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Free Resources for Teaching Study Skills

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Teachers frequently are shocked by their students’ lack of study skills. Some teachers assume that most study skills are simply common sense and do not need instruction. Or, maybe each teacher thinks that “some other teacher” should or has already taught them. From my own teaching experience, I have come to believe that study skills are not caught, but must be taught.

All content teachers have the responsibility to teach these essential learning skills. Mastering study skills will help your students “work smarter, not harder.” If students learn these skills, they will spend less time, but accomplish more during homework and study time. Students will memorize better and forget less. Their test study will be more productive and students will achieve better grades. Reading comprehension, speed, and retention will improve. Writing will more coherent and essays will be easier to plan and complete.

Following are articles, free resources (including reading assessments), and teaching tips regarding how to teach the essential study skills from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Bookmark and visit us often. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/summer-daily-brainwork/

Looking to prevent summer brain-freeze and help your child get a jump start on the next school year? The tips from Summer Daily Brainwork will teach your child to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time.

How to Avoid Procrastination

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-avoid-procrastination/

This article explains why people procrastinate and gives you the tools that will help replace bad habits with good ones. Learn how to develop a workable plan to avoid procrastination. These practical, easy-to-understand suggestions will help you avoid putting off until tomorrow what you could be doing today.

Learn How to Study

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/daily-school-and-work-review/

Learning how to study is a skill that is taught, more so than caught. Memory research tells us that we remember up to 70% of new information if that information is practiced within 24 hours. Learn how to practice key information from school and the workplace to interrupt the “forgetting cycle” with the Quick Daily Review.

How to Take Notes

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-take-notes/

Some teachers seem to feel that knowing how to take notes is simply a matter of common sense. However, this is simply not true. Taking effective notes is a skill. Good note-taking can improve comprehension of the information presented in class and in textbooks. It can also help organize for test study. This article teaches the four best strategies for note-taking success: formal outline, webbing, Cornell Notes, and margin notes.

How Margin Notes are Better than the Yellow Highlighter

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-margin-notes-are-better-than-the-yellow-highlighter/

The key to reading comprehension and retention is interactive reading. To prepare effectively for tests and discussion, marginal annotations prompt that internal dialogue with the author. This article provides the prompts you need to annotate texts well and tells why you should get rid of your yellow highlighters.

How to Get Motivated and Set Goals: The Top Ten Tips

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-get-motivated-and-set-goals-the-top-ten-tips/

Motivation and goal-setting techniques should work together to produce effective behavioral change. This article will give you the plan to avoid procrastination and develop the discipline needed to achieve your goals.

How to Study: The Top Ten Tips

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-study-the-top-ten-tips/

Good students have learned that knowing how to study is just as important as knowing what to study. Good study habits are not just common sense; they have to be learned and practiced. This article discusses how to create a study environment and gives practical tips on how to study effectively.

Six Steps to Active Listening

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Good listening skills need to be learned and practiced. They are not just common sense. Learning new habits to replace old ones takes time and patience. However, everyone can improve listening skills by applying the Six Steps to Active Listening found in this short article.

Top Ten Memory Tips

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/top-ten-memory-tips/

Improving memory helps in all walks of life: business, school, and relationships. Learning and applying the Top Ten Memory Tips will significantly improve your short and long term memory. Who knows? After reading this list, you just might remember where you left your car keys.

How to Memorize Using the Grouping Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-grouping-technique/

This simple memory technique will help students of all ages place many items into the long term memory. Using the grouping technique, the seeming trivia of the academic disciplines is organized into meaningful and memorable categories. Score higher on tests and make study fun by learning the way our brains are organized.

How to Memorize Using the Catch Words Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-catch-words-technique/

Improve your long term memory by using catch words. Students will especially appreciate how catch words will help organize their test study. Catch words are useful for simple day to day facts that need to be memorized. You may also figure out why “ROY G. BIV” has helped millions remember the colors of the rainbow in order.

How to Memorize Using the Catch Sentences Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-catch-sentences-technique/

Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using catch sentences. Students will especially love how catch sentences will help organize their test study. Catch sentences are useful for many aspects of daily life. You may also figure out why “Every good boy does fine” has helped millions learn to play the piano.

How to Memorize Using the Association Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-association-technique/

Need to improve your long term memory? The association memory trick will help students prepare more efficiently for tests. The trick will help sales people remember names. Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using catch sentences. You may also find out how the memory experts can memorize the names of an entire studio audience.

How to Memorize Using the Linking Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-linking-technique/

The linking memory technique is one of the best memory methods to memorize lists of seemingly unrelated objects. Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using the linking strategies. Once you’ve made a link, you won’t have to think—you’ll just remember.

How to Memorize Using the Location Memory Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-location-memory-technique/

Location! Location! Location! The real estate professionals haven’t cornered the market on this strategy. Developed by the ancient Greeks, using familiar locations to memorize many ideas or objects has always proved a full-proof method of memorization. Have a speech or business presentation? This article will give you the tools to place the words into your long term memory.

