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Posts Tagged ‘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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Free Resources to Teach Critical Thinking

As accumulated content knowledge is roughly doubling every five years now, we may need to take a hard look at the content that we impart in our classrooms. It’s not that our content is outdated or superfluous; it’s just that we may need to shift our instructional focus a bit. In other words, we should start being more concerned with teaching process skills that will enable our students to be better equipped to deal with the exponential increase in our knowledge base. This new process-centered design is commonly referred to as critical thinking.

This may run counter to the  standards-based movement, prevalent in most public schools. Standards-based education is primarily product-driven. We have end goals that we teach toward and we evaluate students by the degree to which they have attained mastery over these standards. Process-centered standards are few and far between, especially in English-language arts, history, and science.

Following are articles, free resources (including reading assessments), and teaching tips regarding how to integrate process-centered critical thinking skills into daily instruction from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Critical Thinking

How to Teach Critical Thinking

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-teach-critical-thinking/

If we are to equip Twenty-First-Century students with the tools they need to add to our “knowledge pool,” we need to re-evaluate how we spend our time in the classroom. Critical thinking openers can help a teacher teach a schema for thinking that students can learn, practice, and apply with the coaching assistance of their teachers.

How to Teach Logic

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-teach-logic/

A basic understanding of logic is necessary to be able to read critically and write with coherence. Good critical thinking follow rules of logic to observe, interpret, apply, and revise ideas or problems. These rules of logic are not new. In fact, five key forms of logic were developed by the Ancient Greeks.

The Top 15 Errors in Reasoning

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Good writers analyze the quality of written and spoken evidence as they read or listen to authoritative sources. Thinking, reading, and listening critically will allow you to debunk faulty reasoning and improve your ability to argue effectively. This list of fifteen errors in reasoning will teach you the pitfalls to avoid in your writing and help you spot fallacious reasoning.

Teaching Fact and Opinion: When, What, and How

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/teaching-fact-and-opinion-when-what-and-how/

Helping students understand and apply the differences between fact and opinion is crucial to analytical reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Distinguishing between fact from opinion is key to interpreting information intelligently. It is one of the few “macro” skills that is, indeed, interdisciplinary. It is also a skill that is refined from elementary school up through post doctoral study. Furthermore, it is a skill of life-long learning and daily use. This article shares practical strategies about when to teach, what to teach, and how to teach fact and opinion.

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

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Looking for a quick, no prep way to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills to your 7th-12th grade students? You’ve found what you’re looking for with Critical Thinking Openers. This digital book provides 64 “openers” formatted for your class projector to teach metacognitive (thinking about thinking) strategies and problem-solving skills. Simply display the page and have students respond on binder paper or in their writers notebooks—plenty of opportunities for creative response and interactive discussion. Students observe, interpret, apply, and revise ideas from the greatest thinkers and writers of all time—from Plato to Einstein to Rowling. After all, great thoughts induce great thinking. This ten-minute activity requires absolutely no teacher prep. Get the attendance done and get into the conversation. These “openers” set the thoughtful and creative tone for the rest of your class. Also provided are instructional resources on the five forms of logic and errors in reasoning. Help your students think “out of the box” and improve analytical reading and writing skills with your purchase of this resource. Perfect for Depth of Knowledge, Advocacy, Leadership Classes, Advisory, and AVID. 76 pages

The writer of this article, Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, Teaching Essay Strategies, and Teaching Reading Strategies, PLUS more ELA/Reading resources for the overworked teacher committed to differentiating instruction according to diagnostic and formative data. Perfect for EL/ESL and RtI instruction. For free diagnostic assessments, game cards, and instructional materials, as well as his highly-recommended curricula, check out www.penningtonpublishing.com. Bookmark and refer back often to the Pennington Publishing Blog for insightful articles, free resources, and educational tips. 

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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

Free Resources for Teaching Study Skills

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

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

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

Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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

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

How to Avoid Procrastination

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

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

Daily School and Work Review

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

Memory research tells us that we remember up to 70% of new information if that information is practiced within 24 hours. Learn how to practice key information from school and the workplace to interrupt the “forgetting cycle.”

