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FS 34: Collecting Stories: Organizing your ideas

Research resources for Collecting Stories, a Fall 2020 First Year Seminar taught by Tommi Cahill.

The 5W and H questions

When journalists are trying to develop a story, they often start with a topic or an event and ask the "5W and H" questions.

These questions are a time honored way to discover what is interesting about a topic.

  • Who was involved?
  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?

Based on Asking and Answering the 5 W's and H Questions by Thoughtful Learning, a work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Activity: Your personal learning environment

Take a moment to reflect on your ideal learning environment. You may want to consider some of these attributes:

  • Location - is it an outdoor or indoor space? Is it in a familiar space, or someplace different?
  • Equipment - what kinds of tools or technology are available - both "high" and "low" technology?
  • People - are other people nearby? Do you work best in a group or by yourself?
  • Activity - are you sitting? Standing? In motion?
  • Time - how long do you spend in this place? Do you work in short bursts, or do you like to settle into a "zone"?
  • Senses - do you thrive off of sensory stimulation - music, bright colors, textures? Or do you keep distractions to a minimum?

Write a paragraph reflection summarizing the most important aspects of your learning environment and how you can achieve them.

Note taking

The practice of taking notes on your ideas, questions and sources is an important part of your personal learning environment.

Miranda Hein and Molly Wiskur, undergraduate students at the University of Kansas, created this video describing several popular note-taking strategies:

Olivia Reyes, another student in the same class, created a video focusing on the Cornell note taking system:

Reflection questions

  • How would you describe your ideal learning environment?
  • How can you use these note taking strategies to organize your ideas and develop your storytelling project?