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Posts Tagged ‘Essential Study Skills’

How to Teach Test Prep

This year I’m teaching two classes of seventh grade honors English-language arts. I usually teach the reading intervention classes and the remedial English class to help “catch students up while they keep up” with grade-level instruction. It’s been awhile since I’ve taught such precocious twelve-year-olds as these honors students.

After our first unit test, the honor students were shocked at the results. Some 20% of the students failed their first grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading strategies, and elements of plot exam. Of course I produced a nice study guide and plenty of review and I told the students that those who study will get A’s and B’s and those who don’t will get D’s and F’s. I also emailed parents to suggest that they help their gifted sons and daughters study. Yes, after the test I got quite a few parent emails asking if they should transfer their child out of such a “challenging” class.

You see these honors students have never had to study in their elementary classes. In fact, many of my honors students don’t know how to study. We so often assume that test study is just “doing it.” However, thinking a bit about it… we realize that there are quite a few tips about how to study for tests.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

I added on a quick set of “how to study for and take tests” lessons to prepare my students for the second unit test. Yes, they did much better.

These lessons are part of my Essential Study Skills curriculum. Check out these FREE LESSONS here.

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

I developed 40 lessons like these for regular classes, study skills electives, advocacy classes, advisory periods, opportunity classes, substitutes, and rainy day activities. You get the idea. Each of the 40 lessons has a focused goal-setting activity, a great one page teacher-directed lesson, and a personal reflection page.

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Essential Study Skills

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills (eBook) will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Often, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because they don’t try hard enough, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. 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. 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.

Reading Study Skills

  1. Choosing and Reading the Right Books
  2. Reading Habits-The Bad and the Good
  3. Silent Reading Fluency and Speed Reading
  4. Interactive Reading
  5. Building Comprehension-The SCRIP Comprehension Strategies
  6. Inferences-Reading Between the Lines
  7. Marginal Annotations
  8. Reading Non-Fiction Strategies
  9. Skimming and Scanning

Writing Study Skills

  1. Parts of Speech
  2. Grammatical Sentence Openers
  3. Spelling Rules
  4. Punctuation Rules
  5. Writing Complex Sentences
  6. Writing Style Errors
  7. Essay Writing Rules
  8. Introductory Paragraphs
  9. Body Paragraphs
  10. Concluding Paragraphs

Listening/ Note-taking/Test-taking

  1. Active Listening with ED IS PC
  2. Note-taking
  3. Test Preparation
  4. Objective Test-taking Strategies
  5. Matching Test-taking Strategies
  6. Fill-in-the-Blank Test-taking Strategies
  7. Multiple Choice Test-taking Strategies

How to Get Organized and Study Effectively

  1. Study Environment and Time Management
  2. The Daily Review
  3. Grouping Memorization Technique
  4. Association Memorization Technique
  5. Linking Memorization Technique
  6. Catch Words Memorization Technique
  7. Catch Sentences Memorization Technique

Vocabulary Development

  1. Syllabication Rules 35. Greek and Latin Word Parts
  2. Context Clues

Motivation/ Goal-Setting/Attitude

  1. How to Get Motivated 38. How to Avoid Procrastination
  2. How to Set Goals
  3. Positive Mental Attitude

Essential Study Skills Preview

Critical Thinking Openers Toolkit Preview

Your students will greatly benefit from the 40 lessons in Essential Study Skills. 128 pages

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Essential Study Skills

From a child’s point of view, there are advantages and disadvantages to having a teacher as a parent. The time off over holidays and summer vacations certainly provides plenty of options for family activities. However, that additional time at home also means plenty of opportunities for learning and character development.

In our household, Dad was the teacher, and he had three sons. So this meant plenty of sports and outdoor adventures. This also meant that we were given a choice every summer: 4 hours of summer school each day at the nearby public school or 90 minutes of daily supervised instruction at home. It was not much of a choice. Each summer we chose the option that Dad affectionately labeled as Essential Study Skills.

Despite our relief at finally graduating from Dad’s Essential Study Skills once we got summer jobs or took community college classes during our high school years, we have to admit that we learned quite a few useful skills each summer. The study skills were especially helpful, and to this day, we don’t understand why these skills are not taught and re-taught to mastery during the regular school year by “regular” teachers.

Maybe these study skills are not introduced because teachers assume that most are simply common sense and do not require  instruction. Or, maybe each teacher thinks that “some other teacher” should or has already taught them. From our personal experiences, study skills need to be taught, not just caught.

Parents can use the time off over holidays and during summer vacations to teach the study skills that teachers “did not have the time” to teach during the school year. Here’s how to develop your own Essential Study Skills plan for each of your children.

-Find out what your child’s relative weaknesses are by giving brief diagnostic tests. Check out these free diagnostic tests in phonics, spelling, grammar, and mechanics, just to name a few. Design short lessons to address those weaknesses.

-Have your child read for 30 minutes a day in a book at his or her challenge level. Not sure how to help your child pick a book that will best develop the vocabulary and comprehension skills that your child needs to achieve optimal growth? Check out these helpful articles: How We Learn Vocabulary from Reading Part II and Interactive Reading: Making a Movie in Your Head.

-Have your child study Greek and Latin vocabulary game cards. Which word parts should they memorize? Check out this article.

-Have your child develop his or her writing style and build writing fluency by spending 30 minutes a day writing journals, thank-you notes, blogs, emails, stories, or essays, while using the techniques taught in this article: How to Improve Your Writing Style with Grammatical Sentence Openers.

-Buy this fantastic self-guided resource: Essential Study SkillsThe forty lessons in Essential Study Skills (eBook) will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Often, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because they don’t try hard enough, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. 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. 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.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Learn How to Study

Memory research tells us that we remember up to 70% of new information if that information is practiced withing 24 hours. If we don’t reinforce what has been learned soon after learning, we rapidly forget what has been taught. We need to end the “forgetting cycle for your child (or your students).” Here’s how to help your child learn how to study.

