Can I be good at studying now?

The end of the semester is here and with it, the end of my learning project for my EDTC300 class.

For my learning project I decided to learn how to study (better) and, to be honest, it was kinda stressful. I was already stressed out about having to study but on top of that I needed to study how to study better? Even saying it kinda gives me anxiety. However, looking back on it I really loved the subject I chose. It not only benefits me, it benefits all my classmates. It also is a subject that anyone from EDTC300 can voice their thoughts on because they all have studied and can contribute.

Here is a brief rundown on all my learning project posts!

Let’s learn…to decide!

I was struggling to decide between learning frisbee and how to manage my time better. In the end I decided on neither of them but time management is correlated to studying better right? Right….?

Studying how to Study

Some tips I found for this blog post were

  • using treats to motivate yourself
  • using apps to block out distracting sites/apps
  • listening to music
  • don’t study at just one spot, move around

The treats tip was a bust because I have no self control and constantly snacked on it. I looked for apps to try out and talked about using one in my next blog post, but that also was a bust. Listening to music was very helpful because it drowns out distracting noises and it helps me get motivated. This blog states that listening to Mozart improves mental performance but I personally don’t like Mozart so I stuck to my own music that had no lyrics. Moving around was surprisingly helpful. When I started to feel like I was losing focus, I packed up all my stuff and walk around to find a new study space. The little amount of exercise I got from walking around helped to wake me up.

Daniel, Killer of Trees

For this post, I tried using the iTunes app Flora. It’s an app where you plant a tree and you have to stay on the app till the tree fully grows or you kill it, making you plant a tree all over again. The app is supposed to make you stay away from distracting sites by making you feel guilty about killing trees, but as you can see from the title of the post, I have killed many trees. So many trees.

Burnt Out

When I made this post, I was just overwhelmed. It was right before my Math midterm and I just could not focus on studying. With only an hour before my midterm, I needed something that will get me to focus. I tried researching how to get myself out of this burnt out state but most of what I found was to prevent yourself from getting burnt out. Things like managing your time wisely, exercising, eating healthy and so on, but I needed something immediate. The only helpful thing I did find was caffeine. I don’t drink coffee because I am super sensitive to caffeine so I tried getting a bottle of coke and it worked! I gave me the necessary amount of energy to take the midterm and then I just crashed. If you ever find yourself burnt out but have a deadline approaching soon, try drinking coke!

Trying not to freeze….

If you ever need something to do to relax or want to take a break, try going outside. There are many benefits of being out in nature. For me, personally, I like to get away from the noise of cars, constructions, and people. I like being out in nature by myself, listening to music or just listening to birds chirping and the snow crunching under my shoes. You don’t have to drive yourself to the middle of nowhere, just try going outside to a nearby park, walk your dog! You’d be surprised at what a little fresh air can do for you.

Could you repeat the whole class? I wasn’t listening.

I was blown away by this statistics that I found on this site.

According to Walter Pauk (84), people lose their retention at the following rates:

 

20 minutes 47% forgotten
1 day 62% forgotten
2 days 69% forgotten
75 days 75% forgotten
78 days 78% forgotten

This means that by the time you get out of class and start you next class, you already forgot almost half of what you learned in the previous class! This highlights the importance of taking notes for class materials. I was having a little trouble taking notes in my English class because the professor liked to go back to a previous point, adding on to it and I, not having left any room to add in more notes, don’t write down those new points. So, to combat this I decided to try out a note taking method called the Cornell Method.

Holding back the urge to bust out in song during class.

For this post, I tried something new during lectures. I listened to my music while listening to lectures. The reason for doing this was because I was having trouble focusing because I was so sleepy. Research has shown that listening to music improves mental alertness, and it really did for me. I was more awake during lectures and was able to actually learn form the professor instead of going back on my notes to teach myself. So this gets me thinking, why did my high school teachers not let me listen to music during class? It is definitely something to think about when I become a teacher myself.

Organized Chaos

I tried out the Cornell note taking method but made a few tweaks to it. These are the pros and cons I listed in my post.

Pros for the new method: It gives me space to add in additional notes. If you can decipher my writing, you can see that the blob of notes on the top left hand side and the middle right hand side have arrows pointing toward another blob of notes. This is to indicate that the notes are correlated. If I had taken notes the regular way, there would have been limited, if any, space for me to write new notes.

