Archives

Going to a College Fair

college fair

Attending a National College Fair is a great opportunity for students in grades 8-12 to talk with representatives from a variety of schools. Plus, learn about scholarship information, financial aid and how to complete the FAFSA, tips for athletes, college essay tips, and much more! There are 92 college National College Fairs offered across the United States in 2017 with over 1,800 colleges and universities participating.  Go to www.gotomyncf.com to locate and register for a fair close to you. It’s FREE! Yippee!

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Remain open minded: Some students have their sights fixed on a particular school. The college fair is a unique opportunity to discover schools you may not have considered.
  • Bring a shopping bag: Vendors are going to hand you a ton of stuff. Have a bag with you so you don’t have to carry stuff around in your hands. When you go home and have more time you can lay everything out and sort through it all.
  • Pen and small pad of paper in case you need to take notes. Using the Evernote app on your phone is also a good option.
  • Do make a plan beforehand. There will be a ton of colleges and universities at the college fair. Take the time to plan which schools are a priority for you to visit.
  • Decide what you will wear to the fair. There is no need to get all dressed up but you want to leave a good impression so dress appropriately.
  • If you have a resume listing your achievements, GPA, test scores, activities you are involved in it is good to bring copies with you to hand out to representatives.
  • Talk to everyone! Don’t just add your name and email to a list. Introduce yourself to the representatives.
  • Write out specific questions you have for schools and take notes as you go. *(PLEASE! Think about the messages your questions give the admissions rep.) Ex. I heard your school is a party school. vs. What is the graduation rate at your school? Click HERE for 30 Questions to Ask at an Education Fair.
  • Follow up! Ask for contact information from the people you speak to or ask if they have a business card. Ex. “It was so nice to meet you and hear about [name of school]. Thank you for taking the time. I’m hoping to visit your campus sometime in the future. May I have your business card? I’d love to keep in touch.” After the fair email them thanking them for their time and express why you have an interest in that particular school and that you can’t wait to visit.

COLLEGE FAIR TIPS

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT TO A NATIONAL COLLEGE FAIR

 

Melanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

The Ultimate Back to School Guide for 2017

back-to-school-1622789_1280

Before you go shopping do this!

  • Go through your closet and drawers in your room. Collect all the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Be realistic! Take them to Plato’s Closet to earn some cash for which you can use to go back to school shopping.
  • Where will you be doing most of your studying? Take time to plan how you want your study environment to look. Make a list of the items you need for your work space. Hobby Lobby has great options! Don’t forget your 40% off coupon!
  • When you are making your list and shopping for items consider color. What is your favorite color? Incorporate this color into your environment and school items. It will help you focus and make you happy.
  • Grab your supply list that you received from school. I f you did not receive one see my advice below.
  • Check online first! Click HERE to see how to score killer deals online with Amazon, AppleWalmartStaples, and Barnes and Noble.

The items the school doesn’t tell you that you need!

Lap Desk: For those times when you feel like writing in bed or on the couch.

Dry erase board and markers: These are great study tools! You can brainstorm ideas, work out problems, etc. Use them when you are studying with friends.

Ear buds FOR SCHOOL: Yes. I know you probably own ear buds, but have some that you only keep in your backpack. Have another pair that are only kept at home.

Water bottle: Staying hydrated means you can stay focused!

Fidget tool/ toy: No, I don’t mean a spinner. Something that doesn’t make noise but will help you focus. I mean a stress ball, a funky eraser, spiral key ring, etc.

First day outfit: This is important to every middle and high schooler’s mental well being. Having an outfit they like will give them a confidence boost.

Learning assessment: Take an online Self Portrait Learning Assessment with Student Futures and then get together with Academic Coach, Melanie Black, for a 60 minute session about how to take advantage of your strengths. Read more about the assessment HERE.

Planner: Choose wisely! Don’t just go for a pretty cover. Be realistic. Look at the structure, size, layout, etc. Read my post about planners HERE.

Essentail Oils: EO’s are all the rage right now. Rosemary has been scientifically proven to help with focus and concentration. Vetiver has been proven to help students with ADD and ADHD. Need a pick me up? Peppermint and Eucalyptus will give you a boost if needed.

Accordion file: Chances are your binders will fill up fast. In the middle of a quarter or at the end take those papers and file them. Label a section for each class. You might need them again before the end of the school year so it is wise to keep them organized and accessible.