Review Daily Class Work and Workplace Tasks

Every day after school or work, teach your child (or students) to complete a ten-minute review of any notes, worksheets, reports, memos,and assignments that you worked on in that day. This review interrupts the “forgetting cycle” and will help you prepare in advance for tests, meetings, or discussion.

Memory research tells us that people remember up to 70% of new information only if that information is practiced and placed into the long-term memory within the first 24 hours after first learning that information. The level of retention drops to only 10% after one week. So, build in to your daily routine a review time soon after school or at the end of work every day. A little bit of review, rehearsal, and study with a Daily Review will actually save you time studying or preparing for the night before the test or business presentation.

Review Daily Class Work and Workplace Tasks

Purchase a spiral-bound notebook for each school subject. Label each notebook, according to the subject. Write the date of your Daily Review at the top of page and list the key areas of focus for that subject or class on that day. Write possible test questions, discussion points, questions for further research,  and memory tricks to remember key ideas and details for the most important content learned that day on small sticky notes and arrange them on the Daily Review page. A few nights before an upcoming test or business meeting, you can transfer the sticky notes to a study sheet and use them to create a practice test or presentation. Also, don’t forget sticky notes that you used to take marginal annotations on worksheets, articles, and from your textbook, articles, memos, or reports.

A Few Tips for Writing Memorable Sticky Notes

1. People remember information best when that information is organized in a structured manner.

Tip: Organize your sticky notes into distinctly memorable patterns. Try general to specific, alphabetical, and chronological patterns. Color code categories with different color stickies. For example, if you are studying the explorers you could use blue for people, yellow for their countries, green for their areas of exploration, and pink for their accomplishments.

2.  People remember information that is connected to visual imagery.

Tip: Draw out quick graphic or picture representations of key ideas on your stickies.

3. People remember events and information that are made exciting, interesting, or even embarrassing.

Tip: Personalize what you are trying to remember to keep things more memorable on your stickies. Relate the information that you want to remember to events and people in your own life.

Check out the author’s Essential Study Skills learn more helpful study skills.

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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 three most common note-taking formats include formal outline, webbing, and Cornell notes.

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.

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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Five Objective Test Tips

Answering objective test problems isn’t simply a matter of knowing the answers. Although knowing the answers certainly does help! Establishing an approach to answering objective test problems will help the test-taker best problem-solve and access information reviewed during test study. Having such an approach to every test problem will reduce test anxiety and will also assist in effective time management while completing the exam.

Here is the best approach to answering objective test problems:

1. Read each question or test problem twice before looking at the answers. However, only re-read the question stem, not the answer choices. The question stem is bolded or separated from the answer responses in a multiple-choice or matching section. It is easy to miss a key word if you only read the question or test problem just once.

2. Be alert for certain key words in the test problem and circle these, if permitted. Key words include “absolute words” such as the following:

-not, never, always, completely

and “exception words” such as the following:

-frequently, sometimes, mostly, often, almost, may, can.

3. Try to predict the correct answer before you look at the choices offered. This will provide a mind-set for evaluating the answer choices before you begin to answer. This process also helps to unlock your prior knowledge about the subject gained from test study and life experience.

4. Read all answer choices before selecting an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively. If failing to read all of the answer choices is a compulsive problem, try reading the answer choices in reverse. Reading bottom to top does not take any more time.

5. Look for the wrong answers first, not the right ones. Using the process of elimination will help you narrow down the answer choices. Your guessing odds are much better with each wrong answer eliminated. Also, it is easier to make a decision between fewer choices than many. After all, isn’t it easier to choose among three ice-cream flavors rather than among thirty-one flavors? Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

 

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How to Take Tests

Taking tests can be very stressful experiences. The key to reducing stress and ensuring test success is to develop and follow a test-taking plan. Following a well-designed plan will relax the test-taker, manage time appropriately, and maximize the overall test score.

Let’s walk through how to make that test plan. When your teacher passes out the test, first write down your full name and any additional information required by the teacher. Do not postpone these tasks until later when time constraints may make you forget. Then, take a deep breath and slowly exhale while you practice a little positive “self-talk.” Remind yourself that you have prepared for the exam as much as was possible and that you are excited about the challenge of showing off your knowledge and test study.

Then, skim though the entire test. Read each set of directions, noting what kinds of questions are asked and where. Note how many points can be earned for each section. Divide up the amount of time that you have been allotted for the whole test among the different test sections, based upon how many points each section is worth. For example, don’t spend half of your valuable test-taking time on an essay, if the essay is worth only ten percent of the total points. Write down these allocated time amounts next to the directions for each section in the margins and use these to pace yourself on the test.

Next, write down any memory tricks or essay pre-writes developed from test study in the margins or on scratch paper, if the teacher permits. Get all of the memorized information down on paper in concise form before you begin the test. This will free up your mind to focus on each test problem without thinking about what needs to remembered later on the test.

Decide the order in which you want to complete the test. Usually, it is better to begin an essay after completing the rest of the test. Start with the test sections that will produce the most amount of points. Save the sections that produce fewer points until later.

Test study certainly is vitally important to achieve good test results. However, developing a test plan once the test is passed out is a frequently over-looked component of test success. After all, the best laid plans produce the best results.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Taking True-False Tests

When asked, students often say that they prefer true-false tests. However, the true-false format makes it very difficult to earn a high test score. Learning how to maximize scores on true-false tests will significantly increase test scores. True-false sections remain the staple of many teacher-constructed tests. Here are the tips to “ace” any true-false section on your next test.

1. Read the true-false statement twice before choosing an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively.

2. True-false tests can be very tricky. Look first at the statement as being true, then if any part of that statement is false, then the whole statement must be false.