How to Take Notes

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

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

How Margin Notes are Better than the Yellow Highlighter

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

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

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

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

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

How to Study: The Top Ten Tips

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

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

Six Steps to Active Listening

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/six-steps-to-active-listening/

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

Top Ten Memory Tips

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

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

How to Memorize Using the Grouping Technique

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

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

How to Memorize Using the Catch Words Technique

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

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

How to Memorize Using the Catch Sentences Technique

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

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

How to Memorize Using the Association Technique

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

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

How to Memorize Using the Linking Technique

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

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

How to Memorize Using the Location Memory Technique

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

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

How to Memorize Using the This Old Man Technique

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

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

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

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Find the best school-wide and individual study skills curricula in the affordable Essential Study Skills the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program, AVID, and student leadership classes. 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. 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. 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. 128 pages

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Free Resources on Developmental Characteristics of Learners

As an English-language arts teacher and MA reading specialist, I am firmly committed to standards-based instruction, to a point. It makes sense to have specific end goals within an established scope and sequence of instruction to which we all adhere. We are public school teachers. The public has, and should have, input into what we teach to a degree. We are not lone-rangers, nor are we completely autonomous practitioners of our private teaching craft.

However, I am also committed to teaching students as individuals. Knowing individual academic strengths via diagnostic assessments makes sense. Differentiating instruction accordingly also makes sense. Some scaffolds have to be built for some students to master rigorous academic standards.

Beyond teaching to the standards and teaching to students as individuals, we also need to teach to the culture and developmental characteristics of our learners. If we ignore this last component, standards and individual-based learning simply will not take place.

Following are articles, free resources, and teaching tips regarding the developmental characteristics of preteen through adult learners from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Developmental Characteristics

Characteristics of Pre-Teen Learners

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/characteristics-of-pre-teen-learners/

Knowing the developmental characteristics of pre-teen students allows teaching professionals to maximize learning. These learner characteristics enable teachers to better motivate their students and inform instructional decision-making. Knowing who you teach will help you know what to teach.

Characteristics of Middle School Learners

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/characteristics-of-middle-school-learners/

Knowing the developmental characteristics of middle school students allows teaching professionals to maximize learning. These learner characteristics enable teachers to better motivate their students and inform instructional decision-making. Knowing who you teach will help you know what to teach.

Characteristics of High School Learners

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/characteristics-of-high-school-learners/

Knowing the developmental characteristics of high school students allows teaching professionals to maximize learning. These learner characteristics enable teachers to better motivate their students and inform instructional decision-making. Knowing who you teach will help you know what to teach.

Characteristics of Adult Learners

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/characteristics-of-adult-learners/

Adult learners are qualitatively different than younger learners. You certainly can “teach an old dog new tricks” by understanding the cognitive and social characteristics of adult learners. Using the right instructional strategies to maximize the learning advantages and address the learning challenges of adult learners can make all the difference in their success…

Help! My Child Won’t Read or Write

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/help-my-child-won’t-read-or-write/

Most children will not read or write with accountability. Providing that accountability will not ruin a child’s love of reading or writing in the long run.

How to Teach Reading to Children, Youth, and Adults

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-teach-reading-to-children-youth-and-adults/

Should you teach reading to children, youth, and adults in the same way? The answers may surprise you in this strategy-filled article.

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

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The writer of this article, Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, and Teaching Essay Strategies, Teaching Reading Strategies, PLUS more ELA/Reading resources for the overworked teacher committed to differentiating instruction according to diagnostic and formative data. Perfect for EL/ESL and RtI instruction. For free diagnostic assessments, game cards, and instructional materials, as well as his highly-recommended curricula, check out www.penningtonpublishing.com. Bookmark and refer back often to the Pennington Publishing Blog for insightful articles, free resources, and educational tips. 

