Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Incredible Shrinking Notecard

I learned about the Incredible Shrinking Notecard from a former colleague who spent 40 years teaching.  During her career, she taught elementary school, then social studies, then honors English.  In advance of a test on a particularly tough topic that required a lot of memorization, she would hand out 5x8 cards several days in advance of the test and tell her students that if they kept it quiet, she'd let them use the notecard on the test.  The next day, she'd tell them that 5x8 cards were obvious and she was a little nervous that they might get in trouble if someone were to find out.  So, she'd have them condense everything to a 4x6 card.  The next day, well someone might frown on the 4x6 card and the best she could do was a 3x5.  This whole story forced her students to interact with the material several times and truly pick out the important details they were having trouble remembering.

I'm teaching exponentials right now and while I think the real world application of compound interest are valuable, I'm not sold on the need to memorize the formulas as they're so specific to one application.  Here's a template for the Incredible Shrinking Notecard that I think will be better suited to math.  I won't be telling the elaborate story; instead I'll explain why this method will help them study.  The boxes are sized to fit a 3x5 card, a 3x3 Post-it and a 1.5x2 Post-it.  If you want to use those items instead, feel free.  Copies are cheap and no-fuss, so I'm probably going to use as a left-side assignment in my ISN.  I will give the kids the little Post-it for the last box so they can use it on their quiz. A special shout-out to Kathryn F. for discussing whether or not to give notes on a quiz on Twitter tonight because that discussion got me to the place of doing this in advance of the quiz instead of having an open notes quiz, or writing the formulas on the board, or having the kids who didn't memorize things flounder. 

What study skills and tips do you share with your students?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

1 comment:

  1. What a cool idea. I wrestle with this in my BC Calc class. I tell my students that analyzing is WAY more important than memorizing (in fact, I don't even use that M word in front of them) and this might be a transparent way to walk it like I talk it.