Our Study Skills classes provide a whole group mini-lesson to teach study skills or life skills. Then students complete homework with individualized study skill help from teachers. Here is what our students learn.
After attending our Study Skills classes, a parent said, “My child is really enjoying homework!” That was not the case before. A child said, "I like how I can focus on homework. At home, there are too many distractions." We are happy to take something that children can dread, and during Study Skills classes, teach children to better manage the academic side of their lives, so that they feel successful and empowered in this area.
One day during individualized study skills lesson at Study Skills Workshop, a teacher noticed a student flipping through his textbook. She asked what he was looking for. He said he was looking for the definition of a common term. She said, you know there is an index right? This middle schooler did not. She showed him. He must not have been paying attention when they went over this in 3rd grade, and what a difference this will make in school going forward, and the time his homework takes. This is what we train teachers to do - to be very, very observant and teach individualized study skills that make a difference.
Working effectively in teams is an important life skill. We often hear college administrators and employers bemoan the lack of ability in this area. This week, we are teaching the students the latest research on how different work personalities can work together most effectively. Day one students learned about Marathoners vs. Sprinters vs. Procrastinators.
Marathoners: Marathoners like to start early, and do a little bit of work each day. They like to have plenty of time. They dislike tight deadlines. They are slow and steady, and do their best work when they have plenty of time. Pro: They get it done without a lot of stress. Con: Marathoners may freak out if given a tight deadline. They may get frustrated with the other two types.
Sprinters: Sprinters love the intensity of the crunch and deadline. They like to start late and rush to completion. If they start too early, they lose interest, momentum, and waste time. They do their best most creative work with adrenaline, and it works fine for them to work to a tight deadline. Pro: Sprinters are great under pressure. Con: Sprinters can stress out those around them by waiting until last minute.
Procrastinators: Procrastinators delay starting work, but unlike sprinters who like working under a tight deadline, procrastinators really wish they had started earlier. Procrastinators don't do their best work under that much pressure. They feel anxious when they haven't started, and once they start the project they feel less anxious and then happy to finish. Their challenge is to get over the hump of starting, and then they will feel better. Not much pro to this one, but things can work out fine if they can transition to starting.
How they interact: Marathoners are driven crazy by sprinters who haven't started to work yet, and sprinters feel like the marathoners are wasting time starting so early. There can be frustration with procrastinators if they can't get over the hump of starting. All three of these styles need deadlines. If you are working with a sprinter, know they will get better work done closer to the deadline. If you are working with a procrastinator, you may need to help them get over the hump of starting. Say, let's meet and do x to get started, and then keep making them accountable along the way.
Students learn skills for managing their work personality most effectively, and how to work well with others of different styles.
We don't like teaching things in a vacuum. Children take this student skill and apply it at Innovation class. They are given the real life challenge of working with a team on creating a company, and applying what they are learning about working well with different work personalities. Here we see a multi-age team working hard on the backboard of their company for the day the store opens.
One of the requests from parents when planning curriculum was to help their students handle academic stress, particularly stress brought on by perfectionism. Students learned how to realistically look at pros and cons of different academic situations. Even when something positive happens, like getting a 100% on a test, a student can still end up quite stressed depending on how they view future pressures. We try to use real life examples such as the one illustrated above to develop practical real life skills!
Students learned how to succeed with larger long term projects. We discussed preventative measures regarding teamwork and pacing to make sure they go smoothly. We compared what works best with mistakes we have made. We learned that making mini-deadlines to create a smaller sense of urgency helps. We also learned that choosing project partners who have been trustworthy is important. If you don't have a choice of partners, stating and enforcing expectations early on can prevent the "one person does all the work" lament. Younger children got a look ahead for handling larger projects.
The class practiced active reading techniques with an amazing nonfiction piece called the "The Secret Life of Trees." The strategies are from Mosaic of Thought,The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction which researched the techniques that the most successful readers use. Students practiced highlighting, making text to text and text to self connections, as well as drawing to actively summarize what they were learning. Older children modeled this for younger children as needed.
Students did experiments and took quizzes to see if we were more visual or auditory learners, and then learned tips for ways to study depending on how our brains work best.