Mints: They help you regain focus when needed.

A quick note about supply lists and shopping.

Some students don’t know the supplies needed for their classes until the first day of school. Yes. It is frustrating. Do NOT go out and buy folders, binders, and notebooks if you do not know what specifically the teacher wants your student(s) to have. This will only make you waste money and time. Get one small notebook and a pen or pencil, and use that the first day or two of school. You will have to take your student shopping for supplies. Quite possibly during the week in the evening. Grab some Chik-Fil-A or go to Panera for supper and go shopping.

The best apps for students.

While technology can be understandably distracting to students it can be useful in helping them succeed too. These days there is an app for everything. I have compiled my favorites and categorized them for students HERE. This list is meant to address the whole student, not just academics. There are apps that help students with anxiety, time management, study strategies, and life skills.  I am not advising to download all these apps. Some of them are very similar. Check them out and see which ones will work for you. Click HERE to see the list of apps.

Don’t forget to breathe. Have fun. Wishing everyone a successful stress free 2017-2018 school year. 

bus-1319360_1280

 

How to Handle a Disappointing Report Card

father and son huggingThe school year is over and by now you probably know your teen’s fourth quarter grades. It’s been a long year but now the whole family can breathe because it’s over. As you look at the last report card you might be thinking:

Grades improved but less than expected.
Grades and attitude both need improvement.
Grades greatly improved.
Grades stayed the same but attitude and effort improved.
Some grades improved but others dropped.
Your student failed even though they worked hard.

When you look at your teen’s report card and don’t see the grades you hoped for remember that grades don’t define a person. Grades do not reflect one’s intelligence. Obviously grades do matter in school because they affect GPA which matters when students apply to college or university. However, there are several other factors that determine a student’s success in school such as passion, creativity, emotions, etc., and it is important to address them when reflecting on a report card and the school year as a whole. How parents handle the results of the last report card could greatly affect the student’s next school year.

photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/256/19751739181_ee9f90344a_b.jpg

photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/256/19751739181_ee9f90344a_b.jpg

Intelligence is not fixed! It is important that parents get this message across to their students. Some people believe they are just never going to be good at math. You might hear them say, “I am not a math person.” You might hear those who have not had success in English say, “I am not a writer.” This is a fixed mindset and in order to help teens succeed we must teach them how to have a growth mindset and encourage them to learn from disappointments such as low report card grades. Don’t let them give up on any subject! We can all learn anything we want to but the way we learn is different and need to recognize how that affects us.

Failure is an option! Having setbacks are a good thing! I know as parents we don’t want our kids to fail. We want to protect them. However, sometimes they don’t do as well as they wanted and it’s ok because it gives parents an opportunity to teach their teen how to learn from failure. Ask them what worked and didn’t work this school year. Talk about what they want to do different or the same next year to be more successful. Make some new strategies. Focus on learning from the situation rather than concentrating on their abilities.

 

Finals: Defeating Test Anxiety

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniferrr/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniferrr/

Test Anxiety: Don’t Panic!

Sometimes no matter how hard you’ve worked to prepare for a test, anxiety can prevent you from performing to your full potential. Students get test anxiety for reasons such as fear of failure, lack of preparation, and poor test history. It can affect them physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Thus, affecting their results on the exam and their overall grade in a course.

I have had test anxiety ever since I was in elementary school. It only got worse when I was in college and university. The minute I received the test I felt my heart pound harder and harder. My face felt hot and my body became extremely tense. Timed tests only made the situation more stressful.

There are several ways to deal with test anxiety. Don’t suffer! Here are some strategies to help students overcome all the stress that comes with taking tests, especially timed tests.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

MOVE
Move around while studying. Stretch. Take Breaks. Walk around with your study sheets and flash cards and read them aloud.
MINDFULNESS
Breathe! “If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long.” – Ted Dorsey
My favorite free mindfulness apps are MindShift and Breathe
FIDGET
Focus with fidget toys. Fat Brain Toys has the ultimate selection of fidget toys, which are searchable by age. Also, use small things such as a bracelet or necklace.
SLEEP
Get plenty of sleep. Don’t study while tired. If you are tired then stop. You will not retain anything if you are exhausted.
EAT
Always eat breakfast! During a test maintain your focus with a peppermint candy, gum, or a piece of chocolate.
PLAN AHEAD
Create a study plan two weeks in advance with a study schedule and specific strategies that will help you retain what you need to know.
MUSIC
Create a study playlist. Pick your power song and listen to it before the test for motivation.
TIME MANAGEMENT
Don’t panic when students start handing in their papers. There’s no reward for finishing first. If there’s answer you don’t know skip it and come back to it later.