3. True-false tests tend to have slightly more true statements than false. Therefore, if you must guess, guess “true.”

4. The longer the true-false statement, the greater is the chance that it is false because it only takes one part of the statement to be false to make the whole statement false.

Example

The moon orbits an average of 240,000 miles away from the earth, has craters and mountains, and is made of cheese.

5. Statements that show cause-effect tend to be false, unless an Exception Word is used. Words or phrases such as the following:

Examples

  • because
  • caused
  • resulted in
  • is the reason that

indicate cause-effect relationships.

Example

Only one U.S. president has been elected four times, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and this caused financial chaos.

6. Extreme statements tend to be false.

Example

Japanese automobiles are all more reliable and cost less than American automobiles.

7. If an Absolute Word such as the following:

  • all
  • only
  • every
  • completely
  • none
  • always
  • never
  • best
  • worst
  • absolutely

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be false because these words do not allow for exceptions.

8. If an Exception Word such as the following:

  • some
  • most
  • sometimes,
  • frequently
  • often, usually
  • maybe
  • many
  • generally
  • partially

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be true because these words do allow for exceptions.

9. Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.
Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Take Multiple Choice Tests

Learning how to maximize your scores on multiple choice tests will significantly increase test scores. Multiple choice sections remain the staple of teacher-constructed tests from elementary school through college. They are also the primary format on all standardized tests because the results are easy to grade, quantify, and norm. Norming involves the process of making sure that the test questions predictably achieve a certain number of correct and incorrect answer responses across the state or nation. For example, the SAT® is normed so that half of the student test-takers will get less than and half will get more than 500 out of 800 on each of the three test sections. Here are the tips to “ace” any multiple choice section on your next test.

1. Read all answer choices before selecting an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively.

2. Try to predict the correct answer before you look at the choices offered. This will provide a mind-set for evaluating the answer choices before you begin to answer. This process also helps to unlock your prior knowledge about the subject gained from test study and life experience.

3. Use the process of elimination. If possible, cross off incorrect answer choices to permit strategic guessing. The fewer the answer choices, the greater is the likelihood of a correct answer selection.

4. Look for grammatical clues to help match. The question stem must match the answer choice. For example, singular must match singular and plural must match plural; also verb tenses must match.

5. The answer should match the language of the test problem or question (positive to positive, negative to negative, grammar, singular or plural, vocabulary).

6. Two close-sounding or looking answers such as “quotient” and “quotation” or 22 and 222 tend to mean that one of the answers is correct.

7. On math tests, if answers cover a wide range, choose the one in the middle.

8. Answer choices that have “Both A and B”, “None of the Above,” or “All of the Above,” or   similar tend to be correct.

9. If you must guess, the second to last answer choice is most frequently correct. The last answer is most frequently incorrect.

10. If an Absolute Word such as the following:

  • all
  • only
  • every
  • completely
  • none
  • always
  • never
  • best
  • worst
  • absolutely

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be incorrect because these words do not allow for exceptions.

11. If an Exception Word such as the following:

  • some
  • most
  • sometimes,
  • frequently
  • often, usually
  • maybe
  • many
  • generally
  • partially

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be correct because these words do allow for exceptions.

12. Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.
Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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The Top Ten Tips to Taking Matching Tests

Learning how to maximize scores on matching tests will significantly increase test scores. Matching sections remain the staple of teacher-constructed tests from elementary school through college. Here are the tips to “ace” any matching section on your next test.

1. Read all answer choices before selecting an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively.

2. Try to predict the correct answer before you look at the choices offered. This will provide a mind-set for evaluating the answer choices before you begin to answer. This process also helps to unlock your prior knowledge about the subject gained from test study and life experience.

3. Match the easy ones first and cross off to use the process of elimination. Getting rid of answer choices will make the selection process quicker, especially if the matching section is long.

4. The beginning of the numbered matching column tends to match the beginning of the alphabetical matching column. Consider this fact when selecting answer choices. If there are two alphabetic answer choices under consideration, and one is in the same beginning section as the numeric answer choice, select that one.

5. The ending of the numbered matching column tends to match the ending of the alphabetical matching column. If there are two alphabetic answer choices under consideration, and one is in the same ending section as the numeric answer choice, select that one.

6. Look for grammatical clues to help match. For example, singular must match singular and plural must match plural; also verb tenses must match.

7. The answer should match the language of the test problem or question (positive to positive, negative to negative, grammar, singular or plural, vocabulary).

8. Two close-sounding or looking answers such as “quotient” and “quotation” or 22 and 222 tend to mean that one of the answers is correct.

9. On math tests, if answers cover a wide range, choose the one in the middle.

10. Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

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Essential Study Skills

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How to Study in Advance for Tests

Good students spread out their test study over time and don’t wait until the night before the test to cram. Learning to work “smarter, not harder” will actually save study time, not increase study time. The smarter approach is to study for tests a bit every day after school. Here’s how to effectively study in advance for tests.

Review and Respond to Notes and Assignments

Every day after school at the beginning of your study time, complete a short review of any notes, worksheets, readings, and assignments that you worked on or covered in class that day. This review interrupts the “forgetting cycle” and will help you prepare in advance for tests. Students retain up to 70% of new information if that information is impressed into the long-term memory within the next 24 hours. The level of retention drops to only 10% after one week. So, plan your study schedule to have a study review time soon after school every day.

Use small sticky notes to record possible test questions and memory tricks for the most important content learned that day. Place the sticky notes in the margins of your materials that you review to maintain the context for test study the night before an exam.

Ask the Right Questions 

Active participation in class is important test study. Students, who contribute to class discussions, avoid passive learning, and pay good attention do better on tests. Asking questions in advance about upcoming tests will focus test study.

