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I am a firm believer that one does not truly know something until she can put it into a new format. You can take notes from a book or from lectures all day, every day, but until you can put the information into a new shape, you haven't actually learned anything. Make a concept map, put facts and vocabulary into tables or categories, write flash cards, and/or rearrange the information in a new outline. Go really crazy and write a song or a poem, draw a picture, even make something in 3D. What you do or make depends on your learning style, but it has to be something new. I also believe that you only know something if you can summarize it. If you know enough about a subject to condense it into something really compact, like a “cheat sheet,” then you’re doing pretty well. You can capture its meaning in much less space than a textbook chapter. I actually do make “cheat sheets” for most of my tests. I condense all of the information I need for the test onto just a few pages,... read more

Final exams are coming up and you are freaking out!   There are steps that you can take in order to help you prepare for the upcoming exam. Don't panic.   Do not wait until the night before to start studying.  Start going over the material weeks before the final.   Previous exams - use the midterm and any other exams to help you study material from earlier in the semester.  Problems that you saw on these exams may also show up on the final.   Practice finals - many professors sometimes hand out practice problems or practice finals in order to help you study.  Go over these problems and make sure you know how to solve every problem. Take a break from your study routine occasionally.  Your brain will thank you!

Ask any classroom full of students how they study, and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. There will probably be many similar answers, but most people have different methods, locations, and techniques that shortens their study time somehow. Sometimes shortcuts are a great thing- like a shortcut that avoids heavy traffic. The trick to using shortcuts with studying is knowing which ones work, and which ones don't! One of the best ways to ensure that your study time will be used effectively is to take notes during class. Ensuring that your notes make sense to YOU is really important. Your class notes should translate what your teacher is telling you into something that you can remember. For example: the definition of onomatopoeia is, 'the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.' If you have a long list of literary terms, the strange spelling of onomatopoeia might get lost with your other lit terms. Writing "sizzle" or "buzz"... read more

Lately I've realized just how stressful economics can be, particularly for students with English as a second or third language. Trying to explain utility and utils to someone a few days ago, all I could think about was my own AP Econ professor, with his southern drawl, and a look he reserved for confused students.  Someone would ask a question. There'd be a pause. Wearing his varsity football coach jacket, he'd sigh, and make eye contact with whoever had asked the question. Then, it was more like he was looking at you for something in particular - did you really not understand the concept, or were you confused by how the word was being used? Different questions would require very different answers.    As a student who was frequently confused with the use of terms in a different context than I was used to, I hated that look. For the first month of classes, I was convinced he hated me, and that I was going to fail miserably. Every time we got a test or... read more

  I have spent nearly two years working entirely with students that struggled with mild to severe ADD. First, both students with ADD and those who teach them need to be knowledgeable of WHAT ADD is.     A few basics: 1). ADD is NOT simply being easily distracted, or lack of focus. For the student suffering with it, it feels as if there is a mental fog around everything they do. Tasks requiring long and acute attention are draining for the average joe, but can feel nearly impossible or even painful to an ADD/ADHD student.    2). ADD is caused by by under-stimulation to the areas in the brain responsible for thinking, solving, and task management. I often hear older students (17-18 yrs) say they are not allowed to drink coffee. Coffee couldn't be more appropriate, actually (if you are on medication, talk to a doctor before adding coffee to your routine). In fact the drugs used for ADD are heavy-duty stimulants that are chemical cousins... read more

Picture it: The gentle rustling of papers flapping and pages turning, the scratching of pens on notebooks, the snoring of the kid next to you, and your professor lecturing at a speed that makes you wonder if she's going to combust. Odds are, somewhere in this scenario, if you are like me then you're lost and writing furiously trying to take some kind of notes before the slide changes for the 47th time. But there's a problem; the professor is moving faster than you write. Typically the best thing to do is to raise your hand and ask her to slow down. The next step however, comes the point of this Note. The best way to take notes is to take as few as possible! By this I mean why write two words when you can write half of one? It'll allow you to keep up with the professor and return your attention to the board or the slides. "But how do you do this word-cleaving Black Magic, Frank?" you ask? You don't need seven years at Hogwarts for it. It's simple: short hand.... read more

The holidays are almost upon us - school will be out soon - and parents and students are looking at a 2-4 week hiatus from the regular routine of school work.  What happens to all of the knowledge and skills learned from school and tutoring during those weeks? Well, having been a high school principal for years, as well as a classroom teacher, my experience is that students often will not read on their own, review math on their own, or if in an AP class "read ahead" on their own.  If you have tutors in the educational profession, we also have that time off and our lesson times can be flexible - so instead of all of those late afternoon, early evening, or weekend appointments, most of us can now meet with our students in the morning or afternoon. So, what would your student gain from tutoring in the winter break? 1.  Weekly reinforcement of knowledge and skills  already... read more

