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Tips? - January 27th 2012, 08:35 PM

I just started college on Monday. And I have a bunch of homework to do... but I have a few questions. ABOUT homework.

1) How do you not get distracted?
I've been out for eight months and I'm usually good at doing my homework but being on my laptop and watching tv distracts me. I live in a small house so it's all open. I can't really get away from it. What do I do?!

2) How do you take notes without copying the book or powerpoint over?
I have a habit of writing too much when I write notes so it takes forever to do homework/study. It's ridiculous. Any tips would be wonderful.

3) Speaking of powerpoints. I have to do presentations every single week with a group about a bio question. It's his teaching method but I'm freaking out. I need help with that too. How do I make a good powerpoint and how can I present it well without dying of embarassment/ an anxiety attack?

Thanks guys.
   
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Re: Tips? - January 27th 2012, 09:31 PM

1. Give yourself study breaks! Seriously, it helps you to stay focused if you know that a break is coming. Also, stay as far away from distractions as possible. I know you have a small house, but try to stay as far away from the TV and other people as humanly possible. Go outside if you have to. As for your laptop, just exercise discipline. I'm not one to talk, but just try your best on that.

2. For the sake of conversation, we'll say that the chapter you have to read is separated into 5 sections. Read each section before you take notes on that section. Write down the big ideas and 1-2 details. As for powerpoints, try to limit yourself to 1-3 things from each slide.

3. The biggest key to making a good powerpoint is to limit the amount of stuff that you put on the slides and keep it interesting. If you're bored with what you're writing, it's not a good powerpoint! As for presenting, just try to look above people's heads. To them, it looks like you're looking at them. But, you won't even notice that they're staring at you.


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Re: Tips? - January 27th 2012, 09:46 PM

1) If you don't need your computer, set it aside somewhere far away. To make it even less tempting, make sure it's completely turned off so you can't just pop it open and commence being distracted. Depending on what browser you use, you can also install extensions that block you from accessing Facebook, etc while you have your computer on.

2)I also had the habit of taking too many notes. The easiest way to approach this is to take the main idea of the chapter or section you're reading, then pick out the main ideas and the vocabulary that goes with. Most textbooks provide really helpful outlines within the chapter as a guide.

3)Good powerpoint = no blocks of text, pictures, and good color choices. More often than not, simple is better. As for presenting, it'll get easier with time. Just remind yourself that EVERYONE has to do it and that EVERYONE is probably just as nervous.
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Re: Tips? - January 27th 2012, 11:33 PM

1. Breaks work. Keep them brief and try to acomplish all you can in a time limit. We naturally function faster and better when under a time limit, even if self-imposed.

2. Write just three to five key words to help remember important concepts make use of symbols. "Pig flesh = human flesh" for example is a simplified way of writing "Pig flesh is ideally the same as human flesh". You should be absorbing most information during the lesson, and notes should just be reminders of key points. If you spend your whole time in class re-writing the lesson you aren't paying attention to what is being said at the time.

3. Basic public speaking tips:
- Have a plan B. Have a water bottle, or carry a pen with you. If at any time you freeze up, take a deep breath and drink the water or drop your pen. These are temporary distractions that will give you a moment to try to regain your senses.
- Have note cards. If you have cards summarizing your main points you'll have purpose, but avoid too many to keep your speech organic.
- Watch charasmatic speakers talk and make note of why everyone likes to listen. Steve Jobs and Jack Layton are great speakers, YouTube them and notice some of the things they do.
- Have a blocking plan. Blocking is a stage term for a movement idea. For example, maybe at a certain point you start pacing to add emphasis. But please comit to movement or do not move. This strange limbo of moving in an invisible 2X2 box is akward.
- Give yourself a purpose. How do you want to make the audience feel? Keep this idea in mind with every single word.

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Re: Tips? - January 28th 2012, 12:08 AM

1. Allow yourself breaks and set up a reward system, for example: "I can't watch T.V. until I do a certain amount of work or finish an assignment" If you can't resist the internet someone suggested setting up another screenname/internet account just for school with all the tempting sites blocked or you could always just disconnect it completely, but make sure to warn anyone esle in the house who may want to use it.

2.For classroom notes: If the powerpoints are available online, print them out and take them to class with you, then focus on what the professor says in addition to his/her slides and write that down. If you have to take notes for homework, focus on highlighted/bolded words, definitions, and concepts that you're having trouble understanding as well as some details of broad topics that were mentioned in class You don't have to take notes on intro or concluding paragraphs unless there's highlighted information in them.

3. As you do more of them, you will become more comfortable with the process. Don't crowd your slides with too much content or leave them looking too empty. Put enough text that you can give clues to yourself if you forget something or get nervous, but try not to read directly from the presentation, you'll lose points for that! Also, when you practice and/or time it out make sure to subtract some time because you'll probably talk faster when you're nervous.


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Re: Tips? - January 28th 2012, 04:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le bonheur* View Post

1) How do you not get distracted?
I've been out for eight months and I'm usually good at doing my homework but being on my laptop and watching tv distracts me. I live in a small house so it's all open. I can't really get away from it. What do I do?!
You can form a study group where everyone studies on their own and come together to talk about, ask questions and help each other out. You can either have everyone read all the reading material beforehand or assign who is responsible for reading a particular section then explaining it to everyone else. The latter is beneficial when it comes to presentations because you have to face a small audience, although you can sit and speak, no need to stand in front of everyone unless you want.

