Pomodoro Technique (a little late)

After reading the article, “5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students” by Deborah Farmer Kris, I agree with everything that was stated in that text.  I agree with the fact that everyone learns at a different speed as well as making connections and metaphors to enhance learning and to make connections easier.  Many people in my class discussed the Pomodoro effect and how they believe it doesn’t work.  However, through personal experience, I do believe that the study habits mentioned are very helpful.

              Barbara Oakley, former math hater turned engineering professor in the process of writing a book for ages ten to fourteen on the topic of “learning how to learn”.  In her article crediting Oakley, Deborah Farmer Kris breaks down the main ideas of Oakley’s writing.  Kris breaks it down into five sections titled “Hiker brain vs. Race Car brain”, “Chains and Chunks”, “The Power of Metaphor”, “The Problem of Procrastination” and “Expand Possibilities”.  All these concepts connect with the topic of “learning how to learn”.  I agreed with all the points that Kris made crediting Oakley, especially the Pomodoro effect and how that can make someone a better studier.  Personally, I use the Pomodoro technique and I find it very helpful.  Everyone uses a different study technique, so the Pomodoro technique may not work for everyone.  However, from personal experience I have found that it works wonders.  When I study, I find it hard to concentrate on one subject for a long time especially when it’s something as boring as reading notes repeatedly.  The words start to look the same and my mind wanders to things that aren’t about the topic I’m reading about.  Having technology is a blessing and a curse when it comes to studying and getting work done.  On one hand, it’s very easy to gain access to resources otherwise not provided at such ease.  However, with this technology so easily accessible there are also many opportunities to slack off and get distracted.  My biggest problem is my cell phone, without the Pomodoro effect, I make the mistake of leaving it next to me when I do work and am tempted to check it every two minutes.  Even when I have it on the do not disturb mode, I’m still constantly checking it.  I always feel like I’m missing out on something when I’m not constantly on my phone.  I assume that every individual has different ways of conducting the Pomodoro technique personally I put my phone on silent, put it on the other side of the room, set a timer on my computer and get to work.  When I find myself eager to check in on the world outside I look at the timer and realize that I only have those remaining minutes left.  Another problem that comes to be is the fact that when the timer does go off and I get to check my phone again, the struggle becomes limiting myself to those five or ten minutes and not to get carried away with having that freedom.  I also see it as a reward for the hard work that I’ve done and to use my phone for longer than those five to ten minutes would be taking advantage of my reward.  I use the technique to get through every school related activity that I have had problems with focusing on so far.  I find that the most helpful task is with writing.  Writing can be a long and painful task that does not come easy to many people.  Writing is not something that you can do in one lump sum rather, it’s something that you must do in increments. 

              This Pomodoro technique further explains Barbara Oakley’s thinking on the two different types of brains.  The hiker brain versus the race car brain is something that is very prominent in the education system that many children and young adults have been through.  So often as students we think that the faster we complete something the smarter we are and the more we learn.  This is what Oakley calls the “race car brain”.  The students with the race car brain complete assignments and learn at a very fast pace to “finish first”.  However, with this type of brain and way of completing work, often, because you are going to fast, you miss out on important details.  Like a race car racing around a track.  Because they go so fast, they often miss important details.  The other type of brain Oakley alludes to is known as the hiker brain.  Unlike the racecar brain, the hiker brain takes more time in their learning process as well as learns material in a more elaborate way.  When a hiker takes a hike, they can last a very long time.  This is because they take their time and really get to learn everything (the birds and the trees) as well as appreciate the things that they’re walking past.  Speed doesn’t always equal smarts and with each method, the learner achieves their goal. 