How to Memorize Using the This Old Man Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-%E2%80%9Cthis-old-man%E2%80%9D-technique/

Who would think that a simple nursery rhyme, “This Old Man,” could help you memorize ten completely unrelated items in perfect order. Great for a business presentation. Useful for test study. Wonderful for a grocery or any to-do list. Once learned, the information will be retained in the long term memory.

More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog

English-Language Arts and Reading Intervention Articles and Resources 

Bookmark and check back often for new articles and free ELA/reading resources from Pennington Publishing.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Pennington Publishing’s mission is to provide the finest in assessment-based ELA and reading intervention resources for grades 4‒high school teachers. Mark Pennington is the author of two Standards-aligned programs: Teaching Essay Strategies and Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)Mark’s comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies and the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books help struggling readers significantly improve their reading skills in a full-year or half-year intensive reading intervention program. Make sure to check out Pennington Publishing’s free ELA and reading assessments to help you pinpoint grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and reading deficits.

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Free Resources for Test Preparation

Test Prep

Test Prep Articles

Like most teachers, I teach test preparation strategies in my content area-English-language arts. I teach how to study and how to take tests. As an MA Reading Specialist, I happen to think that it’s an important reading skill. However, despite pressures from some to teach to the annual state and district standardized tests, I just smile and continue to teach to the established standards and to the needs of my students. In other words, I think I teach what I’m supposed to teach and to whom. Not all of my colleagues share my views. We just have a basic, honest disagreement on this matter.

Some of my colleagues support teaching “power standards” and use “release questions” to practice for the annual standardized tests. Some spend considerable amounts of time composing benchmark assessments in the standardized test format. Some colleagues plan mini-lessons to address relative weaknesses indicated through item analyses of the test data. Some minimize instruction in content and/or skills that are untested or seem to be relative strengths. Some plan and prioritize their instructional minutes and assessments to match the percentage allotment of test questions. If 7% of the subtest consists of word analysis questions, then they plan 7% of their instructional delivery time and 7% of the questions on their unit tests to match. Some essentially abandon instruction the last week or so prior to the standardized test in order to review test-taking strategies and practice test questions. The standardized test certainly does drive instruction for some teachers, and they readily admit that this is the case.

Now I’d like to report that my method of teaching to the standards and students produces superior standardized test results than my more zealous standardized test colleagues; however, states wisely have precluded this kind of data analysis. But, to be completely honest… If we were able to determine that my colleague achieved superior test scores, I doubt whether I would alter much of my instruction accordingly. I don’t think I’m stubborn or close-minded. I steal from my colleagues all the time, but I better trust the process of teaching to the standards and to my students than the process of teaching to the standardized test.

Following are articles, free resources, and teaching tips regarding how to prepare students for test preparation from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Bookmark and visit us often. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Test Preparation

How to Study in Advance for Tests

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-study-in-advance-for-tests/

Although cramming for a test is somewhat effective, studying over a period of days prior to the test gets better results. Learn how to prepare in advance by practicing a daily review of notes, asking the right questions of the teacher, and forming a study group. This article details the best advance strategies for test success.

How to Take Tests

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-take-tests/

Although your effective test study does increase the likelihood of test success, it is only half of the equation. The other critical half is how you take the test. Developing a test plan will reduce stress, manage time, and maximize success. This article details the best strategies for taking a test.

How to Reduce Test Anxiety

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-reduce-test-anxiety/

Test anxiety plagues students of all ages. This article teaches you how to relax and build test-taking confidence with positive self-talk and practical strategies.

The Phenomenal Five Objective Test Tips

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/the-phenomenal-five-objective-test-tips/

Objective tests pose many problems for test-takers. Knowing the strategies of how to answer multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank, and true-false test problems can significantly improve ones overall test scores. This article details the five best objective test-taking strategies.

How to Take Multiple Choice Tests

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-take-multiple-choice-tests/

Learn how to strategically guess on multiple choice sections. These multiple choice tips will help you get the grade you want by eliminating selection mistakes. Learn how multiple choice tests are constructed and take advantage of this to maximize your test score. Hint: the answer isn’t always “C.”

The Top Nine Tips to Taking True-False Tests

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/the-top-nine-tips-to-taking-true-false-tests/

Students say that they like true-false tests; however, it is hard to earn an A on these types of tests. This article details the tips that will maximize your scores on these test sections. Learn how to strategically guess on true-false tests. Everything you learn will be true, of course.

The Top Ten Tips to Taking Matching Tests

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/the-top-ten-tips-to-taking-matching-tests/

Learn how to strategically guess on matching sections. These tips will help you get the grade you want by eliminating selection mistakes. Learn how matching tests are constructed and take advantage of this to maximize your test score.

Top Ten Memory Tips

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/top-ten-memory-tips/

Improving memory helps in all walks of life: business, school, and relationships. Learning and applying the Top Ten Memory Tips will significantly improve your short and long term memory. Who knows? After reading this list, you just might remember where you left your car keys.