So much stress, anxiety and wasted time can be completely avoided if you remember just 3 basic truths about  asking for something in life. It's a matter of simple mathematical probability really. You see, each time you ask someone for something, you have a 33.33333333333333333 (you get the point) percent chance of getting one of 3 responses: a "yes" a "no" or a "maybe" or something similar like "I don't know" or "perhaps" or "not now" or "next year," etc. For simplicity, it looks like this: When you ask for something you have a 33% chance of getting a "No" 33% chance of getting a "Yes" 33% chance of getting a "Maybe." What I find extraordinary is how many people ask for something with just one of these probabilities firmly set in their minds. They completely rule out that the other 2 are likely... read more

For the first time in a while, I'm taking a course where the information I have to know is entirely based on memorization. In my experience, a liberal arts degree has requires hundreds of hours of writing (so I have that down pat!) , but its been a while since I've had to know the text almost verbatim. This is how I've taught myself the material: 1. Talk about it with friends. My boyfriend has an interest in the course material, so we discuss it conversationally. This allows me to really have a context for what I am learning.  2. I highlight! I know, I know, my pages are ruined. But color-coding the information helps me put it into note form, after I've read the chapter.  3. Read, then read it again. Yup. Definitely helpful, but not always fun.  4. Utilize all study guides. This may seem obvious, but for anything that doesn't have an outline, I make one, and I make note of information that could be asked in test form. And then I test... read more

I find that discovering my students' limitations and trying to make them realize what these are is a very beneficial technique for improving grades or test scores.  The limitations become the new focus of our attention and as we narrow the scope of our efforts much more is able to be accomplished.  Students may at first be unwilling to admit their shortcomings but after they realize how much progress can be made when light is shone on them, they become all the more eager to continue working with you.  I also use the experience of my own wrestling with limitations; often I find that my limitations are similar to other people's and that the skills I have learned in battling them are invaluable to others. 

Hello all, I found this article from Fox news very helpful. We might relate to it differently but at the end of the day, we may all agree that multitasking might not be as effective as it feels! Hope you enjoy it!   12 Reasons To Stop Multitasking   "We all do it: Texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, chatting on the phone while cooking dinner. In today's society, doing just one thing at a time seems downright luxurious, even wasteful. But chances are, you're not doing yourself (or your boss, or your friends and family) any favors by multitasking your way through the day.Research shows that it's not nearly as efficient as we like to believe, and can even be harmful to our health. Here are 12 reasons why you should stop everything you're doing—well, all but one thing—and rethink the way you work, socialize, and live your life. You're not really multitasking What you call multitasking is really task-switching,... read more

Study skills are a challenge I had in school with subjects that I wasn't the best in. My strategy was my studying and practice time I put into the subject; French, Honors Algebra and AP U.S History were consuming at times when it came to homework. However, as long as I stayed on top of my homework, took great notes in class, asked the teacher questions AND practiced I was always guaranteed great results.   I carried that belief with me through college and today.

Poetry is one of those literary genres that instill a fear in students, particularly in the middle school arena. Metaphor, sonnet, acrostic, haiku, rhyme, prose, or free verse are examples of hundreds of poetry terms and forms. Confusing for a young impressionable mind to absorb, poetry is often a subject to avoid, and if unavoidable, often solicits a desire to cheat to succeed. Throughout the internet, are sites where students ask questions soliciting someone to explain or write them poetry to complete a homework assignment. Poetry is not a written or spoken form to be feared, rather should be the educational tool that teaches reading, writing and the arts as no other single genre is capable. Writing poetry ought to be fun allowing students to express their feelings, beliefs, and experiences without the restriction of initially teaching them to write and interpret forms of poetry that are difficult for most to understand and usually result in a lifelong hatred... read more

One summer I was ambitious and signed up for a condensed Anatomy & Physiology II course.  Having just completed Anatomy & Physiology I and Microbiology during the spring semester, I thought just taking one college course over the summer would be a piece of cake.  How wrong I was!  Learning the major systems of the human body in a full 16 week semester can be challenging for most students.  Fortunately, our professor believed in assigning essay styled lab reports.  Writing about new and more complex topics is challenging!   A few weeks into the condensed summer session I realized I would not achieve the A I wanted in A & P II without a full commitment to spend every waking moment studying.  My professor made it clear to the class that he was not going to grade us any easier just because we chose to take the 'short course.'  I vividly recall him announcing during lecture that the endocrine system was probably the... read more