              I bring this subject up because so often students think that if they learn something fast then that means their smart.  I think that I have more of a hiker brain but try to learn as if I have a race car brain.  I used to think that if I learned fast and completed things at a fast pace then I was smart.  However, I had not retained the knowledge that I thought I had.  If you ask me what I had learned in physics my senior year of high school, I could not tell you.  However, a subject such as World History I retained a lot of the material we learned, and I could talk about that all day.  But that was because I spent a lot of time with that subject and really absorbed all the material.  Additionally, I took that course my sophomore year of high school. 

Sometimes it can be frustrating because no one wants to spend a lot of time on school work, however material that is important to learn to people are worth taking extra time on it.  Taking time to learn things, with small breaks and really making thing more efficient is a very helpful tool for me.  For this same reason, I think that the Pomodoro method works for a hiker brain like mine. 

Cogito Ergo Sum

In part four of his Discourse on Method, René Descartes presents us with a powerful maxim: “I think, therefore I am.” While searching for absolute truth Descartes discerned that thinking, or generating knowledge, is intrinsically linked to being. To be the object of knowledge is to miss the truth. Still, many communities would disagree with Descartes’s dismissal of received knowledge. In class, Mikaela keenly argued that within the academy it is necessary to be both the object and subject of knowledge. Considering the variety of assignments and course structures, this duality is crucial to academic success. Continue reading “Cogito Ergo Sum”

They Say/ I Say

At first glance of the Bloodchild essay prompt, I was unclear of how to relate Octavia Butler’s story to the main focus of my INTD class, which was risks and rewards of academic partnership. My first instinct was to go through the story and highlight all of the examples of academic partnership in the book. From there I did exactly what I did in high school- threw it all together on a page, read through it for grammatical errors and called it an essay. Continue reading “They Say/ I Say”

Working towards improved writing through academic partnerships

          Throughout my high school career, my teachers always assigned essays that were to be written quickly and in one sitting. This tactic was done to prepare us for essay prompts that might have been on state testing or the SAT’s. Although this technique helped me to respond to test prompts, I feel like it hindered the essay’s that I had to write as class assignments. I tended to compose my papers that counted as class credit similarly to how I wrote essays for tests. I typically wrote them the night before they were due and then edited by reading over them once. In many ways I feel like this method prevented me from writing strong essays that truly expressed the information I had learned. I could have improved my high school paper’s if I had brainstormed long before the due date. Even though this is how I wrote my essay’s in high school, I am learning new methods in my college INTD class that have taught me to write stronger papers while avoiding procrastination.                      

          Along the journey of writing my Bloodchild essay, figuring out how to write a strong paper was an aspect I focused on. Getting a head start on it to avoid having to write it the night before was strongly encouraged in the class. Descartes Discourse on Method clearly states how to write a paper that allows thoughts to build on each other while avoiding procrastination. Descartes recommends conducting “your thoughts in an orderly fashion,” meaning that your ideas should begin small and build up. I did this by thoroughly examining the story to find quotes and information. By doing this, my paper became stronger because I related found evidence to my original point’s. I also took time to construct a strong thesis that I could build on. Once I had my thesis, deciding on what points to write about came easily and I could think much more efficiently. Some of what I wrote about was built off class conversation. By discussing the story in class, I realized more information that related to my thesis. Since we were all working on essays about Bloodchild, building off my classmate’s suggestions helped me to improve my paper. Our class shared insightful information from the story that allowed us to bounce ideas off of each other. Doing this allowed us to build on our original drafted points by helping each other realize new ideas. Avoiding taking ideas from others was always advised against in class. Rather, the professor reminded to take our classmate’s “they say” and create an “I say.” As the Globe states, “The entire College community works together to advance knowledge.” This statement relates to the assignment because the entire class came together to speak about the fundamentals of Bloodchild. The teaching assistants and professor reminded me of the Globe statement when they offered me insight. By running my draft through them and developing an academic partnership, I positively transformed my paper. They gave me wonderful advice that allowed me to write a properly structured essay. Their insight on what I should focus on made it easier for me to build on my idea’s to create a comprehensible paper.

