Before we begin
Got the place, got the space - now what?
The nuts and bolts
- Break your study time into ½ hour blocks, study for 25 minutes, rest for 5 minutes, increase the break time by 5 minutes for each additional 25 minutes, so at the end of the next 25 minutes, take a 10 minute break, after the next 25 minutes take 15 minutes. You probably shouldn’t have to spend more than 1 ½ to 2 hours a day on homework/studying, 3-4 at the graduate level. If you feel that you are doing more than this talk with your teacher or re-examine and tweak your learning plan - it's not set in stone, it's an organic, flexible guiding system..
- When studying, highlight the key points in a different color
- Keep an organizer – one organizer where you write all your school assignments, notes, appointments etc.
- Decide on your filing system. Carry one binder, or notebook with different sections. Get one that has pockets in between the sections so you can put papers you haven’t filed yet in there. Carry your organizer in one of the pockets and you will have everything in one place.
- Color code things for different priorities e.g.: red for all tasks you need to do today, green for things you need to do this week and blue for things due in more than a week.
- Begin in the center with your topic
- Write down everything you know about that topic branching off from the center
- Review your notes
- In a different color add in facts you missed
- Try to link each fact with another one e.g.: Renaissance means rebirth, so what was it a rebirth from? The dark ages, what happened? The industrial revolution and the invention of the printing press significantly changes social, economic and political factors. How did they do this? Information was translated into the vernacular or common language so all people could understand. Previously it was all in Latin and generally only priests or the very wealthy could read, this limited the exchange of ideas and information (one of the reasons that the period before this was known as the dark ages), with more access to information, people began questioning what they had been told by the church (as they could now read the bible themselves), this led to a shift in social structure from the feudal land system. This also influenced politics as the church lost much power as people began to realize that ’buying forgiveness’ was not necessary, despite what they had been told by the church. Two of the best illustrations of the Renaissance spirit of inquiry and search for knowledge are Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo (from here go on and fill in what you know about each of them).
- Each branch should contain a central fact, key word or short sentence, which links to the next one and the next one. That way, each piece of information will trigger other pieces of information. This makes it much easier to learn large chunks of information.
- Try to use different colors for different themes or topics
- Put the mind maps on pieces of card stock which you can tack up on the wall so that you can see them, that way you will constantly reinforce your learning.
- You can also write the summary words on 3x5 index cards, so that you can carry them with you and review them when you need to.
- Using this method, like with mind maps you only have to remember a small piece of information, and then each piece of information helps you link to another piece.
- Using either of these techniques will also help you to see the overall picture of a subject. People who pay a lot of attention to detail, often miss the overall sense of a situation, so using these study methods should help you in that area too.
- These techniques should also help you with planning and organization as there is a specific method to follow. You can break down almost any block of information this way.
- You can also use the mind map in reverse where you use it to create something – like the plot for a movie. Just follow the same steps, putting everything you think of down, even if you don’t think you will use it. This method often helps people be more creative as it works much more similarly to the way our brain works.
- If have a project, you can use this system to help organize your thoughts and prevent getting overwhelmed by information.
- Put your topic in the center
- Break down the sections of your paper – if it’s a scientific paper you probably need a section for hypothesis, observation, discussion, conclusion etc, for social science you might break it up into an introduction, description of the event or people, what happened, what was the impact, how did this change things etc.
- Put down the key words you associate with each section and then branch off from these. Link similar concepts with color so that your paper flows well.
- Other activities that can help to build your attention, concentration and memory are crosswords, word searches, memory games or Suduko etc. Even doing one of these things a day consistently will improve your memory and attention.