STUDY SKILLS Pisgah High School Freshman Transition Program
Lesson 1: Get Organized • Good organization sharpens your student's study skills. Different colored file folders and assignments and notes filed in a class-specific notebook are signs of organization. • The Notebook. Notebooks make learning materials easy to find. Folders and binders with dividers are great to organize notes, assignments and test results. Have separate, labeled notebooks for each class. • Assignments. Write down assignments for all classes in one designated place. Include due dates and important information for each one. Ask the teacher to explain unclear assignments and keep records of the grades received. Notice the types of assignments that need more work.
Activity for Lesson One Organization : Setting Priorities ACTIVITY ONE: SETTING PRIORITIESFrom soccer practice and homework to family meals and TV, each day is busy and full. Learning how to prioritize everyday tasks is a challenge even for many adults. How do you set priorities? You have the right to choose your own priorities, but some may lead to better consequences than others. Now do the Setting Goals worksheet and discuss with the class.
Lesson 2: Note Taking Improving Your Note Taking Learning how to take good notes in class is an important part of study preparation. The information provided and topics covered by your teacher are what you will be studying. If you don’t take good notes in class you won’t know what to study once class is over.The following tips can help you take effective notes:
Make clear and accurate notesClearly written, accurate notes help to capture information for later study and review. Often when taking notes in class you'll understand what the teacher is saying so you decide not to take clear and accurate notes only to find out later that you can't remember what the teacher was saying and that your notes aren't clear or accurate enough for you remember the details of the lecture. Taking accurate and clear notes will (1) ensure that you understand the subject matter being discussed, (2) help to concrete what is being taught in your mind and (3) will provide you the means to go back after class and review the subject matter being taught.
Compare your notesWhen class is over compare your notes to those taken by other students. Sometimes other students will pick up on things discussed by the teacher that you missed or didn't find important. Comparing notes will help ensure that your notes are complete and accurate. • Minimize distractionsIf you're serious about your education then you'll want to remove any distractions that keep you from concentrating on class lectures and taking copious notes. Sit close to the front of the room. Don't sit next to individuals your tempted to talk to during class and try to stay away from any other situation that would distract you during class.
Come to class preparedThere is nothing that will help you take better notes than coming to class prepared. Before coming to class make sure that (1) you have read all assigned readings and (2) that you have reviewed your notes from the previous class. Coming to class prepared will help you take much better notes. You'll be able to take more detail notes on items you don't fully understand. You'll be able to ask questions that will lead to more accurate and useful note taking. And you'll be better prepared to learn new information not covered in previous class lectures.
Organize your notes • Start each class with a clean sheet of paper. • Put the day's date at the top of your notes along with any other relevant information (i.e. history notes, chemistry notes, etc.) This will help you to keep track of each days notes and increase your ability to go back and review your notes for exams and quizzes.
Use abbreviations and symbolsIn some classes it can be difficult to write down everything that the teacher is saying. Use short sentences and phrases and easily remembered abbreviations and symbols in order to make sure you're able to keep up. • The following are few common abbreviations and symbols that students can use to speed up their note taking: cf (compare), ie (that is), eg (for example), w/ (with), w/o (without), &, + (and), = (equals, is). There are numbers of other abbreviations that you can come up with to increase your note taking speed must make sure you remember what each abbreviation is or that you have a key that tells you what each abbreviation means. You texting experts will be good at this!
Write clearlyIt doesn't matter how many notes you can take if you can't make sense of your notes after the lecture is over. Make sure to write clearly -- especially if you're using abbreviations. Its also useful to leave plenty of blank space in the left margin or in between ideas or new concepts so that you can come back later and add more information. • Review your notesReview your notes as soon as you can. Reviewing your notes directly following a lecture will make sure that (1) you understand your notes, (2) you understood the lecture and (3) it will help you to concrete in your mind the concepts and information you learned.
Write down questionsQuite frequently you're going to find -- especially as you enter college -- that is can be difficult if not impossible at times to understand everything the teacher is talking about. Make sure to write down any questions you have or concepts you didn't completely understand so that you can go back after class and ask the teacher specific questions or use reference resources to better understand difficult concepts.
Lesson 3: Effective Listening Learning requires listening. Learning effectively requires effectively listening. Even though listening is one of the most important skills for effective learning, most people are not good listeners. Since most of what you are required to learn in school is going to be communicated by a teacher, it is imperative that you learn to listen. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that hearing and listening are the same thing—they are very different. When you listen to what someone saying you are not only hearing what they are saying; you are also processing what they are saying.The following are tips for improving your ability to listen:
Listen for meaningPay attention not only to the words being spoken by your teacher but to the thoughts and messages they convey. Identify the main idea, concept or subject being addressed and the relating issues. Listen for explanations, descriptions and clarifications. Again, don't just hear the words. Listen to the meanings being communicated.