“But, what kind of questions should I ask?” Ask what kind of test you will be taking and adjust your study to that kind of test. After all, good test study should include not only study of what will be on the test, but also on how you will be tested. Will the objective section be multiple choice? Will there be an essay? Ask not only what will be on the test, but also ask what won’t be on the test. Teachers rarely include everything on tests that has been covered in class.

Create a Practice Test

Using your sticky notes, make a practice test that covers the test content in the format that you will be tested. Take the time to brainstorm any possible essay questions and pre-write possible main points and supporting details. Create this practice test days before the test itself. Take the test and review any relative weaknesses after taking this test.

Get More Brainpower 

Gather a group of students from the same class to study. Pre-arrange the ground rules for the study session. Set a start and ending time and assign tasks, such as “You bring all the lecture notes; You bring all of the readings; You bring the sticky notes; You bring the chocolate chip cookies.” Assign group members a part of a practice test to develop and share at the study session, including essay pre-writes. More brainpower makes test study fun and increases your likelihood for test success.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

 

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Study: The Top Ten Tips

Knowing how to study is just as important as knowing what to study. The trick is to learn how to study “smarter,” not “harder.” Follow these Top Ten Tips to learn how to improve study skills.

1. Develop a study environment that works for you. Select a quiet area to dedicate to serious study. Learn to associate this place with uninterrupted study and success. Don’t float around from place to place during study time.

2. Avoid distractions in your study environment. Keep your cell phone off and remove anyone or anything that will compete for your concentration. Get help from others to support the sanctity of your study time.

3. Unlearn poor study skills. For example, studying with the television or music as background may be something that you have grown accustomed to; however, sound competes with concentration.

4. Study on an uncluttered desk or table with good lighting and a fixed, ergonomically correct, straight-back chair. The study environment should be business-like, not overly comfortable.

5. Have study materials on or next to your study area so that you don’t have to interrupt study time to locate these items. Keep sharpened pencils, pens, paper, CD-Rs, and books convenient to your study area.

6. Develop a study order before you begin a study session. Study your hardest subject first when you are fresh. Concentrate your best time on this subject. Do simple or easy study or work at the end of your study time, when less concentration is needed.

7. Plan when to take study breaks before you begin. Study breaks should be short (5 minutes), regular (every 30 minutes), and away from your study area. Do something different than your study activity. Make sure to stretch during study breaks. Make sure to get up and move around.

8. Establish simple rewards in advance to enjoy during a study break. For example, if a snack is calling your name, delay gratification until a planned study break.

9. Use metacognitive cues as you study. Establish an interactive dialog with your study materials. Ask questions; make comments and predictions of written text. Key into what is important to remember. Be an active, rather than a passive, learner.

10. Write down main ideas, key concepts, possible test questions, questions to ask as you study. Compose a quick reflective summary of your study session in a study journal. What was most important to remember from the study session and why?

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , , , ,

How to Reduce Test Anxiety

Test anxiety plagues many students from elementary school through post-graduate work.  Many students literally fear taking tests and can “freeze up” at the first challenging question. Are you one of these students? If so, how can you learn to relax and build test-taking confidence?

First of all, teach yourself that no one is perfect. Perfectionism is a key cause of test anxiety. No student knows all of the answers to every test. No matter how much you have studied, there are bound to be some test problems that will have you stuck for answers. This may not be due to a lack of study. In other words, it’s not your fault. All tests will have test problems beyond your power to control. Avoid practicing perfectionism. Feeling guilty or panic-stricken because of perfectionism is within your power to control. When the test is passed out, take the time to “self-talk.” An internal dialogue such as “I’ve prepared the best that I can for now. I will not get some answers correct. All I can do now is to try my best.”

Second, re-label your emotions. Just labeling your fears of test-taking as “test anxiety” produces a negative personal response. Try re-labeling your condition as “test excitement.” This is not just a psychological manipulation or a con. Anxiety and excitement produce quite similar physiological responses: increased heart rate, increased perspiration, etc. However, the former is certainly perceived as negative, while the latter is seen as positive. Choose the positive over the negative. Add “I am excited about the challenge of taking this test” to your pre-test self-talk ritual.

Finally, let’s get into some practical “nuts and bolts” to reduce test anxiety. Many test-takers do not have an accurate concept of time.

  • Poor time management is a key contributor to test anxiety. SAT® test-takers complain more about time and pacing issues than about the content of the exam. An enlightening experiment is to close your eyes after setting the oven timer to five minutes. Practice gauging the amount of time, without counting, until you get close to the five minutes. It does no good to keep track of how much time to allot to each section of a test, unless you have a good grasp of time. Time recognition is a skill to be learned. It improves with practice.
  • Learn how to quickly mark bubble-in answers accurately. Spend no more than two seconds filling in any answer. Perfectionists waste valuable time on this activity. Your shaded answers don’t have to be overly dark or works of perfect art. If the test allows you to write on the test booklet itself, such as on the SAT®, ACT® , MCAT®, or LSAT®, write your answer responses on the test and transfer these answers at the end of a test sub-section by groups. This technique improves accuracy and saves time.
  • While reading the answer responses, look for the wrong answers first, not the right ones. This is called using the process of elimination and it builds test-taker confidence and reduces test anxiety. It is easier to make a decision between fewer choices than many. Slash through the wrong answers to reveal possibly correct answer choices. If writing on the test is not allowed, use your fingers to point to incorrect answer responses to more visually isolate the correct answer response.
  • Skip and return only to the test problems that you are sure that further reflection may really improve your chance of helping you select the correct answer choice. Minimize the amount of skipped test problems. Do not review any marked answers. Those who report feeling test anxiety have a much greater likelihood of changing answer choices to wrong choices upon review.
  • Make sure to guess and never perceive guessing as a failure. Many students fail to take advantage of guessing on multiple choice tests because they feel that it won’t affect their grade much. Wrong! Strategic guessing really can improve your overall grade. On a 100 problem test, if you leave ten answers blank because you don’t know the correct answers, you have probably lowered your grade by one-half by failing to guess. Guessing odds are much better with each wrong answer eliminated.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Memorize Using the This Old Man 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. 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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Memorize Using 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. 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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , ,

How to Memorize Using the Linking Technique

The The Linking Technique can be a helpful tool to help you memorize many seemingly unrelated items or ideas. Association is a powerful memory aid. We all experience sensory stimuli that remind us of something else. You may link drinking a cup of coffee with relaxation, because you frequently practice this association. Hearing Christmas songs just might link you to the feel of your credit card!

