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The Learn-by-Teaching Method
Having a problem learning?
- Spend a lot of time studying, but still struggle with tests? - Your notes don't make sense or you don't understand the teacher? - You attempt to memorize everything but still don't understand it? - You feel hopeless about your potential?
Things you may have been told...
- Find a quiet place that is free of distractions.
- Now what? Well, you know. Study. Read. Think. - Sink or swim! What if you are sinking while those around you are swimming? Maybe nobody ever taught you how to swim?
- The 3-S system: Sit and Study Silently
This is the hard and slow way. You just pronounce words in your head while your mind wanders off. You probably couldn't tell someone what you just read. You are probably easily distracted. You find yourself staring at objects or listening to sounds. You may even fall asleep!
There is a solution that can help...
This system will fill the gap between the time the teacher presents information to you and the time you are tested on that information.
- It will force you to concentrate totally on your studies. - It will improve your understanding of the material. - It will greatly improve your retention.
The best way to learn something is to teach it!
- We remember 14% of what we hear, 22% of what we both see and hear, 70% of movies in our mind, and 91% of what we teach others.
The power of the tongue...
We will use the power of the tongue and the powerful effect that spoken words have upon the person hearing them. The power of the tongue is also exerted on the person doing the talking. Those who are high achievers have learned to concentrate on the task at hand and shut out all distractions. You will discover that you, too, can possess that type of concentration.
Textbooks are written by people who know what they're talking about, but who are not good at explaining things to others. Also, textbooks may contain errors. What do you do? - Use your teacher. You can ask questions of your teacher. She can fill in the gaps and give you examples to explain the concepts. She can talk at your level and sense if you really understand. - Take advantage of the work your teacher has done for you by taking good notes (we discuss this next).
Taking good notes
Your teacher will test you on material you have covered in class. Your attitude should be to pay attention in class and take good notes. - For every hour you spend taking good notes, you will save several hours outside of class, trying to figure out what the teacher was trying to say, what the author is trying to explain, what the other students seem to know, and what you need to know to do well on the test. How do you take good notes? - Arrive on time. Have a pencil and paper ready, so you can start writing when the teacher starts talking. - Use the outline format (we discuss this next) - If your notes are well-organized, at the end of class, half the battle is won. Those not paying attention will be several hours behind you.
Taking good notes
You've been taught how to outline: I. A. 1. a. (1) (a) This is the best way to take notes. When the teacher starts talking about a subject, you can outline the main points and take notes on the details (example is next)
Taking good notes
If the teacher says, "We're going to discuss birds today," you would write: I. Birds Then she says, “First, we’re going to talk about carnivorous birds.” Your notes then read: I. Birds A. Carnivorous She then says, “The first carnivorous birds we're going to discuss are the hawks.” Then your notes read: I. Birds A. Carnivorous 1. Hawks
Taking good notes
If the teacher is talking too fast, as her to slow down. If she says something you don't understand, ask her to explain. Teachers are not mind readers! If your mind was wondering, ask the teacher to repeat what you missed. If you missed a lot, leave a large gap in your notes and proceed taking notes. After class, ask the teacher what you missed or get notes from a classmate who is a good note taker. Never leave the gap in your notes! Don't be afraid to ask a question. Many of your fellow students will be glad you did. Never do anything that would let anyone know that you think another classmate's question is silly. With good notes, you'll feel as if you already know the material and can be tested on it right away.
The Learning Method
Start at the beginning of your notes or book and pick a bite-size portion, perhaps a paragraph, and read it. - Now look away from your notes or cover them. - Now teach what you just read, out loud, using your own words, to an imaginary class. - Don't talk in monotone. Vary your voice inflection. Use your hands. Be a teacher! When you first try this, you may get "tongue-lock' and nothing is going to come out. - Now you will realize what happened to you those times when you thought you had studied, and you thought you knew the material; and then, when you went in to take the test, you couldn't think of the answer.
The Learning Method
Read your notes again; and this time, ask yourself how you are going to explain this to your "class" in your own words and using your own examples. - Your mind works differently when you read something with the intention of teaching it to someone else than it does when you read something for yourself. Nobody wants to look silly in front of an audience and not know what he's talking about. - You may get nervous, even with an imaginary audience. - You were just listening in class, and that's 14% retention; now you're teaching and that's 91% retention! Don't be a parrot! If all you do is turn around and repeat verbatim what the notes say, you are not teaching. You are parroting. Parrots don't understand; they just repeat. Parroted information is useless, because you are not going to understand it; and you are not going to remember it. When you use your own words and your own examples, the information is going to become a part of you.