How to Memorize Using the Grouping Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-grouping-technique/

This simple memory technique will help students of all ages place many items into the long term memory. Using the grouping technique, the seeming trivia of the academic disciplines is organized into meaningful and memorable categories. Score higher on tests and make study fun by learning the way our brains are organized.

How to Memorize Using the Catch Words Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-catch-words-technique/

Improve your long term memory by using catch words. Students will especially appreciate how catch words will help organize their test study. Catch words are useful for simple day to day facts that need to be memorized. You may also figure out why “ROY G. BIV” has helped millions remember the colors of the rainbow in order.

How to Memorize Using the Catch Sentences Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-catch-sentences-technique/

Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using catch sentences. Students will especially love how catch sentences will help organize their test study. Catch sentences are useful for many aspects of daily life. You may also figure out why “Every good boy does fine” has helped millions learn to play the piano.

How to Memorize Using the Association Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-association-technique/

Need to improve your long term memory? The association memory trick will help students prepare more efficiently for tests. The trick will help sales people remember names. Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using catch sentences. You may also find out how the memory experts can memorize the names of an entire studio audience.

How to Memorize Using the Linking Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-linking-technique/

The linking memory technique is one of the best memory methods to memorize lists of seemingly unrelated objects. Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using the linking strategies. Once you’ve made a link, you won’t have to think—you’ll just remember.

How to Memorize Using the Location Memory Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-location-memory-technique/

Location! Location! Location! The real estate professionals haven’t cornered the market on this strategy. Developed by the ancient Greeks, using familiar locations to memorize many ideas or objects has always proved a full-proof method of memorization. Have a speech or business presentation? This article will give you the tools to place the words into your long term memory.

How to Memorize Using the This Old Man Technique

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-memorize-using-the-%E2%80%9Cthis-old-man%E2%80%9D-technique/

Who would think that a simple nursery rhyme, “This Old Man,” could help you memorize ten completely unrelated items in perfect order. Great for a business presentation. Useful for test study. Wonderful for a grocery or any to-do list. Once learned, the information will be retained in the long term memory.

The Sweet Sixteen Strategies for SAT® Success

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/the-sweet-sixteen-strategies-for-sat®-success/

Just sixteen general strategies will help you make a significant difference on both the SAT® and ACT® test. Warning: Don’t assume you already know these tips; these are not just “common sense” test-taking strategies. Use these strategies with readily available online practice tests and watch your scores improve.

How to Answer the SAT® Sentence Completion Test Problems

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-answer-the-sat-sentence-completion-test-problems/

Most SAT®-takers generally think that the SAT sentence completion sections are relatively easy. After all, they are just fill in the blanks. However, many students can be shocked to find out that their test results in this section can be lower than those from the passage-based sections. This article shares the best strategies to help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the sentence completion test problems.

How to Answer the SAT® Passage-Based Reading Test Problems

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-answer-the-sat-passage-based-reading-test-problems/

The SAT passage-based reading sections can create a stumbling block for SAT test-takers. Many students score poorly on these sections; however, using the memorable strategies explained in this article will help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the passage-based critical reading section. Learn how to beat the SAT with these effective strategies.

How to Get a 12 on the SAT® Essay

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/writing/how-to-get-a-12-on-the-sat-essay/

The SAT essay can produce time management challenges and difficulties for SAT-takers. Many students score poorly on this section; however, using the AEC  TP  IT  2B  RCP strategies will help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the SAT essay section.

How to Learn SAT® Vocabulary

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/spelling_vocabulary/how-to-learn-sat-vocabulary/

SAT®-takers find the critical reading sections challenging because both the sentence completion and passage-based reading sections are so vocabulary dependent. You may not have a huge academic vocabulary, but some concentrated study and knowing the following strategies can make a significant difference in your scores. Here are the short-cuts you need to succeed.

More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog

English-Language Arts and Reading Intervention Articles and Resources 

Bookmark and check back often for new articles and free ELA/reading resources from Pennington Publishing.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Pennington Publishing’s mission is to provide the finest in assessment-based ELA and reading intervention resources for grades 4‒high school teachers. Mark

Essential Study Skills Program

Essential Study Skills

Pennington is the author of two Standards-aligned programs: Teaching Essay Strategies and Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)Mark’s comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies and the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books help struggling readers significantly improve their reading skills in a full-year or half-year intensive reading intervention program. Make sure to check out Pennington Publishing’s free ELA and reading assessments to help you pinpoint grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and reading deficits.

Grammar/Mechanics, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Educational Fads: What Goes Around Comes Around

Teaching is, by its very nature, experimental. We teachers are just as susceptible to snake-oil sales pitches, fads, and cultural pressures as any professionals. And many of the teaching strategies, movements, and philosophies appear years later dressed up in different clothes. Talk to any veteran teacher of a dozen years or more and the teacher will eventually comment on the dynamic nature of education with statements such as “Been there, done that,” “There’s nothing new under the sun,” What Goes Around Comes Around,” “We tried that back in…”

Teachers are also victims of the bandwagon effect. What’s new is questioned, until certain key players buy in. At that point, many teachers become no-holds-barred converts. We teachers are especially vulnerable to new ideas labeled as “research-based,” “best practices,” or “standards-based.” We could all do with an occasional reminder that one of our primary duties as teachers should be to act as informed “crap detectors” (Postman, Neil, and Weingartner, Charles (1969), Teaching as a Subversive Activity, Dell, New York, NY.).