Adjust your note taking style to the type of lesson Poor listeners try to write down everything, believing a detailed outline and effective notes are the same thing. They get frustrated when they cannot see the meaning behind what they are writing down, or they go to review their notes and don't understand the concepts that were taught in class. Effective listeners adjust their note-taking to the lecture style. They listen to what’s important, they try to understand concepts, and they take notes that clarify, organize, and reiterate important details of the lecture. *************
Tackle difficult-to-understand material • Frequently, when a teacher starts to speak on a topic or concept that is difficult to understand, students stop listening. They are hearing what the teacher is saying, but they are not processing the information they are hearing. Effective listeners tackle difficult material and expend the brain power required to process what they are hearing—even when it is difficult.
Concentrate and pay attentionPoor listeners frequently are poor concentrators. Effective listening requires that you concentrate and pay attention. Remove all thoughts of home, friends, fun, and ancillary activities from you head while the teacher is speaking. Learning to focus and concentrate will help you become an effective listener and much more effective student.
Be preparedIt is difficult to listen and mentally process what you're hearing when you come to your class unprepared. If your teacher gives you a reading assignment or homework designed to prepare you to understand a topic its important that you are familiar with the topic before it is discussed in class. Being ready to listen means being prepared for each class ahead of time.
Focus on what is importantPoor listeners focus on fact. They may retain a few of those facts, but the information is usually garbled. Effective listeners focus on main ideas, fundamental concepts and vital issues. • Choose to be interestedOne of the most tell-tale signs of poor listeners is that they just can't find what the teacher is talking about to be interesting. As a consequence, they don't listen with real intent and often miss important topics and details being addressed. Good listeners are able to decide to be interested in the subject matter being addressed by the teacher. As a result, they listen more intently and effectively.
Activity for Lesson Three: LISTENING EFFECTIVELY • Now we will do some activities that will help us to • Improve Our Listening Skills • Come to a Consensus (Group Decision) • Follow Directions Better
Lesson 4: Dealing With Test Anxiety It’s completely normal to experience anxiety at some time or another – we all do. And while we may not enjoy feeling anxious a little bit of anxiety can be beneficial. A little bit of anxiety helps to keep you motivated, focused and alert. However, too much anxiety may interfere with your ability to study, learn, remember things and perform well when taking tests. Too much an anxiety about taking tests is referred to as test anxiety. The following are a few tips for dealing with too much test anxiety:
Develop good study habits. Good study habits will not only prepare you to address test material, but they will also provide you with confidence that will help to reduce unhealthy test anxiety. • Be prepared. Being totally prepared for a test is the most important thing you can do to reduce anxiety. Knowing that you know the material on the test will provide you the confidence you need to overcome anxiety and the ability to perform. You've got good reason to be overly anxious if you go into a test unprepared. • Don't cram! Cramming for tests can leads to text anxiety. If you'll prepare for your test ahead of time, you'll be able to reduce a lot of test anxiety associated with last minute cramming.
Get adequate exercise Getting adequate exercise and staying in shape is believed to help sharpen the mind. • Get plenty of sleep Getting a good night's sleep before an exam can help reduce test anxiety dramatically. Conversely, not getting a good nights rest before an exam will make you tired while taking an exam and will lead to increased test anxiety. • Get plenty to eat Don't take an exam on an empty stomach. It’s quite common not to want to eat before an exam due to anxiety. However, if you'll get a good meal before taking an exam, you'll experience less anxiety, and your mind will be more keen.
Create a Study Environment • Real learning takes time and attention. Reinforce a consistent approach to learning by creating a specific place and routine time for studying. Don't forget to allow for breaks! • Set a Place. Choose a place that is quiet with few distractions and that has pens, pencils, paper, a dictionary and a ruler at hand. Study space should be well lighted. • Set a Time. Designate study time when you are alert, fresh and relaxed and, ideally, at the same time daily. Don't forget short breaks to refresh the mind. During the break, take a walk outdoors or try deep breathing exercises. Research studies show that physical well-being promotes mental well-being and renewed energy.
Stay positive Don't focus on failing the test. Focus on acing the test and you probably will. Thinking about what might happen if you fail will lead to unnecessary anxiety and just might become a self fulfilling prophecy. • Focus on the learning experience Don't think of a test as the final judgment. Rather view each test as a learning experience and you'll get much less stressed out. • Stay relaxed Take slow, deep breaths and stay in control.
Activity for Lesson Four: Now do the STUDY ENVIRONMENT worksheet. For more information, see the “Finding a Good Place to Study Handout”
Lesson 5: Finding Your Learning Style • There are many different learning styles and learning preferences. The most common include • Visual Learning Style (the most common) • Auditory Learning Style • Tactile (Kinesthetic) Learning Style Additional learning styles and preferences include Logical (mathematical), Social (interpersonal), and Solitary (intrapersonal). There is no right mix, nor are your styles fixed. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well.
Visual Learning StyleIndividuals that learn best when ideas or subjects are presented in a visual format, whether that is written language, pictures, diagrams or videos are visual learners. Visual learners usually learn best when the teacher provides written study notes, writes on the chalkboard, and uses an overhead projector to explain concepts. Visual learners frequently take detailed notes in class, when studying from a textbook or listening to lectures. They also create diagrams and use pictures to understand and remember concepts and ideas. If this sounds like you, then you are probably a visual learner.