 

 

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a trained academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

Final Exam Preparation Tips for Students

 

cat finalsStart preparing now!

Finals are a time when you get to show off. Whether it’s an exam or presentation this is your chance to display how far you’ve come in a particular subject, how much you’ve learned.  Show your teachers and professors how awesome you are. What do you want to do with what you’ve learned this year or semester? What will your reward be after final exams are completed? How will you celebrate? The reward is super important to have in mind while studying and completing final exams.

 

 

 Students:

Create a study schedule at least 2 weeks or more in advance for finals. Your plan should state what subjects you are studying when and for how long, as well as noting specific study strategies you will use. Just saying you will study or review a chapter is not specific enough. The best way to retain info is to actively study the information, not just read over it. For help read my post on studying and the brain.

When you are making your plan  think about how much time you want to put aside each night for studying? For example, if it is 2 hours then, you need to decide what you want to study in those two hours each night. It could be 1 hour of math and then 1 hour of English.  Depending on how many subjects you have to study for the next night you may spend your two hours studying science and history. The first week you will probably study each subject more than once for about an hour at a time. At the beginning of the second week those hour-long segments should be shortened to 30-45 minutes. Towards the end of the second week the 30-45 min. should be shortened again. When you are a couple of days away from finals there should be NO CRAMMING because you have utilized what’s called the “Curve of Forgetting,” where you study a little bit at a time on a consistent basis. This is the BEST STUDY METHOD!  Write out your plan and post it where you can see it everyday. You might even want to utilize your smart phone to set reminders. Also, see my post about Test Taking: Tips, Strategies, & How to Reduce Anxiety. Lots of helpful stuff!

Parents:

Here’s how you can help your student with the stresses and anxiety brought about by final exams. Be positive and a good listener. Sometimes students don’t need you to tell them what to do. They just need someone to listen and empathize. Purchase one of our Finals Survival Kits or put together your own. They will be so grateful to you for caring.

Photo Credit: https://vulcanvillage.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/final-exams-yes1.png

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

 

Photo Credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/e6/75/69/e675697a7d99100ee7f1e7c6e2b6551b.jpg

Photo Credit: https://vulcanvillage.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/final-exams-yes1.png

 

2016 Summer Opportunities for Teens

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pustovit/

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pustovit/

 

Start thinking about your summer plans now. Various places in Jacksonville and surrounding areas are taking applications and they usually have to be submitted soon. There are lots of opportunities out there for teens to gain valuable experiences depending on their interests. If you don’t see something that interests you but know of an organization you would like to get involved in just call them up and ask if they have any opportunities available. Using your time wisely over the summer can greatly benefit students when applying to colleges and universities. Admissions are looking for individuals who have been active in their community.


Benefits of Community Service for Teens

Develop a sense of social responsibility

Exposure to diversity and multiculturalism.

Builds relationships and network with peers, adults, and others.

Improves communication and critical thinking skills.

Stand out among other applicants at a college or university

Discover passions and interests that lead to a career choice


Use the links below to discover local opportunities for teens 

Medical Field (volunteer)

UF Health
Nemours
Baptist Health
American Red Cross

Animals (volunteer)

Jacksonville Zoo
Jacksonville Humane Society

The Arts (camp/ course)

Florida Film Academy at Flagler College
UNF Summer Music Camp for Middle and High School Students

STEM (camp/ course/ internship)

UNF Summer Tech Camps for Kids and Teens
(MOSH) Museum of Science and History Teen Internship Program

Jobs

Summer Jobs for Teens

 Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

Brain Food to Help Students Study

FullSizeRender (10)

I am currently working on another big project for Student Futures. For lunch I decided I needed some brain food to help me stay focused. I had a craving for nut butter and strawberries so I made myself a delicious sandwich with whole grain bread, freshly sliced strawberries, almond butter, and honey. I should add that this sandwich is just as yummy if you switch the berries for apple slices. Of course there was dessert! I had a piece of Dove almond dark chocolate. Choosing the right foods for your meals and snacks is super important when studying and working.

