Need to Know November

In Need to Know November I want to focus on the important stuff. Now’s the time to get familiar with study strategies and to prepare study tools. Since December and January are when the first semester generally ends, we want to prevent overwhelm by preparing now for final exams and large assessments.

There are a number of ways to take an anti-boring approach to studying, a concept coined by Gretchen Wegner. I will walk you through a versatile strategy that has been immensely supportive for my students. 

Graphic Organizers!

Graphic organizers are my favorite study tool because they are visual! The simplest form would be a T-Chart. I often start my students out with T-Charts so that they can organize new vocabulary by listing terms on the left and the definition on the right. I’ve also had students recreate a math study guide with the algebraic expression on the left and the step by step process for solving it on the right. T-Charts become especially useful during study time because the paper can be folded in half and used for retrieval practice.

But the T-Chart is not the only kind of graphic organizer! There are also more involved organizers like these thinking maps

Creating visual representations of information can offer several benefits for the brain, including:


    • Enhanced Memory Retention: the brain tends to process and remember images better than plain text.

    • Facilitates Understanding: Visual representations can simplify complex information, making it easier for the brain to understand and process large amounts of data.

    • Promotes Creativity and Imagination: Visuals often stimulate the brain’s creative centers and encourage imaginative thinking, leading to a deeper understanding of the material. Also, it can be fun to be creative! Fun enhances engagement.

    • Faster Processing: Visuals are processed more quickly by the brain compared to textual information, which can result in faster comprehension and retention of concepts.

    • Facilitates Association and Connection: Visuals can help the brain create associations and connections between different pieces of information, aiding in the formation of a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.

    • Engages Multiple Senses: Incorporating visuals in learning engages multiple senses, enhancing the overall learning experience and making it more interactive and immersive.

By leveraging the benefits of visual learning, students can optimize their study strategies and improve their overall comprehension and retention of complex information. Graphic organizers can be used for any subject area to make the lecture notes your own and to truly internalize the information for your very unique brain.