TeachMeet KY 2023

Building a Second Brain

The Zettelkasten: The Heart of the System

The Zettelkasten method is a knowledge management and note-taking system developed by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. The term “Zettelkasten” translates to “slip box” or “note box” in English. Luhmann credited this system for his prolific output in his academic career, which included more than 70 books and nearly 400 scholarly articles.

My first exposure to a version of this system was learning from Ryan Holiday and Robert Greene.

The Zettelkasten method involves writing individual ideas or pieces of information on separate slips of paper or index cards (Zettels) and then storing these slips in a box (Kasten). Each slip of paper is given a unique identifier, and when a connection is made between two ideas, the identifiers of the connected slips are noted on each other’s slips. This creates a web of interconnected ideas that can be easily navigated and expanded upon.

The Zettelkasten method is not just about storing information; it’s about creating connections and sparking new insights. The system is designed to facilitate the generation of new ideas and insights through the interaction and combination of existing notes.

The concept of creating a “Second Brain” as developed by Tiago Forte is inspired by the Zettelkasten method. The Second Brain is essentially a digital version of the Zettelkasten. It’s a system for offloading your thinking onto a digital platform, freeing up mental space and allowing for more efficient processing and organization of ideas. Like the Zettelkasten, the Second Brain is designed to facilitate connections between ideas, leading to new insights and creativity.

In essence, the Zettelkasten method and the Second Brain concept are about creating an external system for managing knowledge and ideas, allowing for more efficient thinking, creativity, and productivity.

  1. Introduction
    • Definition of the Second Brain ideology
      • Capture
      • Organize
      • Distill
      • Express
    • Introduction to Notion, Readwise, and Zotero as productivity tools
    • Benefits of using Second Brain, Notion, Readwise, and Zotero in teaching
  2. Understanding Notion
    • Explanation of Notion as an all-in-one workspace
    • Understanding the concept of ‘Blocks’ in Notion
    • The versatility of Blocks: pages, checklists, databases, toggles, and table of contents
  3. Introduction to Readwise
    • Overview of Readwise and its features
    • Using Readwise to collect articles from the web and Kindle book highlights
    • Integrating Readwise with Notion for seamless information transfer
  4. Introduction to Zotero
    • Overview of Zotero as a reference management tool
    • Using Zotero to collect and organize references of all types
    • Integrating Zotero with Notion to access references easily

Writing the Next Great AmericAIn Novel

This session is about the practical application of Generative AI tools in a classroom. I used this process with a senior English class this past school year and pretty much blew their minds with the potential.

Here is the process:

  • Students generate a list of plot ideas using Reedsy’s plot generator
  • Students generate a few character names for their story (tons of choices here, including different regions, ethnicities, etc.)
  • Students list their favorite authors (if they have one)
  • Students choose a story structure, i.e. Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat, 7-Point, etc.

Now, we add a little ChatGPT magic and craft a prompt for ChatGPT to create an outline for our story. Once complete, your students have the opportunity to create their story based on the outline.

You can adapt this process to pretty much any grade level.

Let’s play!

Access the Padlet here: https://padlet.com/mike_paul/writing-the-next-great-americain-novel-atum1zy75dya75vq

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