Imagine trying to teach someone who knows no English how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
You tell her, "Open the bread", and she tears a small hole in the package. You say "Take the bread out", and she walks out the door with two slices of bread.
That exercise will be part of an Empowermind workshop offered next week for middle and high school students. Sessions will be held Monday and Wednesday at in Farmington Hills.
Empowermind founder Kimberly Kassner said she was invited back after a sold out series sponsored in January by Together for Accelerated Learners (TAL) and the Farmington PTA Council. In addition to the workshop for 6th-12th graders, she'll lead a mini-workshop for 3rd-6th graders, at in Farmington.
The younger kids "learn how to memorize a list of 20 words, backwards and forwards, in five minutes, then we take that concept and apply it to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division," she said.
Students also learn how to apply those concepts to remember things word-for-word, like all 50 states and capitals. "We also teach them how to take tests," Kassner said. "We try to make it very active, with demonstrations. We make it a lot of fun."
Middle school and high school students learn about communication skills – like making that sandwich – as well as memorization, including foreign languages. But Kassner also focuses on positive attitude and emotions, teaching students how the subconscious and conscious mind works, to help them overcome testing anxiety.
Students will learn how to create their own system for note-taking, which allows them to focus more on what their teachers are saying, and how to read and retain information from a text book, Kassner said.
"Anything I say, I prove to them," she added. "They're learning by example, and then we talk about it."
Using concepts from neuro-linguistic programming, multiple intelligences, multi-sensory learning and even Dale Carnegie courses, Kassner said, "We're trying to meet them where they are, on every level."
Having worked with kids from all walks of life, she said, "The basic feeling I have is everybody is a genius, just not in the same way."
There are still a few spots left for next week's sessions, and costs are greatly reduced from typical Empowermind fees. The elementary mini-workshop on Thursday is $15; the two-day secondary workshop is $65.