Cons for the new method: It looks chaotic to me. It may be just because I’m not used to it but it definitely looks messier than my usual method. I am also not used to using this method. For today’s class I noticed I went back to my usual method because it is my usual means of writing notes.

Attention span of only 25 minutes

I had found a youtube video that was very informative and I had learned a lot from it. I hope you check it out yourself!

The main thing that blew me away was that the average person only has an attention span of 25 minutes. After that, our focus starts to waver. To help get you focused again, you should take breaks after 25 minutes and the breaks don’t have to be long to get your focus back, it can be just 5 minutes!

The only problem was that I have trouble limiting my break to just 5 minutes and my classmate Laura also shared my problem!

However, I realized something. The video says a MINIMUM of 5 minutes, it doesn’t say it has to be 5 minutes. You shouldn’t be having a ridiculously long break like 30 minutes, but you should give yourself enough time to feel refreshed and not be stressed about taking a long break. It’s better for you to take longer breaks and to study for longer than to stress about the amount of breaks you’re taking and end up burning out.

Quitting Cold Turkey

I tried out an app called Cold Turkey. It is an app where it blocks all the sites that are added in to its list for a time period that you decided on. One thing I found surprising is how long you can set the timer for. You can set it to 2020 and farther still. Here are some of the pros and cons for me:

PROS:

  • You can pick which sites to block and can set up personalized list for specific occasions.

CONS:

  • Some of the sites may have materials we need to help our homework/studies. For example, you need help on a math question and a quick googling gives you a Youtube video on how to do the question. However, you can’t watch it because you blocked Youtube for the next hour.
  • You can still use your phone for social media.

Brace Yourself…..

A friend of mine happened to walk up to me when I had just searched on youtube “how to study” and he points to Thomas Frank says “I love him! He has good study tips!” so I decided to check him out. He didn’t disappoint. He talked about the Space Repetition Technique which could be utilized through flashcards. I am fan of flash cards and think they are a better way to retain memory, now I know why!

Imma go nap.

For my last learning project post, I looked in to the benefits of napping and how to maximize its effectiveness. Here are the tips I learned from Thomas Frank.

  • Most people naturally get sleepy around 1-3PM.
  • Keep your naps to 10-20 minutes.
  • Don’t worry about taking long to fall asleep. Just lying down with your eyes closed relaxes you and has its benefits.
  • Use eye mask and earplugs. A noise cancelling headphone if you have one and sleep on your back.
  • Using apps like Pzizz to help you fall asleep.
  • Take coffee naps where you drink a cup of coffee and immediately nap for 20 minutes afterwards.

The one problem with my learning project was that it is impossible to track how far I have progressed in terms of studying. It is impossible for my to compare grades to previous semesters because I am not taking the same classes. While it is impossible to see how much more efficient my studying is now, here are a few things that I have noticed about myself.

  1. I focus better in lectures now because listening to music improves mental alertness.
  2. I am able to study for longer because I take breaks more often.
  3. Taking notes have become more efficient by using a different note taking method.
  4. I go outside more which helps relaxes me and also is beneficial for both my physical and mental health.
  5. When I’m burnt out or sleepy but have to finish an assignment/keep studying, I drink coke. Although it is not healthy, I am more alert after drinking it.

Although this was not talked about in my blog posts, but it is something I noticed only because I had my learning project on my mind. How much I eat greatly impacts my motivation to study. While it may be old news to some, it is new to me. If I eat too much, I get lazy and end up not studying afterwards. To combat this I eat about half the amount I would normally eat but eat more often.

Now that it is over, I enjoyed my learning project and I hope others enjoyed reading about it. Learning a new skill or improving on one by online resources taught me many things. It not only taught me how to study more efficiently, it taught me that there is a vast amount of information right at out finger tips. The use of technology is greatly beneficial in the learning process of students and should be implemented in to the class. Banning or restricting technology in the classroom is a waste of this tool. Students should be taught how to use technology efficiently instead of just restricting their uses.

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Imma go nap.

So I woke up today with many things I needed to get done. I promised myself that I am going to eat breakfast and then go straight to school to get all my assignments done.

HOWEVER!

After I finished eating my breakfast(which was really lunch because I woke up at 11) my eyes are were tired and I felt sleepy. So, I took a nap.
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Now that I am working on my learning project, I wondered, “Did that nap I took benefit me or hinder me?”