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. 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. 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

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

Free Resources for Test Preparation

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

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

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

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

Test Preparation

How to Study in Advance for Tests

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

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

How to Take Tests

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

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

How to Reduce Test Anxiety

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

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

How to Take Multiple Choice Tests

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

The Top Nine Tips to Taking True-False Tests

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

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

The Top Ten Tips to Taking Matching Tests

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

The Sweet Sixteen Strategies for SAT® Success

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

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

How to Answer the SAT® Sentence Completion Test Problems

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

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

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

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

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

How to Get a 12 on the SAT® Essay

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

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

How to Learn SAT® Vocabulary

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

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

The Phenomenal Five Objective Test Tips

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

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

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Find the best school-wide and individual standardized test preparation to accompany state test release questions in the affordable Essential Study Skills–the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program, and student leadership classes. 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. 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. 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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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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The Sweet Sixteen Strategies for SAT® Success

These sixteen general strategies will make a significant difference on both the SAT® and ACT® test. Practice these on school tests and with SAT® and ACT® practice questions to score more points on the exams.

1. Be familiar with directions for each type of SAT® and ACT® question. Don’t waste precious time reading the directions.

2. Don’t waste too much time on any one test problem. The test problems are all roughly worth the same amount of points. Calculate how much time you will have at the beginning of each section of test problems. Then write down the projected ending time in the test margins. Use a digital watch to gauge your testing pace.

3. Don’t rush through the test problems. These reading sections are not light reading. Be careful not to read into the test problem more than what is really there. Accuracy is more important than speed.

4. Read each question stem (not the answer choices) twice before looking at the answers. It is easy to miss a key word if you only read the test problem stem only once.

5. Read all answer choices before selecting one. The first answer may look right, but another may be better. The questions can be intentionally very tricky in this regard.

6. Review only those answers of which you were unsure when first working through the questions. Don’t change already marked answers. More often than not, your first selection was best.

7. Look for the wrong answers first, not the right one. Use the process of elimination. It is easier to make a decision among fewer choices than many. Your guessing odds are substantially bettered with each wrong answer eliminated. Cross out all eliminated answers as you go.

8. Make sure to guess. Even if you have no idea how to answer a test problem, and even though you are penalized a slight amount (one-fourth-point deduction for a five-choice question and one-third point deduction for a four-choice question), it is best to not leave the answer blank. Of course, don’t guess on math grid-in questions.

9. Remember that each group of test problems generally begins with the easiest and ends with the most difficult. Be careful… the easiest may take more time than the harder ones, especially in the math sections. Since each test problem is worth the same amount of points, it makes sense to invest your time and effort on the questions that will be both easier and quicker to answer.

10. The test is designed so that most everyone gets THE EASY THIRD, some get THE MEDIUM THIRD, and few get THE HARD THIRD questions correct. Take advantage of this design with strategic guessing. If you must guess, select a simple answer for THE EASY THIRD and a difficult answer for THE HARD THIRD. The wrong answer choices are more obvious and less tricky with THE EASY THIRD and less obvious and trickier with THE HARD THIRD.

11. If the answer choice looks too good to be true, it just may be. Watch out for the tricks of the SAT, especially in THE MEDIUM THIRD and THE HARD THIRD sections.

12. Write in your test booklet. Write your answer choices next to the test problem numbers. Cross out eliminated answer choices and circle the numbers of the test problems that you want to review before answering. Circle important words in the reading and writing sections. In the math sections, make drawings to help you figure out word problems. Add information to graphs, drawings, and diagrams as you figure.

13. In the reading and writing test problems, match negative to negative or positive to positive regarding tone or vocabulary.

14. Transfer all of your answers when finished with each test sub-section. In other words, don’t go back and forth from the test booklet to the answer sheet, marking one at a time. This strategy will save you time and help you avoid mis-marking answer choices.

15. Absolute words, such as always or never, are usually part of incorrect answer choices. Exception words, such as frequently or mostly, are usually part of correct answer choices.

16. Think positively, stay focused on the test problem at hand, avoid distractions, and keep things in perspective. Remember that you can take the exams again.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written 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.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , , ,

Five Tips To Increase Silent Reading Speed and Improve Reading Comprehension

Many people do not read well because of poor silent reading habits. Correcting these poor reading practices and replacing them with good reading practices will improve both reading speed and reading comprehension. You can become a better reader by practicing these tips.

