While many teachers discuss the importance of good study skills and their connection to academic success, few allow students ample practice within the classroom. Here are some suggestions middle school teachers can implement to help their students master these essential skills.
Set High Expectations for Study Skills
Teachers can start the new school year with a review of important study skills. Students can break into groups to create a list of important study skills, including organizational strategies, homework completion, and general study habits.
Students should rate these skills on a scale of one through ten to identify which they use most effectively, a ten, and least effectively, a one. Then, the class should discuss as a whole group which skills they would most like to improve this year. Once students have agreed on five or six important skills, they should create a class poster articulating these skills and display it prominently in the classroom.
A sample poster identifying important study skills goals for the class could resemble the following.
- plan a weekly schedule for homework and classwork using their teachers’ outline as a guide
- write down in daily planner weekly deadlines for reading assignments as well as upcoming assignments/quizzes
- obtain and complete missed work following an absence
- visit teachers during lunch or after school for extra help or to make up missed assignments
- prioritize reading assignments and meet weekly reading deadlines as evidenced on their individual reading cards
Establish Class Routines to Reinforce Study Skills
Middle school students need continuous reinforcement to establish effective study skills. While students may have learned how to take notes, write down homework assignments, and organize their classwork efficiently in elementary school, they need regular practice applying these strategies to middle school work.
It is one thing for students to know what they should do – and another thing entirely for them to actually perform the task. Therefore, teachers who guide students with specific practice in class will notice improved student performance in the long term.
Teachers should establish clear daily routines in their classrooms so students know what to expect each day. If teachers want their students to be organized, they must appear organized themselves and model appropriate behavior.
With this in mind, teachers can write a daily agenda on the whiteboard listed expectations and assignments due. Even though time is limited, they should also give students class time to organize their binders and other materials. Remember, students need time to mentally transition from one class to the next.
By encouraging students at the beginning of class to pull out stray papers from their backpacks and find an appropriate storage place for them, teachers will allow students that transition time.
In addition, teachers can help students develop study routines by:
- informing students well in advance when they can expect tests, quizzes, and project deadlines and insisting they write these dates in their daily planners
- providing students with organizational tools, such as staplers, hole punchers, index cards, and sticky notes
- modeling for students how to properly maintain their binders, notebooks, and instructional materials
Teachers should strive to help students develop daily routines in the classroom. Students who practice good study skills in the classroom will eventually transfer these skills at home as well. The ultimate goal is for middle school students to work efficiently and autonomously.