I decided to go back to Thomas Frank because I really enjoyed his video on my last blog post and learned quite a bit from it, hoping that he had a video on naps.

TA-DA! He did!

And he did not disappoint!

Thomas said that naps can benefit you, decreasing fatigue, more energy, and helps memory consolidation. I had no idea what memory consolidation meant so I did a little research. The verywellmind site said that, in a nut shell, it is just how well you remember something. It also states that sleep may be important in memory consolidation. The experts have suggested it and I am not one to complain about being able to take naps.

In Thomas’ video, he talks about a Circadian rhythm and while I also do not know what this is, I learned all I needed to know about it. Most people’s energy level will be at its lowest around 2-4 AM, when most are asleep. However, at around 1-3PM, the energy level will be at a low point again. So there’s a reason why you may be wanting to take a nap in the afternoon.

Now to talk about how to take a power nap that you wake up to revitalized and ready to take on the day again instead of waking up groggy.
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The first tip he gives is the duration of the nap. He suggests taking a 10-20 minute nap because of the sleep cycle. When you are sleeping, you go through different stages of sleeping which starts over in 90 minute periods. When you wake up in the later stages of your sleep, you will wake up feeling groggy. So, unless you can sleep for a full 90 minutes, he suggests limiting the naps to 10-20 minutes.

The second tip is that even though you may take 10 minutes to actually fall asleep, giving you only a 10 minute nap, the act of just closing your eyes and relaxing has its own benefits. The third tip he gives is the use of eye mask, earplugs or noise cancelling headphones so you get an undisturbed and quality nap.

He also suggest using apps to help you fall asleep. He recommends using pzizz (almost looks like pizza so I will probably pronounce is pizza in real life). I will not be going in to detail about the app because I personally prefer to sleep in a quiet environment with no noise. It also isn’t very useful when you have earplugs in like Thomas suggested you use.

The last tip he suggests is also one I will probably stay away from. He suggest taking a “coffee nap” which is basically you drink coffee and then you go nap right after for 20 minutes. The reasoning behind this is that coffee does not actually wake people up, it makes them feel tired less quickly. The caffeine also takes about 20 minutes for it to kick in so if you take a nap right after you drink coffee you will wake up less refreshed and the caffeine will start to kick in. I personally stay away from coffee as much as possible because it works too well on me. If I drink at 7AM, it keeps me up till 4AM (that’s almost the WHOLE DAY).

While I was watching his video, it got me thinking. Naps can benefit your learning, the video stated that Thomas Edison and Beethoven took naps to boost their creativity. It seems like there are many benefits to taking an afternoon nap, so should schools implement a nap time? Tell me what you guys think of taking naps in school!

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Brace Yourself…..

Brace yourself, finals are coming.

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With finals just around the corner, I will be relying on my learning project more than ever.

For this week I went back on Youtube and looked up how to study again. I saw a video that said how to study longer. Two posts ago, I watched a video that recommended taking breaks every 25~30 minutes because that is when the average person starts to lose focus so I thought this video would be a nice contrast. The video is also done by a blogger who is blogging her journey to becoming a med student while staying fit so I thought that was a nice contrast from posts from professors or magazine sites and etc.

Surprisingly, the tips that TheStriveToFit had were similar to the previous Youtube video that I watched. She recommends scheduling breaks if you want to be able to study longer. Since they were similar I decided to check out another video. A friend of mine who happened to walk by just as I searched up how to study on Youtube again, he saw a video by Thomas Frank and blurted out “I love him! He has good study tips!” Okay, I am sold! I will check out Thomas Frank.

 

He talks about an interesting technique called the Space Repetition technique. Basically, for materials you don’t know very well, you look over it more often than the material you know well. The time frame between when you look over it is important too. You recall the memory when you are on the verge of forgetting again. This strains the brain, making it easier for the brain to remember it in the long run.

This chart shows us a rough representation of how you should be spacing out the time you recall the material you are trying to study. The top one is what you would expect when you study everything at the same frequency. The Spaced Repetition method shows us that it should be spaced out and the more you get familiar with it, the more you space it out. One of the ways you can do the Spaced Repetition is using flash cards. Thomas recommends using an app called Anki to make digital flash cards to utilize the Spaced Repetition method but I will be trying it with good old fashion paper because I like to look through them when I am walking around.

