Finally, A Definition of Studying

Finally, a definition of studying for the ages. More importantly, a definition that seems to make sense to freshmen.

It’s not hard. It has four parts. The image above is what it looks like on the whiteboard:

Step #1 – Grab your cell phone and turn it to airplane mode because we are going on a trip.

Step #2 – The freshman is to set the time on their phone for the amount of time they will study. I use “20” minutes as an example, but it could be 10 minutes or 8 minutes or 14:45. The number can vary but its meaning should not. This is the amount of time that the freshman is going to sit and do nothing but study. If the house catches fire, get up. But if it’s anything else, forget it. Not until the timer goes off. The freshman is to be in full focus for that amount of time.

Step #3 – The rectangle represents a piece of scratch paper that the freshman is to have next to them during this study time. This is a place to capture the “to do” items that the brain will send once the freshman decides to study. These include such thoughts as . . .

  • I need to tell my mom to pick me up early tomorrow.

  • I forgot to tell Camden what happen 3rd period. He won’t believe it!

  • I need to find out  if what Erin said about Robert is true.

  • That new trailer’s out. I need to watch that!

These thoughts are converted to a short phrase that is written on the piece of scratch paper. Once this round of studying is over they can be looked into, but for right now these distracting thoughts are written on the piece of paper and the focus returns to studying.

Step #4 – The “?” points to the thinking that should be going on during the studying. I tell the freshmen they should be asking questions about what is in front of them:

  • What does that mean?

  • Didn’t I here the teacher saying that in class today?

  • I wonder what the main idea of this paragraph is?

Things like that. The soundtrack of studying is questions. They are required!

When the timer goes off, the freshman should check their list and see what can be completed before the next round of studying. Get a drink of water. Do a couple of jumping jacks and then reset the timer for the desired time.

It’s a definition of studying that makes the somewhat invisible process of learning new material become more visible and more measurable.