 

 

IMG_4045

You are what you eat. What you eat affects how you think and feel.

University of Rochester Department of Chemistry researcher Joshua Geiger says that fruit provides the best energy for evening study periods between 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. However, while your brain requires glucose to function, sugary foods, processed carbohydrates and soft drinks can lead to blood sugar spikes followed by drops that can cause fatigue and food cravings and leave you unable to focus. In particular, avoid eating sweets and sugary foods at night, or when you haven’t eaten regularly, because these foods are digested more rapidly on an empty stomach.

 

Top Brain Foods to Help Students StudyIMG_4046

Whole Grains: Eating whole grain foods can enhance memory function and enable you to get better grades. Give yourself an energy boost while studying by chowing down on whole grain breads, crackers, and pasta.

Dark Chocolate: According to WebMD “Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood.” However, this is one brain food where less is better for you. A small piece of dark chocolate is all you need.

Berries: Next time you are studying for a test or exam eat a handful of berries. The have significant health effects directly related to brain function. Not only do these colorful and flavorful snacks act as antioxidants, but they also reduce levels of toxins in your bloodstream, improving blood flow to the brain, and enhancing brain activity.

IMG_4049Nuts: Go nuts! Nuts like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain vitamin E and fatty acids that help your brain perform at its best. Nuts are also a good source of iron which provides oxygen to the brain, increasing making you more mentally alert and able to retain information. They make for a great energy boost when needed too.

 

 

Fish: Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain development. The fatty acids in fish help us focus more and study better.

Apples: The peel of the apple is made up of an antioxidant called quercetin that heightens memory function, which makes an apple a great study snack.

Beans: The brain needs glucose for to keep going. Beans stabilize blood sugar levels. Beans give you the energy you need to keep going while studying for those final exams. Personally, I love carrots and hummus. Hummus is made of garbanzo beans. Beans also contain folic acid which helps with retention.

BON APPETIT! 

IMG_4054IMG_4055

 Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

Creating a Study Environment for Succcess

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitakhart/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitakhart/

A primary goal in educating youth is to make them lifelong learners. Students’ future success depends on how motivated they are to learn and develop new knowledge and ideas on their own. The foundation for these skills starts with study habits in and out of school. So much of our learning takes place outside of school.
The study environment needs to promote positive habits. We want students to think about the concepts they are learning, but we don’t want the environment to cause distractions from studying.

My study/work environment

When I was studying in college and university I rarely studied at home or the library. My go to place was Starbucks. I was able to sit there for 2-3 hours with my white mocha and study. It was a relaxing study environment for me, which also helped me be productive. However, if I was working on a midterm/ final paper or presentation I usually stayed home and worked on the computer. For some reason I felt more comfortable working at home when trying to do the bigger projects and papers.

Now, my home office is where I like to be productive. I have a craft desk with a drafting chair, which may sound odd considering I am not an architect, but that chair helps me keep good posture while working. All my office supplies are strategically placed for easy access. On my corkboard I have pictures of family, my running medals, as well as some cards I received with encouraging and loving words. All of which are reminders of how far I have come and great motivation to move forward.

Tips and Ideas for Creating a Study Environment Conducive to Productivity and Success

Location

Students have to think about where the best place is to study. It could be their room, outside on the porch with natural sunlight, at a public place, library, etc. Some students may prefer to study a certain subject in one place but study for another in a different place. When choosing a location consider how background noise affects studying. If studying in public, opt either for a quiet table in the corner or a spot right in the middle of it all, where there’s so much noise and buzz that you won’t get distracted by one conversation. And if all else fails, pick up and move away from distracting people when necessary.

Many students, especially those who are easily distracted or who have trouble keeping their attention focused, will find that it doesn’t take much noise to pull them away from their studying. Do you do better in silence, or are you the kind of student who thrives amid the buzz of background noise? Try a few settings, and pay attention to how each study session goes. Give the library a go one day, and see how that hushed environment works out. The next day, try a coffee shop or the park. Find a spot that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable, and make it your go-to study location.

Minimize Distractions

Students tend to be attached to smart phones constantly texting, and using social media. Students have developed the habit of checking these sources several times hourly. Those habits break into a their concentration during study, shifting their attention, and taking time and focus away from studying. This affects retention and the amount of time it takes to get work done.

