31 January, 2009

Activity gets you busy, Productivity gets you results.

Activity gets you busy, productivity gets you results.

Activity consumes time.

Productivity frees it!

Learn to be productive and indulge less in time consuming activities!

Dexterine Ho

30 January, 2009

Spelling Software: SpellQuizzer

If you use Google and search for "Spelling Software", you will get thousands of hit. How do you select one that is suitable? I think it is good to try those that can let you test for free for a period of time. After trying and testing, you may then make your decision to purchase.

One of such software is SpellQuizzer at

To understand how it works, you can view the demo at:


Demo 1: Creating a spelling list

Demo 2: Practicing with a spelling list

Demo 3: Sharing a spelling list with others

Demo 4: Importing a spelling list

To download free trial copy, go to:

You can use the software free for 30 days and test it up with your kids.

In general, children nowadays associate computer with fun and writing on paper with work. Most of the children are more eager to practice their spelling words using spelling software than the traditional way of writing them on paper.

As SpellQuizzer allow the recording of sentences using voice input, you may enter the spelling list with some funny audio recordings of the words in the list to make spelling task fun and amusing!

As schools in Singapore test students' spelling using hand writing method, hence even kids can spell and type the words using the software, it is necessary to test them again using the traditional way: writing on paper.

While writing words on paper, most of the kids are careless and may confuse mirror image letters like d with b, p with q etc., it is important to take note of that when you mark and check their spelling!

With the help of the software, the manual checking task is less tedious as parents only let the kids write out the words after they have learned and typed the words correctly using the software.

With the help of the software, I am sure spelling task will become less stressful for the learner and the parents in the future.

With the help of the software, I am sure learning process will be more productive for kids! Learning spelling will be more fun and interesting.

29 January, 2009

Any day has the potential to be good ...

Any day has the potential to be either good or bad for your study and learning.

Even though you are stuck at home, in the library or in school, study issues don't play a decisive role. What matters is whether or not you let personal problems cloud your every thought.

Many students find it hard to focus on their study as their mind is filled with personal problems and they allow the problems to stay and cloud their every thought.

No doubt personal problems will not be resolved overnight and it is natural for us to be disturbed by it from time to time. No human being is without personal problems, instead of letting it cloud your thought, how about replaced it with your other issues in your study.

Concerntrate your thought on study issues and you will be less disturbed by your personal problems. Once you can sail through your study smoothly, your personal problem may not look that disturbing!

28 January, 2009

Bigness Comes From Doing Many Small Things Well

Bigness comes from doing many small things well.

Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions.
Together though, they add up.

-- Edward S. Finkelstein

In the long run, whatever study tips you apply, it is perseverance that count!

Start with something you can manage and learn it systematically in weeks, months or years, you will become the master of that subject!

Dexterine Ho

27 January, 2009

A little bit more

Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more.
They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more.

-- A. Lou Vickery

Just try a little bit more in learning, you will be more successful!

-- Dexterine Ho

26 January, 2009

Discipline Vs Devotion

People think I'm disciplined.

It is not discipline. It is devotion.

There is a great difference.

-- Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007), Opera Singer

If we are learning something, we need to be disciplined in order to acquire the knowledge.

If we want to master a subject, we have to be devoted in order to apply what we acquired with perserverance.

If we are devoted in learning, we can succeed and be a master in any field.

Dexterine Ho

25 January, 2009

Be Flexible

If you keep doing the same things over and over again, you're not going to learn anything new.

Hence, once in a while, you need to break your usual routine and delve into some foreign territory.

Whether you simply take a different route to work or decide to embark on a whole new hobby altogether, your day will be a lot more interesting the more you alter your usual method of doing things.

Flexibility is something you have to exercise once in a while, or else you get stuck in a rut.


Once you get into a fixed way of living,
it becomes difficult to change!

Once you stick to one way of learning,
it becomes dry to learn, and
learning becomes difficult!