Following is a list of the educational fads that have come and gone (and sometimes come again) over the last thirty years of my teaching. I’ve bought into quite a few of them and still believe that some of them have merit. The list reminds me to hold on loosely to some things that I currently practice and to be open to change. Cringe, laugh, and be a bit offended as you read over the list. Oh, and please add on to the list, which is in no particular order.

1. Writing Across the Curriculum No one really ever believed that math, art, or music teachers should be spending oodles of time teaching writing.

2. Timers Timers used to keep students on task, pace themselves, track their reading speed.

3. Left-right Brain Strategies Some teachers used to have students place bracelets on their left or right wrists to cue brain hemispheres.

4. Self-esteem Teachers developed lessons to promote the self-esteem of students to increase their abilities to learn.

5. Cultural Literacy E. D. Hirsch, Jr. popularized this movement of shared content knowledge in his influential 1987 book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Teachers abandoned free-choice novels and chose core novels that inculcated American values.

6. Multi-culturalism This much maligned approach to education influenced many publishers and teachers to include multi-cultural literature.

7.  Relevance The practice of choosing curriculum and instructional strategies designed to  relate to the lives and interests of students.

8. Clickers Used to track student discussion responses, equitable teacher questioning, and even attendance.

9. Re-learning Early Childhood Behaviors One reading strategy for struggling readers in the 1970s involved re-teaching those remedial readers who never learned to crawl to crawl.

10. Learning Styles I can’t tell you how many learning styles assessments I designed over the years.

11. Experiential Learning Role play, simulations, mock trial.

12. Alternative or Authentic Assessments I once taught an entire year-long sophomore level World History class without giving one traditional paper and pencil test. Think museum exhibits, video productions, interviews, etc.

13. Cooperative Groups Touted as a primary means of heterogeneous instruction in the 1980s.

14. Values Clarification and Moral Dilemmas Two forms of values education that emphasized decision-making and informed moral choices.

15. Gongs Used to focus students’ attention and signal instructional transitions.

16. Critical Thinking Skills Bloom’s Taxonomy, Costa’s Levels of Questioning, et al.

17. Behavioral Objectives and the Madeline Hunter’s Lesson Design Teaching to measurable objectives with connection to prior instruction, guided practice, closure, and independent practice.

18. Standards-based Instruction A movement to identify content standards across grade levels and focus instruction on these expectations. Many state tests were aligned with these standards.

19. Language Experience A reading strategy which used oral language ability to help students read. Teachers copied down student stories and had students practice reading them.

20. Bilingual Education A movement to teach native literacy and celebrate bilingualism in the belief that literacy skills are easily transferred to English.

21. Learn by Doing John Dewey revisited. Gardening and keeping classroom pets were popular recreations of the theme.

22. Cornell Notes Popularized by the A.V.I.D. (Advancement Via Individual Determination), this columnar notetaking strategy originated in the 1950s at Cornell University.

23. Inventive Spelling The practice of guessing sound-spelling relationships to encourage writing fluency. Instruction followed from spelling analysis.

24. Achievement Gap The gap in reading and math achievement between racial subgroups. Later expanded to language and ethnic subgroups.

25. Thematic Instruction Teaching broad-based themes across the curriculum, such as teaching a unit on cooking in which recipes are composed and read, mathematic measurements involving recipe quantities are practiced, the final meal is sketched, using artistic perspective, and the meal is eaten.

26. Time on Task A movement that tried to minimize wasted time, class interruptions, and outside activities (such as assemblies) and maximize minutes of classroom instruction, such as with classroom openers.

27. Whole Language The movement popularized in the 1970s and 1980s that de-emphasized phonics, spelling, and grammar instruction and emphasized reading and writing for meaning.

28. Reading Across the Curriculum No one really ever believed that math, art, or music teachers should be spending oodles of time teaching reading or that “Every Teacher, a Teacher of Reading.”

29. Phonemic Awareness Better described as phonological awareness, teachers played patterns of sounds, emphasized rhythm, and used nursery rhymes to prepare students to match speech sounds to print.

30. ADD, ADHD, Epstein Bar, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Others Difficult to diagnose, these conditions introduced educators to Parent Advocates and mandated classroom interventions.

31. Auditory Processing Deficit Disorders and Visual Processing Deficit Disorders New brain research has validated these learning disabilities, but instructional strategies to address these challenges have a questionable track record.

32. Dyslexia Reading difficulties have produced a plethora of remedial strategies, many such as colored transparencies have been dubious, at best.

33. Career Education Students were tracked according to career interests.

34. Community Service Students were required to perform hours of community service as part of course or graduation requirements.

35. Tracing Letters in the Sand Those who believe that spelling is a visual process had students memorize the shapes of letters within words by drawing the outline of the letters.

