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I've been an educator for nearly 20 years, first as a high school history and language teacher, and now more than ten years as a private tutor and study coach. I have spent thousands of hours, one-on-one, with students in middle school, high school, and college, and I have zeroed in on some simple and concrete strategies for helping them manage their independent studies. As schools begin to close down for extended periods, sometimes moving to remote instruction, a great portion of the responsibility for learning is now in the students' hands. Self-management will be crucial in making these studies effective, and I believe the strategies below will prove useful. So without further ado - How To Succeed In School Without Teachers (Or A School)   Creating a plan that is SPECIFIC is key. Sit down, and on paper or screen answer these questions: WHEN will I do my work? First, sketch out a broad plan for the coming week using Google calendar... read more

  Your elementary school-aged child has been getting good grades and seems to enjoy school. Homework is getting done. Text and quiz scores are all "A" and "B." Then your child begins middle school or junior high school and suddenly you realize that your elementary school scholar is a complete mess. Homework, which you know was done, isn't getting handed in. You find yourself saying, "When were you going to tell me that this project which is worth 1/2 of your grade is due on Monday and you need all these supplies?" Is it just the approach of the teen years or is something else going on?   The answer is - it's a little bit of both. Elementary school-aged students often depend on their memory to store and recall information. They seem to be very bright and they don't seem to need to study very much. However, when the workload of middle school or junior high falls upon them, if the only study skill they have learned is to rely on their... read more

I have been using a planner since the beginning of my elementary education. Clearly, in Elementary school it was more of a way for my teacher to update my parents on my assignments, and I couldn't really understand the personal benefits of it yet. In high school, when my work load became more complicated by seven classes, which each had a different teacher, my planner became invaluable to me. It was during high school that I began color-coding my planner, which I have kept up to this day.   I am aware that many schools provide each student with a planner, but unfortunately many students neglect the usefulness of such a thing and they become merely a weight at the bottom of their book bag. If you ask your child/student why they didn't turn in this or that assignment and a common response is "I forgot," then it's time to talk to them about the magic of a planner. We are all human, and as such are subject to lapses in our memory. An organized planner is our tool... read more

Organization & Study Skill Tips for Middle School and HS Students 1. Calm Attitude- Be calm & patient. Don’t beat yourself up! 2. A place to study/appropriate environment- Large desk or table surface. Room for all of your books, computer/tablet, pens, notes. Good lighting and a sturdy chair. Bring snacks to you, don’t leave to get them. 3. System for keeping track of important notes- tabbed binder, folders, clean locker and book bag. 4. Planner or Calendar to track assignments, tests and long term projects 5. Estimate how long each project/assignment will take- Develop a realistic schedule with built in study breaks, around the sports, etc. 6. Break up big projects into smaller ones- Break up research projects and papers into more manageable chunks. 7. Communicate with your teachers- Know what assignments are due, upcoming and missing. 8. Take good notes and pay attention in class- Write down the main ideas; abbreviate; draw pictures, diagrams... read more

The majority of the students that I have often have the same problem -- they aren't grasping the information fast enough or they aren't really able to follow the lessons a teacher gives.   Sometimes, teachers aren't adaptive to every learning style for each student in their classroom.  However, know that each student has the capability to learn math on their own.  It is just necessary to have key characteristics to make it successful.   Every math student should have: patience motivation adaptability organizational skills open communication between themselves and their teacher (inside and outside the classroom) breaks!! :)   Study Tips Always try to study outside of your home or dorm room. In our minds, those are places that we relax at and it can be difficult to turn your mind off from the distractions to study. Public libraries, universities, coffee shops, and bookstores are the way to go. Some... 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. 

Getting back into the habit of doing schoolwork, studying, and preparing for classes is difficult to do after a long summer of fun. It's easy to put off preparing for school when school isn't in session.   A good practice is to set aside at least 30 minutes a day to read. Try not to just read for pleasure. Find some topics that interest you and look up scholarly articles on the subject. Doing this will help you get back in the habit of thinking critically and engaging with higher-level subject matter.    Additionally, try and do a little bit of writing everyday. It doesn't have to be essay length (or quality, for that matter), but try and at least write down some notes from your readings, writing a summary of what you read that day, or even doing a little creative writing.    A good habit to begin during the summer is to make a calendar. If you know you have a future obligation, write it down. This will keep you organized and will ensure... read more

Got this topic from WyzAnt this morning: How should students prepare to go back to school if they only have a few minutes to spare each day? Good question.  I think it's important to spend some time thinking about the big picture of the coming year and getting organized, so that you start out on the right foot.  I believe it's a very personal question, since as a student you have to decide what you want to get out of the coming school year as opposed to the previous one.  What areas did you feel you were lacking?  What are you most excited about?  What are you least excited about or most dreading? And why? Here's something that doesn't occur to a lot of people: what format are you learning in? I'm talking about two distinct things here – your supplies and setup, and the way you approach classes. Let's look at supplies and setup first. Think about your usual note-taking setup... read more

The key to avoid falling behind in school is good planning. Figure out which subjects are most challenging and plan to spend more time studying those subjects. Though it can be challenging, do your homework right after school while the material from that day is still fresh in your mind. Good luck to all students returning to school!

In response to Wyzant's question, "How should students prepare to go back to school if they only have a few minutes to spare each day," I say focus on time management. How are you going to keep track of assignments? How are you going to remember your homework? When are you going to study for tests? How are you going to keep on top of long term projects without procrastinating?    If you don't have a calendar or daily planner, get one. You need to put all your assignments for all your classes in one place. Not needing to look in six different places to find out what you need to do for homework each night will save you a great deal of time. All homework assignments should be in the same place.   The same is true for homework sheets and papers; they should be in the same place. You should have a folder or a front pocket of a 3-ring binder that is dedicated only to homework papers. If you use a folder, you can use one side for worksheets still to... read more

The biggest issue I run into in training others in PowerPoint is that people don't realize that PowerPoint is there ONLY to assist you in making a presentation. YOU are the one with the knowledge; PowerPoint is just there to help you organize that knowledge. The real issue in making presentations is your connection to the audience. So don't make the mistake that knowing PowerPoint better will make that connection better. THAT has to come from YOU. Once you come to terms with that knowledge, you'll really begin to see the limitations of PowerPoint - if you don't work around those limitations, PowerPoint will get in your way. There is, for example, an e-book out there entitled "How PowerPoint Makes You Stupid." Because if we don't use PowerPoint rightly, we can't be anything but, no matter how well we know the program. So here's what your presentation skills must encompass apart from PowerPoint: (1) You must have information to present besides what's on the slides.... read more

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