Learn with Outlines

Outlines show both the structure and detailed information

While many people are fascinated with the idea of using Mind Maps to organize information, their major value is in showing the main ideas and structure of a chapter or lecture or for planning the essay you plan to write.  While they are particularly useful to Visual Learners, we can all use visuals to store memories in the visual part of our brain.

For organizing a large amount of information rather than just the main and secondary ideas, an outline is much easier to use.

Many students hate doing outlines

When I was in high school, we were instructed to outline our papers or essays first and then write them. This is an excellent thing to do. The problem was that no one showed us HOW TO do this. We all believed we didn’t know what we would write until we finished writing it. Most of us wrote first and then outlined, and hating having to do this.

Occasionally, we were required to outline a section of our textbook. It was always treated as a way to teach us how to outline. We never understood that the process of outlining would help us understand the material and remember it long. Now I feel deprived.

I learned to outline when my son, Tony, was in high school. Before he started to write a paper, we listed 5-10 very simple outlines.  They were usually just the three or four main points. Tony would reject several because he didn’t know enough about one of the main points. We discussed which would be most commonly used by the other students in the class and rejected those too. Tony tried several lists of three points that included an original approach, an approach where he could use interesting ideas or anecdotes.  Having selected the best mini-outline, he would then try to add three or four points under each main point. Then he was reading to “write’.

I put write in quotes, because Tony is severely dyslexic. In High School, he was barely able to read at a third grade level and his writing was even worse. I read most of his books to him and for written papers, he dictated and I typed on the computer. I read it back and he told me what to delete or change. By having me as his personal secretary, he managed to write some excellent papers. You will notice that I never told him what to say or how to organize his papers. If he needed to write papers today, there are computer programs that he could use for both reading the material aloud and writing by dictation.

An Example of an Outline:

Notice that
1. Outlines always begin with a title that might be the same or different from a chapter title.
2. The main points use Roman Numerals.
3. The secondary points use Capital Letters and are indented.
4. You might continue to use ordinary numbers for the next level and lower case letters , each indented a little further.
5. Generally, you only include sub-points if you have two or more. If only one sub-point, include it as part of the major point.

If you haven’t read The Story of Edward Hughes,  you might want to read that page first.

The amazing story of Edward Hughes: Outline

I. Who was Edward Hughes?
.     A. He was a high school student in England.
.     B. A mediocre student – made C’s and B’s.
.     C. He read Tony Buzan’s book, Use Both Sides of your Brain.
.           1. He was inspired to work harder to get into Cambridge University
.           2. He learned how to do Mind Maps and Scheduled Reviews
II. What did Edward Hughes do after reading this book?
.     A. He went back over what he had studied the past several years.
.     B. He created Mind Maps for each subject or sections of a subject.
.          1. He included all important information in these Mind Maps.
.          2. He colored and highlighted his Mind Maps.
.          3. He read important books on the subjects.
.                  a. He added this information, expanding his Mind Maps
.                 b. He now created Giant Mind Maps
.     C.  He Improved his Writing Skills because tests were Essay Tests.
.     D. He Used Scheduled Reviews
.     E. He Tested Himself by re-drawing Mind Maps by Memory and checking work
.     F. He Improved his Physical Fitness
.           1. Running
.          2. Working out at a gym
III. What did he accomplish?
.     A. He made the very top grade in every test.
.     B. He was accepted at Cambridge University
.     C. He was a leader in Campus Organizations
.     D. He was active in several sports.
.     E. He again made extremely high scores

As you read this outline did you notice how it divided the story into several main sections?  The questions asked in the three main sections were not part of the story but they did serve to divide the story into sections….. Before using Mind Maps…. Using Mind Maps……the results of using Mind Maps.

If you are curious about the dots at the beginning of the lines, you can ignore them. This website automatically moves written material to the margin. In order to indent, I used periods. You would not do this when creating your own outlines.

Would it be easier to remember the information by reading the story again, or by writing or reading the outline?

Would it be easier to write a summary with or without this outline?

On the page  Learn with Summaries ,  this same information is shown as a summary.


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