No doubt about it, learning material on your own can be a challenge, especially if it’s under the pressure of an upcoming test. In today’s fast-paced world, where there is so much to learn and so much to do, maximizing “study time” is crucial. Lucky for you, I have one simple study tip that works amazingly well. It allowed me to keep my high school record full of A’s (even with multiple Honors and AP classes) and my GPA at 3.95 while balancing sports, a job, and a social life. What is it you may ask? Make your windows (yes, real glass windows in your home, office, living space, etc.) a learning canvas. This technique is the foundation of my study process. It will change the way you study.
1. Getting Set-Up
In order to write on windows, you obviously need windows. The space you’ll need depends to some extent on what it is you want to learn. For instance, if you’re just trying to memorize a few formulas, a small bathroom or bedroom window can be perfect because you don’t need that much room and you’ll likely see the windows quite often (repetition is important).
However, if you’re trying to learn a whole chapter of information, then you’ll want a larger window area. My house happens to be set up perfectly for this type of learning. The whole upper story is windows, sometimes making me feel as though I live in a fish bowl. Yet, even a house with only a few windows will work (check with other members of the house though to make sure they’re okay with drawing on the windows). I recommend using your dining room windows because you will see your study material every time you sit down to eat.
2. Buying Your Supplies
Buy NEON whiteboard markers (when erased they leave NO marks). DO NOT buy regular whiteboard markers, as these will not show up well on your windows unless the light is really good. I recommend Expo Neon Dry Erase Markers because it shows up extremely well. Keep in mind that even some neon whiteboard markers can be hard to see. What’s great about neon is that it shows up in the dark. So when I do my evening and late-night study sessions, I can see clearly (even with lights on, regular whiteboard markers tend to fade into the blackness of the night outside). Also, buy lots of colors, the more you like the colors the better (you’ll be seeing them a lot). My color collection includes a bright aqua green, a bubblegum pink, a zesty orange, a lemon yellow, and a beautiful sky blue (which came package together for around $10).
3. Using the Windows
There are many, many ways to use your “canvas for learning.” First of all, a big idea behind using the windows as a whiteboard is that you’re going to teach someone else the material once you’ve gotten it all written up. Teaching others is one of the best study tips out there, as it’s a great way to learn material. It forces you to go over the material yourself, discern what’s important, and then regurgitate the material in your own words. In my case, I taught my dad (who LOVES to learn) or my peer group (we would draw up windows simultaneously and then present to each other). Keeping the goal of presenting in mind not only gives you an end goal but it also helps you to be more organized. Even if you have no one to present to, I encourage you to pretend you have an audience and go ahead and present.
Note: Besides learning the material, this learning method has a host of other benefits. One, you are up moving around (and trust me, erasing your work is quite an arm workout). Two, you can let the inner artist in you out through diagrams, pictures, and the general color-coded organization of information. That’s right, DRAW, DRAW, DRAW. Three, you can work on your presentation and public speaking skills.
4. Making it Interactive
Oftentimes, when I’m working on my “study canvas,” I’ll make fill-in-the-blanks when something I need to memorize comes up. I recommend numbering the fill-in-the-blanks and keeping a piece of paper that gives the answer to what word or phrase is supposed to go there.
Note: This is one of the more time-consuming methods when it comes to study tips. It takes a lot longer to write up all your notes with diagrams and interactive features. However, it is worth it. This is quality learning, meaning once you’ve learned it, you’ve really learned it. Plus, the visibility of your windows allows you to repeatedly see the information you want to learn. This method provides you an easy way to present the information – not just once, but multiple times.
Tali H. tutors in various academic subjects in Olympia, WA, as well as through online lessons. Since 2010, she has worked with numerous students in elementary, middle, high school, and college in both group settings and one-on-one. Learn more about Tali here!
Photo by upsidedownsphere