Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 74 - August 2011 - by Phil Chambers


TIME TO READ: 5 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 1,207. To learn more about Speed Reading read the main article below and Contact us.

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Welcome to the August 2011 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This issue we have an article on Speed Reading Tips, News of the UK Schools Memory Championships plus our regular features of Mind Map Tip, Quote of the Month and what I’ve been up to.


Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Mind Mapping a textbook or lengthy report can be made easy if you work with the way it is constructed. The central image can be a representation of the title that could be inspired by the cover design or, if you prefer, an idiosyncratic image of your choosing. Looking at the table of contents: Is the book divided into sections or chapters? If there are more than four sections but less than seven, these can be your main branches. More than seven: Can you group similar topics together? Less than four: Can you split up the material? Look at the next level of organisation in the table of contents. If there are sub-divisions these divisions can form your second level ‘sub-branches’.

August's Quote of the Month


"No matter how busy you may think you are,
you must find time for reading,
or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance"

~ Confucius.

More quotes here


What's Phil Up To?

Phil's Photo

I will be attending a memory tournament organised by Ben Pridmore (UK Number One and former World Memory Champion) in my capacity as Chief Arbiter of the World Memory Sports Council on Saturday 30th July.

I will also be involved in the organisation of the UK Open Memory Championships on August 26th and 27th. Please contact me if you would like more details.


The Schools Memory Championships Final

Congratulations to Mark Towers, who was crowned UK Schools Memory Champion on 19th July in London. Mark is the first boy to win the title in the competition’s four year history. Special mention must go to the Aim Higher team in the North East who supported the coaching of the top 6 competitors. The competition saw three new records for Schools Children. 132 random words memorised in order in 15 minutes, 126 numbers also in 15 minutes and 33 fictional historic dates in 5 minutes.


Top Five Tips to Improve Your Reading Speed

I often talk in my newsletter about Memory and Mind Mapping but it has been a long while since I mentioned one of the other areas that I teach, namely Speed Reading. More accurately, I teach Range Reading. This is the ability to choose a speed appropriate to the material and your needs. You can speed read poetry but you may prefer to read it slowly savouring the language, rhythms and imagery. Likewise you would not want to speed read a book in bed if the purpose is to help you go to sleep. However, most people are accomplished at reading slowly and need help to SPEED up. Here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Stay focused – Mind and Eyes
    Lack of concentration is a major obstacle to reading fast. Your thoughts wander and your eyes often wander too. If you are not focussed on what you are reading you dramatically reduce both your speed and comprehension. One effective way to get the most out of your reading is to set aside a specific time for reading. This could be an hour before work or at lunchtime. Any time where you can literally switch off your phone, close your office door and eliminate distractions. Clear your mind of superfluous thoughts. You can do this by doing a quick Mind Map, brainstorm or writing a list of all the things on your mind or things that you need to do. Even though these may not have been resolved, they have been put to one side.

  2. Push your speed (reduce fixation time).
    As you read your eye comes to rest, pausing briefly, on each word to take it in. This pause, called a fixation, lasts anywhere between a quarter and one and a half seconds. By reducing the duration of fixations you can dramatically increase your speed. Half the time taken per fixation and you double your reading speed! One of the biggest stumbling blocks in Speed Reading is the fear of missing something. People say, “I can’t understand anything at that speed”. Push yourself outside your comfort zone an you will be surprised just how much you can comprehend. Speed does not come at the expense of comprehension. As you speed up so your comprehension goes up too. Reading at the speed of thought gives you no time for your mind to wander and you stay closer to the author’s intent.

  3. Extend the number of words you take in each visual gulp.
    Most slow readers focus on one word at a time. Speed readers take in information in a series of larger meaningful chunks. It is possible to take in six words in a single fixation. If you only took in two words at a time instead of one you could double your speed again.

  4. Expand your field of vision
    Your peripheral vision is much wider that a page. Being aware of what you have already read and the structure of what is coming up give you a useful preview and review system. Try holding the book almost at arm’s length when you read so that you can see the entire page as well as the line you are currently reading. You can also buy a book slide or stand to accomplish this. The good thing about a stand is that you can position the book at a distance and comfortable angle whist having you pointer in one hand (see below) and a free hand to turn the pages.

  5. Don’t back-skip
    You can waste a huge amount of time if you habitually back-skip whilst reading. This can sometimes be a conscious decision because you feel that you have missed something. In this case force yourself to keep going forwards. Authors often express the same thing in a different way later in the text or expand upon a concept already covered. By continuing forward you are getting more context that can often aid comprehension.

    If you back-skip subconsciously, you can avoid this by moving a guide underneath the words as you read them. This is a good tool, even if you don’t have a problem with back-skipping. Use a pencil, chopstick or your finger sweeping smoothly along each line of text. Follow the tip with your eyes. To build speed, move the pointer faster and try to keep up

If you want to learn more about SPEED reading just give me a call or drop me an email. my details are here.

That’s it for this month. Look out for the next newsletter at the beginning of September.

Best Wishes