause an emergence of nervousness and anxiety. This can be beneficial, or it could be detrimental. According to studies, there is “helpful anxiety” and “harmful anxiety.”

In “How The Brain Learns,” the author David A. Sousa states the following: “[The] level of concern refers to how much the student cares about the learning. We used to think that if students had anxiety about learning, then little or no learning occurred. But there is helpful anxiety (desire to do well) and there is harmful anxiety (feeling threatened). Having anxiety about your job performance will usually get you to put forth more effort to obtain positive results. When you are concerned about being more effective (helpful anxiety), you are likely to learn and try new strategies. This is an example of how emotions can increase learning…

As the level of concern increases, so does the degree of learning. If the stress level gets too high, our focus shifts to the emotions and the consequences generated by the stress, and learning fades. Students need a certain level of concern to stimulate their efforts to learn. When there is no concern, there is little or no learning. But if there is too much concern, anxiety shuts down the learning process and adverse emotions take over.”

Remember, keep an appropriate level of concern but RELAX and HAVE FUN!

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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July 1 2014

Sitting For More Than 20 Minutes

Computer & Desk Stretches“When we sit for more than twenty minutes, our blood pools in our seat and in our feet. By getting up and moving, we recirculate the blood. Within a minute, there is about 15 percent more blood in our brain. We do think better on our feet than in our seat!” -From, “How The Brain Learns” By: David A. Sousa

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February 20 2014

Legal Vocabulary: Illegal vs. Illegitimate vs. Illicit vs. Unlawful

Illegal vs. Illegitimate vs. Illicit vs. Unlawful

“All of the above describe actions that are not in accord with the law. However, there are some differences in the meaning among the words. Illegal refers most specifically to violations of statutes or codified rules: illegal seizure of property.

Illegitimate means lacking legal or traditional rights: illegitimate use of privileged information.

Illicit most often applies to matters regulated by law with emphasis on the way things are carried out: illicit conversion of property.

Unlawful means not sanctioned by law: an unlawful claim to an inheritance.” From, Abused, Confused & Misused Words” By: Mary Embree

Here are some Briefs:
Option #1: illegal= ILG
Option #2: illegal= IL/LAOEL

Option #1: illegitimate= JIT
Option #2: illegitimate= IL/JIT

Option #1: illicit= IL/LIS/IT
Option #2: illicit= IL/L*IFT

Option #1: unlawful= UN/LAUFL
Option #2: unlawful= NAUFL

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January 31 2014

The Dangers Of Ineffective Practice

“Practice does make permanent, thereby aiding in the retention of learning. Consequently, we want to ensure that students practice the new learning correctly from the beginning…If they unknowingly practice the skill incorrectly, they will learn the incorrect method well! This will present serious problems for both the teacher and learner later on because it is very difficult to change a skill that has been practiced and remembered, even if it is not correct. If a learner practices a skill incorrectly but well, unlearning and relearning that skill correctly is very difficult. The degree to which the unlearning and relearning processes are successful will depend on the:

1) Age of the learner (i.e., the younger, the easier to relearn),

2) Length of time the skill has been practiced incorrectly (i.e., the longer, the more difficult to change),

3) Degree of motivation to relearn (i.e., the greater the desire for change, the more effort that will be used to bring about change).” -From, “How The Brain Learns,” By: David A. Sousa

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January 31 2014

4 Keys To A Successful Practice

“For practice to improve performance, four conditions must be met (Hunter, 204):

1) The learner must be sufficiently motivated to want to improve performance.

2) The learner must have all the knowledge necessary to understand the different ways that the new knowledge or skill can be applied.

3) The learner must understand how to apply the knowledge to deal with a particular situation.

4) The learner must be able to analyze the results of that application and know what needs to be changed to improve performance in the future.

Teachers help learners meet these conditions when they do the following:

1) Start by selecting the smallest amount of material that will have maximum meaning for the learner.

2) Model the application process step-by-step. Studies show that the brain also uses observation as a means for determining the spatial learning needed to master a motor skill.

3) Insist that the practice occur in their presence over a short period of time while the student is focused on the learning.

4) Watch the practice and provide the students with prompt and specific feedback on what variable needs to be altered to correct and enhance performance. Feedback seems to be particularly important during the learning of complex motor skills.” -From, “How The Brain Learns,” By: David A. Sousa

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January 31 2014

The Power of Practice

“Practice refers to learners repeating a skill over time. It begins with the rehearsal of the new skill in working memory, the motor cortex, and the cerebellum. Later, the skill memory is recalled and additional practice follows. The quality of practice and the learner’s knowledge base will largely determine the outcome of each practice session.

Over the long term, repeated practice causes the brain to assign extra neurons to the task, much as a computer assigns more memory for a complex program. The assignment of these additional neurons is more or less on a permanent basis. Professional keyboard and string musicians, for example, have larger portions of the motor cortex devoted to controlling finger and hand movements. Furthermore, the earlier their training started, the bigger the motor cortex. If practice is stopped altogether, the neurons that are no longer being used are eventually assigned to other tasks and skill mastery will decline. In other words, use it or lose it!” -From, “How The Brain Learns,” By: David A. Sousa

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August 1 2012

The Importance of Punctuation

“Just look at the difference between these two love notes:

My Dear Pat,

The dinner we shared the other night- it was absolutely lovely! Not in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine anyone as perfect as you are. Could you- if only for a moment- think of our being together forever? What a cruel joke to have you come into my life only to leave again; it would be heaven denied. The possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy with joy. I face the time we are apart with great sadness.


P.S. I would like to tell you that I love you. I can’t stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth.

My Dear,

Pat the dinner we shared the other night. It was absolutely lovely- not! In my wildest dreams, could I ever imagine anyone? As perfect as you are, could you- if only for a moment- think? Of our being together forever: what a cruel joke! To have you come into my life only to leave again: it would be heaven! Denied the possibility of seeing you again makes me giddy. With joy I face the time we are apart.

With great “sadness,”


P.S. I would like to tell you that I love you. I can’t. Stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on earth.

You see the difference punctuation makes? The first letter is clear (albeit clunky) profession of undying affection; the second is sure to sweep Pat onto her feet. The only thing separating one document from the other is, of course, punctuation.” -From, “Comma Sense” By: Lederer & Shore

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Category: Books, Grammar | 3 Comments