36. Inquiry Education Instruction based upon student questions and interests.

37. Sustained Silent Reading, Drop Everything and Read, et al In class or school-wide, this practice of silent reading is usually based upon student choice of reading materials without accountability and is designed to foster life-long reading.

38. TRIBES, et al Groups of students, mentored by adults, that build relational and supportive bonds within the school setting.

39. Peer Tutoring A practice in which a smarter student is paired with one less smart to teach the latter.

40. Writers Workshop and Six Traits Movements based upon the writing research of Donald Graves and others that emphasize the process of writing, revision, and publication.

41. Problem-Solving Strategies developed to solve difficult problems in collaborative groups.

42. Rubrics Here a rubric; there a rubric. Holistic and analytic scoring guides that purport to de-mystify and objectify the grading process of complicated tasks, such as essays.

43. Manipulatives Learning mathematical concepts through visual models that students manipulate to understand mathematical processes.

44. Metacognition Thinking about thinking. Strategies that teach reflection on the learning process.

45. Prior Knowledge Usually referred to as a pre-reading or pre-writing strategy in which the student “accesses” his or her background or personal experiences to connect to the reading or writing task.

46. Hands-on Learning Project-based instruction that emphasizes concrete learning making or doing.

47. Realia Using “real” objects to scaffold into abstract learning. For example, bringing in a silver necklace to teach what silver and a necklace mean.

48. Tracking and Ability Grouping Permanent or temporary grouped instruction based upon student grades, test scores, or skill levels.

49. Differentiated Instruction and Individualized Instruction Instruction designed according to the diagnostic needs of individual students, frequently involving group work.

50. Multiple Intelligences Popularized by Howard Gardner, this movement described intelligence aptitudes such as interpersonal intelligence.

51. Powerpoint®, Blackboard, Web 2.0, computer literacy skills, SmartBoards, Video Conferencing and more to come.

52. Color Mood Design Teachers draped soothing colored butcher paper (blue or green) over the teacher’s desk to reduce stress. Teachers stopped using red pens to correct papers.

53. Back to Basics A movement to focus more on the three R’s and less on electives.

54. The Five-Paragraph Essay The model essay, consisting of one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph.

55. Multi-sensory Education Using the five senses to teach a concept or skill.

56. Learning Centers Resources placed around the classroom that allowed students to explore learning on their own.

The writer of this blog, Mark Pennington, is an educational author of teaching resources to differentiate instruction in the fields of reading and English-language arts. His comprehensive curricula: Teaching Grammar and MechanicsTeaching Essay StrategiesTeaching Reading Strategies, and Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary help teachers differentiate instruction with little additional teacher prep and/or training.

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How to Take Notes

Note-taking

How to Take Notes

Taking effective notes can certainly improve comprehension of the information presented in class or found in textbooks. Note-taking can also help organize for test study. However, many students have never learned how to take notes effectively. Indeed, many teachers seem to think that note-taking is a skill learned only by osmosis, and not by direct instruction. A few effective note-taking strategies will help remedy this misconception and enable teachers to teach how to take notes to their students.

Notes are summaries of the main ideas and key details that the teacher wants you to understand and remember. Effective note-taking organizes these summaries so that they can easily be reviewed and practiced. Here are a few key ingredients to effective note-taking:

1. Listen to or read the complete thought. Don’t write something down until you understand it.

2. Learn the signals that your teacher and textbook use to stress main ideas and key details. Some of these signals may be the following:

  • repeating key points
  • raising the voice to emphasize key points
  • spelling key terms
  • speaking slowly
  • writing key points down
  • using phrases such as “key to” “most importantly” “main idea” “in conclusion”
  • using transition words such as “first” “next” “finally”

3. Don’t write down everything that the teacher or textbook says. Be selective. If you already know it, don’t write it down.

4. Use your own “shorthand” symbols and abbreviations. Think text messaging!

5. Ask questions about main ideas and key details that you don’t understand.

6. Use a note-taking organizational pattern that fits with the information being presented. A one-size-fits-all note-taking format is not the best approach. Use different formats for different organizational patterns and purposes.

Note-taking Formats

All note-taking formats order information summaries into main ideas, major details, and support details. Each format has advantages and disadvantages depending upon its application and organizational pattern. It is important to know how to use all three of the formats and when each is appropriate. The four most common note-taking formats include formal outline, webbing, Cornell Notes, and margin notes (annotations).

Formal Outline Notes use Roman numerals for main ideas, capital letters for major details, Arabic numerals (1,2,3) for minor details, and even lower case letters for examples. This style of note-taking is well-organized for test study and works well with linear organizational patterns such as chronological, cause-effect, and reasons-for presentations. This style does not fit spatial organizational patterns such as comparison-contrast, relational hierarchies, or recursive (cyclical) patterns.