          Working on the paper for a couple of weeks helped me to discover points about my thesis that I would not have realized if I had procrastinated. By gaining insight from my classmates and working with the professor and TA’s, I was able to create a draft that I was confident in handing in. Working on my draft for several weeks has made me realize the importance of structuring my time responsibly when working on future essays. It also taught me to discuss with others to gain insight on how to improve my paper. Learning new methods to improve my writing has been a journey, but it has made me excited to continue to develop and become a confident writer.


A few weeks ago, I attended a plagiarism workshop as extra credit for my Behavioral Research Methods class. While I’m willing to bet that most people there went for extra credit or mandatory credit for a class; I actually learned very important aspects of plagiarism I was unaware of. The presentation began with sharing that one of the main reasons that students plagiarize is that they don’t truly understand what plagiarism is. Everyone knows that if you literally copy and paste an article from a website and then hand it into your teacher claiming you wrote it, then that’s plagiarism. However, what was emphasized in this presentation was “stealing ideas.” Plagiarism isn’t only copying and pasting; it can also be using findings from someone else’s research or using someone else’s idea. You don’t even have to claim it is your own; if you fail to cite where you got the information or idea from then that’s plagiarism. The presentation also greatly emphasized “Switch Plagiarism.” This is when one basically copies a sentence or paragraph; however, to make it different students switch the order of the words or use synonyms for certain words and the new sentence is similarly structured to the old one.

Dr. McCoy often stresses giving credit where credit is due, and this presentation reinforced that. It was a little out of the ordinary when on the first day of class Dr. McCoy made us all memories each other’s names. No other teacher I’ve had has made the students know each other’s names, and many don’t even know the names of their students. Learning the names of my fellow classmates not only creates a more comfortable atmosphere for class discussions; it also allows us to give each other credit for ideas. Last semester I had a teacher who called one student in the class “surfer dude” because he had long blonde hair. It wasn’t even a large lecture class. I can understand that professors have many students; however, if he didn’t even respect that student enough to simply ask for his name how could he ask for respect in return?

Crediting other people is a responsibility we all have in order to respect them. The plagiarism presentation suggested that one way to overcome plagiarism is: instead of looking at the passage while you try to summarize it; read the passage you’re referring to, put the passage away and then write about the main idea in your own words.  Part 1 of They Say I Say stresses the “They Say” part of writing; it specifically explains the “art of summarizing” another person’s work.  It claims that “a good summary requires balancing what the original author is saying with the writer’s own focus.” In other words, one needs to ensure that they have enough of their own voice while still presenting another’s argument. This connects to plagiarism because we need to remember that the goal of using quotes and another’s work is to enhance one’s own writing, rather than using those as a substitute.

Our Dependence on Technology!

As I walk across the SUNY Geneseo campus daily, I notice many students focused on their phones. Many students walk across campus with headphones in, or their attention focused on their phones. I so am also guilty of being consumed in my phone while walking across campus and not paying attention to what is right in front of me. With the advanced technologies of computers and phones today are limiting our interaction with the ‌world. People are choosing to live through  their phones rather than in the moment. Google being an important part of a day to day live having access to information at the click of a button. Ellen DeGeneres describes our access to technology in the video “Google it.”

Growing up my father has always had a flip phone. My siblings and I make fun of him for not texting and wanting an iPhone. He prefers to be simple and says “I rather talk on the phone, or face to face.” He believes communication is important and you miss out; not having a face to face or verbal conversation over the phone.

Our generation is constantly on their phones. Checking Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media accounts they have. You hear a buzz, or ding from a phone in a class and look around and everyone checks their phones to see if it is them. This reaction to our phones is becoming second nature; due to our dependence on technology. We lose out on social interaction because our attention is focused on our phones and electronic devices. Instead of having a conversation with others, we have grown accustomed to spending the majority of our time on our phones and other electronic devices.