1. Improve reading posture and attitude. Reading is not a passive activity. Your body position has much to do with your level of engagement with the text. Reading in bed is wonderful for putting you to sleep, but the prone position is not conducive to engaging your mind with a textbook or article. Sit up straight in a straight-backed chair at a desk or table with good lighting and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place two hands on the reading. Not perfectly comfortable? Good! Reading is not supposed to be relaxing; it is supposed to be stimulating. Establish a purpose for your reading, and be realistic and honest with yourself. Not everything should be read with the same reading mindset. Are you reading the article just to tell yourself or others that you did so? Are you reading it to pass a test, to be able to talk at a surface level about the subject, or for in-depth understanding?

2. Improve concentration. First of all, turn of the iPod® and find a quiet room. Anything competing with full concentration reduces reading speed and reading comprehension. Consciously divest yourself from the thousand other things that you need to or would rather be doing. Good reading does not involve multi-tasking. Stop taking mental vacations during your reading. For example, never allow yourself a pause at the end of a page or chapter—read on! Minimize daydreaming by keeping personal connections to the text centered on the content. Cue yourself you quickly return to the text when your mind first begins wandering. Begin with short, uninterrupted reading sessions with 100% concentration and gradually increase the length of your sessions until you can read for, say 30 minutes. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your reading attention span will take time to improve. Take a short, pre-planned break away from your reading area after a reading session. Don’t read something else during your break.

3. Improve reading rhythm. The reading pace should be hurried, but consistent. This does not preclude the need to vary your reading speed, according to the demands of the text, or the need to re-read certain sections. But, do not read in a herky-jerky fashion. Use your dominant hand to pace your reading. Keep three fingers together and pace your reading underneath each line. Move your hand at a consistent, but hurried rate. Intentionally, but only briefly, slow down when reading comprehension decreases. Using the hand prevents re-reading or skipping lines and also improves comprehension. Shortening the stroke of the hand across the page, after practice, will also help expand peripheral vision and improve eye movement.

4. Improve eye movement. Reading research tells us that good readers have fewer eye fixations per line. When the eyes move from fixation to fixation, there is little reading comprehension. So, focus on the center of the page and use your peripheral vision to view words to the left and right when you are reading columnar text, such as newspapers, articles, etc. Focus one-third of the way into the text line, then two-thirds of the way, for book text. Again, you may need to work up to these guidelines by adding on an additional fixation point, until you can read comfortably.

5. Improve interactivity. Good silent reading comprehension is always a two-way conversation between author and reader. The text was written by a person—so personalize your reading by treating the reading as a dialogue. This mental conversation improves concentration and comprehension. Prompt yourself to converse by challenging the author with How? and Why? questions. Ask What Do You Mean? Make predictions as to where the plot (if narrative), or argument (if persuasive), or sequence (if expository) will lead. Make connections to other parts of the text or outside of the text.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

Reading, Study Skills , , , , , , , , ,

How to Improve Reading Comprehension Using the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies

Readers fail to understand text because they lack cueing strategies to prompt effective interaction with what the text says. Reading research is clear that readers who internally monitor their own reading with self-questioning strategies understand and retain textual information far better than readers who simply passively read text. These cueing strategies to increase reading comprehension are more efficiently “taught,” rather than just “caught.”

The five SCRIP reading comprehension strategies teach readers how to independently interact with and understand both narrative and expository text to improve reading comprehension. The SCRIP acronym stands for Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict. Here are the SCRIP Bookmarks for you to download.

Take the time to explicitly teach and model the five strategies. Emphasize one strategy at a time on a given text. Use both narrative and expository texts to demonstrate how the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies can be applied to any reading. Have students practice verbalizing and writing down the SCRIP strategy responses. Post a SCRIP chart and use the SCRIP bookmarks for student reference.