Webbing is a note-taking style that uses labeled geometric shapes to show relationships between main ideas, major details, and minor details. Usually, the main idea begins the webbing process as a geometric shape in the middle of the notepaper and webs off into different directions for different ideas. Different ideas in outlying webs can be connected to other webs to show relationships. This style of note-taking is not conducive to study because it is messy. However, it does show spatial relationships such as comparison-contrast, relational hierarchies, or recursive (cyclical) patterns that the Formal Outline method can not. Webbing is a wonderful form of brainstorming for essays and narratives.

Cornell Notes is a linear note-taking style that avoids some of the hierarchical organization of the Formal Outline method. It does not use the symbols, but relies on categorization to organize main ideas and supporting details. The notepaper is divided into two columns. The left side serves to list main ideas or ask questions. The right side provides the support details or answers to the questions posed. At the bottom of the notepaper is a horizontal row reserved for personal comments, questions, and analysis.

Margin Notes (also known as annotations or highlighting) have now made their way down into K-12 education from the universities. Thanks to the Common Core State Standards authors’ re-discovery of the Close Reading Method and the re-focus on expository text, most teachers are reducing the amount of short story and novel reading and substituting articles from online sources. Coupled with a renewed interest in Reading Response Theory, teachers are helping students engage and interact with expository text by practicing marginal annotations. This two-way dialogue between reader and author builds comprehension and prepares the student for class discussion. Check out the author’s article, “How Margin Notes are Better than the Yellow Highlighter,” for a nicely-argued rationale for written annotations and suggestions for simple margin symbols. Note: Mark Pennington, the author of this article, has his master’s degree as a reading specialist.

For more practical teaching strategy tips and free teaching resources, please visit penningtonpublishing.com.

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why

Essential Study Skills Program

Essential Study Skills

students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success.

The 56 lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

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How to Memorize Using the This Old Man Technique

"This Old Man" Memory Strategy

“This Old Man” Memory Technique

The “This Old Man” Technique can be a helpful tool to help you memorize many seemingly unrelated items or ideas. The “This Old Man” Technique connects the items or ideas we want to remember to the numeric rhymes and key words in the children’s song. As we all know, songs can be powerful memory aids. Think of the “Alphabet Song” and how the rhyming and rhythm helps children learn their ABCs. Click “New Alphabet Song” to get the updated versions (one for beginning readers and one for older ESL and reading intervention students, which avoid the “lmno” issue. Or check out these eight great memory raps and songs for the conventional spelling rules. Or help your students memorize their parts of speech with the “Parts of Speech Song.”

The principles of this memory technique have been confirmed by recent hemispheric brain research. Our brains act as computer file folders, slotting newly learned information in the same file as already-learned information that fits within that same file. This technique associates ideas or items together with the rhyming numbers and key words of the song, just like our brain file folders do. If we take the time to organize new information in same way as our brains, we can improve our retention of that information.

Directions

The trick is to associate the items you want to memorize with each key word in the song in a memorable way. As much as possible, relate each key word to each other to form one connected visual. Substitute concrete objects for any key words that are too abstract to remember well. For example, substituting the concrete ear for the abstract listening would be a much more memorable object with which to pair. If you need to memorize more than ten key words, simply start over with a second set of ten, etc.

To refresh your memory, here’s the first verse of the song:

“This Old Man”

This old man, he played one.

He played knick-knack on my thumb.

With a knick-knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone.

This old man came rolling home.

The key words are “one” and the rhyming “thumb.” Not an exact rhyme, I know; however, I didn’t write the song. The song continues on with a new verse for numbers two through ten.

Here is the list of the verse numbers and their key words, with a few more concrete substitutions, that I suggest using from “This Old Man.”

  1. one-thumb
  2. two-shoe
  3. three-knee
  4. four-door
  5. five-hive (picture a bee hive)
  6. six-sticks
  7. seven-heaven (picture an angel or fluffy white clouds and say “up to heaven”)
  8. eight-gate
  9. nine-spine
  10. ten-hen (better than “again”)

Let’s say you have a list of fruit to purchase for a nice summer picnic. The list includes the following:

  1. one-lemons
  2. two-oranges
  3. three-watermelons
  4. four-grapefruit
  5. five-bananas
  6. six-cherries
  7. seven-raspberries
  8. eight-red apples
  9. nine-green grapes
  10. ten-yellow pairs

Using the “This Old Man” Memory Technique, you associate the key words of the song with each of the fruit you wish to purchase. Develop a mental picture that connects each item.

  • one-lemons-You are standing outside of your front door with a lemon stuck on your right hand-thumb
  • two-oranges-and an orange on top of your right-shoe
  • three-watermelons-with a slice of watermelon on your right-knee.
  • four-grapefruit-You are pushing the grapefruit doorbell next to your front-door
  • five-bananas-because you are trying to get inside your house, away from a swarm of angry bees buzzing around a banana placed on top of their-hive
  • six-cherries-which is in the front yard cherry tree, propped up by a cluster of branches-sticks.
  • seven-raspberries-In front of the tree stands a statue of an angel outlined with raspberry-shaped lights illuminating the-angel
  • eight-red apples-who stands behind a white picket fence, with a row of red-apples stuck on the pickets of the-gate.
  • nine-green grapes-Attached to the angel’s back is a chain of green grapes running down its-spine
  • ten-yellow pairs-to two eggs in a nest, on the ground next to the gate. The eggs look like two yellow pairs, guarded by a nearby clucking-hen

Now prompt yourself to remember each object by singing the song with each of the objects serving as the focus of a verse. Works well, doesn’t it? A little rehearsal will place these facts into your long term memory.

