Learning Challenge: Reading out Loud

This seemed like a good challenge to try for the week because I was taking notes over different ballads of Robin Hood. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read a ballad silently, but it’s hard. They’re meant to be sung and, while I wasn’t about to try and sing them, I could at least read them aloud to get a feel for the rhythm and meter. I think it helped a lot! I was far less likely to zone out or start skimming if I was reading out loud.

I actually do this in a lot of classes if I don’t really want to do the reading, but I know that I need to. Reading out loud doesn’t just ensure that I’m paying attention. It also increases retention of information and just makes it more fun! The only drawbacks are, if I forget to make sure I’m alone, people might stare at me funny, and I have to drink a lot of water since I’m talking so much!


Image: Index by Negative Space. Source: Pexels

Learning Challenge: The Happiness Jar (Part 2)

Last week I wrote a post about something I found while browsing the class blog called the Happiness Jar (read my first post here) and I decided to try it. Now I get to tell you how it went!

My first thought is that this was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Paying more attention to the nice things going on around me was great, but trying to remember to write them down and keep track actually added stress to my days. I was hoping this would be a calming or relaxing thing to do, but it wasn’t. Maybe because it was for class?

Try as I might I didn’t get every day like I hoped I would. Here’s what I did record:

Monday –

Tuesday – I cleaned my room! I love walking into a clean and well organized room!

Wednesday – I went to the gym! I also got my Econ exam back!

Thursday – I got free dinner! I also got some good news about grades!

Friday –

Saturday – I got to set up and participate in a wine dinner/tasting

Sunday – I actually accomplished a lot of things, and finally got something done that has been on my to-do list for weeks!

Obviously I didn’t start the week off strong with missing Monday, but I’d say that 5 out of 7 days really isn’t that bad. Over all I think this was nice – looking back at my week just now was really cool, and it’s nice to remind yourself of the good things that happened. But I think because I was forcing myself to do it (not well obviously) it was more stressful than it should have been. I don’t think that I’ll keep up with this, but I’m glad I did it for a week!


Image: Positivity by MartaZ*. Source: Flickr

Learning Challenge: The Happiness Jar

As I was browsing the class website I managed to stumble across an article about the Happiness Jar project. Basically the idea is that, every day for a year, you write down one thing that made you happy. At the end you can open your jar and see all the awesome things that happened! I think this is a great idea, especailly for college students. College nowadays is extrememly stressful and that, along with rising tuition prices, can sometimes make finding something to be happy about a challege. Also, if you’re happier, than you should have better motivation to get things done and do them well!

So I’m going to be trying a Happiness Jar project. I’m going to start with a week, so next Sunday I’ll write a post with my experiences. I’m going to use a real mason jar (so that the one on my desk will stop looking so sad and empty) and just see how it goes. I’m going to try to do it at the end of every day, one per day, and I’m going to try to limit it to things that happened, instead of people. For example, I’d rather use “I saw the most beautiful sunrise today” rather than “I got to spend time with my friends” because I want to focus on things that I might not normally think about. Finally, I’m going to try to be specific in what happens so that at the end of the week I can remember what I wrote about (and hopefully share them on here!).

So those are my ground rules. I’m excited to give this a shot and see how it goes. Who knows, maybe at the end of this week I’ll decided I like it so much that I’ll try to go for the whole year!


Image: Joy by TheVirtualDenise. Source: Pixabay

Learning Challenge: The Tomato Timer

As I was wondering through the extra credit assignments of Mythology and Folklore, I stumbled across a learning challenge for the Pomordoro Technique, which I had never heard of. But you know what I have heard of? The Tomato Timer! I have an app for it that I use when I really need to get work done. I’m actually using it right now! (Just took my five minute break!)

The basic idea behind the Pomodoro Technique is that you set a timer (or press go on the app. I use Be Focused from the Apple app store) for 25 minutes and you work without interruption for that time. 25 minutes isn’t that long, so it’s easy to do, and any distractions or thoughts that pop up can easily be set aside for the rest of the interval. Then, when your timer goes off, you take a short 5 minute break to do anything except what you were just working on. Then you just rinse and repeat. After ever four intervals, you take a long break – 25 to 30 minutes.

One the most simple level, this technique is supposed to break down whatever you need to work on into smaller manageable chunks, as well as help eliminate distractions from your workplace. I’ve used it irregularly for over a year now, and I firmly believe that when I do use it, I become much more efficient. But it does have drawbacks. For example, if I’m cramming in a little studying between classes, there’s not really enough time to effectively use my tomato timer. I normally only use it for longer homework sessions in the evenings or on weekends. Also, it’s only as good as your own accountability. If you don’t keep setting it and switing when you’re supposed to, then there’s really not point in using it. I find that I will often work through my breaks when I get on a roll, which is both good and bad. Regardless, I’ll keep on using the Pomodoro Technique as long as it keeps working for me!


Image: Pomodoro Technique by Luca Mascaro. Source: Flickr