Auditory Learning StyleIf you learn best by participating in class discussion, by listening to your teacher lecture, listening to audio tapes or by listening to other language formats then you are probably an Auditory Learner. Auditory Learners, unlike Visual Learners, are able to learn, understand and retain information better when they hear it rather than see it.
Tactile/Kinesthetic Learning StyleTactile Learners, also commonly referred to as Kinesthetic Learners, are hands-on learners. They learn best when they are able to physically participate directly in what they are required to learn or understand. Tactile learners usually excel when they are able to handle something in order to learn about it. Tactile learners may do especially well in classes where lab work is required. Unlike Visual Learners, who learn by seeing, and Auditory Learners, who learn by hearing, Tactile Learners learn by touching and feeling.
Logical StyleIf you find that you like using your brain for logical and mathematical reasoning you probably prefer the logical learning style. Logical learners can recognize patterns easily and are good at making logical connections between what would appear to most people to be meaningless content. If you're a logical learner you'll learn better if you classify and group information to help you learn and understand it better.
Social StyleIf social learning is your style, you'll communicate well will others, both verbally and non-verbally. You're good listeners and are able to understand other's views. People listen to you and come to for advice. Social learners prefer learning in groups or classes and typically like to spend one-on-one time with a teacher or an instructor.
Solitary StyleIf you have a solitary style of learning, you tend to be private, introspective and/or independent. You're able to concentrate and focus on a specific subject, topic, or concept without outside help. You are very self aware and able to analyze the different ways you think and feel. Solitary learners prefer to work on problems by retreating to somewhere quiet and working through possible solutions by themselves. However, solitary learners need to be careful, as they may spend too much time trying to solve a problem that they could more easily solve by talking to someone or working with a group.
Activity for Lesson Five: Finding Your Learning Style Now do the Learning Styles Activity to see what your learning style is. So why is identifying and understanding your learning style so critical to your study preparation? By knowing how you learn best you can select those classes, teachers, subjects, college majors, and ultimate careers that appeal to your unique way of learning things. For more information, see the “Types of Learners” handout.
Lesson 6: Improving Your Memory Remember information is essential to your ability to excel in school and later in your career. If you are unable to remember what you’ve learned then you won’t be able perform well on tests and you will be unable to apply what you’ve learned in the real world. Remembering information is an essential skill.The following are a few proven tips and strategies for improving your ability to remember information.
Make the information meaningfulOne of the most common reasons that students don't remember is because material is presented in a way that is confusing or doesn't make sense. Students who try to memorize information they don't fully understand struggle to remember what they've read or heard. Don't try and memorize the author's words. First, put the information you're reading or hearing into your words as your own words are going to be meaningful and easy to understand. If you can't put information, a concept or idea in your own words its very unlikely that you're going to be able to remember the material for very long.
Organize the informationOrganizing material into to logical categories will help you learn, memorize and recall information more effectively. For example, if you have several dates you need to remember for a history test putting the dates in chronological order according to a sequential storyline can make recalling each date much easier. Instead of memorizing random dates you associate each date with specific event that lead to another event. Information that is well organized is much easier to learn and remember than information that is unorganized.
Use pictures to improve memoryMore often than not a person's memory for pictures or images is far better than their memory for words. Creating a mental picture can enhance a person's memory of verbal and written information. Mental pictures are especially helpful when attempting to learn and remember abstract words and concepts. Try to create vivid mental pictures that represent the concept or term. When you employ pictures to learn verbal and written information you are encoding the information in your memory system in two ways instead of just one. Consequently, your ability to remember the information is greatly enhanced.
Mnemonic devicesMnemonic devices are memory tricks that can be used to remember factual information such as a list of words or phrases, and they often produce a visual image in the learner's mind. Some common mnemonic devices include acronyms (the most common), nonsense words, nonsense sentences, and rhymes.Creating an acronym is a good strategy to use to remember information in any order. An acronym is a word that is formed from the first letter of each fact to be remembered. It can be a real word or a nonsense word you are able to pronounce. For example, MADD is an acronym for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (Destructive Decisions).
Examples of Mnemonic Devices Mnemonic for remembering the number of days in a month:Thirty days hath September,April, June, and November;All the rest have thirty-oneExcepting February alone:Which has twenty-eight, that's fine,Till leap year gives it twenty-nine.
Mnemonic for remembering spelling:I before E except after C,and when sounding like "ay" as in Neighbor or Weigh(unfortunately there are more than 200 exceptions, including weird,and names like Sheila and Freidman)
Mnemonic for remembering Supreme Court Justices in the order of when they were appointed:Studying Scandals Keeps The Giant Bride Robots All SoberStevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor
Here is a mnemonic for remembering the NEW list of planets (post-Pluto): My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us NutsMercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune Mnemonic for remembering groupings of animals in biology:King Phillip Could Only Find Green SocksKingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species Mnemonic for remembering the notes in the treble clef: The lines of the clef:Every Good Bird Does Fly (E, G, B, D, F) The spaces of the clef:FACE
Activity for Lesson 6: Creating Mnemonic Devices to Improve Memory Now read the Mnemonic Devices handout and do the activity on the Mnemonic Devices Homework worksheet. (C=ceiling; G=ground)