When my son was in eighth grade, I compiled several resources to make a “How We Learn/How to Study” course in preparation for High School. It went over thinks like memory recall, reflection, interleaving, and notetaking. One aspect that we spent some time on were graphs and using them for study, understanding, and notetaking. In my research, I came across a type of graph that I had not seen used before – a time-sequence graph. It turned out to be really useful, especially with Biology and studying biochemical processes his freshman year.
In our World War I study with my daughter, I used this in understanding who came into the war when and sometimes why. The different components involved go along one axis. I usually place them at the top in order to the most involved to the least involved. For our WWI study these were the countries involved in the war, beginning with Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Serbia. Japan and the United States, only coming into the War much later, were placed at the end of our axis. We also color-code the different countries to help us remember which side they fought. We did this with our block crayons. ( the ‘dow” on her graph stands for ‘declared war on.’) In biology, the components were things like heart chambers, lungs, arteries, veins, and capillaries, for our graph showing blood flow through the body.
Along the other axis is time. This can be very specific timing, such that we used for our WWI graph with specific dates, or it can be vague as in what comes first, next, next to last, and so on, particularly with something that is cyclic like blood flow. For our WWI graph, the time sequence moved from the beginning of the war, down until the Treaty of Versailles. For blood flow graph we didn’t bother labeling the axis.
After the axis are both labeled, action is plotted with a dot or circle under the initiating component with a line and arrow ending under the affected component. The first in our WWI time-sequence graph was when the Serbian nationalist assassinated Austria-Hungary heir apparent, Archduke Ferdinand. The time sequence for hemoglobin was cyclic, and he began this cycle at the heart, ending the first arrow at the lungs where the blood is oxygenated, plotting these various events down the graph (or over if the axis of time is at the top) as the events occur.
Constructing these kinds of graphs are a way for a child to analyze the information and process what they are learning. It basically allows them to ‘use’ the information that they are studying, which helps with understanding and retention. The time-sequence graph is a great one to use for chain-reactions, domino effects, cause and effect, or feed-back loops.