If you're studying by yourself, set a schedule of what you plan to study and break it down into sub-components so you can reward yourself and want to finish studying. Sometimes it gets too noisy at my house since there was a fair amount of construction, so I stayed at the university library, which I find to be quite motivating because mostly everyone else is studying and it creates a social awkwardness if you're goofing around on the Internet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le bonheur* View Post
2) How do you take notes without copying the book or powerpoint over?
I have a habit of writing too much when I write notes so it takes forever to do homework/study. It's ridiculous. Any tips would be wonderful.
Ideally, if your professors posts the presentation online before the lecture, print the powerpoint so you can copy additional notes of what he/she says that isn't already on the slides. On the other hand, copy what he/she says and copy the slides that he/she says are very important or that you have trouble understanding.

For studying from a book, I have a system where I read it once and underline in pencil key points. I usually end up underlining quite a bit. Next, I review the lecture notes and re-read the book, underlining in a different colour what I think is important and don't understand. In doing so I underline a lot less. When I go to make my notes, I simaltaneously look over the slides, my notes and the book, and try to summarize from the points I underlined and key points from the slides and notes. I organize it in order of the slides and lecture notes, although if the book contains a section not discussed in class, I summarize it and write in the margins to pay attention to it. Afterward, I review my summary and indicate which things are the most important or still don't make sense to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le bonheur* View Post
3) Speaking of powerpoints. I have to do presentations every single week with a group about a bio question. It's his teaching method but I'm freaking out. I need help with that too. How do I make a good powerpoint and how can I present it well without dying of embarassment/ an anxiety attack?
The duration of the presentation is crucial because if it's short, then you're better off to mention key information and summarize it. Try to keep the amount of slides you'll speak to (i.e. not title, agenda and bibliography slides) under the maximum allotted time. In other words, if the maximum time to present is 15 minutes, try to use less than 14 slides you'll speak to, otherwise you'll have to race in order to finish.

Your slides should contain as much visual data that needs explaining, such as tables, charts/graphs, pathway cascade models, etc... . If you need to write text on the slides, try to make it no more than 1 line long. The only time when it's appropriate to include more text is the title slides, agenda slide (i.e. table of contents indicating the order of concepts you'll present) and strengths, weaknesses and improvements for a particular study.

In terms of the appearance of the slides, don't use a distracting background. Try to use a light background colour and ensure your text colour has high contrast. If you use an image that has a variety of colours, such as a line graph with 6 lines, all different colours, don't distinguish them by the colour of the line, instead use the legend label. That is, instead of referring to a line as "the purple line", refer to it as, "the line plotting phosphorylation of p70 S6K" or whatever is in the legend. It may seem more complex, however, I cant count the amount of times a student or professor used an image with a multitude of colours and discussed the "purple vs red lines". I have very poor colour vision so it becomes a pain in the ass. If you're going to make an image via Excel, distinguish by colour AND shape or texture gradient.

I'm not a big fan of making cue cards, instead I print out my presentation and make a few notes on it. I find it's very tempting to stick your nose in the cue cards and talk to them instead of the class. When I give a presentation, I look everyone in the eye, including the professor and TA. If it's a longer slide, such as 30 minutes, I put a macro character walking across the screen when I'm changing topics or after a very boring bit. If you're less computer savvy, try putting appropriate cartoons here and there because it'll keep everyone's attention and may make it more interactive, which is what the professor wants.

Last and final point, after you finished discussing an important point, pause and ask the class if they understand. DO NOT ask after every slide because it'll get boring and indicates you're nervous. Remember, you're the expert in the subject you're presenting so be affirmative as though you're presenting research work you conducted and are proud of.

If you're nervous to the point where you'll stutter, faint or shit yourself, I don't know what would help. I enjoy presenting, at times I may feel uncertain if I see a bunch of people bored out of their skulls or asleep.


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Re: Tips? - January 28th 2012, 09:00 PM

1) How do you not get distracted?
Well for me, to not get distracted, I have to go to my room & only have music on, nothing else or I have to do my schoolwork at school. But if you're like me & usually try to work in front of the television, I just put on something I'm not totally interested in, so I don't care to pay attention.

2) How do you take notes without copying the book or powerpoint over?
I actually just write everything I see, but that's because of my OCD But all you have to do is rewrite it in your own words, which shortens it & also makes it more understandable for you.

3) How do I make a good powerpoint and how can I present it well without dying of embarrassment/ an anxiety attack?
My secondary high school taught that you should make three bullet points per slide, with about five words per bullet point. This makes it so there's not a ton of writing in the powerpoints, but sums it up enough that you remember what to say. Just practice beforehand. Once you're talking, it really isn't that bad if you know your topic well enough.
   
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Re: Tips? - January 29th 2012, 03:32 PM

Ahhh, thank you guys. These tips are all wonderful. I'm going to keep this thread bookmarked so I can refer back to it when I have trouble.
   
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