Thursday, February 24, 2011

Help significant others help YOU

Do you struggle with balancing the time and effort it takes to succeed in A&P with the time and effort you'd rather be devoting to family, friends, or your partner?

Welcome to the club!  This is a common issue in rigorous, time-consuming courses like anatomy and physiology.

A&P is a foundational course, one that you really cannot skimp on because the whole rest of your training and your career rests on success in learning the concepts of A&P thoroughly.  But then again, you need your personal relationships to succeed, too!

One strategy that I've seen work well is summarized in my book Survival Guide For Anatomy And Physiology: Tips, Techniques And Shortcuts. It's actually pretty simple and pretty easy, for something that works so well!

As early in your studies as possible, take some quality time with those close to you to bring them on board with your commitment to doing well in A&P.  Explain to them what your career goals are and how success in achieving those goals may benefit them as well.  If for no other reason than they love and support you.  But sometimes, career success may bring many other rewards to family and spousal relationships.

After they are on board with your careers goals, make it clear how hard--and how time-consuming--some of the steps along the way are going to be.  Explain how success in A&P is a critical first step . . . a step that will be particularly draining and time-consuming.

After explaining the sacrifices that you'll be making--the great effort that you'll be putting into success--ask them if they are willing to help support you by giving you the time you need.  Explain that by doing so, each of them will be part of your team.

Assuming that those who love you want to be part of your team, work together to find specific ways they can help you.  The more that they can come up with on their own, the more ownership they will take in their part of the team effort.

Here are some examples your team may come up with:
  • Trying not to pester you when you study

  • Taking over one or more of  your household/farm/yard/work chores

  • Not giving you grief when you have to occasionally reduce your fun time with them

  • Agreeing to occasionally help you with your studying (like quizzing you with flash cards)

  • Acting as a child sitter or backup child sitter when you need to go to

    • class

    • participate in study sessions

    • get help from your professor

    • visit the library or learning center

    • have time alone to study

Such a discussion, if handled well, can go far in helping you balance things in your life while you tackle A&P . . . by bringing your loved ones on board early and making them part of the process.

Something that is especially helpful for families, couples, or friendships, is to work together to compose a pledge that you can hang on your refrigerator or keep in your notebook.  This pledge would state the kinds of support that you can expect.   And your pledge to be mindful of their efforts and your intent to be appreciative. When things get tough, it may help diffuse the frustration by calmly renewing your mutual pledge.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Record with your pen!

Sometimes newfangled technology products really do revolutionize how we learn.  One of the newer, niftier learning aids is the set of Smartpens offered by Livescribe.

Smartpens are pens that record both sound and what you write as you use it. 

For example, you can turn on the  Smartpen as your A&P class begins, then record the professor and student discussion as you write your notes.

After class, all you have to do is tap on a part of your notes to replay the audio that goes with it!  Or you can replay the whole class!  If you are using the earbuds that come with the pen, you could also replay a part of the class that you want to replay.

If you want to, you can then dock your  Smartpen in a small USB penholder that comes with your  Smartpens to upload the recording to your Livescribe library.

Once a recording is in your library, you can upload it to the Livescribe site as a pencast.  You can then review the pencast any time you like.  You can keep your pencasts private or you can share them publicly.

This is a great way to replay an entire class to review it . . . or to go back to a part of the class that puzzles you so you can replay your note taking while the voices of your professor and classmates are also replayed.  What a great way to review your newly learned A&P concepts!

If you use the  Smartpen to record others, make sure you have their permission first. Not all professors permit their classes to be recorded. And test out the volume settings and your location in the room to get the best recording.

Here is a simple example of a pencast that quickly summarizes one concept in A&P.

Bone Cell Actions
brought to you by Livescribe

A great study project for your A&P study group would be to produce pencasts like this example and post them to share with the whole class!

To use the Smartpen you have to use the special paper that comes with the pen. Livescribe also provides a file that allows you to print the special paper on your computer printer. However, I prefer to use the inexpensive notebooks available from Livescribe.

This video briefly summarizes the concept of the Smartpen and how you can use it to improve learning.

If you already have some pencasts for A&P that you've posted for public viewing, why not post the link here? Just "comment" on this blog article and include the link.