Cell phones are the most vital form of technology consuming college students life. Generations before could not look up a word instantly on a phone or computer. Today’s society has unlimited access to information at their fingertips. Before the internet age, people would have to open a dictionary and flip through the pages to find a definition and read books to find information. Although, the speed at which we can find information is advancing, we lack appreciation for the technology that allows us to find info relatively quick. Also, we have no understanding of the value of the information we have access to. Today, we “Google it”. We can search our professors, fellow classmate, and even ourselves. Who knows what you might find by “googling it”?

We need to be conscious of how we want to spend our time. Students lose the critical social interaction due to their extenuating use of technology. As conscious students we need to  adapt a balance between face to face social interaction and our use of technology.

The Comfort of Certainty

When I was younger, I would do whatever I could to miss school. I’m guilty of faking a few stomach aches or head aches for a day home. However, the older I get, the more I do to avoid missing school. Sure I still get exhausted and bored with school, but I would rather push through that exhaustion than miss a class and have to wonder what I missed. That is, there’s a lot I would risk to avoid uncertainty.

Continue reading “The Comfort of Certainty”

The “rules” of writing essays

Many higher education students might agree with me that most perspectives set in high schools are considerably different to those set in colleges and universities. This applies to many aspects, varying from academic standards to social life. As many schools, SUNY Geneseo’s GLOBE (Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education) states: Geneseo’s mission underscores an institutional commitment to transformational learning experiences’ and ‘a rich co-curricular life’. In the academic standards of colleges like Geneseo, writing sticks out as a very distinct and growing process that sometimes triggers the mind of the students.
In high school, we mainly write essays to fulfill our assignments, to pass the English Regents exams in New York, or to get a good grade in the writing part of the SAT/ACT or AP exams. All of these have some set of rules that we must follow in order to reach full credit. In my high school, for example, my English teachers would use a strategy to make the students remember the steps to take towards academic writing. It was called TEEL, which stands for Topic sentence, Explanation, Evidence, and Link. That was how they taught us to remember how we were supposed to write our essays. We had to follow that structure all the time; write the topic sentence in the last sentence of the introduction, find all the evidence we were asked for and explain it each time, and at the end link back to your topic sentence in the conclusion. If the directions said that we have to choose a side in an argument, it did not matter which side we would choose, as long as we used all the TEEL steps correctly. We were never required to give our full honest opinion about the topic we were asked to write about. We were only writing to fulfill the needs of New York State standards and to show them that high school students are capable of writing the way they want them to, not that they are capable of thinking and actually standing up to an argument that they might feel strong opinions about.
The essays and papers we have to write in college are significantly different from the ones in high school in many senses. In college, we are asked to write our honest thoughts about the topic in hand, and our papers might sometimes require to be longer, making them more thoughtful for us. This all depends in the class you are in and the‌ professor you have because here the teachers do not have to follow such a strictly made curriculum like high school teachers do. That is why each professor in college has a syllabus that they make specifically for the class they are teaching and it is something that the college students do have to follow if they want to pass their class. However, it varies from class to class and they are allowed more liberty than in high school. Since in high school we were not allowed to use “I.” It is quite a shock to some students that in college we might be allowed to use “I” depending on the assignment and the professors.
This semester I have INTD 203, a class for education students, and the writings that I have to do in this class vary from easy to hard. I have to do two response papers throughout the course of the semester and these papers according to my professor, Dr. David Granger: “should be your own thoughtful, personal response to some idea, issue, or person addressed either in the class readings and/or class discussions. The topic should be something that interests you in some way; and I want to know what you honestly think about it, not what you imagine I want you to say about it.” After I read this on the syllabus for the class, I realized just how different college’s standards of writing are from high school’s. Even though this assignment is supposed to be only two to three pages, it makes the students really focus on the argument they want to state in their paper since it is something we choose, giving us more freedom to express our emotions towards something we are really passionate about. In this same class I have to do another assignment that is weighed more in my overall grade and requires twenty to thirty pages of work. It is a research paper of an elementary, middle, or high school of our choice focusing on a diversity and equity issue the school we choose went through in the past or is currently going through. This paper will be a challenge for me since I have never done such a big research in an important and relevant issue today. This is something that colleges want their students to leave with, knowing that it was something that they accomplished while they were there. SUNY Geneseo is no exception; my school signals this point in its integrative inquiry of its Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education when it says that students will have: “to ask meaningful questions connecting personal experiences to academic study and co-curricular life; to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge to address real-world problems and issues.” Not only my INTD 203 class, but my INTD 105 class with Dr. McCoy lets its students truly connect with the class and the topics we decide to write about, like this post that I am writing right now.
Coming to college and seeing all the liberty we have in academic writing and realizing that there are no such “rules” to writing essays might make many students uncomfortable because they have been accustomed their whole lives to write based on those sets of rules they were taught while they were younger. But, if we work hard and every time we write we remember to write from our hearts and consider what our honest opinion about the topic in hand is, the process will become easier. GLOBE also explains this in its learning outcomes on Critical Thinking: “Students will demonstrate to formulate questions or frame issues in ways that permit examination or investigation; to explicate and evaluate the assumptions underlying the claims of self and others; to establish and pursue systematic and valid methods for collecting and evaluating relevant evidence; to draw soundly reasoned and appropriately limited conclusions on the basis of evidence; to relate conclusions to a larger body of knowledge.” College’s and university’s goals for students is to get them thinking about what is right and wrong in the society we live in today and to not be afraid to stand up to what they think is right, despite everybody else’s opinions.