Quitting Cold Turkey

For this week’s blog post/learning project, I have decided to try out Cold Turkey! Its an app that lets you set up a timer for how long you can’t access any sites that you think is a distraction. I decided on this app when a friend told me about the selfcontrol app for Apple computers. Sadly, I am poor and can’t afford one so I had to find a similar app for windows computers #brokestudent.

Let’s take a quick tour of the app. After you finish downloading and setting up the extensions in your browsers, open up the app.

On the left side, two slots below “Dashboard,” you see block lists.

The app already has 54 sites that you might find distracting already. It had Facebook and Youtube on there already so I decided to use the default list. To add sites or make a personal list, all you need to do is click the green button above and add in the sites you want blocked. For example: for Facebook, simply type in facebook.com and you are good to go.

Now to start the timer go back to dashboard and click on “Start a timer”

The apps kinda funny because you can potentially block the sites till 2019, but I need my Facebook for sleuthing.

You can pick when to block the sites till by date, hour and minutes in 10 minute intervals. Sadly the breaks option is locked for the pro users, but who has the money to spend on this app? To start it you click the off bar and you are good to go. It does give you a warning if you have the “lock timers” option on.

What this means is that if you have the “lock timers” option off, you can turn off the block anytime but if you have it on, you have to wait till the times up. So I started the block and decided to see if it really works by going on Facebook.

It works! Sadly…..

Some pros and cons about this app

PROS:

  • It stops you or your students from distracting websites when you should be doing something productive. It could be a great tool for teachers to set up on the school laptops or computers to prevent the students from going on social media websites or gaming websites.
  • You can pick which sites to block and can set up personalized list for specific occasions.

CONS:

  • From what I can see, once you set up the timer and have the lock timers option on, you can’t do anything to get on those websites again. Any one of your “troll” friends could go on and set up a timer till 2020 and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Perhaps deleting the app will allow you access to those websites again?
  • While social media is distracting, classes like our EDTC300 classes heavily rely on social media.
  • Some of the sites may have materials we need to help our homework/studies. For example, you need help on a math question and a quick googling gives you a Youtube video on how to do the question. However, you can’t watch it because you blocked Youtube for the next hour.
  • You can still use your phone for social media.

For me personally there are more cons than pros to this app. While it may be useful at certain situations, I don’t see myself using this app very often. Tell me what you guys think! Would you use it?

 

Attention span of only 25 minutes

Before I get to my actual post just wanted to update everyone on my note taking.

It’s still a little messy but I really want to pursue this and make it my own because I believe it will greatly benefit me in my future studying!

Now for my actual learning project post. I was informed by Katia Hildebrandt that Youtube has videos on how how to study better. What? Youtube isn’t just for look at cat videos? So I search up tips on studying better and look for videos with a lot of views. I found this one

I was drawn because of the title. Study less. Study less? I am sold!

I was a little hesitant because it was an hour long but I remembered a little trick my friend told me when he was trying to watch “Game of Thrones” when he had no time to. Watch it in 1.5x speed. Sometimes if the speaker talks to fast it is hard to understand but for this speaker sounded normal at 1.5x speed.

So I watch the video and it starts off with a very interesting fact. There was a study done that after 25-30minutes of studying or listening to lectures, people get distracted.

The graph is of a student starting her studies at 6 and at around 6:30 her focus just plummets. After that 30 minute mark, even though she studied till 12, she did not learn much. The video says to take a 5 minute break after 30 minutes of effective studying. Take the break to do something that you enjoy doing. After the break, although your attention span is not to what it was before you started studying, but it gets pretty high. Studying for 30 minutes with 5 minutes breaks is much more efficient than continuously studying with no breaks.

Another interesting statement in the video is that the environment in which you study is important too and it seems true. I have heard before that you should not study where you sleep. It was stated that because your brain associates that room with the stress you feel from studying, you have a harder time falling asleep. I did not know it could have the opposite effect too. The speaker talks about how studying in the dining room can lead to you not studying, but instead making sandwich. You are no more smarter but you do get fatter.

Another statement the video makes is to teach something you learned. This is very relevant to our class because we are trying to become teachers. You cannot teach something if you do not understand the subject. The spokesperson said that if you do not have someone who you can teach what you learned, try speaking to an empty chair, a technique called active recitation.