The Linking Technique connects the items or ideas we want to remember to one visual theme. Recent hemispheric brain research has proved the power of associations. 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 Linking Technique connects the new information you want to remember with existing information that you already know, much 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

Select two concrete objects that have a clear relationship to form a memorable pair. Think of this pair like the left and right sides of one link in a chain. Next, link the right side of the first link to the left side of another link to create a second connection in the chain. Continue in this manner to create a memorable chain of paired objects. The links can be endless; however each connection must be well-established and very visual. Substitute concrete objects for any key words that are too abstract to remember well. For example, substituting the concrete “peace sign” for the abstract “peace” would be a much more memorable object with which to pair.

Example

If memorizing a tree, bucket, grass, policeman, horse, cow, a candy bar and a golden ring, you might link them as follows:

Picture a tall oak tree with a golden ring hanging from one of its branches. The ring drops in a red bucket at the base of the tree on the bright green grass. A cow is busy nibbling the grass next to the bucket, while swishing its tail. At the end of the tail a candy bar is attached.  A policeman on a white horse is frantically trying to grab the candy bar.

A bit of rehearsal will place these objects into your long-term memory. Memorizing using the The Linking Technique will enable you to retain the memory of many seemingly unrelated items. Useful for upcoming tests, lectures, speeches, poetry, stories, shopping lists? Terrific and very practical.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentencescatch words,  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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , ,

How to Memorize Using the Association Technique

The Association Technique can be a helpful tool to help you memorize many seemingly unrelated items or ideas. Association is a powerful memory aid. We all experience sensory stimuli that remind us of something else. The smell of fresh baked bread might remind you of your mom’s great apple pie. Hearing the end of the “Sesame Street” theme song might remind you of your wonderful pre-school teacher.

The Association Technique connects the items or ideas we want to remember to one visual theme. Recent hemispheric brain research has proved the power of associations. 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 Association Technique connects the new information you want to remember with existing information that you already know, much 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

Select a visual theme in which to place clearly objects that represents the main idea or “title” of the majority of objects, or key words, to be remembered. Place the numeric symbol that represents how many items you need to remember somewhere in your visual. Substitute any abstract objects with more concrete ones. For example, substituting the yellow “Have a Nice Day” smiling face for the abstract “happiness” would be a much more memorable object. Connect the object or key word to one part of the common visual. If the exact order is important, connect each in clockwise order.

Example

Suppose you needed to remember the following errands for Saturday afternoon:

  1. Pick up the cleaning.
  2. Mail Kenny’s birthday package.
  3. Buy a jar of mayonnaise.
  4. Buy a three-pound can of coffee.
  5. Pick up a dozen roses for Mom.
  6. Call for reservations at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant.
  7. Make a doctor’s appointment for your annual physical.

Picture a large orange “seven” standing up in the middle of a green, grassy field. Picture yourself leaning up against the “seven” with a plastic bag containing your cleaning on your right arm and a birthday package with a bright red bow hanging from your left arm. Then, picture your right foot stuck in a jar of mayonnaise and your left foot stuck in a coffee can. In your mouth is a long stem rose. Hanging out of your nostrils is a few spaghetti noodles from Luigi’s and hanging around your neck is a doctor’s stethoscope.

Now prompt yourself to remember the errands by identifying each object. Works well, doesn’t it? A little rehearsal will place these facts into your long term memory.

Memorizing using the The Association Technique will enable you to retain the memory of many seemingly unrelated items. Useful for upcoming tests, lectures, speeches, shopping lists, and weekend errands? Of course.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentencescatch words, linking, 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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , , , ,

How to Memorize Using the Grouping Technique

The grouping technique 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.

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 Liberty Bell into a category than the concept of “freedom.”

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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Memorize Using the Catch Words Technique

The Catch Words Technique can be an effective tool to help you memorize many seemingly unrelated items. The Catch Words 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 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.

Catch Sentence Examples

Do you remember these catch words from school?

  • HOMES-for the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior
  • ROY G. BIV-for the colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet
  • 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).

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 GI-Joe, dressed in a referee uniform, directing traffic on Main Street, 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.

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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Memorize Using the Catch Sentences Technique

The Catch Sentences Technique can be an effective tool to help you memorize many seemingly unrelated items. This memory trick is especially helpful for memorizing items or facts in an 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.

Catch Sentence Examples

Do you remember these catch sentences from school?

Every Good Boy Does Fine-for the notes of the scale: E G B D F

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally-for the order of operations in math: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction

King Henry Died by Drinking Chocolate Milk-for the units of measurement prefixes: kilo, hecto, deca, base, deci, centi, milli

Directions

For each key word that you want to remember, use the first letter of each word as the first letter of a new word that will fit into a memorable new sentence or phrase. You can add in other words to your sentence if they won’t confuse you. Substitute concrete objects for any key words that are too abstract to remember well.

Let’s use the Catch Sentences Technique to memorize the first ten presidents of the United States in exact order.