Dexterine Ho

24 January, 2009

Chunk Learning and Acquisitions of Knowledge

People usually learn to exploit predictable structure. When we translate it into learning, there are two ways of learning:

* Acquisition of information/knowledge through memorizing, i.e.,have the predictable structure repeated many times and let it goes into our RAM (Random Access Memory) automatically! Good example of such learning is the acquisition of mother tongue (if the mother tongue is being used at home from very young age)!

* Using separate chunks and progressively composed with extended practice, i.e., learning how to add single digit numbers, then use the acquired skills of addition and apply them in solving summation problem of double digits or triple digits.

Good application of chunk learning can lead to acquisition of mathematics knowledge if one learns how to migrate the learning, i.e., use the chunk of knowledge in summation, subtraction, multiplication and division and apply them together in suitable situations.

For example, work out this sum

89 divided by 3...

(Please do not use any calculator)


3 89 (3 goes into 8 2 times)
__6 (3 times 2 is 6)
__29 (Subtract 8-6=2, and drop down the next number 9)
__27 (3 goes into 29 9 times and 3 times 9 is 27)
___2 (Subtract 29-27 = 2, 2 is the remainder)
89 divided by 3 is

29 & 2/3



The easier way to solve this mathematical problem for a simple-minded person like me maybe:

89 / 3 is the same as (90 -1) / 3
= (90 / 3) - (1 / 3)
= 30 - 1/3
= 29 2/3 (or 29.66666...)

The first chunk of knowledge we use is

90 = 89+1
89 = 90-1

The second chunk of knowledge we use is

30 = 90/3
90 = 30*3

The third chunk of knowledge we use is

1/3= 0.33333....


or 1 = 1/3 + 2/3

Hence, we can use of our simple chunks of knowledge in addition, subtraction to change 89 to 90, then use division or multiplication to make up 30 from 3* 30 or 90 / 3. The additional 1 is being divided by 3, hence we can get the answer 29 2/3 or 29.66666... .

Q & A of mathematic problem extracted from:

Dexterine Ho

23 January, 2009

Set up a schedule

To set your mind on study, the best way is to set up a schedule of activities so you will have a routine to follow.

Depending whether you are attending school in the morning or afternoon, you can have a time table like the followings:

Morning hours before school: (8 am to 11.30 am)

* Morning Exercise

* Breakfast - 20 mins

* Read Newspaper or Watch TV programme - 20 mins

* Piano Practice - 30 mins

* Complete all the home work required for schooling today - 40 mins to 90 mins

* Revision of lesson learned yesterday - If you have time

* Lunch - 30 mins

Afternoon hours:

* Lunch and short nap - 60-90 mins

* Do home work - 90 - 120 mins

* Exercise - 30 mins

* Piano Practice - 30 mins

* Complete all the home work required for schooling today - 40 mins to 90 mins

* Revision of lesson learned - If you have time

* Read Newspaper or Watch TV programme - 20 mins

Evening Hours:

* Dinner - 30 mins

* Do home work - 40 mins to 90 mins

* Revision of lesson learned - 40 mins to 90 mins

Once you have a schedule to follow, you will not feel uncertain about your study. The time table will create a period of stability once you start to do things according to your schedule. You may review it periodically and adjust your new learning tasks by re-scheduling your time table.

Dexterine Ho

22 January, 2009

Colour always help

I like to use colour makers to highlight text that I read, it helps me to look at black and white text book and recall them easily by remembering the section in various colours.

I am glad to find Dr Rick's Learning Tips that highlight the same technique:

Color those Study Skills at


"Have your children break study tasks and notes into manageable chunks using a simple system of colors. After reading and color-coding, the information will be a snap to understand, synthesize and reassemble for a report."

"Brightly colored markers are one of the simplest, yet effective ways to help you get your kids excited and focused on learning."

"Kids of all ages really benefit from the hands-on engagement and visual cues color-coding provides."

Just click the link and read on if you are interested.

