The 400 pages of the large book seemed daunting at first and the teacher was relentless. The book review was due in a week. I wasn’t sure how to about this task. As a student I had run into difficult tasks before but this one was different. There was an unappealing book in front of me that needed to be read, dissected and reported on. I didn’t have much time and the whole process seemed overwhelming, and yet my grade depended on it. Four hundred lousy pages and I hadn’t read one yet.
The grumbling in the class was apparent but there was one student who seemed to have things under control. My friend James was busy reading and taking notes. As the bell rang, we walked out of class and I asked him what he though of the project. I was expecting the same negative attitude as the rest of the class, but James surprised me. He said something simple yet profound…
You’ve got prime time before the chime,
write it down, one chapter at a time.
This simple advice really helped me on the project, and I learned a new skill that day. I learned to take notes along the way. Before this I would attempt to read the whole book and then go back and write down notes. I always seemed to run out of time and I had a hard time remembering what I had read. My grades reflected this.
My solution was to take a large sheet of paper, and scribble notes as I read. While not elegant, these simple notes formed an outline, and a quick way to get started writing a report. This note sheet became a bookmark, and the torn edges reflected its use.
From that experience, I developed a simple outline sheet which has been a big help when reading and studying. One of my co-workers, Jeanette, gave me an idea the other day to make this even easier. I showed her some graphical bookmarks that I was designing and I asked her for her opinion of how they could be used. She liked the graphics but said that plain bookmarks would be helpful for her kids to take notes, chapter by chapter.
Chapter bookmarks were born out of her great idea.
Here is how they work…
I went back to the drawing board and came up with a two sided bookmark card, that can be printed on plain white business card stock. The front of the card has the chapter headings, a rectangle for notes, and three lines that can be used for keywords, page numbers or general ideas.
The back of the card has a place for three action points and a box for references or quotations. The cards are simple enough that they can be used in a variety of ways. Just put a few blank ones in your book and use them to mark your place as you read along. As the ideas flow, mark them down chapter by chapter.
The nice thing about cards is that they are portable. You can leave the cards in the book or take them out and store them in an envelope or other storage container. You can clip them with a mini clip and store them in pocket or purse. When you are done, lay out your chapter cards on your desk and rearrange them by idea or topic. This is where the flexibility of cards comes in.
Like a mind map on your desk, the tapestry of ideas will come alive. Move them around and sort them by topic, keyword, or page number. The visual nature of these cards will help you create some amazing associations. Start creating your book outline with the enclosed idea-outliner and you’ll have an amazing book review in no time at all.
ChapterMarks: Printable Bookmark Templates
1. Download the ChapterMarks zip file to your computer.
2. Unzip the file and open the templates in Microsoft Word.
3. Put a sheet of plain white Avery Business Card stock in your printer.
4. Print out the front of the cards first with template 1.
5. Turn the business card sheet over and print the back side with template 2.
6. Print out an idea-outliner to use with the cards
7. Get reading and writing…
I’ve included a second sheet of front bookmark template cards that are numbered 11-20 for longer books. You can easily modify any of the cards to meet your individual needs or to mark them for books with more than 20 chapters.
These cards work well with our Walleteer organizer, for easy retrieval and storage. Print out a set for the students in your home and help them develop the habit of taking notes chapter by chapter. Their grades and their attitudes might just change for the better.
When working on a thesis or other larger project try these cards with our SuddenMind idea mapping system.