Welcome back Lyons, to “Study, Set… Go!!,” a Metropolis mini-series where we dissect the very intimidating world of studying by simplifying study strategies. Whether you’re looking to conquer this exam season or just brush up on your skills, you’ve found just the post! We’ll be tackling some personal favourites this time around so get your favourite notebook, lots of coffee, and settle in!
The Feynman technique, named after Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, is about confirming your understanding of the words and phrasing that you’re using. You take on the role of a teacher and try to teach the information you’re studying. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in all the big words and fancy phrasing used that we forget the actual mechanics of the content we’re studying. With the Feynman technique, you need to be able to explain the details of what you’ve learned without using complicated terminology as a crutch. Imagine that you’re explaining the concept to somebody with no prior knowledge of the subject such as a child. You try to teach the content at a highly simplified level and fill in any gaps that you find along the way.
The elaborative interrogation technique is a very big name for what is really a return to our curious toddler roots in a constant barrage of “why?” Similar to the Feynman technique, asking ourselves why the things that we’re studying are actually occurring helps us to understand the words, phrases, and processes that we’re learning beyond pure semantics. With everything you learn, just ask yourself why and how things are the way that they are, and if you can’t answer that then you either don’t know the content well enough or it may be out of the scope of your curriculum.
Yup, turns out that Pavlov’s dogs have some influence on our study habits! Behaviourist Ivan Pavlov used the sound of a bell and a bowl of food to condition several dogs to drool at just the sound of a bell. The logic of this is that the introduction of a neutral stimulus and unconditioned stimulus together will incite a conditioned response at later introductions of the neutral stimulus alone. We can use this knowledge to our advantage as students by introducing certain elements into our environment or routine that we’ll eventually associate with studying. This could be using a specific pencil/pen, studying in one spot every time, listening to a specific kind of music, or even consuming the same food/drink when and only when you’re studying. Over time, you’re able to slip into a state of focus much easier when doing these behaviours because you immediately associate them with studying.
Exam season brings a universal sense of anxiety to us all and the post-pandemic nature of it this year does little to alleviate that. “[It’s a] fear of the unknown I think definitely for the grade 9s, 10s, and 11s… [and there have been] so many uncertainties and pivots for the grade 12s…” Says Ms. McDowell, when asked about the expected difficulties for students this year. However, she reiterates the importance of planning out study sessions to ease yourself into the process. “It’s scary, but as long as you’ve put into place the methods that are available, that's the most important thing.” By creating study aids (cheat sheets, flow charts, summaries) and finding the techniques that work best for you, you can greatly ward off some of that stress. Of course, it’s great to build your skills and confidence with studying and exam-taking, but each of these techniques can only be effective if they’re balanced with proper eating, sleeping, socializing, and relaxing! If you’re looking for more information on achieving that balance, contact your guidance counsellor or check out some of the other resources below. Good luck Lyons, see you next sem!
P.S. Keep an eye out for our final post of the season, there just might be some extra tips to look forward to :)
https://maclyonsden.com/resources/ , @wlmac.guidance , @wlmac.wellness
languages & writing
Well, it’s time.
This year has brought back so many missed events and experiences for students. Semi-formals, longer lunches, maskless meetups and, of course, the one we’ve all collectively been dreading, exams. For Grade 11s and 12s especially, exams are a touchy subject right now, and understandably so. The skills that we were meant to build across our high school years have been lost to online classes and grade inflation. Now, as we come face-to-face with these 2-hour terrors, many of us feel lost on where to start — myself included. From the annoyingly aesthetic notes online to the vague terms often thrown around, it’s tough to get going with nothing to start with. To that end, I went on a deep dive into learning more about study methods the internet often swears to understand their practicality and the research backing them to give us all a bit of an edge with our exam prep.
Active Recall vs Spaced Repetition
Spaced repetition and active recall are the two terms I notice get thrown around the most when it comes to study tips. The problem with them is that they are very broad ideas that can be applied in a multitude of ways to the point that it can be hard to actually use them. By the end of this, you’ll hopefully understand more about these techniques and how to apply them!
Studies have shown that our brains tend to store information better the more we encounter it and that we can remember it for longer periods of time if we revisit the information often. This is highlighted through Hermann Ebbinghaus' famous “forgetting curve.” According to the book “How We Learn" by Benedict Carey, the reason for this is that our brain will generally forget information that is deemed unnecessary. The harder that we have to work to retain that information, the more likely it is to be integrated into our long-term memory. To study using spaced repetition, space your topics out with bigger and bigger gaps and study them consistently. The Leitner system, detailed later in this post, is one example of this.
Active recall is about actively challenging your grasp of the material you’ve studied. Rereading, summarizing, taking notes, and highlighting have been tested as key study methods 100 times over and have consistently been shown to be some of the least effective ways of studying. Watching videos, listening to lessons, highlighting the textbook - these are all easy to do, but if you don’t actively challenge yourself with the knowledge gained then you’re likely to forget it soon. To study using active recall, you can use practice tests and flashcards, form discussion groups, or try teaching yourself the content. Check out our next edition of "Study, Set...Go!!" for more information on that last one.