Other "Learning Tips with Dr Rick" can be viewed via the archive of tips, visit: http://www.learningtips.com/default.asp?action=archives&subaction=category&report_type_id=1&station_id=

18 January, 2009

7 Ways to reinforce spelling

This youtube video gives quick tips to help teachers and students teach and learn new words:

In summary, the 7 ways are:

1. Post words

2. Says-Spell-Write-Draw

3. Use words in a story

4. Present words in chunks

5. Spelling Journals

6. Inform parents and guardians

7. "Words I can't spell" rules

Enjoy the video and hope you improve your spelling along the way!

Dexterine Ho

17 January, 2009

Learning Vocabulary Can Be Fun

free vocabulary games

Try this website and use the spelling games to build your vocabulary!

The fun way to learn new words and acquire spelling skills!

Dexterine Ho

16 January, 2009

Time Management Tips

Julie Morgenstern has turned her “inside out” philosophy of time management into a thriving consulting practice, here is some tips on time Management from her that may help you in your study.

Remembered that getting organized requires a lot of self-discipline, what is one thing you can do to follow through on your commitment to organize?

Select a single consistent planning tool, whether it’s digital or on paper.

When all your ideas are in one place you can prioritize everything in context, not in pieces.

What I like best is her answer to the following Question:

How about the proverbial "messy desk" ?

Actually, that person may really be well organized.
It’s not a matter of what a space looks like, but how it functions.

So bear in mind, it is what you do with your stuff that matter and not how other view it that matter to you!

Julie Morgenstern web site is at:


Julie Morgenstern media review archive is at:


Read on and you will benefit from her tips if you apply it!


Dexterine Ho

15 January, 2009

Use some exercises to learn memory techniques: chunking

Short-Term Memory (STM) has a limited capacity, about 7 items, and a limited duration, about 30 seconds.

Reflecting from your own learning experience, you will notice that the limited capacity in STM is the problem in most of your study.

Remember that if one can only hold about 7 items at a time in STM, then there are limits on how much information one can transfer to Long-Term Memory. All our Long-term memory are build and selected from our STM. Hence, if you cannot remember what is learned in the classroom everyday, it is hard for you to recall them in examination.


To demonstrate the limits of STM, look at the letters printed below for about 10 to 30 seconds and try to write them down without looking at the screen.


Are you capable of writing down all the letters or recalling them in segments without mistakes? It is difficult as 14 letters exceeded the capacity of your STM.

Since 14 letters is difficult for most people to store in their STM, chunking can be applied here to increase the capacity of STM.

Instead of trying to remember 14 letters you must first chunk the letters into a few segments.

For example:.


If you chunk the 14 letters into 6 chunks as shown above, it is easy to keep all the letters in STM.
Having the 6 chunks in your first level of chunking, you can move further and map some patterns.
You will notice that X is the first and last letter. IBM-SAT-MTV-PHD are the 12 letters between the two Xs.
The pattern "X------------X" and "IBM-SAT" + "MTV-PHD"complete the 14 letters.
If you can translate the middle chunks to sentences, like "I used IBM on SAT" and "he watched MTV to get his PHD". It is alright to have meaningful or meaningless sentences so long as it help you in your recall.

The key is to actively chunk letters, words, sentences, or numbers such that there are 7 or less chunks.

If you use an active imagination, you can chunk anything.

But chunking takes work, and to get good at chunking it takes practice. To practice chunking on your own, click the link here:


Source of information:

Memory techniques "Chunking" by Dr. Mark W. Vernoy, Professor of Psychology, Dean of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Palomar CollegeSan Marcos



14 January, 2009


In most learning, sequences can consist of sub-sequences and these can in turn consist of sub-sub sequences.

Chunks in motor learning are identified by pauses between successive actions...

Chunking in cognitive psychology and mnemonic, refers to a strategy for more efficient use of short-term memory by recording and retrieving information in small segments.

It is like eating an elephant, we can only eat one small piece at a time, yet, given time, we can finish the whole elephant!

For more academic explanation on Chuncking, read the following!

Source of information:

"Chunking (psychology)" from Wikipedia


13 January, 2009

Where is the end?