The Learning Method
If you draw a blank while teaching, start over from the beginning of your bite-size portion. If you start with the part you forgot, you would probably forget it next time, too. Your mind works best when it works in sequence from one thing to the next, to the next. When you start your mind going along a sequence that it has been along before, it will tend to keep going all by itself. Go ahead and refer to your notes as often as you need to until you can teach your bite-size portion three times without referring to your notes. Pick your next bite-size portion, and repeat the procedure until you reach the end of your notes. It's not necessary that you be able to teach your entire notes from memory without referring back to them, but it is necessary that you be able to teach each bite-size portion from memory.
The Learning Method
How many times do you go back to the start of your notes and run through the routine? You won't know the answer to that until you get to the end of your notes. How confident do you feel? How important is the test? You must be the judge, but keep in mind that the more times you run through it, the better you will know it. Also, every time you go through the routine, the faster it goes.
This method works best if you are alone, at first. Lay your notes face up, preferably on something chest-high. After picking your bite-size portion, turn and teach it while you are walking around. - Accelerating your body will accelerate your mind. - Your concentration will be focused and distractions will fade away. - Studies show that we think 5-20% faster when standing, even more when walking. When you first start using this tool, don't tell anybody about it; just do it. You don't need to hear negative words, especially when you are trying something new. - After it's working for you, then share it with others.
If your notes are not good, the results of this tool are not going to be good. Talking fast while teaching can help you concentrate better and think faster. You have to know the info better to talk faster, and you will finish studying more quickly. Experiment with the system to adapt it to different classes or study environments. - For math, you can work out a problem on paper and explain what you're doing out loud. - For laboratory tests, imagine yourself and your class with all the necessary equipment, and go through the experiments you will have to do for the test.
If you're studying in a place where you're supposed to be quiet; read your bite-size portion, cover it with your hand, and explain it to your "class" in your mind. You may be able to speak quietly enough that only you can hear. For history, use your imagination and take the class with you to that moment in time. History can be exciting when you look beyond the words on the page. Memory trick 1: As you read words, use your imagination; and create a threedimensional movie in your mind. The more of your senses you use - sight, movement and color, sound, touch, smell - the better this works.
Memory trick 2: This allows you to instantly go to a specific item in a list. Write in a column the numbers one through ten, or whatever amount you need. Pick a word that rhymes with each number and write it beside its number. Memorize which word goes with which number. - You can associate an item or action with each number, and relate it with what you need to remember. When asked about an item number, you will remember that item and the related information. Caution: do not use a memory device as a crutch when you are unable to understand something. Remember, parrots can memorize.
The ideal practice is to use this technique each night to cover the information given you by the teacher that day, as if you were going to be tested on it the next day. - You'll be surprised at the intelligent questions you'll come up with, and how well you understand each new day's lecture and how much easier taking notes becomes. Even if you don't have your notes with you, if you have already studied them by teaching out loud, you will remember enough of them that you will be able to study while you're walking, jogging, driving, etc. Essays: Your attempt to answer questions should not be your first attempt to put all the facts together in your own words. When you study by teaching out loud, you are getting lots of practice at doing exactly that.
Finals: You should not have to re-cram information that you hadn't learned well the first time. Lay all your semester's notes down; and when you start at the beginning, you will instantly remember the words and examples you had used earlier in the semester to teach your "class". If you are a gifted student, you'll find that, studying this way, you'll understand the material better, you'll enjoy studying more, you'll get through studying more quickly, and you'll remember the information longer. As you learn about a subject, you will probably find that you are becoming more interested in it, and maybe it isn't so bad after all. Lack of understanding is usually the culprit behind our dislike of something or somebody.
- Assume no textbooks - Attend every class - Be on time - Pencil and paper ready - Use outline format - If teacher talks too fast, ask her to slow down - If teacher says something you don't understand, ask her to explain - If your mind wanders for a few seconds, ask her to repeat - If your mind wanders for longer, leave a large gap in your notes, and fill in after class.
Ready bite-size portion Don't touch notes Look away from notes Teach out loud (key!) - Your words - Your examples - Refer to notes until you can teach three times from memory - Choose next bite-size portion - Repeat to end of notes
Mums (don't tell anyone till it works for you) Take good notes Alone (by yourself) Walk (pace room) (hot tip!) Use imagination Motor mouth (talk fast) Use nightly