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The strategy:

The day after an outline is assigned, students are provided with a good version for comparison. For beginners, assigning only selected paragraphs is recommended.

The good versions of outlines (of all 72 lessons) are free to teachers who purchase one or more copies of Discovering Life Science

To view examples, see the "CONTENTS" menu item.

• For a 40-second video on the primary advantages of outlining, click on the first button below.

• To view the handout that I used to introduce outlining to students, click on the second button below.

Teachers with large classes will likely be unable to go beyond instructing students in the basics of outlining, and then providing them with the good versions for comparison. Taking just these step provides students with the opportunity to learn (or refine) a vital skill that will help them in all future classes.

For most of my career, I was fortunate to have small classes. This enabled me to provide more support (per student), so I devised an efficient means to provide students with written feedback; I did this for the first three or four assigned outlines. My feedback strategy is described in the final pages of the handout that I've linked to the button below. I referred to this feedback as a "skill-check." I stressed to students that my goal was to help them improve their skills, and that all serious efforts earned full credit. When each skill-checked outline was returned, I devoted about 10 minutes of class time to remind students of the meaning of the symbols that I used in marking their papers, and to answer questions. As expected, a high percentage of students steadily improved their skill level. 

BTW: While I certainly encouraged (and often reminded) students to include drawings in their outlines, I have not included drawings in the "good versions" that are provided to buyers of the book.


Why is outlining so important?

As stated in the video at the link below, our brain is "geared" to seek patterns. Outlining simply arranges information in a pattern that may be efficiently fixed in memory.


The act of creating an outline is an effective means to enhance long-term memory. Students will often find that by the time they carefully read a passage, analyze its content to determine the main topics and corresponding subtopics, and then move a writing utensil to produce an outline, their brain has already committed most of the information to memory. Of course, their completed outline facilitates efficient study; students simply cover the subtopics of a main topic (leaving the symbols in view), and ask themselves if they know the covered portions.

Since the production of good outlines was key to my success in school, I was determined to help my students develop (or refine) this valuable skill. In part, this goal led me to select the book on which Discovering Life Science is based - and to use that book for many years. Its brief lessons were well suited to the production of reasonable-sized outlines - most from 1 to 1.5 sides of a sheet of paper. (Of course, for lessons containing a bit more content than usual, teachers may require that only a portion of a lesson be outlined).

There was a "bonus" to incorporating the teaching of outlining into my program. In my career, a commonly voiced concern by parents was, "My child doesn't know how to study!" It was always nice to explain the advantages of outlining, and to share in detail how I was supporting their child in this regard.


After completing Discovering Life Science, I began revising the outlines that I used (since my original outlines corresponded to the Globe Life Science book's lessons). I have now updated the outlines for all of the 72 lessons of Discovering Life Science. Teachers who purchase the book may simply contact me to obtain pdf versions of these outlines.

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