I’ll be honest with you. I love to read esoteric stuff online. One of my favorite ways to waste time online is actually getting lost down what I call the “Wikipedia Wormhole”. I’m sure you know what I mean. You might have heard it called other things over the years such as, “The Wikipedia Time Suck”, The Encyclopedia Game, etc… Essentially what you do is go to Wikipedia and click on the first thing you find interesting. Read as far down the page as you can until you come across something that you don’t know. The poet Rives has a Ted Talk along this vein a few years ago and I thought it to be supremely entertaining and apt. We all love to find new and cool information to tell our friends about. We all want to feel good about that banal fact at a party or water cooler conversation. The hard part is remembering where you got that little nugget of gold from. For years we have all heard the same quote at a party, “I was reading something online that said blah blah blah”. When someone probes a little deeper we only come to find that the person who found that tidbit can’t remember when or where they found it.
When I’m in the classroom, I’ve learned that students who used metacognitive strategies are the ones who excel in their studies and become more confident in taking control of their education. One of the most important skills I’ve taught was to be self-aware when reading. To consciously note what is happening while you are reading. In essence you have to physically create a moment of memory for your brain to return to. To do this all a student has to do was hashtag their notes with a meta-tag, something that was a unique way for them to associate the information as being important to them. I’ve seen kids use #craycray for things that are so far fetched they couldn’t believe it, or, #FTW if they really liked a passage. They use it, they remember it.
Once kids latched on to this idea, their scores took off. This tagging allowed them to create that moment of memory to return to later on. By tagging as you go, you are creating meta-moments-of-memory (say that three times fast..) for your brain to return to. You no longer get ‘lost’ down the wikipedia wormhole, you explore the farthest reaches of the universe with the ability to recall where you’ve been and what’s you’ve read. Now go explore.