“Student,” is a word that means, “one who studies.” When you teach children study skills, you help them become better students. That means a lot! Students who take ownership for their own learning tend to remember what they learn better and longer. They also are better at applying what they learn. Helping students build effective independent study skills is therefore a golden opportunity for the paraprofessional who works with struggling learners.
Additionally, once students have their own study and note-taking systems in place, helping them on an individual basis becomes easier. Because they have tools for tracking and isolating their own weak points, they can show you where your assistance will be most useful. Rather than just showing you a chapter and saying, “I don’t get it,” a student who has mastered study skills will be able to say, “See, I understood cell division right up until step 5, but I just can’t make myself memorize the whole process!” When students can pinpoint their own areas of struggle, their learning becomes more active, and ultimately, more interesting.
Students who have good study habits in place make the classroom more dynamic. Instruction flows better, and engagement with learning increases. The outcome is greater depth of knowledge, both for students and for instructors. The diagram below shows how instruction typically proceeds in such classrooms.
In this unit, you’ll learn how to help students create productive study environments. You will also learn how to help them develop useful study habits, such as minimizing distractions, setting up rewards systems, managing time, and limiting stress over study.
You’ll also learn about some of the most widely used methods of studying. These methods will help students excel both in their classroom work and in their independent studies.
Some of these methods have fancy names, but they are all commonsense approaches—easy to explain to students. For example, the “Pomodoro Method,” is just the practice of setting a 25-minute timer and always taking a five-minute break when the timer rings; then diving back in for more studying. The “Corsin Method” simply encourages students to ask themselves, “What, in this process of learning, don’t I understand? Where did I get lost?” We’ll elaborate on these techniques, as well as on ways to modify them to fit with individual preferences. Then, you can pass this knowledge on to the students with whom you work. In this unit we’ll cover:
- Self-assessment of learning style as a way to help students tailor study techniques to their learning style strengths
- Mnemonics: acronyms and other abbreviations to aid memorization
- Manipulatives: models, crafts, posters, flash cards, and so on
- Note-taking and organization skills: how to group ideas, details, and insights
- Textbook summary skills
- Reading-for-learning skills
- The Corsin Method
- The Pomodoro Method
- The Loci Method