  1. Washington
  2. Adams
  3. Jefferson
  4. Madison
  5. Monroe
  6. Adams
  7. Jackson
  8. Van Buren
  9. Harrison
  10. Tyler

For each president, use the first letter of each name as the first letter of a new word that will fit into a memorable sentence or phrase. The more personal or unusual the sentence—the better. How about this one? “Why are jerks making money always just very happy tycoons?”

Notice that “jerks” takes care of the confusion between Jefferson and Jackson by using “je” at the start of the word and “making money” does the same for Madison and Monroe.

Now prompt yourself to remember each name by referring only to the above catch sentence. Works well, doesn’t it? Remember that adding in a conjunction, such as “and,” or an article, such as “the,” won’t throw you off and may make the sentence easier to formulate.

Memorizing using the Catch Sentences 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, names, speeches, lectures, shopping lists? Absolutely.

Check out these other brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch words, linking, 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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How Margin Notes are Better than the Yellow Highlighter

We all remember the joys of highlighting articles and college textbooks with our favorite yellow marker. Aw, the smell! It is true that note-taking on the text is superior to note-taking on paper or on a computer. However, is yellow highlighting the best form of note-taking to improve reading comprehension and retention? In a word: no.

Highlighting text may even be counterproductive. Let’s face it. Highlighting takes time away from reading. It also interrupts the flow of what should be an internal dialogue between reader and author. If you stopped an important conversation every minute or so with an unconnected activity, you would certainly decrease your understanding of that dialogue. No doubt, you would also irritate your conversational partner!

Also, highlighting can’t be erased. Ever highlight what you thought was a main idea and find in a paragraph later that you were mistaken? Some even use white-out to un-do their highlighting errors!

Finally, highlighting limits effective re-reading and study review. When reviewing a highlighted text the night before an exam, your eyes are drawn only to the highlighting. You miss out on the possibility of revising your understanding of the text or seeing the author’s train of thought from another angle.

Now that I’ve de-bunked the cherished highlighter, is there a better reading and note-taking option to improve reading comprehension? Yes. Try using marginal annotations.

Marginal annotations are simple pencil notes in the blank spaces of the text that promote interactive reading. Reading comprehension research is clear that internal dialogue with the text improves understanding and retention. “Talking to the text” makes reading comprehensible and memorable. Try using the following marginal annotation tips with your next article or text. Who knows, you might just save a few dollars on yellow highlighters!

  1. Write out definitions
  2. List examples
  3. Write a question mark for confusing passages or sections to review.
  4. Write comments. Personalize your reading with criticisms, praises, and insights.
  5. Write out questions. Reader-generated questions significantly increase reading comprehension.
  6. Summarize reading sections.
  7. Write down predictions as to where the author will go next or what conclusions will be drawn.
  8. Draw arrows in the margin to connect related ideas.
  9. Number key details that the author provides.
  10. Write a check mark in the margin when a key new term is introduced.

Check out these brief articles on helpful memorization techniques: catch sentencescatch words, linking, 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 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 forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Six Steps to Active Listening

With the Common Core State Standards, teachers are investing more instructional time in teaching students how to listen well. Although we have all heard about active listening, much of our listening is passive. We frequently turn on the television not to watch, but to provide noise just to keep us company. While in the car, we turn on the radio to reduce the noise of traffic. If we are honest, we are also sometimes passive in our conversations. In response to “How did your day go?” we usually de-brief simply to vent or disengage from the activities of the day. We rarely expect our conversation partner to analyze and respond to everything that we say—in fact, we usually don’t want an interactive conversation. The problem is not the fact that we are sometimes passive in our listening. The real problem is that we have become so habituated to listening without real engagement that when we need to listen carefully, we are out of practice. So how can we turn the switch back on and replace passive listening with active listening when we really need to listen?

First of all, recognize that active listening is interactive and takes effort and practice. 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, summarized as ED IS PC. Who knows? Maybe you even know someone named Ed, who really is politically correct.

E

Eye contact with your conversation partner is essential. One of our famous poets once said, “The eyes are the windows to our souls.” When we “lock in” to the speaker’s eyes, we better focus on what is being said. We all remember a parent demanding, “Look at me, when I’m talking to you” or a teacher saying “Eyes on me!” to the class. Experience teaches the fact that eye contact improves attention to what is being said.

D

Distractions must be avoided at all costs. Anything or anyone that takes you away from active listening must be identified and eliminated to the extent that you can control. In a classroom or in a workplace, sitting next to your best friend or someone who is not actively engaged with the speaker will distract you from listening fully. Time to move! Avoid having toys within arm’s reach that will challenge your ability to pay close attention. Think of toys such as cell phones, pens, reading materials—any external stimuli that distract you from the 100% listening task.

I

Interact with the speaker. Get into the speaker’s mind and think like the speaker. A good speaker will have an organizational plan to any presentation. A lecture, interview, and meeting all have their own patterns of organization. Identify this pattern as soon as you can, and anticipate where the speaker is going next. Common organizational patterns include the following: cause and effect, reasons for, compare and contrast, chronological, issue and action step, main ideas or points and their key details/examples, problems and solutions, questions and answers, argument/opinion and justification.

Practice these interactive actions to increase your active listening:

-Ask questions to clarify speaker points.

-Maintain an internal dialogue with the speaker about each of the main points.

-If appropriate, make comments or answer questions.

-Connect to prior learning. How does what is being said now relate to what has recently been said?

-Focus on the main ideas and don’t get lost in the details. Recognize when your speaker gets off on a tangent or “bird walks.”

-Write down summary notes at the end of key speaker points—not in the middle of the point. Jot down questions or points to clarify for later.

-Hear the speaker out from beginning to end. Predict where the organizational pattern will take your speaker next and check your predictions as you listen.