The story is familiar one. A student who did well in school seems to suddenly hit a wall. Their grades drop even though they seemed to work harder and longer than ever. This most often ocurs at the 5th, 7th, or 9th grade levels. It also has been known to appear in the freshman year of college. This is an intelligent, bright, tuned-in kids who was doing well just months ago. What's happened?    It’s quite easy to explain. These were kids that primarily operated on natural ability. Much the way a talented young athlete does well one season but suddenly struggles. It's a matter of the student having progressed to a level where talent alone can’t carry the day, these kids struggle because raw ability is no longer enough.   The problem is often compounded because when these students don’t have the close reading, study, time management, organizational and other skills needed for success. Why don't they have them? Because they weren’t needed... read more

While assisting students in developing effective study skils, I have found developing those skills is a three-phase process.  The first phase, and arguably the most important, is identifying the bad study habits students have developed over the years.  These habits, I have found, can include studying at inopportune times, using the same methods to study for different subjects, or not studying at all. Identifying these habits—and all those in between—involves in-depth history taking.  Phase two involves identifying distractions that frequently draw the student’s attention away from study.  These can include anything from the munchies to phone calls and texts, to boredom.  Removing these distractions sets the stage for new study behaviors and habits. Phase three involves putting in place behaviors and habits to replace the bad study habits.  The most common replacement... read more

For students who want to prepare to go back to school but only have a few minutes to spare each day, I would suggest making a plan. For younger students, a parent can organize a set plan for which subject to review each day of the week. For instance Monday: 15 minutes of Reading Comprehension Tuesday: 15 minutes of Math facts Wednesday: 15 minutes journal writing etc. If a student struggles in a particular subject more time should be spent in this area. Every little bit helps. 15 minutes of reading a day is better than nothing. As well it is important to remember that reading is reading regardless of the medium. Reading a comic book still counts as reading. Allow students to read what they enjoy. For older students I would even suggest unofficially quizzing yourself/summarizing what you have learned each day. For math, search online and find fun puzzles or math games online. All in all make it fun and it won't feel like a chore. 

It can be overwhelming and anxiety-producing when you think about all the material you are supposed to know to do well on a test. A good way to stop the madness of negative stress, which can lead to procrastination is to break up what you need to study into smaller parts. It's super easy! If you have a test, for example, and it will cover 8 chapters, you should be thinking, "I have 1 week to be prepared, so I can study hard two chapters a night (minimum) or all every night and the night before the test I'll do just a great review of all the chapters." If you study too far in advance, you will not retain properly. If you study to close to test day, you will be cramming and will not retain properly. Break your information up into smaller chunks to make your brain happy and keep you from unnecessary negative stress. If you have 14 chapters to study, study 3-4 chapters a day/night. You get the picture. A solid week (5-6 days) is an excellent amount... read more

It's Saturday afternoon and you have a test at the end of the week on Friday. Should you: 1. Sift through your paperwork? 2.Thumb through your textbook? 3. Wait to begin studying until Wednesday or Thursday? 4. Skip studying because you already know it all? 5. Skip studying because you know you'll fail anyway? The correct answer is....UGH!!! All of these really suck and should not be part of any student regimen. Each test you take can make a serious difference in your grade. Remember, your grade is your paycheck. Do you want to be paid a few dollars or do you want to be paid a couple hundred or thousand? The difference between an A and D (think: $1,000 or some chump change) is in your preparation. FLASH CARDS ARE YOUR FRIEND! They make all the data fit into small easy to review chunks and your brain loves chunks rather than entire mountains all at once. Make your brain happy and it will take care of you when you need it. How... read more

I am going to pass on a simple tip to you parents on how to get your child to focus when studying or doing homework.   Chewing gum!   I kid you not.  Chewing gum helps your brain focus and causes you to pay more attention to what you are reading or working on.   Special Education teachers have known this for years, but a recent study in the UK by Kate Morgan of Cardiff University was published in the British Journal of Psychology.  Previous research has shown that chewing gum can improve concentration in visual memory tasks. This study focused on the potential benefits of chewing gum during an audio memory task.  Kate Morgan, author of the study explained: "It's been well established by previous research that chewing gum can benefit some areas of cognition. In our study we focused on an audio task that involved short-term memory recall to see if chewing gum would improve concentration; especially in the latter... read more

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