As I met with students and parents at our most recent parent student teacher conferences, one idea kept repeating as I chatted with graduating students. Have you considered how our in class discussions about learning styles, note taking and study strategies might be connected to your life? Most of the students answered, “it’s good for us to learn about how we learn, but my study strategy already works well for me.” And I replied, “that’s great, have you thought about how this class can help you prepare for learning after you’re done school?”
Over the course of several conferences, we discussed the following ideas:
1) Have you actually tried any of the new study strategies suggested?
~ I encouraged students to continue using the strategies that have been working for them, but to also consider the opportunity to learn new strategies. Because what if you find something new that works or it works better. If you never take a chance to try out a new strategy, you’ll never find new ways to help learn and remember new info. I asked students to consider our class a safe place to try something new. For example, try your regular strategy and select one concept to add a new strategy. Try flash cards, making a song, drawing a picture or color coding your study notes. After the exam, reflect about that new method. Did it help? If it did, great you’ve found another strategy to add to your learning toolbox. If it didn’t, that works too. Although it does take work to try something new, you’ll never know the potential benefit until you try. After all if you find one new strategy that works, it may give you one more way to deal with new learning situations in your future.
2) Have you thought about how you are going to take notes next year?
Lots of students think that note taking will be easier with a laptop, but have you ever tried taking notes with one? Personally, I’ve found it a little bit more challenging because all of my shorthand symbols don’t work on the computer. Practice will of course make it easier, but when do you plan on trying that out? I suggested to students that they should try it out in advance. When the first day of classes arrives next fall and they are stressed out about being in a new location, they at least have a plan for taking notes. Why not talk to your teacher and bring a laptop into class on a day when you know the teacher is going to be lecturing. You can try out your lap top note taking skills, moreover, if you ask in advance you can likely get a copy of the notes (just in case you miss something). It gives you a safe place to try out something new.
– Even if you aren’t considering a lap top, you may want to test out your own note taking skills and compare them to the teacher handout or powerpoint. It will give you an idea of what strategies you need to develop before classes begin in the fall.
3) Have you considered the technological tools available to you?
– There are many tools available that will help you create flash cards. For example, Quizlet. This program enables you to create your own set of flash cards and then offers you many ways to study the material. For example, you can view typical flash cards, be asked direct questions, play games with the terminology or practice a test (including your choice of fill in the blank, matching or multiple choice.) You can also print out a page of your terms and explanations or print it out as a set of paper flash cards. The other interesting thing about Quizlet is that there is an app for that:) Quizlet is available for use on your iPod. So imagine you could be waiting for your next class, listening to music and reviewing vocabulary at the same time.
– Another example is Microsoft Office’s Onenote program that allows you to create your own collection of information. It works like a word document, however, you can easily insert pictures, powerpoint slides and other info. (It also pastes the website that you borrowed if from for you.) If you have a tablet or a touch screen you can easily write on the document or highlight info. It is a quick way to organize your thoughts and sort through information.
So the next time you come across a new learning strategy, take the time to try it out. You’ll never know if it will make learning more interesting until you try.