You already know that hard work pays off in the end, but where is the end?

Only with more hard work while waiting, you will see the first flickers of light at the end of a tunnel. That will make all your hard work pay off.

Upon discovery of that flickers, you will not only have a good day, but have a good life with the knowledge that you acquire through your hard work and efforts.

No one can take away what is in you and you will be able to have it forever.

You can multiple your benetfits by sharing it with others,!

Sharing your understanding of the acquired knowledge will enhance your knowledge domain and make you an expert in that field.

It is not surprising that great scholars are usually found in University and Research Centre where dissimination/sharing of knowledge or re-searching/re-learning of knowledge is enabled through institutional set-up.

Dexterine Ho

Dexterine Ho

12 January, 2009

Get Smart-Learning Tips

Intended for drum learner, yet some tips are universal and can be applied in any subject learning.

The full text is at:


Some useful learning tips extracted from the page are:

Write out your long-term goals

Break them down into short-term goals

Review/Re-write them regularly

Stay organized

Plan your practice and practice your plan every day

Use "scrap time" (while watching T.V., driving, waiting for your friends, etc.) to work out your "chops etc

Involve as many senses as you can in the learning process and exaggerate each of these!

Dexterine Ho

11 January, 2009

Learn and Make your Learning the Road To Happiness

The road to happiness lies in two simple principles:

find what it is that interests you and that you can do well,
when you find it

put your whole soul into it

- every bit of energy
and ambition
and natural ability you have.

-- John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)

10 January, 2009

Get interested in something!

You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind.

Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing.

Get interested in something!

Get absolutely enthralled in something!

Get out of yourself!

Be somebody!

Do something!

The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.

-- Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

09 January, 2009

Maintain focus at work that enrich your learning

Maintain focus at work or study that enrich your learning.

Most of us may find ourselves daydreaming about some upcoming tasks or some past issues and forget to focus on the work or study we presently engage in.

Reward yourself for being able to focus on work that enrich your learning/life, entertain yourself by doing something unusual in your leisure time. That will help you to focus on your work next time.

08 January, 2009

Break it down to small pieces

Disease comes from “dis-ease”.

Research comes from "re-search".

The word cardigan contains "car, dig, an" or "card,i, gan".

The easiest way to learn to spell compound words is to break them down into their component parts.


07 January, 2009

Find it within

You cannot teach a man anything;

you can only help him to find it within himself.

-- Galileo

It is through self discovery that you learn a lot of things yourself. Teachers only guide you in your learning journey, assist you in knowledge acquisitions and prepare you to sit for your examination.

A lot of learning is on your own as teaching in class will not be mirroring examination questions. The best teacher parts you with the methods and opens your mind for self explorations.

Dexterine Ho

06 January, 2009

It's kind of fun to do the impossible

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

-- Walt Disney

The process of learning is transforming something unknown to known.

It is fun to learn for those who enjoy learning!

Dexterine Ho

05 January, 2009

Magic Number Seven

The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two

"The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" is a 1956 paper by the cognitive psychologist George A. Miller.

concept goes beyond numbers. For example, most of us can remember about seven recently learned chunks of similarly classified data. Keep this in mind when you are presenting information to other people.

The chunking principle requires you to classify the items into groups to reduce the information overload.

BenefitsBy chunking information the author improves the reader's comprehension and ability to access and retrieve the information.

Miller showed a number of remarkable coincidences between the channel capacity of a number of human cognitive and perceptual tasks.

In each case, the effective channel capacity is equivalent to between 5 and 9 equally-weighted error-less choices: on average, about 2.5 bits of information.

Miller hypothesized that these may all be due to some common but unknown underlying mechanism.

He noticed that the memory span of young adults was around seven elements, called chunks, regardless whether the elements were digits, letters, words, or other units.

Later research revealed that span does depend on the category of chunks used (e.g., span is around seven for digits, around six for letters, and around 5 for words), and even on features of the chunks within a category.

In general, memory span for verbal contents (digits, letters, words, etc.) strongly depends on the time it takes to speak the contents aloud, and on the lexical status of the contents (i.e., whether the contents are words known to the person or not).