The Pomodoro technique is one that many of us are likely familiar with. The basic procedure for this technique is to break up your studying into set blocks of “study time” with short breaks in between to prevent burnout. These study/break blocks can vary in length but the most used are usually 25/5, 35/7, or 50/10. Personally, I’ve found 50 minutes of studying and 10 minutes of break to work best for me, but you should make use of the flexibility of this technique to choose lengths that work best for you. Though it’s not a hard and fast rule, it’s recommended that you take a longer break after your last Pomodoro session and that you take a 20-30 minute break for every 100 minutes of studying to avoid burnout. Super versatile — test it out next time you study!
The Leitner system combines spaced repetition and active recall. It involves grouping specific subjects, units, or concepts into different sections based on how well you understand them. Each section will be studied for a different interval of time. Your first section may be studied every day, your second every other day, your third one every week, and so on. The concepts that are hardest should be studied more often. If you can’t understand a section well or you’re unable to answer a flashcard then the material is moved to an earlier section for review and is studied for the time of that section instead. If you’re effectively able to understand the information in a section then you move it to the next one. This system is often used with flashcards though you could modify it to have practice questions or even general concepts that you have to explain. It works best when you have at least a week in advance to begin your reviewing because you need at least a bit of a time gap between the sections. The great part about this method is that the movement of material between sessions forces you to repeat the information you struggle with most without wasting too much time on the things you already understand.
With just a short overview of some techniques, you now have the knowledge and opportunity to raise a mirror to your own study habits. Studying techniques are laid in logic and supported by extensive research, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly individualistic too! Look for similarities and differences, no matter how minute, and pick what works best for you. Check in later this week for a new round of study techniques as we wind down for the 2023 exam season - the grind is on Mac, and we’re in it together.
https://maclyonsden.com/resources/ , @wlmac.guidance , @wlmac.wellness
cultural & community
As we finally approach our well deserved break, let’s glance back at the core memories that have been made through Semester 1, from our spooktacular Mactoberfest, to our dancing and prancing at the Sounds and Steps to remind us of how far we’ve come. Recalling our highs and lows, it’s valuable to cherish the memories we’ve made throughout 2022, but also to look towards the future with spirit. Here are the views of Anna (Gr. 9), Berfu (Gr. 10), Kailey (Gr. 11), and Amaya (Gr. 12).
What is one holiday classic you will watch this winter break and why?
Anna: “The movie ''elf,” and the nutcracker ballet.”
Berfu: “Home alone because it’s the best movie ever.”
Kailey: “Probably Coraline. Idk I watch halloween movies during christmas (I know plz dont judge)”
Amaya: “I will be watching Scrooged, it's my mom's favourite and I've always loved it because of how the 'moral of the story' type thing wasn't crazy cheesy and was actually very uncomfortable and hilarious. It's an all time great Bill Murray movie.”
What are a few New Year's resolutions you are planning on manifesting or choosing to let go of?
Anna: “I want to be better with time management, and spend more time with my family. I also want to let go of paranoia.”
Berfu: “Probably get more organized.”
Kailey: “I tend to not make New Year's resolutions since I never follow them; but if I had to prob sleep early!!!! (like around 10:30 pm)”
Amaya: “In the new year I'm definitely planning to take better care of my body and be more mindful of my health. When I get intense weeks of school work, sometimes I neglect my own health too much and it's really important to do better, so I definitely want to take better care.”
How will you embrace “The season/spirit of giving” this winter break?
Anna: “Spending a lot of time with my family I don’t get to see often. Also, I want to make a gift for the guy that plays guitar in the subway every morning.”
Berfu: “Not sure.”
Kailey: “Embrace? bro im ready to collect free food from everyone B) (jk, spirit of giving I just give ppl my mental support since I got nothing left - i'm broke ;-;)”
Amaya: “Everybody says that the holidays aren't about gifts but I absolutely love gift giving. I love using the holidays as an excuse to give my friends gifts that I know they'll love. Things relating to inside jokes, and stuff they have been talking about throughout the year. It's so nice to see their reactions.”
When you think of a Winter Wonderland, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Anna: “Snow and lights in Canada’s Wonderland.”
Kailey: “Alice in wonderland? (idk its really random)”
Amaya: “When I think of winter wonderland it's all snowing and I think of hot chocolate. All the stereotypical holiday/winter things have always been so much fun to me. I love embracing the season.”
(How) do you plan to prepare for culminatings and exams over the break?
Anna: “I printed a million worksheets of ICS that we did over the semester and I plan on going over them over the break. But, I also want to give myself a break since I will have dance and school in the New Year.”
