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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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Top Ten Memory Tips

Memorization is a powerful learning aid. Despite our focus on higher order thinking skills, much of important learning is simply rote memorization. Foundational skills and content are important to build upon, but lack of long-term memory can provide a shaky foundation. As in much in life, practice makes perfect; however, effective and efficient practice certainly makes even more sense.

Not everyone has a photographic memory. However, everyone can improve his or her memory by using these tips gained from years of memory research.

1. People start forgetting immediately after learning. Tip: Practice what you’ve learned within the first 24 hours, before the forgetting cycle begins to take hold.

2. People remember events or information learned recently better than events or information learned long ago. Tip: Study what you need to remember right before you need to retrieve the memory.

3. People remember information best when that information is organized in a structured manner. Tip: Organize what you want to memorize into distinctly memorable patterns.

4. Different memory techniques are more useful for different items of information. Tip: Be flexible in practicing memorization techniques—not every technique works with every subject to be memorized.

5. People remember information spoken out loud, written down, or connected to visual imagery. Tip: Practice these!

6. 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.

7. The better the information is originally learned, the greater degree will the information be retained. Tip: Make every attempt to learn things right the first time.

8. Key words prompt recall of larger amounts of information. Substituting concrete nouns that are similar to key words are effective in prompting memory. Tip: A good key word unlocks memories. Use concrete words or substitute visual objects for abstract ones.

9. Frequent recitation improves retention. Tip: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Practice. Practice. Practice. Then repeat.

10. Short study periods and small amounts of information divided by periods of rest produces better retention than cramming. Tip: Practice memorization a bit each day.

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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