Several other factors also affect a person's measured span, and therefore it is difficult to pin down the capacity of short-term or working memory to a number of chunks.

Nonetheless, N. Cowan has proposed that working memory has a capacity of about four chunks in young adults (and less in children and old adults).

A variety of studies could be summarized by saying that short term memory had a capacity of about "seven plus-or-minus two" chunks.

Miller wrote that "With binary items the span is about nine and, although it drops to about five with monosyllabic English words, the difference is far less than the hypothesis of constant information would require.

The span of immediate memory seems to be almost independent of the number of bits per chunk, at least over the range that has been examined to date."

Miller acknowledged that "we are not very definite about what constitutes a chunk of information."

Miller noted that according to this theory, it should be possible to effectively increase short-term memory for low-information-content items by mentally recoding them into a smaller number of high-information-content items.

"A man just beginning to learn radio-telegraphic code hears each dit and dah as a separate chunk. Soon he is able to organize these sounds into letters and then he can deal with the letters as chunks.

Then the letters organize themselves as words, which are still larger chunks, and he begins to hear whole phrases."

Thus, a telegrapher can effectively "remember" several dozen dits and dahs as a single phrase.

Naive subjects can only remember about nine binary items, but Miller reports a 1954 experiment in which people were trained to listen to a string of binary digits and (in one case) mentally group them into groups of five, recode each group into a name (e.g "twenty-one" for 10101), and remember the names.

With sufficient drill, people found it possible to remember as many as forty binary digits. Miller wrote:

"It is a little dramatic to watch a person get 40 binary digits in a row and then repeat them back without error. However, if you think of this merely as a mnemonic trick for extending the memory span, you will miss the more important point that is implicit in nearly all such mnemonic devices. The point is that recoding is an extremely powerful weapon for increasing the amount of information that we can deal with".

Sources of Information:





Please visit the above Wikipedia pages to gain more comprehensive understanding.

04 January, 2009

Technical problems in time management

When we lose something tangible and visiable, we feel the pain and miss it easily.

Yet we do not feel the same for time lost as time is not so tangible and visiable.

Changing your perspective on time and remove the obstacles that hold you back from organizing your time efficiently will make your study excel.

Beside the Pareto principle, i.e., the 80-20 rule I mentioned in my last blog, one needs to look at sometechnical problems and obstacles that block one in using one's learing time efficiently.

First, what are the technical problems?

* Set the wrong time for study
* Miscalculated time needed for learning certain tasks
* Do not break complex learning task in to managible chunks
* Forget to revise whatever you learn in class immediately after the lesson
* Learning space too disorganized

Solutions to the problems:

* Set the wrong time for study
- Choose the right time for right tasks

Just remember that you are a different learner in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. If your memory works best in the morning, then use the morning hours to learn things that you need to remember by heart. If your creative thinking power is the best at night, then do your problem solving tasks during the late hours.

* Miscalculated time needed for learning certain tasks
- Allow yourself extra time to learning tasks that you fail to achieve

No one can be right all the time in time allotcation. It is good to give yourself 10 to 20% extra time in learning new tasks or doing difficult projects. You will feel more at ease if you have some spare time to explore tasks or to master it. If you are able to do it within the time limit, use the extra time you set aside to reward yourself, like have a good tea break!

* Do not break complex learning task in to managible chunks
- Make complex tasks achievable using a step-by-step approach

No one can submit an academic assignment without proper planning. To plan means to break complex task like academic assignment into managible stages/chunks: e.g., data collection, data analysis, main findings and discoveries, reporting and charting of findings/results, final analysis and conclusions etc. Wtih the time frame set for each stage, one can complete the assignment in stages with ease. It is not possible to do an assignment if you do not plan and manage them step-by-step.

