Study Skills

Learning Cycle

Do you ever feel lost about how to study? Sometimes learning feels like a black box. Students feel like they put a lot of effort into their school work, but don’t get the results that they want. Understanding how the brain learns can help students use their study time more effectively. The study cycle is made up of three parts 1- getting information into our brains (encoding) 2- practicing getting information out of our brains (retrieval) 3- learning the information…

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Graphic Organizers

Do you feel stressed when your teacher announces a test? Do you have a hard time figuring out how to use your worksheets, textbooks, online activities, and class notes? Graphic Organizers are a great way for students to organize all of the information they get from each class. This general format students can use to help them organize their materials in any class or subject.  Graphic Organizers help students take materials that are given or assigned to them and allow…

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Quizlet Tips and Tricks

One of the most effective ways to learn new material is to quiz or test yourself. An excellent tool for self-quizzing is Quizlet. Quizlet offers students a lot of advantages over traditional flash cards because it uses an algorithm to help students avoid illusions of knowing. In addition to traditional flashcards, students can create quizzable diagrams from photographs, screenshots, or the Quizlet Database. The combination of text and visuals create a potent learning tool. It is a powerful tool that…

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Make it Stick Chapter 1: Learning is Misunderstood

The first chapter highlights the collection of research findings that will be discussed in more detail throughout the book. Th purpose of this chapter is to addresses many of the common misunderstandings about learning and education. Specifically, it outlines the misconceptions surrounding common study strategies, effortful learning, and the memorization. I will discuss these three topics in more detail below. Study Strategies The most useful study method is retrieval practice, also know as quizzing or self-testing. Despite these findings, roughly 80% of…

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Book Review- Make it Stick : Introduction

I will be reviewing the book Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel. Because the book is so important I will be creating a blog post for individual chapters.  Each post will outline the main takeaways from that section. I will also share stories about how I have used these strategies with my own students. In addition, I will include tips from other academic coaches and teachers about how…

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Review: My Class Tracker – College

Do you need a planner for college? My Class Tracker has introduced a College version of their student planner. The college version reflects the unique needs of college students.  The College version of My Class Tracker can help students plan ahead, manage their time, increase their study skills, prevent procrastination, and help them achieve their goals.   Like 0

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Planners: A Strategic Advantage

As I work with students, I have noticed that the use of planners has started to become less frequent. When I was young planners were the go-to organization tool for students. I think that the shift away from paper planners is a result of more assignments being put online.  Online systems are a great way for students to track their homework, but they have limitations. There is a strategic advantage to using a planner in conjunction with online systems. Planners…

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Planning Productive Summers

Do you wonder what to do over the summer while still having fun? Students and parents often feel burnt out from the school year and as a result, do not take full advantage of the opportunities that summer offers.  Working on a few core skills can help students reduce their stress during school. I suggest that students start with something that interests them, such as art, writing, science, math, reading, or history. After they have picked a topic or project that…

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Finals: Success Story

I wanted to share a fantastic story of a student that I coached through preparing for her high school finals. This was her first experience studying for finals, and she wanted to do well.  However, she was very resistant to the idea of adding new study strategies, because she was convinced that she could do well with her usual methods. We came up with a plan to test her theory. We decided to randomly divide her classes into two categories, my…

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Review: My Class Tracker – High School and Middle School

I am always searching for great planners for my students. It is often difficult to find a good planner that accurately captures the unique scheduling needs of students. After listening to an interview with the designer, of My Class Tracker, I decided to test with a few with of my students. My students who used the planner thought that it was better than the other systems they had been using.  They universally felt that it helped them organize their school…

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Homework vs. Studying

What is the difference between studying and homework? We often use “homework” and “studying” interchangeably when they discuss school work. I define homework as the compulsory assignments that are given to students by a teacher. Homework is generally graded or checked in class. I define studying as the strategic work that students choose to do on their own to master material. Studying can often look and feel a lot like traditional homework assignments such as reading, creating flashcards, or taking…

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Studying for Open Note Exams

How do you prepare for an open note exam? Every finals season I have students who are convinced that they do not need to study for their open note/book exams. They are often under the impression that because they have access to resources during the test that they do not need to prepare. They are unaware of the lurking danger of open note tests; that they will run out of time to complete their exam. Students generally run out of…

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Take Advantage of Office Hours

Sometimes it is hard to crack how to get better grades in college.  Because there are so few graded assignments in college it can be hard to adjust our study strategies.  To fill these gaps it is important to be more strategic. One of the great secrets of successful college students is that they take advantage of office hours. Office hours are often presented to students as an opportunity to ask specific questions and get help on assignments. However, what…

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