Memorizing using the “This Old Man” Technique will enable you to retain the memory of many seemingly unrelated items. This memory trick is useful for upcoming tests, speeches, and shopping lists. It also makes memorization fun.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentencescatch words, linking, association, location, and grouping.

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in

Essential Study Skills Program

Essential Study Skills

schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success.

The 56 lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Literacy Centers, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills , , , , , , , , ,

How to Memorize Using the Location Memory Technique

The Location Memory Strategy

The Location Memory Technique

The Location Memory Technique can be an effective tool to help you memorize many unrelated items. The Location Memory Technique connects the unrelated ideas we want to remember by using memorable locations to fix the facts or ideas in our memory in a spatial relationship. This technique is especially useful because you can memorize any items in exact order.

We know from recent hemispheric brain research that our brains act as computer file folders, slotting newly learned information in the same file as already-learned information that fits within that same file. This technique connects ideas or items together, just like our brain file folders do. If we take the time to organize new information in same way as our brains, we can improve our retention of that information.

Background

The ancient Greek orators, such as Socrates, made use of a special memory trick that deals with familiar object locations. We call these memory tricks mnemonics. The Greeks would think of taking a tour of their own homes, beginning in the entryways. For each room of the house, they would picture a key word of what they were trying to remember on or next to a special object in that room. Connecting the unknown (key words) to the known (the floor plan of your house) helps place the key words into your long term memory.

Directions

Picture the floor plan of your house or apartment. Visualize a clockwise walk throughout your home, beginning in the entryway. For each room, picture the key word, or concrete object, on or next to an especially memorable object in that room. Substitute concrete objects for any key words that are too abstract to remember well. For example, substituting the concrete “bulging bicep” for the abstract strength would be a much more memorable object to picture in your dining room.

Example

Let’s say you want to memorize the “Preamble to the Constitution.”

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Key words memorized in order will help prompt your memory. The key words are not necessarily the most important words. The are the words that will best prompt your memory of the following line(s). In the “Preamble to the Constitution,” the key words might include the following: people, in order, justice, ensure, defense, general, blessings, ordain, for

Using the location strategy, you might picture your entire family, linking arms together, in the entryway of your house (people). Next, picture a playing card royal flush (A, K, Q, J, 10) in order on the couch in your living room (in order). Then, picture a bright blue law book on the table in your dining room (justice). Now, picture a can of Ensure® nutritional supplement on top of the refrigerator in your kitchen (ensure). After this, picture a white picket fence surrounding the beanbag chair in your family room (defense). Then, picture a GI-Joe® general saluting you on top of the thermostat in the hallway (general). Next, picture yourself sneezing and then saying “God bless me” on top of the yellow desk in the front bedroom (blessings).  After this, picture a waiter asking, “May I take your order?” while standing on top of the dresser in the middle bedroom (ordain). Finally, picture a florescent orange “four” on the locked door of the back master bedroom (for).

Now prompt yourself to remember each fact by consciously picturing the items in each room. Close your eyes, if it helps. Practice walking through your apartment or home and picturing the exact location of each item to place them into your long-term memory.

Got them?  The images will stick with you for as long as you need them. A little rehearsal will keep what you are trying to memorize stay in your memory banks.

Memorizing using the Location Memory Technique will enable you to retain the memory of many seemingly unrelated items. Useful for upcoming tests, speeches, scripts, poems, essays, lectures? Undoubtedly.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentencescatch words, linking, association, This Old Man, and grouping.

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not

Essential Study Skills Program

Essential Study Skills

because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success.

The 56 lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Memorize Using the Grouping Technique

Grouping Memory Strategy

Grouping Memory Technique

The grouping technique (also referred to as the chunking strategy) can be an effective tool to help you memorize items that can be placed into categories. We know from recent hemispheric brain research that our brains act as computer file folders, slotting newly learned information in the same file as already-learned information that fits within that same file. If we take the time to organize new information in same way that our brains do, we can enhance our retention of that information.

This simple memory technique will help students of all ages place many items into the long term memory. Using the grouping technique, the  specific details of a lecture or reading can be organized into meaningful and memorable categories. Grouping is an effective strategy for reviewing notes and chunking information into memorable categories for test preparation. Why not score core higher on tests and make study fun by learning the way our brains are organized?

The categories we develop to remember similar items don’t have to be organized by content. Any similarities can be used to classify items as a group. For example, a group of people could be classified according to sex, body size, color of skin, eye or hair color, introverted-extroverted—the possibilities are endless.