Berfu: ”I’m probably going to catch up on other assignments before going into culminating assignments and maybe study for exams.”
Kailey: “I love how you used the word prepare.... it's more like "procrastinating" and gaslighting yourself into thinking you'll be fine after the winter break even though you know full well you’re not.”
Amaya: “For me, even though I'm in grade 12, because of covid I've only had 1 semester of exams, so I'm a bit worried that I don't know how to prepare. I definitely want to be diligent. I'm going to use the break to make a schedule for all of January and cover different sections of units. I have 3 exams this semester, all stem courses, so I'm going to take advantage of studying with my friends to make sure I properly understand.”
Name one way you have or have not changed throughout 2022.
Anna: “When I started high school (so that's a slay), I feel like I’ve found a good group of friends, and I have been drinking a lot more water than I have in my entire life.”
Berfu: “I’ve matured and music taste stayed the same and I started to spend more time off my phone.”
Kailey: “One thing I have not changed: getting my hours of sleep!!! I never slept past 12am and I'm trying to keep it that way :)”
Amaya: “For me personally so much of my life changed drastically this year so there's no denying that I've changed a lot this year too, but one way I definitely haven't changed is knowing when to advocate for myself or others. I think being a nice person is not always the same as being a good person and I've always done my best to prioritize the latter. I'd rather know I treated someone good, if nice isn't necessarily the right answer.”
Unfair. Cruel. Confining. The words revolved around Joe’s head, blurring the world he stared at out through his window, as he counted every drop of rain rippling down to the sill. A little meatball who felt maybe a few ounces on the meaty side, Joe was having trouble with a relationship. Not the type where he had had a fight with his mom, or disagreed with his brother. No, Joe’s issues had been running far longer, and were going to run much deeper with every day. Joe hated the look of food. And he especially despised what it did to his body.
Joe stepped away from the window to study his reflection in the mirror, but quickly realized it was a rookie mistake. His self-esteem had just deteriorated to almost nothing. Food was the villain of giving him his plump body, and the consequential lack of energy and surplus of depression. Frankly, this was a daily routine Joe kept to himself. Bathroom. Crying. Sleeping.
Now he can hardly ever be enthralled by the sight of the delicious, heavenly, simply divine foods he once relished. The worst? Though it’s his arch nemesis, it’s all he ever thinks about. And today is no different.
He decided to call Jess, his fellow meatball friend whom he trusted with his whole heart. The only one who might come even close to understanding the torment his mind goes through. A charismatic queen who loved helping people out no matter what, Jess picked up the phone right before it went to the tone. “Hellooo lovely,” she responded, voice bright and unrestrained as usual. She was beaming over the excitement of a gig she had just finished. As Joe glumly recounted his nuisances, though, her mood suddenly shifted into one that was whist and worrisome. “Here, just wait. I’ll be pounding on your doorstep like there's no tomorrow!”
And so, she started the car and rumbled all the way down the flooding streets of Meatball Mania to Joe’s, where she parked her car and dashed towards the door. Almost the instant after she had begun ringing the doorbell frantically, it creaked open ever so slowly. There stood her dear meatball friend right across from her - pale as a ghost. She jumped up and hugged him. “Oh what you’ve been going through… I think it’s time I help you out here with another one of Jess’-jolly-Jackpots. I will stir you up with something so irresistibly mouthwatering, you will have no choice but to devour it right in front of me. Let’s make mini meatballs together!”
Jess knew that Joe wasn’t going to talk much, especially since he wasn’t super comfortable sharing about his eating disorder. But, she was determined to help Joe turn around his perspective on food, about which she knew what Joe was ignoring: at the root it stemmed from his lack of self-love. And what better to foster some compassion than cooking mini meatballs, her Christmas specials?
Soon after, one could hear not only Jess’, but Joe’s cackles too, from outside the kitchen. It was the first time in ages that he was genuinely having fun, and more importantly for him, having fun with food. He and Jess were cooking together, laughing together, and he was truly enjoying the smell of these meatballs. As he tentatively picked up an extra baby meatball to take a gracious bite, Jess felt her heart fill. At that moment, she had never seen Joe so happy, his eyes so bright, and it felt like she'd finally gotten a breath of fresh air.
From that day on, Joe started eating a small breakfast every morning. Although he didn't take lunch to school immediately, as he wasn’t yet comfortable eating in front of others, he still took some snacks mindfully when he came home. Change does not have to be automatic, or even fast. It can be gradual, and as long as it comes from an open heart and is faced with an open mind, starting a change will transform your life.
If you know anyone with an eating disorder, you can support them by encouraging them to seek professional help, avoiding talks about weight, offering help with meals, supporting them through their struggles, and advocating for them through their recovery journey.
Becoming an ally is not a replacement for medical treatment, but as much as they might need professional help, those with eating disorders need friends.
Project Metropolis will be selling meatballs on Food Day. Come support us and buy a bowl, 5 warm meatballs for $3!