Josh Shapiro, GBP Student
As seniors finishing up our first semester, it is on all of our minds. We’re trying to keep grades up through the end of the term and waiting on acceptance letters. While the short term goal of getting into college is the focus of most students in GBP, the teachers know that we need to be prepared to handle college-style classes once we get to college.
Throughout the year we have focused on skills like collaboration, research, writing communication, and more. In one of our recent classes the teachers helped us prepare for college lectures. In high school we have small class sizes and teachers that will stop and let you write down what is on each slide. However, in a large lecture hall, the professors will often talk without slides outlining the key information. Unlike in high school, college professors won’t slow down if you are falling behind in your notes and sometimes they don’t even have slides at all.
Last week, as a class we first brainstormed important things to do before you even start taking notes. It may seem obvious to keep an organized place for notes or to know what the lecture is on, but, to be honest, I usually forget to take out a notebook until five minutes into a lecture in high school. We covered other clever note taking tips, such as using abbreviations (Bos for Boston or ppl for people) and only writing down the important points. It is impossible to record everything the teacher says and it doesn’t help having a dense wall of notes that cover the entire lecture. The teachers drilled into us only to track the core parts of the lecture that are relevant to the larger goals of the class. With all of these new tips to keep track of we started the lecture.
Then, Mr. Brooke took center stage and gave a lecture on Irish immigration to Boston in the antebellum time period. This is a history that many of us knew of, but lacked most of the details of the immigration process. GBP usually takes a more dynamic and interactive approach to teaching, but this was college prep. Gone with the games and activities, we said hello to an endless effort to listen to Mr. Brooke and record all of the important details.
Without even knowing it, I have been trained to find the important pieces of the lecture. Having spent so much time exploring cultural change and identity and perception, two of our main learning goals, it was instinctive for me to keep track of the causes, methods, and results of Irish immigration. I found that the lecture went through these topics in a logical order and I was able to organize my notes because of it.
At the end we analysed our notes and learned what to do with notes after we finish taking them. I went back through my notes and with the power of digital note taking, I moved around my bullet points to fit into different categories that I gave headings to. While this lesson was more stressful than most days in GBP, I was able to walk away with skills to handle my first lectures in the fall.
This course, in addition to teaching the rich history of the Greater Boston area, has been training me for college. Instead of looking at a class as a singular subject, like math or English, that focused on a topic, like statistics or American literature, GBP took a topic and used the different subjects of math, history, and English to reach the learning goals. College is built in the same way. Courses are about an idea and use whichever tools are necessary to cover the material. Seeing the connections between the different subjects in school gives me an advantage as more and more schools trend towards interdisciplinary learning.
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