Summarize means to put together the main ideas and important details of a reading into a short-version of what the author has said. A summary can be of an entire reading, but it is more useful to summarize more than once at key transition points in the author’s train of thought. It frequently requires the reader to skim that part of the reading once more. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Summarize Comprehension Strategy, using The Boy Who Cried Wolf fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should summarize sections of the reading as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Connect means to notice the relationship between one part of the text with another part of the text. The parts may compare (be similar) or contrast (be different). The parts may be a sequence (an order) of events or ideas. The parts may respond to other parts of the text, such as to provide reasons for or effects of what came before in the reading. Next, Connect also means to examine the relationship between one part of the text with something outside of the text. It could be something from another book, movie, television show, or historical event. Finally, Connect also means to see the relationship between one part of the text with your own personal experience. You may have had a similar experience in your own life to that described in the text. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Connect Comprehension Strategy, using Hansel and Gretel fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should connect sections of the reading within or outside of the text as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Re-think means to re-read the text when you are confused or have lost the author’s train of thought. Reviewing what has just been read will improve understanding. You may even understand what the author has said in a different way than how you understood that section the first time reading it. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Re-think Comprehension Strategy, using Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should re-think sections of the reading as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Interpret means to focus on what the author means. Authors may directly say what they mean right in the lines of the text. They also may suggest what they mean with hints to allow readers to draw their own conclusions. These hints can be found in the tone (feeling/attitude) of the writing, the word choice, or in other parts of the writing that may be more directly stated. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Interpret Comprehension Strategy, using Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should re-think sections of the reading as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Predict means to make an educated guess about what will happen or be said next in the text. A good prediction uses the clues presented in the reading to make a logical guess that makes sense. Good readers check their predictions with what actually happens or is said next. Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Predict Comprehension Strategy, using The Three Little Pigs fairy tale to illustrate this strategy. The storyteller first reads the fairy tale without comment. Next,  the story is read once again as a think-aloud with interruptions to show how readers should predict sections of the reading and check the accuracy of their predictions as they read to monitor and build comprehension.

Using the SCRIP reading comprehension strategies will make a difference in the reading abilities of your students. Here’s a great set of SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks to print for your students to help them self-cue as they read and discuss text.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games. Also check out the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Reading Strategies

Teaching Reading Strategies

Reading, Study Skills , , , , , , ,

How to Read Textbooks with PQ RAR

Many of us remember the old stand-by: the SQ3R reading-study method. Designed to improve reading comprehension of textbooks, the SQ3R method did help the reader to read expository text differently than narrative text. However, this method sorely needs an update to connect with recent reading research regarding what techniques best improve comprehension and retention of expository-based textbooks.

Try the PQ RAR reading-study method as you read or teach your next textbook chapter.

P-First of all, preview the reading selection. Try to limit the reading selection to a manageable size. Overly long chapters, say over six pages for elementary students, eight for middle school students, twelve for high school students, and sixteen for college students should be “chunked” into manageable reading sections.

1. Preview the first and last paragraphs of the chapter and the chapter review, if one is provided.

2. Preview all subtitles and any book study helps at the beginning of the chapter.

3. Preview all graphics such as photographs, charts, maps, etc. and their captions.

QSecondly, make use of text-based questions to read textbooks effectively.  Good questions produce good answers and significantly increase expository comprehension. Determining questions before reading provides a purpose for reading, that is-to find the answers as you read.

1. Develop questions from the subtitles and write these down on binder paper or on your computer, skipping lines between each question. Try “What,” “How,” and “Why” question-starters. Avoid the “Who” and “When” questions, as these tend to focus attention on the minor details of expository text.

2. Write down any chapter review questions not covered by your subtitle questions, skipping lines between each question.

RRead the chapter and “talk to the text” by taking notes in the textbook margins. Use yellow stickies and paste them in the textbook margins, if you can’t write in the textbook. Write down comments, questions, predictions, and connections to other parts of the reading and your own life experiences. List examples, key details, and important terms with their definitions. Internal monitoring of the author’s train of thought and the connection to your own knowledge and experience increases comprehension as you read textbooks.

AAnswer both the subtitle questions and the book questions as you read. Write down your answers underneath your questions. Don’t be concerned if the textbook did not answer some of your reader-generated questions.

RReview the questions and answers within the next 24 hours to minimize the effects of the “forgetting cycle.” Generate possible test questions and develop memory tricks for key concepts and details.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

 

Reading, Study Skills , , , , , ,

How to Scan for Main Ideas

Scanning is an important speed reading technique that all good readers should have in their reading repertoire and works with all modes of writing. Scanning is used to locate specific information for a clearly defined purpose. For example, if a reader needs to know the performance of a particular baseball player in the World Series, it is not necessary to read an entire book on that World Series to find out everything that the one player did in that series. The reader could simply look for the player’s name and read the surrounding sentences or paragraphs that pertain to that player.

