Planning for Success: A Reflection for Chapter 5 of “Outsmart Your Brain”

After reading Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Dr. Daniel T. Willingham, I learned about three strategies that I can use to successfully comprehend information from a reading material by looking over the reading before I read it, posing questions as reading goals, and by structuring my notes so I can stay on task as I read. The first strategy is to skim over the reading while taking notes of the reading’s learning aids (bolded words, main ideas, side bars, etc.), headings, and subheadings. Skimming over the reading material will help me understand what might be important in the reading by giving me some knowledge of what I’m about to read, and will also help me prepare for the other two strategies.

The second strategy is to make questions about the reading which I will answer in my notes as I read. One helpful tip I learned from Dr. Willingham is to make questions from the subheadings and headings of the reading. For example, if one of the headings is “The Effect of Global Warming on Emperor Penguins,” a question I could ask is “What is the effect of global warming on emperor penguins?” Now, after completing the first and second strategies, I know the basic topics of the reading material and I have questions to answer as I read, which serves as a reading goal. Finally, the third and final strategy is to take notes while I read. This involves splitting my notes into clear sections based on the reading’s headings and subheadings, writing down the questions I created in their corresponding sections, and writing down a summary after each subheading. The summaries may include the section’s main idea, its connection to the main section of the reading, and how the section answers at least one of my reading questions. Dr. Willingham also recommends for students to write down any new vocabulary words they have learned in their notes and to recite what they have learned out loud after completing the reading.

Dr. Willingham’s preferred reading strategies are known as the acronym SQ3R. The ‘S’ stands for ‘survey’ (skim the reading), the ‘Q’ stands for ‘question’ (pose questions), and the three ‘R’s stand for ‘read’, ‘recite’, and ‘review’ (take your notes as you read, recite out loud what you remember from the reading, and review your notes later). I plan to use the SQ3R strategy in the near and far future because it will train my brain to efficiently comprehend reading materials regarding a topic that I have little background knowledge on.

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