To create a more effective work environment, create a distraction-free zone during work time. Clear off your desk so only the necessary study supplies are within reach. Keep the smart phones out of arm’s reach. Remove instant messaging from the computer and ban Facebook during study time. Self Control is a great app to block social media. Click HERE to read about six more apps for your PC or mobile device that will block social media distractions.

The Work Space

A student’s workspace should be set up so that they do not need to search each day for the supplies they need. If using a desk it should be set up the same way each day. If a student is studying at a communal table at home then they should have a nearby bin or tray with supplies where they can regularly find what they need without having to spend a lot of time thinking about how to prepare for studying.

Posture for Studying

It is common to see students writing briefly at a desk, then working from a laptop computer on the floor, and then lying down on the couch to read a book.

“It is hard to maintain the same level of concentration when lying on the floor or propped up in bed as when sitting at a desk. The body’s habit when lying down is to relax and sleep. It is not helpful for students to have to fight that tendency when studying. In addition, lying down promotes passive reading. It is hard to take notes or type while lying down. So students who are lying down are playing a less active role in their learning than those who are sitting up.” Edutopia

Click HERE to read my post about how posture affects students and simple techniques for keeping good posture.

Music

A lot of us listen to music while we read, write, and research. But does music help or hurt studying? The answer depends on the individual. Personally, I am a huge advocate for using music while studying. Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure. Our brain can use that structure to get things done. When the music comes on it tells you it’s time to go. Eventually after listening to the playlist often one can develop a sense of time. For example, if I hear Taylor Swift I might realize I am 15 min. into my work. Then, when I hear the Beatles I know I am close to the end of my 30 min work session and it’s almost time for a break. The playlist strategy can help students gain a sense of time and motivate them as well.

The Clock

When studying, the clock can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Keeping an eye on the time can give you a sense of urgency, or it can be that thing you keep glancing at, distracting you from your work.

Use the clock to your advantage. Set time-related goals: Before you start an assignment or task, decide what time you plan to finish. Use the clock to keep you moving forward. The pomodoro app is a great way to help students stay on task as well as take much needed breaks in between.

Other People

Study groups or buddies can be very helpful, or very frustrating. If you like to study in groups, come prepared. Show up with a clear agenda of what you want to accomplish, questions you want to discuss, help you might need. Avoid wasting time with chatting or without a clear direction for your study group.

Feng Shui and Motivation

Take some time to create a clean, organized, neat workspace for studying, and then make every effort to keep it that way. Remember that a cluttered learning environment clutters the mind.

When organizing your study area consider your motivators for success. If you have an award/ medal you have earned or certificate you are proud of hang it up and make it visible. Past successes motivate us to do well. If you have a college or university in mind post a picture or brochure related to that school to remind you of your long term goal, your why.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

Should Students Have to Take Advanced Math?

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/acidwashphotography/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/acidwashphotography/

 

Yesterday, I read an article from NPR titled, “Let’s Stop Requiring Advanced Math, A New Book Argues.” I was aggravated when I read the article because I disagreed with the ideas mentioned from the book, “The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions” by Andrew Hacker, a political science professor.

“Hacker’s central argument is that advanced mathematics requirements, like algebra, trigonometry and calculus, are “a harsh and senseless hurdle” keeping far too many Americans from completing their educations and leading productive lives.I don’t think the author is calling to “dumb it down.” He’s calling to make the interpretation of numbers and math easier for everyone, which in the long run, will make all of us smarter.” NPR

My Relationship History with Math

As a college and university student I struggled with math. Math courses were the most challenging. I would spend 2-3 hours sitting in Starbucks doing practice problems to prepare for tests and exams. I failed the math portion of a standardized test in college. I took Saturday classes that were three hours long so I could retake the test and pass, which I did. This does not mean I hate math. I am proud to say that statistics, algebra, and geometry made me stronger and increased my critical thinking skills.

Unfortunately, it appears that math is more feared or revered than understood. I used to have the mindset that I just wasn’t a “math person,” or “I can’t do math.” Today, I have a different attitude and encourage my students not to have the negative mindset I once had with any subject. I believe we can learn anything. Math may take more practice and effort for some than others. Similarly, writing an essay may come more naturally to some people than others. We are all very different and learn differently. We have different strengths and weaknesses. Just because we are weak in a subject does not mean we give up and think we can’t do it.