* Forget to revise whatever you learn in class immediately after the lesson
- Do it immediately after class within the first few hours or on the same day

Revision make learning easy, especially if you do it immediately after class. If you are unable to do it within the first few hours, do it every night before you sleep, revise all that you have noted down in your notes. On every weekend, revise all that you have noted down during the week. Before the exam, it is important to revise all that is needed for the exam.

* Learning space too disorganized
- Organize your space so that you can find things you need

You need not have your learning space organized like a library or a stationary shop. What you need is some organization that allows you to find things when you need them. Some learners cannot study well when their learning space is too neat. They practice organized mess to stimulate their thought. If you are one of them, just be sure that the mess you created in your study space is an organized one in your mind. If your mind have a good index to retrieve what you need, that is fine! Just remember, use system that works on you!


Dexterine Ho

03 January, 2009

Pareto analysis and Pareto principle in time management

The Pareto principle, i.e., the 80-20 rule, states that, about 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Pareto analysis can be used for selecting a limited number of tasks that could produce significant overall effect. It uses the Pareto principle - by doing 20% of work you can generate 80% of the advantage of doing the entire job.

Applying Pareto principle in time management and using Pareto analysis to look at causes of problems, you can see things in a creative way. It will help you to stimulate thinking and organize thoughts in your learning tasks.

From Pareto analysis you know that 80% of your learning tasks can be completed in 20% of the disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the time.

It you look at your study patterns, you will soon discover that 20% of your time can be use to master 80% of your learning tasks.

Using Pareto principle, you may sort your learning tasks into two parts.

* Category 1: 80% of the tasks that can easily be achieved if you use 20% of your study time

* Category 2: 20% of the tasks that can only be achieved if you use 80% of your study time

With the understanding of your study patterns and learning ability through Pareto analysis, you should assigned a higher priority to tasks that fall into the first category. Spend the first 20% of your study time to master 80% of learning tasks that you find it easy to achieve.

For those tasks that fall into the second category, you may assigned a lower priority and spend the rest of your studying time on learning those tasks that are harder to master.

In the process of learning the second category tasks, most students will find it hard to focus and do not use the time effectively in learning.

Nevertheless, if they spend the first 20% of their time wisely and efficiently, they usually are able to pass or even excel in any subject of their study.

With the understanding of the 80-20-rule, you will understand why some learners do not seem to spend a lot of time in their study, yet can still have good results!

Maybe they are smarter in their time management, and learn to use their time in a more productivity manner by applying Pareto analysis and Pareto principle in their study tasks!

Interested to know more about "Pareto analysis"


To understand "Pareto principle" and the life of 'Vilfredo Pareto'




Dexterine Ho

02 January, 2009

Memory training systems

Memory training systems

The phenomenon of chunking as a memory mechanism can be observed in the way we group numbers and information in our day-to-day life.

For example, when recalling a number such as 14101946, if we group the numbers as 14, 10 and 1946, we are creating a mnemonic for this number as a date, month and year.

An illustration of the limited capacity of working memory ... can be seen from the following example:

While recalling a mobile phone number such as 9849523450, we might break this into 98 495 234 50.

Thus, instead of remembering 10 separate digits that is beyond the "seven plus-or-minus two", we are remembering 4 groups of numbers.

Various kinds of memory training systems and mnemonics include training and drill in specially-designed recoding or chunking schemes.

A chunk can then be defined as "a collection of elements having strong associations with one another, but weak associations with elements within other chunks"

Information extracted from:

Please visit the wikipedia page above to read the full text.

01 January, 2009

Time Management

Time Management

The new year is here and does life seem out of balance?

In today's fast-paced, high-pressure world, we all face challenges in our personal and professional lives in managing our time. Learners like you may face challenges of having too little time for too many learning tasks!

We may need a whole new way of looking at time and how to manage it for the New Year.

I think as a learner, one needs to view time as tangible and visual object.

It is common for one to view time as a measurable object as time come and goes as we can see the changes in clocks or watches. It is only measurable yet not tangible.

We are able to feel the changes in time yet unable to visualize it as a physical and tangible object by itself.

If you like to learn Time Manangement, start with:

Time management - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dexterine Ho