Ready, Set, GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! Note taking skills: Part 6 of 6

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Note taking is arguably one of the more frustrating aspects of classroom instruction. For many, it requires stamina, both in attentiveness and fine motor abilities. As students get older, note taking becomes both more prevalent and more independent. When post-secondary education comes into play, note-taking skills can truly make or break a lecture, class, or semester. With such an emphasis on this skill, it is a wonder that more secondary schools don’t offer classes on note taking. Whatever the case may be, each learner must adopt his or her own preference when it comes to taking notes in class.

  • The first thing to consider is the different benefits of note taking. For instance, depending on the student and material, notes may be taken to help aid memory, comprehension, organization, or a combination of those skills.

 

  • When taking notes in order to memorize information, it is important that students spend the time and energy writing only what they do not already know from memory. They can apply your prior knowledge later when studying, but during the class or lecture, they should limit their notes to new information. This not only saves time, but also allows students to focus in on the new or unfamiliar information.

 

  • Abbreviations are another important aspect of note taking. Again, abbreviating notes can be very individualized. It is important that the note taker stick to a system or style of abbreviating, as to better ensure that the notes will make sense later on. Abbreviations can be done by shortening words, summarizing phrases, or even using symbols in place of text. But remember, an abbreviation is only helpful if it maintains the clarity of the notes.

 

  • Keep notes organized. This is essential for studying and retaining the information later on. Students may prepare note sections ahead of time so that they can focus primarily on the lecture and less on the set-up of the page. For instance, if their teacher is introducing vocabulary prior to a history lesson, they can set up a section strictly for definitions and then add content notes on a separate page.

 

  • Put a date on the notes. This way, if there is any confusion when looking back at the notes, students can speak with their teacher or peer about the specific lesson or lecture. Dates also help when taking notes because they allow students to see the progression of the concept, information, or task in a sequential manner.

 

  • Rewrite notes when necessary. There are a few benefits to this technique. Rewriting not only gives students an opportunity to clean up or organize the material a little better, but it also aids in memorization. Rewriting something, especially if students paraphrase or explain the notes in their own words, allows them to test their knowledge of the material. Simply writing something down doesn’t guarantee comprehension—rephrasing notes allows note takers to break down and articulate the information as they make sense of it.

 

  • Highlighting is also recommended when rewriting or editing notes. Research indicates a link between color and memory; it also helps to focus students’ attention on the more vital information when studying.

 

Join us for “Homework. Got an Easy Button?”, a free, highly interactive 60-minute session designed to provide parents with concrete ideas and practical tools to support their student’s study practice at home. For more information, click here: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

Looking to empower your child to succeed? Learning Essentials’ Brain Camp teaches students practical step-by-step ways to study, organize, manage time, prepare for tests, and use executive functioning strategies— essential skills for today’s academic environment. Click here to learn more or enroll: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

 

Ready, Set, GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! Managing long term assignments: Part 5 of 6

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As much as some students would like to deny this, the fact is that essays, projects, and long-term assignments are right around the corner. With the start of the school year comes many great things—the opportunity for students to show what they know is one of them, whether they want to admit it or not. One of the more difficult tasks during the school year can be the larger, multi-step assignments that transpire over several weeks. Here are some tried and true tips from an educator to assist with the task of managing long-term assignments.

Plan It Out

Often times, teachers will provide students with a suggested schedule, graphic organizer, or guide for completing the assignment in a manageable and timely fashion. These suggestions often come strongly recommended, whether they are officially deemed as graded checkpoints or not. Since teachers are the ones who have created the assignment to begin with, it is reasonable to expect that they have a solid understanding of how to appropriately plan for such a task. If the teacher has not provided an outline or any sort of mandatory checkpoints, it is strongly recommended that the student map out a personal schedule. This is beneficial in several different ways—it holds the student accountable for each aspect of the task; it allows the student to view the task holistically, while simultaneously grasping the requirements of each portion; and it supports time management and organization.

