Yesterday, I was working with one of my students and we spent some time on a different way for him to study. He loved it. I have taught many of my kids this method and it’s really powerful.
There are a few things that we traditionally associate with studying: note cards, reading your notes over, memorization, etc.. But there are so many more ways to integrate learning. This one involves a digital recorder. (I use the Olympus 801 . Digital voice recorders cost between $30-$100. Try to get the ones with multiple “folders.”)
Here’s the gist of how I teach students to use these:
1. Usually there are 5 “folders” on these recorders, often labeled A, B, C, D. Each “folder” stores multiple recordings or “files.” I like students to dedicate folders to different classes and to keep one folder for miscellaneous thoughts, notes, reminders, or ideas. An example:
- Folder A: Miscellaneous ideas, random thoughts, reminders, school or non-school related.
- Folder B: Language Arts class
- Folder C: History class
- Folder D: Science class
- Folder E: Foreign Language class
2. Think of good ways to use record information so you can use it to your benefit:
- In the case of the student yesterday, he was studying for a Biology final. We took his written notes and he recorded himself asking questions like this, “name and describe the 4 types of gymnosperm plants? (he pauses) Cycads, ginkos and conifers and gnetophytes. Cycads are…” Now he can listen to the recordings while he is cleaning his room, going to school, even while he’s gaming :).
- For novels, I often teach students to make recordings of important information as they are reading. As they record, they can cite page numbers, quote characters, etc.. For many students this is much less disruptive than stopping to take written notes. Then, when they begin their book reports/reviews or other projects, they can go through the recordings and type pertinent notes into their outline.
- Recorders can be awesome for getting story ideas out verbally before typing them up.
- For foreign language, they are great for practice with vocabulary, etc..
- For math, the recorder is often only useful when memorization is required, for example with new formulas.
- You get the point-come up with your own creative ideas for any class.
3. Listen to the recordings anywhere and everywhere. This is great for kids who need to move around. They can put on headphones and listen while they walk, do chores, etc.. They can listen in the car, as they fall asleep, at the bus stop, etc.. Recordings can be deleted as the learning becomes integrated.
I also teach students other powerful methods, such as drawing their notes or visualizations, but these are outside the scope of this quick article. Just remember that there are many creative ways to learn, and don’t be afraid to experiment. The point is to develop a style that works rather than just relying on traditional mindsets.
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Side note: I do NOT recommend recording classes, at least not for the students I work with. I tend to work with right brained struggling students, and they are not going to take the energy to re-listen to a recorded class. Just sayin’.
Disclaimer: This article is meant to show one of many ways to “study.” This does not mean that the task or test is necessarily valid. You have to seriously consider this for yourself (some is truly valuable, some is meaningless, counterproductive busywork). Just because school assigns something doesn’t mean that it is more valuable than family time, play, self-care, etc.. If something feels off, listen to your gut because it knows best. Remember, education should ultimately help kids find their authentic callings, should help them craft purposeful and happy lives.
“I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.”
— Mark Twain