Monday, November 10, 2014

Teaching Students Study Skills

When I completed my teaching certification in 2001 and was hired by a school to teach history, I was excited to try out all that I learned from the amazing professors at my university. However, what I found is that although many of their techniques and philosophies could be employed successfully in the classroom, some basic skills still needed to be taught in a rudimentary, perhaps old-fashioned manner.

One of the skills most lacking is how to prepare for a test. Many students simply do not know how to study, and while my role is to engage them in the material, I also embrace teaching student study skills that they can use across the curriculum. This is especially true teaching ELL students.

During the first semester of the course, I model different ways to prepare for quizzes and tests. Second semester, I ask them to choose among the models I've demonstrated and use the one that works for them.

One skills that students needed to be taught is how to use both their notes and class and textbook to study. Even with all of the technology we employ, including posting lessons and notes online, often times the students don't remember or bother to look at them. Or if we are using many different types of resources, they don't know how to organize them to prepare for a test.

Here are two techniques I have used thus far in ELL History.

The first is to create a chart and take the terms that the students learned from two sections and contextualize them (not just define) using their textbook and what we covered in class. The last column is a place for them to ask clarifying questions.

Using Google Docs, after they have completed most of the review sheet, I can then get them feedback as to what they are still missing. For example, if they didn't include anything about pyramids, I would write, "Remember the pyramid game that we played? What were the lessons that we learned from that?"

For the test that will be given next week, I've created a chart for them to fill out that compares empires.

In summary, while we can't learn the information for them, we can teach them how to study so that they can succeed to the best of their abilities.

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