Should Students be Required to Take Advanced Math Courses?

I think so. I disagree with Hacker. He argues that a large percentage of people drop out of high school and college. However, people drop out for so many other reasons as well. It seems like he is arguing that universities should cater more to the average rather than pursuing excellence. What argument do we have then when someone asks why the average person should learn Shakespeare or history or even political science?

When I was in 8th grade I was required to read “The Giver.” I still have my copy from 8th grade as this book was incredibly inspiring to me and is one of my favorite books of all time. I read the book, completed the required assignment, and never needed to use it again. Was this a waste of my time?

“When you were a toddler, developing hand-eye coordination and a basic understanding of balance you probably played with blocks and built towers? When was the last time you stacked up a bunch of blocks? Probably years ago. When do you expect to do it again? Probably never. Does that mean the time you spent learning to do it was wasted? Not at all. You kept the basic skills–which had nothing at all to do with blocks, per se–and left the toys behind.” – Dr. Math

It’s not about the type of math class. I believe it is more about the teacher and how the content is presented. Perhaps we need to look at the curriculum and how it is taught rather than not teaching it at all. If I have an interest in biology, but have a teacher who is not engaging then, chances are my interest in biology will decline. The same goes for any type of math or any subject. Personally, I had no interest in history until I got to college and had a professor who taught the subject in a way that provoked my interest. I see this in students all the time. They are not interested in the subject because of how it is taught or the non-engaging assignments they have to do.

Who is Hacker to say what is worth learning for the average student? One thing I have learned is everything is worth learning. You never know what you will get out of school and your experiences. You can’t predict when you’re going to find a correlation between different concepts.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.

Studying and The Brain

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B2hRq1JnBGk/maxresdefault.jpg

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B2hRq1JnBGk/maxresdefault.jpg

What do teachers and students mean when they say review or study?

In my conversations with students they say they are going to study or review for a test. What does that mean though? Teachers will tell students to study or review a particular chapter or section before a test. However, students are not taught how to study or review material. Most students read over the textbook or their notes again and don’t interact with the material. In order for our brains to truly learn and retain the material we need to do something with what we have read.

First, we encode information by reading. The information goes into our brains and we become familiar with the material. Then, we need to retrieve the information to use it.  We have to get it out. In psychology this is referred to as the “retrieval effect.” “The more things you have it (information) connected to, the easier it is to pull it out, because you have lots of different ideas that can lead you to that particular material,” Mark McDaniel, a Professor of Psychology at Washington University. “And the things you retrieve get more accessible later on, and the things you don’t retrieve get pushed into the background and become harder to retrieve next time.” Hence, the reason why students need various strategies and quizzable tools when preparing for tests. Students need to quiz themselves before the teacher does to see how much they know and reflect on how to retrieve the information in the future.

Tips to help students successfully “retrieve” information for tests:

  1. Stop using the words, study and review. Be specific! How will you study or review for a test? For example, I am going to make flashcards for Spanish class, or I am going to quiz myself for my math test by completing practice questions.
  2. Form or join a study group where you can quiz your friend(s). Two heads are better than one! In your group you could each make up 5 test questions and exchange and discuss them.
  3. Take notes in a format where you can quiz yourself later. Cornell Notesare great or write the term on one line and then below it write the definition. This way you can fold your paper up and slowly bring it down as you quiz yourself.
  4. Read your notes out loud. It might even be helpful to record yourself.
  5. Use mnemonic devices to help make the information stick. It can be a song, rhyme, acronym, image, or a phrase that helps you remember the material.
  6. Create and answer your own quiz using helpful websites like Quizlet orGoConqr.
  7. Use your senses: smell, touch, hear, see.  The more senses you use when learning material the more likely you are to remember it.
  8. Have a whiteboard at home? They are great to use when quizzing yourself or getting information “out.” Mind maps are fun to draw and help with the retrieval process.
  9. Relate the information to something you already know, something in real life.
  10. Self-questioning is a helpful habit to form! It will increase your comprehension. The following questions are great to ask yourself when checking for understanding.

How were ___ and ___ the same?  Different?
What do you think would happen if___?
What do you think caused ___ to happen?
What other solution can you think of for the problem of ___?
What might have prevented the problem of ____ from happening?
What is important about ______?  

**For more tips on how to ace tests read my post, Test Taking Tips: Strategies on How to Reduce Test Anxiety

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.