Let’s learn how to use the Grouping Technique to remember a list of nine items. You are driving into work and your friend phones to tell you that you’ve been invited to go on a backpacking trip next weekend. “Sure, I’ll remember what to bring,” you respond to your friend. The equipment list includes the following:

  • tent
  • flashlight
  • stove
  • matches
  • sleeping bag
  • fuel
  • utensils
  • ground cloth
  • food

At first glance, the equipment items might appear to be quite random and you may be thinking that you will have to sacrifice your pride and call your friend back later to remind you of some of the items the backpacking list. After all, if you are responsible for bringing the food, you don’t want to forget that item! But, instead, you take a few moments to apply the Grouping Technique and you have the list memorized perfectly. You simply categorize the items into these groups:

Sleeping

  • sleeping bag
  • tent
  • ground cloth

Light/Fire

  • matches
  • stove
  • flashlight
  • fuel

Eating

  • food
  • utensils

Works, doesn’t it? Notice that the categories do not have to contain equal numbers of the similar items. Also, a few exceptions would certainly be easier to remember than memorizing the entire list of information as random, un-related items.

For abstract concepts, try substituting them with concrete objects to place them within your groups. For example, it is easier to substitute and place the concrete Liberty Bell into a category than the concept of “freedom.”

Not only does the grouping memory technique help convert short-term memory into long-term memory, grouping also helps us organize and synthesize seemingly unrelated information. By comparing and analyzing details, we can form main ideas. Perfect for pre-writing and literary analysis.

Students using Cornell Notes and the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) strategies will especially appreciate the grouping memory technique as a review and organizational aid. For example, from a lecture on Spanish colonization of the Americas, a student might organize the narrative notes into, say, these categories: explorers, discoveries, indigenous peoples, successes, failures. What a great way to organize notes for memorable test study.

Memorizing using the Grouping Technique will enable you to retain the memory of many seemingly unrelated items. Frequent rehearsal of the categories and their items will place the information into your long-term memory. Useful for upcoming tests, speeches, lectures, conversations, party planning, shopping lists? I should say so.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentencescatch words, linking, association, This Old Man, and location.

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why

Essential Study Skills Program

Essential Study Skills

students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success.

The 56 lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Literacy Centers, Reading, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Memorize Using the Catch Words (Acronyms) Technique

Catch Word (Acronym) Memory Strategy

Catch Word (Acronym) Memory Technique

The Catch Words Technique can be an effective tool to help you memorize many seemingly unrelated items. The Catch Word (Acronym) Technique connects the unrelated ideas we want to remember in the letters of a word or series of words that relate to each other. We know from recent brain research that our brains act as computer file folders, slotting newly learned information in the same file as already-learned information that fits within that same file. This technique connects ideas or items together, just like our brain file folders do. If we take the time to organize new information in same way as our brains, we can improve our retention of that information. Using catch words (acrostics) is a great way to review notes and to study for tests.

Catch Words Examples

Do you remember these catch words from school?

ROY G. BIV

for the colors of the spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet

HOMES

for the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior

NEWS

for the chief points of the compass: North, East, South, and West

Directions

For each key word that you want to remember, use its first letter as one of the letters in a new word. Then select another key word and use its first letter as another one of the letters in the word, etc. Certainly add on additional words as is necessary, but try to relate the words together in a memorable phrase, such as ROY G. BIV in the above example. Substitute concrete objects for any key words that are too abstract to remember well. For example, substituting the concrete nose for the abstract smell would be a much more memorable object to use in the catch word(s).

Catch Words for the Causes of World War I

Let’s try to memorize some facts about for an upcoming history test on World War I. You need to know the causes of the war and the members of the Triple Entente and Central Powers alliances. Simple with the Catch Words Technique.

For the long term causes of World War I: Alliances, Militarism, Nationalism, and Imperialism, let’s rearrange this list, using the first letter of each cause in this order: MAIN. For the Triple Entente: England, Russia, and France, let’s rearrange this list as REF. For the Central Powers: Germany, Austria, and Italy, let’s rearrange this list as  A GI. Put them together and you’ve got the memorable MAIN REF A GI. Develop a picture of  MAIN Street with a A GI standing in the middle of traffic, next to a REFeree, and you will never forget these catch words. That’s ten key facts from World War I, organized in three categories!

Now prompt yourself to remember each fact by referring only to the above catch words. Works well, doesn’t it? A little rehearsal will place these facts into your long term memory and help you “ace” that history test.

Students using Cornell Notes and the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) strategies can use the catch words memory technique as a review and organizational aid. For example, from a lecture on the causes of the Civil War, a student might organize the notes into, say, these categories: slavery, states rights, industrial v. agricultural interests, territorial expansion, diplomatic leadership failure. What a great way to organize notes for memorable test study!

Memorizing using the Catch Words Technique will enable you to retain the memory of many seemingly unrelated items. Useful for upcoming tests, names, essays, lectures, shopping lists? Easy and very memorable.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentenceslinking, association, This Old Man, location, and grouping.

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why

Essential Study Skills Program

Essential Study Skills

students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success.

The 56 lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,