At this time of year, my school-based team is focused on helping our new students transition from elementary to middle school. One of the things that we have identified that kids need help with is developing effective study skills. All too often, students will write down "study for test" in their planner but they have no earthly idea what studying should look like. They also rarely have identified what study techniques work best for them as individuals. Consequently, our team decided to teach these skills to our students in the month of September. Gretchen and I created an easy one pager to help kids develop study skills and find what works for them.
Our simple Study Skills Ideas page offers a starting point as you begin to help kids learn strategies for studying. One way to use it might be to first have kids brainstorm how they study in small groups and record that information. Then pass out the Study Skills Ideas page and talk through it. As you do, have them check off the strategies they already use. If their group came up with an idea that isn't on the page, have them share it with the class and add it to the back of the paper as another study option. Next, ask students to identify a new skill that they might be willing to try (they can circle it, put a star by it). I use colored paper to make my copies so that this page is bright and easily stands out, as I know that we will refer back to it often throughout the course of the year. I am very clear that this is not all of the study techniques in the world; the Study Skills Ideas page is a jumping off place, not a definitive list.
I also recommend sharing the page with parents. Often parents want to help, but they might not have strategies at their finger tips to try with their student. Additionally, I usually fold in instruction of these strategies with growth mindset and information about how the brain learns information. I love this video and have my kids watch it and hunt for three new things they learn about how the brain works. We then record the information in a class anchor chart for easy reference.
In teaching study skills, three things are key: Choice, Revisiting, and Explicit Instruction (discussion and modeling of the skill). I love teaching history, but I also believe that it is vital for me to take time out of teaching my curriculum to develop these life-long skills that will help my students regardless of the academic path they take. As I often explain to parents, I've yet to have one of my students become a historian (there is always hope!) so it's my job to use history to help teach my students not only content, but the skills they need to be life-long learners and successful in whatever life path they choose.
What strategies do you use to help kids learn to study? We'd love to hear from you!
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