Students of all ages can hone their study skills with these tips that teachers wished they knew when they were students.
The Fake Test
There’s a test coming up. How will you do?
One way to find out is by taking the wait-and-see approach. The other is to practice taking the test until you’ve got it perfect! This is a take-charge approach to studying that helps students anticipate test questions and discover how well they’ll perform on the actual test.
Here’s how it works:
1. As you read over your notes, use a separate sheet of paper to write down questions about what you are reading. (This uses the pencil-to-paper style of ACTIVE studying that keeps students engaged during the study process. See Tip 1)
Bonus tip: keep track of where to find the answers to your fake-test questions.
For instance: Q: When did Christopher Columbus sail for the New World and what were the names of his three ships? (page 37, first paragraph)
2. As you read, pay special attention to the challenging concepts. Create more questions for these concepts. Really test yourself. After all, that’s what a test is designed to do—assess how well you understand something. So dig in and ask the tough questions. Go for those bonus marks!
3. Now that you have read over all of the study material, and have a sheet filled with questions—what’s next? Put the fake test aside and wait a day or two. Then, when you sit down to study next, begin with your fake test. Did you pass or fail? How many questions did you answer correctly? How many were you unable to answer?
4. Go back and study some more, and focus on the questions that you answered wrong or that you were unable to answer.
5. Start early! Building a fake test that really challenges your topic knowledge takes time. You won’t be able to properly test yourself if you left studying to the last minute. The extra time required to get organized and create a fake test pays off. As the saying goes: practice makes perfect.
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Oxford Learning is very pleased to welcome Brenda from Secret Agent Josephine to our blog as our first-ever guest mommy-blogger!
Busy mom Brenda will be sharing fun, cheerfully-illustrated tales about the highs and lows of being a busy mom with a pre-school aged daughter, as well as the every day learning experiences that she and her active four-year old share.
We hope that you enjoy Brenda’s posts and visit her on her blog Secret Agent Josephine!
Picking Lemons at Grandma’s
click to enlarge
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In previous posts we’ve looked at how technology might not be in students’ best interests.
But a London Free Press article shows one way that technology is helping students have a better classroom experience by installing a surround sound system to help amplify the teacher’s voice.
“It makes such a difference when everyone can hear what you are doing. The kids tune in a whole lot better. They maintain their attention much longer,” said Clifford, who’s been teaching for 20 years.
“And as a teacher, your tone does not have to change, you don’t have to shout or raise your voice and you know there is nowhere in the room that has more advantage than anywhere else.”
She had been raising her voice to be heard for more than a decade when a child with special needs came into her class equipped with a sound system.
Surround sound to help students be more attentive in the classroom? Sounds like a great idea!
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Students of all ages can hone their study skills with these tips that teachers wished that they knew when they were students!
Tip 2: Mnemonic devices
The term “mnemonic device” is just a fancy way of saying, “trick to help you remember.” While understanding is always better than memorizing, there are times when you’ll need a few tricks to help the brain remember. Usually these times involve long lists, dates, or examples.
Do you remember the names of all five of the great lakes? Ummm, Ontario… Superior… The mnemonic acronym HOMES will help you remember them all, lickety-split! H.O.M.E.S (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.)
What about the planets? My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nuts (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.)
Mnemonics generally work on word associations, or are built on acronyms, but there can be other forms as well, such as poems and rhymes.
There are plenty of classic mnemonic devices that exist, but students shouldn’t be afraid to come up with their own—it will help them remember. Memorizing a pre-existing list is helpful, but creating one of your own is better!
- Take the first letter or a key word of the item to remember and write it down.
- Repeat for all items.
- Create a sentence. Pick the first words that pop into your head. It doesn’t have to make sense!
- Write the sentence out a few times while saying the words that the acronym refers to.
- Practice reciting the items and the created sentence together until you’ve got it memorized!
Tip! Keep the mnemonic device simple. There’s no point in creating extra work trying to remember a device that is more complicated than what you set out to remember in the first place. Don’t worry if the acronym that you created doesn’t make sense—if you remember it, go with it!
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Hannah McGregor is your average 17-year-old high school student. She goes to class and has an active social life. She even has extra-curricular activities. There’s one difference though: Hannah’s main extra-curricular activity is skating with Nexxice, the 2009 World Junior Silver Medalist Synchronized Figure Skating Team.
It goes without saying that Hannah has a pretty packed schedule. She has regular practices 3-4 times a week for 3-4 hours at a time, as well as a 1.5 hour commute to and from the arena. She has competed internationally in Italy and Switzerland and is preparing to head to France for an international competition, as well as readying herself for the 2010 World Juniors in Sweden this March.
So how does Hannah balance an active amateur skating career with the life of a full-time student?
In one word: organization.
Fresh from writing her last exam of the semester, Hannah says that when it comes to studying and homework she likes to find a place to study and stay there as long as possible. During commutes to and from practices, she creates study notes so that she can use the drive time to complete homework and prepare for tests.
Hannah says that she has learned the art of prioritizing, which is essentially a juggling act. Keeping her marks up in all of her subjects sometimes requires her to postpone or push back certain subjects so that she can direct her attention to the subjects that she struggles in.
While teachers are flexible, Hannah says that she isn’t often given extended deadlines, which means that she has to use her time wisely. But, when it comes to missing tests or assignments due to competitions, she works with teachers to find a compromise that works for everybody. Hannah finds that having good grades works in her favour when asking for extended deadlines. Smiling, she adds that it never hurts to be nice to your teachers!
On Essays and Exams
After the highs of a competition, it can be challenging to switch into an essay-writing mindset, so Hannah is careful to recognize when and where she can get her work done and use that time wisely. The key is don’t waste time!
Hannah is sure to not let missed class time or assignments catch up with her when it comes time for exams. She keeps up-to-date study notes throughout the semester and tries to listen actively in class at all times. Both of these things mean less effort when it comes time to study.
On Parental Support
While Hannah is super-organized and works hard to maintain a healthy school/life/skating balance she says that with such a busy schedule, good parental support isn’t just necessary—it’s essential!
Oxford Learning congratulates Hannah on all her success and wishes Nexxice the best of luck this week when they compete in France, and in March at the World Juniors in Sweden!
Good Luck Hannah! We’ll be cheering you on!
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