The Tortoise or the Hare

The other day in class we discussed Discourse on the Method, specifically one point Descartes made about patience. Descartes argued that “those who go very slowly but always on the right path can make much greater progress than those who sprint and go astray.” Like the old story of the tortoise and the hare, Descartes is arguing that slow and steady wins the race. Descartes claims that often when people go to fast they often miss something or make too many mistakes. He urges the need for patience and taking the time to think through problems and situations. Our class discussion connected this to timed essays in high school and time management in college. Often people in high school rush through essays because they do not want to be doing them. There is also often a time limit, which enforces rushing through rather than thinking through. While time management is a necessary tool for students to learn in college and later on, this rushing through and limited time decreased creativity and the ability of students to think through the material.

This reminded me of my study habits for my Human Biology class. In Biology, every class we cover a single chapter, and I try to read the chapter before class so it’s easier to understand during class. I am not a big fan of reading the Biology textbook, so I just want to read it as quickly as possible to get the reading over with. However, I am constantly conflicted between reading fast, copying the textbook word for word, and getting it done as soon as I can, with reading slow, absorbing the material, takin more effective notes and ensuring that I understand the material. The first one might be less effective in the long run, but I am still reading the material and getting it done quicker. The second might seem like an obvious better option, but it also takes up much more time, time that I need to spend doing the online homework for biology or attending to other class homework. Weighing the benefits and negatives (or risks and rewards) of each, I know that in the long run the latter would be the better choice.

In any class, we often risk rushing through an assignment to get it done quickly but less efficiency. Students can look at the risks and rewards of each alternative and contemplate whether saving some time could be worth the lower grade or going through material and taking your time might be worth it for the higher grade. Descartes argues that the need for patience and perseverance, rather than rushing and not giving your best. Similarly, They Say I Say shares that many students “have trouble entering some of the high-powered conversations that take place in college because they do not know enough about the topic at hand.” It further argues that when given the chance to study the material in depth those same students become more confident about their own ideas and contribute more, and that good arguments are based on “everyday knowledge that can be isolated, identified and used by almost anyone.” While this doesn’t exactly connect to Descartes argument about patience, it does connect to his argument because it shares the importance of going in depth about material and taking time to gradually absorb information. Going in depth about a subject is more worth it than brushing the surface because it allows for a deeper understanding that is better in the long run.