Ask Questions

If a student is confused about any aspect of the long-term assignment, it is imperative that he ask his teacher for clarification. Playing the guessing game or “winging it” is never recommended. Asking questions immediately sidesteps the issue of having to start over, which saves time and frustration. It also helps the teacher to see the assignment from the student’s perspective, allowing her to provide further instruction or clarification for the class. Asking questions from the start allows the student to fully grasp the objectives of the assignment, thus helping him meet the expectation.

Study the Rubric

A long-term assignment should always be accompanied by a rubric or checklist of some sort. This item indicates how the task is going to be scored or assessed. Students should not only read through, but also look carefully at the rubric to ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed on the assignment. Again, asking questions for clarity is a wonderful way to gain a better understanding of what exactly is required of the student.

Speak to Your Teacher if Falling Behind

Students often forget that teachers were once young learners themselves—we are caring, accommodating, and understanding. We are also in tune with our students’ capabilities. If the task or assignment is truly overwhelming or unmanageable, students should be able to speak openly with the teacher about the difficulties. Of course, be proactive about this discussion. DO NOT wait until the due date to ask for an extension or clarification—this will likely not be met with an obliging response. Speak up as soon as you find yourself in the weeds. This way, your teacher knows that you are not procrastinating—you simply need some assistance.  

Join us for “Homework. Got an Easy Button?”, a free, highly interactive 60-minute session designed to provide parents with concrete ideas and practical tools to support their student’s study practice at home. For more information, click here: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

Looking to empower your child to succeed? Learning Essentials’ Brain Camp teaches students practical step-by-step ways to study, organize, manage time, prepare for tests, and use executive functioning strategies— essential skills for today’s academic environment. Click here to learn more or enroll: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

 

Ready, Set, GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! Learning Styles and Techniques: Part 4 of 6

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When it comes to learning strategies, styles, and techniques, learning cannot be explained as a “one size fits all” method. As much as we are told that there are kinesthetic, auditory, visual, and read/write learners, learning processes and preferences are truly more complex than these labels. While there are truths to the different categories of learners, we cannot assume that each young learner fits perfectly and fixedly into one specific category. In fact, depending on a learner’s strengths and weaknesses, he or she will employ different techniques from different categories to best suit the task.

Consider this personal example: a learner, like myself, with a propensity for reading and writing would likely excel in tasks involving creative writing techniques, close reading skills, vocabulary, etc. In the mathematical realm, however, this same learner may need to employ a different learning style. One may assume that a word problem would suit this type of read/write learner. However, for a learner such as myself, the wordiness of a math problem actually got in the way of comprehension. Instead, I would employ visual strategies, such as sketching, diagramming, or graphing to visually break down the word problem.

Depending on the task, a strong learner will know how and when to employ different strategies. This type of fluidity in learning styles takes practice. For instance, in the above example, a read/write learner like myself would likely read a confusing word problem many times before realizing that a visual illustration would actually be more beneficial.

Thus, the best way to help young learners is to provide them with numerous learning strategies and techniques. Then, let the learner decide which different strategies are helpful in certain circumstances. Below are just a few strategies organized by learning style.

VISUAL

  • Use diagrams, illustrations and graphic organizers to visually conceptualize a task. For instance, a visual learner may benefit from a prewriting outline before beginning a lengthy essay assignment.
  • Color code when taking notes to visually organize information on the page; this can also help with memory.
  • Highlight key words when reading or studying to help retain the information.
  • Rewrite notes or perform demonstrations of the task to better see and memorize the information after the initial lesson.

AUDITORY

  • Restate the information in your own words to solidify comprehension and memorization.
  • Create mnemonic devices while studying.
  • Organize information into a song, rhythm, or rhyme to help with recall.
  • Reread information aloud.
  • Ask and answer questions aloud during lessons or lectures.