S

Signal words that identify main ideas must be identified. Pay attention to the key words that signal the introduction of a new idea. Each pattern of organization has its own signal words to transition between ideas. For example, the chronology pattern makes use of “first,” “next,” “then,” “finally” and many more. Listening to these cues will help you concentrate better.

P

Posture matters! Sit up straight with feet flat on the floor. Adjust your seat or desk so that you are looking directly at the speaker, not from an angle. Keep both hands on the table or desk to maintain this posture. A bit uncomfortable? Good. Perfect relaxation induces passive listening. A little stress promotes active listening. Try to sit as close as possible to the speaker—front and center gets the most speaker attention and your best position for interaction.

C

Concentrate on what is being said and don’t daydream. Listening is a full time job. Develop the mind-set that you must fully understand everything that is being said, how it is being said, and why it is being said. Practice the mind-set that you will have to remember each of the main ideas and be able to use or apply each of these soon. A good trick is to pretend that you will have to repeat the speaker’s presentation immediately following.

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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

It’s easy to get motivated to do something you enjoy. The trick is to learn how to self-motivate to accomplish the things that involve practice that you don’t enjoy. Follow these Top Ten Tips to increase motivation and to set goals that are truly achievable.

1.  Define your goal. You’ve got to clearly understand where you want to end up before you begin any journey. Set goals that are realistic and specific.

2. Don’t try to do everything at once. Limit your goals to follow a one-at-a-time model. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

3. Make your goals public. Tell those close to you what your goal is and that you want their feedback and support as you work toward your set goals. Ask them to ask about your progress.

4. Break down your goal into manageable mini-goals. Get expert help in how to organize your plan to achieve success.

5. Set personal rewards for achieving each of your mini-goals. Behavioralists are right—positive reinforcement stimulates sustained effort.

6. Start small, but start.  Starting small can produce big results. Even the longest journey begins with a single step, but you have to take that step. Start by spending just ten minutes extra each day, working toward your set goals.

7. Practice correctly. More golf swings do not improve a golf game. Expert advice and coaching makes a difference.

8. Practice consistently but don’t over-do.  Limit practice to avoid burn-out. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. So keep moving to accomplish your set goals.

9. Avoid procrastination. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Make consistent effort a habitual practice. However, if you miss practice, forgive yourself and then start again.

10. Evaluate your progress toward your set goals and be flexible. What is working and what needs adjustment? Do the set goals or practice need refinement? Get expert, or at least, objective help to properly evaluate.

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Lead Effective Group Discussions

Knowing how to lead effective group discussions is a vitally important skill for both the classroom teacher and the corporate executive. Knowing some tricks of the trade will increase student/audience participation and prevent avoidable boredom from rearing its ugly head.

Transitions and Pacing

Transitions between questions are important in leading group discussions. A good group discussion leader builds upon what the audience says of importance and maintains a rhythm and flow to the discussion. A skilled discussion leader knows when to pepper the discussion with brief commentary and when to allow the audience to control the transitions. Audience members can be taught to respond to the previous answer and then move on.  They can also be taught to disagree agreeably and avoid an ad homonym argument. Paraphrasing is an important skill that can be practiced in group discussions.  Ending the discussion while there is still interest (and hands raised) can be done by announcing, “We can take three more comments.” If the discussion is bombing, end it quickly. There is no use in kicking a dead horse.

Discussion Management

Physical positioning is important when eliciting audience answers. Make sure that responses can be heard by every group member by moving to the opposite side of the room or cupping your hand to your ear or by asking “Can you hear him or her?” to distant audience members. Participants need to know that they are not just addressing the leader, but that they are also speaking to the entire group. Reinforce this by occasionally asking for another audience member to paraphrase someone else’s response.  Don’t, however, use this as a weapon to catch those “napping.”  Ask, “What do you think about that?” or “Who disagrees with that statement and why?” or “Can someone add to that?”

Frequently, good group discussions can sometimes break into parts, with smaller groups discussing the subject such as in dinner conversation.  If planned, or controlled, a “Pair-Share” can be effective; however, if prolonged, audience members will tend to wander into off-topic conversations or distracting behaviors. Usually, the movement of the leader to the location of the conversationalists will frequently extinguish the behavior without interrupting the flow of discussion. Proximity controls behavior.

In a discussion, it is sometimes helpful to alternate between sexes, between those of differing perceived abilities or job functions, or even among different ethnic groups to ensure that all are receive fair hearings. Picking labeled 3 x 5 cards or popsicle sticks (in the school setting) will ensure equitability. Audience members should be forewarned that they might be called upon even though their hands are not raised, so they should practice good listening strategies. Sometimes it is effective to begin a discussion without raising hands with the leader calling upon the audience members. Explain calling on participants without raising hands allows for the leader to fairly choose among all, and that it provides “wait time” so that those who do not think as quickly on a particular question can have enough time to develop their thoughts.

Dealing with over-zealous audience members can present a problem, especially during “wait times.” Interrupt interrupters with comments such as “Let’s give everyone a chance to reflect on this point.” In the school setting, forewarn students that you never pick those who shout “Oooh, ooh, ooh,” “Pick me, pick me!” or wave hands. Students who raise their hand too often can be assigned a limited number of “discussion star” moments per discussion to prevent their monopolization of the discussion.

Modeling Appropriate Discussion

Body language is extremely important in a discussion leader. Communicate openness and good listening skills by making eye contact, not turning your back on the speaker, and listening to the entire train of thought.  Interrupt only if the speaker is off target or goes on a tangent. Avoid folding your arms or putting your hands in your pockets. By not repeating student answers, we stress the importance of a student-centered discussion. This also forces students to listen to each other. Occasionally it will be important to translate or even paraphrase a particularly long student response, but do so sparingly. Ask others to do this, if necessary. Encourage participants to make eye contact with each other by reminding audience members to “talk to them, not just me.”

