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Important Study Strategies for a Successful Middle School Year

Joan Sedita, M.Ed.


Study Strategies: What They Are and Why They're Important

Everyone needs the right tools and training to do their job. A carpenter must bring hammers, saws, nails and drills, and an understanding of how to handle wood in order to make a house. A plumber needs the proper tools and experience to fix a kitchen sink. Study skills instruction gives students the "tools" and the "training" they need to do a good job in school. The better a student is with reading, writing, speaking and study skills, the better he or she will be at the job of learning and being successful.


Homework and Organization

For many students, getting homework done can be very challenging and sometimes frustrating. One reason for this is that some students are just not organized, meaning they do not have everything they need to finish an assignment. The best way to help tame the "Disorganization Dragon" is with organization! Organization applies to many aspects of academic life, which include time, homework, and materials. Here we will discuss specific study strategies to assist you in becoming better organized, make completing homework assignments easier and in turn achieve better grades.


Using an Assignment Notebook

The most critical thing a student can do to help make homework time easier is to use an assignment book. Unfortunately, the assignment book doesn't fill itself in every day and it is up to you to write the correct assignment for each class under the right subject. This can be a very challenging thing to do, especially when the bell is ringing and you're thinking of what you need to bring to the next class. It can be helpful to keep your assignment book on your desk, as a reminder, until you actually write the homework in it. Don't forget to ask your teachers for help in remembering—they want you to have the right information as much as you do!


Prioritizing Homework

Before beginning a homework session, number assignments in the order in which they are to be done. Start with one that's not too long or difficult but avoid saving the longest or hardest for last. Once you have completed an assignment, cross it off your list, put the finished homework in the right folder or binder and put it in your backpack. Finally, put your backpack by the front door where you will be sure to remember it.


Timing Assignments

Also, it can be helpful to use a stopwatch to time how long it takes you to finish an assignment and write it down in your assignment book. This way, you will know for sure how long it takes you to finish your homework in each subject. For example, if you see that you are always spending two hours on Social Studies while the other students only spend one hour you can go to your teacher and he/she can help you.


Study Location

All students need to make sure they have a great place to study every day where they can be sure to get their work done. When deciding where your study spot should be, make sure that it is a quiet place where you won't get distracted by brothers or sisters or even the television. If you use a computer to complete homework, be sure there is enough room around the computer to spread your work out. Lastly, keep a supply of pens, pencils, highlighters, index cards, notebook paper, printer paper, and any other materials you'll need on hand. This will help you be prepared to complete your assignments.


Joan Sedita, M.Ed., an experienced educator, nationally recognized speaker, and author, is director of Sedita Learning Strategies, a consulting and teacher-training service.



This article is reprinted from the Student Newsletter for Success, Volume 1, January 2003, published by LDW® through a generous grant from Commonwealth Learning Center. The purpose of the Newsletter is for parents to share with their children, for teachers to distribute to their students, and for pediatricians to leave in their waiting room for clients.

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