KINESTHETIC

  • Pace or move about while studying notes to help with memorization.
  • Fold the corners of textbook pages to refer back to important information.
  • Stand while reading or reciting.
  • Take small, frequent breaks when working on large assignments.
  • Reenact the concept or task; this is especially helpful for science labs, physical or athletic skills, or theater-related tasks.
  • Sit on a yoga ball while reviewing material or studying for extended periods of time.
  • Use a line-reader or cover the text on the page when reading; this helps kinesthetic learners to focus on a text line by line, as opposed to getting overwhelmed by a wordy page.

Join us for “Homework. Got an Easy Button?”, a free, highly interactive 60-minute session designed to provide parents with concrete ideas and practical tools to support their student’s study practice at home. For more information, click here: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

Looking to empower your child to succeed? Learning Essentials’ Brain Camp teaches students practical step-by-step ways to study, organize, manage time, prepare for tests, and use executive functioning strategies— essential skills for today’s academic environment. Click here to learn more or enroll: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

Ready, Set, GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! Learning is a Process: Part 3 of 6

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What exactly does it mean to learn something? How can we know that we have adequately learned it? Are there better or more effective ways in which to learn? These are just a few questions surrounding the art of learningand what better time to ponder these thoughts than at the start of a brand new year of learning? Now, of course, just as every child is unique, each child’s learning style is equally unique. It’s time that we learn a little more about the process of learning.

Learning is a processbut what does this mean? Obviously, children do not simply learn by hearing something. Unfortunately, the human brain is not a recording device or database. Instead, truly learning something involves severalsometimes manydeliberate interactions with the concept.

Let’s use baking as an example. Before learning to bake a cake, the amateur chef will need to be introduced to the concept of cake. The chef may take a bite, look at a photo, or watch a how-to video about cake baking. This introduction prepares the chef for what is to come, and ideally demonstrates the end goal or product—a cake.

After tasting a sample of cake, the chef will seek to know more about cake before baking his own. For instance, he may research different flavor combinations, baking methods, or icing techniques. By seeking further information, the chef begins to get a better understanding of cake and how it is made.

Next, the chef will attempt the task of baking a cake. Taking all of the knowledge that he’s compiled, the chef will now actually get his hands dirty and try baking a cake on his own.

After baking, the chef will obtain feedback from taste testers. Ideally, these taste testers should be expert chefs who have experience baking cakes, or at least some novice chef peers who know how a good cake is supposed to taste.

Taking the feedback into consideration, the amateur chef will now look back at the recipe and baking techniques and make adjustments based on his reflections.

The chef can decide to circle back to any of the previous steps in order to perfect his cake. Perhaps he needs to taste other types of pastry, take an extra baking class, alter the ingredients or measurements, or read another cook book. Either way, the chef continues to work towards his goal of creating a delicious cake. And, since a cake can never be too delicious, the chef’s learning is never finished.


Just as the amateur chef’s journey to the perfect cake is a process, children’s acquisition of knowledge and new skills proceeds in a similar fashion. Learning does not occur in one fell swoop; it is not instantaneous; it is not a uniform recipe or sure-fire set of instructions. Learning takes time, intrinsic motivation, creativity, and patience. When children struggle to learn something, frustration arises. It is important to let your child know that learning is a process which involves trial and errorfailure is a necessary step in this process. No matter the setbacks, we must teach children to overcome and persevere.

Because, just as the amateur chef knows all too well, triumph after failure is even sweeter!

Join us for “Homework. Got an Easy Button?”, a free, highly interactive 60-minute session designed to provide parents with concrete ideas and practical tools to support their student’s study practice at home. For more information, click here: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/

Looking to empower your child to succeed? Learning Essentials’ Brain Camp teaches students practical step-by-step ways to study, organize, manage time, prepare for tests, and use executive functioning strategies— essential skills for today’s academic environment. Click here to learn more or enroll: http://learningessentialsedu.com/workshops/