Praising and Correcting

Praising should be catered to the response, rather than to the individual. Specific praise that teaches is better than a general blessing. For example, “I like how you compared such and such to the idea in the last chapter” is better than “Super, duper, most excellent answer!”

Incorrect responses need to be dealt with honestly, clearly and quickly. Group discussion leaders who strive to maintain the self-esteem of the individual by praising or validating incorrect responses run the risk of confusing the participant and the rest of the learners and disrupting the scaffolded nature of a well-planned group discussion. It is better to say a simple “No,” than “Not quite,” “Good try,” or “Can someone add to that?”

Getting the Whole Group to Participate

It is important to develop a consistent “wait time” to allow and encourage the whole group to think through an answer after each question.  Easier questions need less wait time than harder ones.  This models careful, considered thought, rather than, as many group discussions are all too often a race of the quick wits. Allow silence to be understood as a normal course of events in a discussion.  Fill the silence only to clarify a question, if you believe that it was not understood, or to encourage more participation.  How long of a “wait time” is a matter of teacher judgment.  As a rule of thumb, if at least half of the hands are not raised in the group, then there is a problem in the question sequencing, question wording, or the perceived pay-off is not worth the effort.

Regarding pay-off, audience members need to know that their participation in class discussion is an important part of their overall grade* or evaluation. Otherwise, many audience members will avoid participation or perceive the group discussion as being of minimal importance. In the school setting, rewards such as grades, extra credit, treats, stickers, privileges are all weapons which the creative teacher can employ to motivate class participation in discussions. In the business setting, clever discussion leaders can also provide rewards. Short term, explicit rewards tend to work better than long term ones.

*In the classroom, one pay-off method that words well is to have a graded discussion in which the teacher selects a student recorder to score the points earned. This frees the teacher up to lead the discussion without worrying about properly crediting responses. After a correct student response, the teacher signals the recorder with the forefinger and the recorder places a tally mark next to the name of the student.  If the response is particularly insightful or directly responds to the response of another student, the teacher may signal two fingers, for two tally marks. The latter must, of course, be accompanied by a resonating class “oooh!”  A good feature of this technique is that it tracks student responses.  During class discussion, the teacher can survey the hash marks to determine who is failing to contribute or contributing excessively.  It is also a very objective means of grading such a subjective student performance area.  Students tend to perceive this graded discussion as being quite fair.

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Avoid Procrastination

To avoid procrastination, learn how to develop a Procrastination Prevention Plan. Remember what your father used to say? Procrastination means to put off until tomorrow what you could be doing today. He was right. But did he give you the tools to develop a plan that will help replace bad habits with good ones? Here is a workable plan with the tools to help you learn how to avoid procrastination.

But first, take a moment to figure out why you are procrastinating. People usually procrastinate for one of these reasons:

  1. “I don’t want to do it.” The goal may be difficult and take significant effort or time. Or you might be just plain rebellious or lazy.
  2. “It’s not worth it.” The pay-off for achieving the goal may not be considered worth the effort.
  3. “It just doesn’t feel right.” You might think that it isn’t the right time or set of circumstances to begin. You might be waiting for the magic fairy to make you want to get started.
  4. “I might fail or succeed.” You might be reminded of a past failure or even a past success at which there is a high level you are expected to achieve.
  5. “It’s someone else’s responsibility or fault.” Playing the blame game can certainly prevent you from taking personal responsibility and action.

Step outside of yourself and honestly respond to your own reasons as to why you are procrastinating. Now, practice some tough self-talk. Tell yourself that “Excuses are unacceptable and must be ignored to achieve results.”

The Procrastination Prevention Plan

  1. To avoid procrastination, first set a well-defined goal that is realistic. Begin practice by starting small. Limit your goal to one task that is achievable. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to implement any plan and achieve success. For example, if you were earning a “D” grade after nine weeks in a math class, if would probably not be realistic to expect that grade to rise to an “A” within the next two weeks, no matter the extent of your efforts. A much more realistic goal would be to raise that grade to a “C” within that time period. It takes a while to dig yourself out of a ditch that you’ve taken nine weeks to dig.
  2. Next, make your goal specific and measurable. Write down your goal. General goals rarely effect change. Instead of “My goal is to do better in math,” try “My goal is to get a “B” or better on my math test in two weeks.”
  3. Share your goal with people that will pester you about your progress toward achieving that goal. Ask for their support. For example, tell your math teacher, your best friend, and your parents about the “B” you plan to achieve.
  4. The next step is to find the expert help to develop a strategy for achieving your realistic and specific goal. The expert help might be your math teacher in the above example, or a tutor, or a parent, or a friend. Show your written goal to the expert and ask for specific help about what to do first, next, and thereafter. Arrange a time to check-in with the expert soon after you start your plan to evaluate your progress and to ensure that your plan makes sense.
  5. After getting expert advice as to how to achieve your goal, set rewards before you begin to practice. Everyone works better toward a goal when rewards have been clearly defined. For example, set aside money to purchase a new video game once you have earned that “B.” Also establish mini-rewards to motivate practice in achieving that goal. For example, set aside a favorite snack to munch on after you have completed the daily practice toward your goal.
  6. Get started. The longest journey begins with a single step, but you have to take that step. An object at rest, tends to stay at rest. However, an object in motion, tends to stay in motion. You will start today.
  7.  Be flexible and willing to adjust your goal or how you are practicing to achieve that goal. Talk to your expert again, if you do not see the progress that you had planned. Sometimes a small tweak in a plan can make all the difference. Thomas Edison failed a thousand times before he was successful the one time that he invented the incandescent light bulb.
  8. Evaluate once your goal has been reached or not. Celebrate and take your reward, if you achieved your goal. If you did not achieve your goal, go back to your expert and brainstorm what went wrong. Set a new goal and begin immediately.

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 because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty 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. em>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. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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