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Our brain is "geared" to seek patterns. Outlining simply arranges information in a pattern that may be efficiently fixed to memory.
The act of creating an outline is an effective means to support memorization. Students will often find that by the time they read a passage carefully, analyze its content to determine the main and corresponding subtopics, and then actually move a writing utensil to produce the outline, much of the information has already become part of their long term memory. Of courses, once completed, the outline enables efficient study; covering the subtopics of a main topic (but leaving the symbols in view) supports repeated self-quizzing.
Since the production of good outlines was key to my success in school, I was committed to helping my students develop this valuable skill. In part, this goal led me to select the Globe Life Science textbook - and to use it for many years. Its brief lessons were well suited to the production of reasonable-sized outlines (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.
My basic strategy was to loan students a good outline of each lesson - after they completed their attempt. (Examples of such outlines may be viewed under the menu item "CONTENTS"). By comparing their versions to mine, a very high percentage of my students steadily improved their skill level. After a few days, I collected the loaned outlines and filed them for future use.
I also devised an efficient means to provide students with written feedback on a few of their outlines. (This strategy is described in the final pages of the handout). I referred to this feedback as a "skill-check." I stressed to students my goal was to help them to 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 allow individuals to ask questions.
There was a "bonus" to this approach. A commonly voiced concern by parents was, "My child simply 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 outlines corresponded to the Globe Life Science book's lessons). I will soon have outlines for the majority of the lessons of Discovering Life Science. Teachers who purchase the book may simply contact me if they would like these (free) outlines.