With a Math midterm coming up this Friday, I hope these tips really are effective because I have not started studying yet. Wish me luck everyone!

 

 

Organized Chaos

Hello everyone! Just a quick little update on my learning project!

Previously I had stated that I will try the Cornell method to writing down notes. I had tweaked it a little bit to me own needs. Instead of having cues on the side, I used it to take down additional notes. I also got rid of the summary.

Here is how I took notes before.

and here is how I used the modified Cornell method!

Please disregard my messy hand writing.

Now for some pros and cons.

Pros for the new method: It gives me space to add in additional notes. If you can decipher my writing, you can see that the blob of notes on the top left hand side and the middle right hand side have arrows pointing toward another blob of notes. This is to indicate that the notes are correlated. If I had taken notes the regular way, there would have been limited, if any, space for me to write new notes.

Cons for the new method: It looks chaotic to me. It may be just because I’m not used to it but it definitely looks messier than my usual method. I am also not used to using this method. For today’s class I noticed I went back to my usual method because it is my usual means of writing notes.

Tell me what you guys think. Which method do you prefer?

Holding back to urge to bust out in song during class.

For my learning project I was going to use a new technique to writing down notes for my English class but we just so happen to be watching a movie till next week so I will not be able to try it out.

So, for this week’s learning project I am going to talk a little bit about music

Insert cheesy quote about how music is life blah blah blah (or just pick one you like from here).

This week I have not been able to stay awake during my Math127 class. Since I need to actually be awake to learn stuff, I decided to listen to some music while I attend my Math class.

To my surprise it actually kept me awake and more focused.

So I decided to do some researching about the effects of music. I know from my previous learning project post that listening to Mozart while studying improves brain cognition, but how did it help me stay awake? I am listening to music and my professor speaking, potentially splitting my attention to two subjects, and yet it helps me focus on my professor more.

A quote from this article states that “[m]usic activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory.”

Hmmmm….If there are studies done on the benefits of listening to music while learning, why did my high school teacher to take off my earphones during class? It’s not like I had both of them in my ears or the volume cranked to the max, I just had it in one year and still paying attention to class.

In the case of my drowsy-during-math-class-syndrome, music was my cure because “[r]esearch has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness(added emphasis), and memory.” 

So, a question for everyone, should we allow students to listen to music during lectures as long as only they themselves can hear it and they are still paying attention to the classwork?

BONUS! Here’s an album I am constantly listening to while studying. Hope you like it! My favorite is L’Indécis – Staying There.

Could you repeat the whole class? I wasn’t listening.

Taking notes.

I know how to do it but I don’t know how to do it.

What I mean by that is I know how to write down everything I see on the board or the projector, but I don’t know how to make the notes efficient. That is why I decided to research how to take notes more efficiently.

This one blog had an interesting stat posted.

According to Walter Pauk (84), people lose their retention at the following rates:

20 minutes 47% forgotten
1 day 62% forgotten
2 days 69% forgotten
75 days 75% forgotten
78 days 78% forgotten

It is interesting to see how fast we lose the information learned in class and how important notes are.

Another blog I found had 5 different methods of note taking. The Cornell method seems very appealing to me because my English professor likes to talk about one subject, then move to another subject, and then go back to the previous subject.

Since I am writing on paper, it is very hard for me to add new notes after I have written something down. Since the professor likes to go back on the previous subject and add more points, the Cornell method will allow me to add additional notes afterwards.

I look forward to using the Cornell method or my next class!

Trying not to freeze….

During the reading break, I had not done any studying whatsoever. I felt myself burnt out by the week before the break started and needed some down time to recharge.

I personally like my alone time so most of the break was spent by myself but I did meet up with my friends who I haven’t seen for a while. One thing I did during the break that I didn’t do the rest of the semester was going out for a walk.

There are many sites that state multiple benefits of being outside. This site listed that one of the benefits was that spending time in nature brings a feeling of serenity, peace, and calm”. I do feel a sense of calm when I am along out in nature. It relaxes me to be away from car noise, people chattering, or even machines beeping. Something about the birds chirping and the crunching sound of the snow beneath my feet is much more attractive.

I want to know,

Does anyone else feel the same way when they are outside?

Would you try going outside for a study break?

 

A couple pics of where I went during the break.

It was a little gloomy out but the falling snow was very pretty!

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