Although this sounds like “common sense,” it is actually a learned reading skill. Effective teaching can significantly improve scanning accuracy. Print awareness, knowledge of expository structure, and directed eye movement are the keys to this instruction.

First, readers need to select the key word(s) and possible synonyms to search before they begin to scan. Next, readers must carefully examine what these search items look like. Are they long or short words? Is there a capital? Are there quotation marks or hyphens? Are there noticeable prefixes or suffixes? Readers should then impress the key word(s) into their memories by tracing the letters with their fingers or writing them down. After this, readers should close their eyes and visualize the word(s).

Second, readers should examine the mode of writing and adjust their key word(s) search according to the particular organization of that writing mode. Is it narrative? If so, the organization of the reading passage will normally be chronological and will follow story schema. Chapter titles can also be useful. Is it expository? If so, the organization of the reading passage might be by concept, comparison, cause-effect, or order of importance. The graphics of the text such as subtitles, charts and pictures can narrow the search. Book study helps, including the index, study questions, and the summary, can help pinpoint where information is developed.

Third, readers should run their index finger down the center of each page, using their peripheral vision to search for key word(s) on the left and right sides of each page. How comprehensive the search must be will determine how fast the finger moves. Readers should read the sentence in which the key word(s) appears.

The quality and effectiveness of scanning can be improved with the appropriate use of this speed reading strategy and a good amount of practice. Combined with skimming, scanning can reduce a heavy reading load and still help the reader achieve about 50% reading comprehension.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Reading Strategies

Teaching Reading Strategies

Reading, Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Reading, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , ,

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:

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

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

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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 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

Study Skills , , , , , ,

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

Study Skills , , , , , ,

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

Study Skills , , , , , , , ,

Characteristics of High School Learners

High school learners are qualitatively different than younger learners. You certainly can “teach an old dog new tricks” by understanding the cognitive and social characteristics of high school learners. Using the right instructional strategies to maximize the learning advantages and address the learning challenges of high school learners can make all the difference in their success.

High School Cognitive Development

Most high school students have achieved the formal operational stage, as described by Piaget. These students can think abstractly and need fewer concrete examples to understand complex thought patterns. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:

  1. Need to understand the purpose and relevance of instructional activities
  2. Are both internally and externally motivated
  3. Have self-imposed cognitive barriers due to years of academic failure and lack self-confidence
  4. May have “shut down” in certain cognitive areas and will need to learn how to learn and overcome these barriers to learning
  5. Want to establish immediate and long-term personal goals
  6. Want to assume individual responsibility for learning and progress toward goals

High School Social Development

High school students are experimenting with adult-like relationships. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:

  1. Interested in co-educational activities
  2. Desire adult leadership roles and autonomy in planning
  3. Want adults to assume a chiefly support role in their education
  4. Developing a community consciousness
  5. Need opportunities for self-expression

High School Instructional Strategies

High school students are still concerned about the labeling that takes place, when one is identified as a remedial reader. Labels and stereotypes are both externally imposed (by other students and, sometimes their parents), but are primarily internally imposed (by the students themselves). Years of academic failure, due to lack of reading proficiency, have damaged students’ self-esteem. Many students have lost confidence in their ability to learn. Students have developed coping mechanisms, such as reading survival skills e.g., audio books or peer/parent readers, or behavioral problems, or the “Whatever… I don’t care attitudes” to avoid the tough work of learning how to read well. High school teachers need to be extremely mindful of student self-perceptions. A few talking points with remedial high school students may prove helpful:

“Unfortunately, some of your past reading instruction was poor; it’s not your fault that you have some skills to work on.” a.k.a. “blame someone else”

“You can learn in this class. If you come to class willing to try everyday, you will significantly improve your reading, I promise.”

“I know you have tried before, but this time is different.”

“You will be able to chart your own progress and see what you are learning in this class.”

“Some of my past students were like some of you. For example, ___________ and he passed the high school exit exam after finishing this class. For example, ___________ got caught up to grade level reading and is college right now.” Personal anecdotes provide role models and hope for high school remedial readers. Any former students who have been successful will provide “street credibility” to the teacher and the class.

“You aren’t in this class forever. As soon as you master your missing skills, you are out.”

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.TRS

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

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