Niles West High School STUDY SKILLS MANUAL

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1 Niles West High School STUDY SKILLS MANUAL

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3 Table of Contents Table of Contents Organizational Skills Study Habits Study Materials Doing Your Best Using the IRC Studying English Studying ESL Studying Foreign Language Studying Math Studying Science Studying Social Studies Reading a Textbook Note-Taking Strategies for Test Preparation Strategies for Test Taking Introduction Good study skills are the key to success in school. The organizational skills covered in this handbook will help you to achieve your academic goals. Please understand that your teachers are working in a partnership with you one in which they help you develop these skills, and you must help by demonstrating your willingness to produce your best possible work. In order for you to be successful in school, you must: Attend class regularly. Spend time every evening on school work. Actively read your school textbooks, taking notes on what you read.

4 Organizational Skills Being organized Make a to-do list the evening before each school day. On the list include what you need to prepare for school, such as reviewing for tests, preparing essays, completing reading assignments and meeting with teachers. Rank activities in order of importance. Write down the details of each daily and long-term assignment in your assignment notebook. Show the date that each one is due. Review the information in your assignment notebook before you leave school. After you return from an absence, make sure to ask your teachers what assignments or tests you have missed. Then be certain to make up all work that you have missed. Planning your time Spend some time during the school day doing school work, such as in your study hall or during free time. Start with the most difficult subject on your list each time you study. Plan to do your studying when you are most awake and alert. Check off on your "to do" list what you have accomplished. Study Habits Where At School - The best places to study at school are Resource Centers, study halls, and the IRC. You may study in these areas before and after school and during your free time. Organizational Skills At Home - Find or create a quiet and private study area with work space and good lighting. Make sure your family and friends know that you are not to be interrupted while you are studying. Study Materials Keep important papers, handouts, returned homework, tests, labs, and worksheets in a notebook/folder. You will need to refer to these materials when studying for quizzes and tests. Use dividers to separate subject area materials. Keep your locker and backpack organized so that you can find books and supplies quickly. 4

5 Doing Your Best Avoid excessive or unnecessary absences. There is a direct relationship between regular attendance and success in school. If you must be absent, complete all make-up work promptly. Be certain to exchange phone numbers with a classmate to find out what you have missed. If you are having trouble, see your teacher as soon as possible. Teachers are available before or after school and in the Resource Center. Make an appointment if needed. Do all homework assignments and hand them in on time so you do not lose points for late work. Start your homework as soon as possible while the information from class is fresh in your mind. On long term assignments, start early; make a schedule and stick to it to avoid a last minute rush. Read and study the previous day s notes, lab assignments, and textbook chapters. This will enhance your understanding of the material and your ability to discuss it in class. Ask questions about material that you do not understand. If you need additional help, make an appointment to see your teacher. Participate in class discussion and activities every day. See teachers in Resource Centers (Math & Science, English & Social Studies, Foreign Language & ESL) for additional help. Doing Your Best 5

6 Using the Information Resource Center Books, periodicals, videos, and a whole lot more! IRC Hours Monday Thursday from 7:10 a.m. 7:00 p.m. Friday from 7:10 a.m. 3:10 p.m. During free time or with a class From study hall with a pass signed by a classroom teacher Ways to Use the IRC Library to research, study, complete assignments, read for pleasure, word process, access the Internet, view videos, photocopy, check out books and periodicals. AV Production Center to do video production and editing, scanning, file and graphic conversion, and use TV studio services. Writing Center to meet with an English teacher to get one-on-one help on written assignments or college essays. Materials Check Out Circulation guidelines: Books two weeks Books on tape two weeks Periodicals overnight Videos viewing in the IRC only Databases Niles West provides many electronic databases for use within the building and at home. The IRC prints a bookmark with current logins and passwords to access these databases from home. (Logins change, so remember to check for the most recent bookmark in the IRC.) Using the IRC IRC Behavior Guidelines Students are expected to have something to do in the IRC, be it research, class assignments, recreational reading or the use of technology. Students behavior and actions should respect the rights of others to study. No eating or drinking is allowed in the IRC. Please visit the IRC web page for wonderful Internet sites for students and educators, classroom bookmarks, links to our databases, MLA citation guides, and much more! 6

7 Studying English Materials Bring a notebook dedicated to English to class with you every day. Have a folder for handouts, syllabi, and graded homework. Do not throw out any graded work until you see a grade sheet or marking period grade. Have a pencil and pen with you in class every day. Get a good dictionary (not a paperback) for home use. Have a copy of the Trimmer Guide to MLA Documentation or other manual for citing sources. Obtain a library card at your local library. You will need to use it frequently for research. Resources The Writing Center is staffed by English teachers and is open from mods Make an appointment for one mod (15 minutes) in the schedule book in the Writing Center, then get a pass to go during your free time. The English/Social Studies Resource Center is open from 7:15 am to 3:30 pm. You can take make-up tests there or meet with your teachers. The Computer Lab on the second floor is open for extended hours. Consider meeting with your teacher for individual help. Many teachers will allow revision of essays even after they have been graded, and meeting with them will clarify expectations. All teachers like to work with students individually, but make an appointment with them before or after class. The National Honor Society has student tutors second semester in the IRC. Study Skills Pace yourself. Many teachers have a syllabus with long- and short-term assignments listed. Transfer these deadlines into your assignment notebook, and start essays and research projects more than one night in advance. Assume that you will be reading about 20 pages a night, more if you are in an Honors or A.P. class. Time yourself the first time you sit down to read, so you have an idea of how long 20 pages of reading will take you. Try to read the entire assignment in one sitting. If you find a selection confusing, reread the first page. If there are study questions listed at the end of the selection, answer them. When you finish reading, imagine what questions a teacher might ask on a quiz on that selection. If you have problems understanding an assignment, read it aloud. If you continue to be challenged by the reading, make an appointment with the teacher to discuss it. Studying English 7

8 Classwork Always bring whatever book you are reading to class. Bring your notebook with you to class each day and open it when class begins. Give it a date and topic, and record some notes, even just the day s general topic, every day. If you miss a class, ask a classmate for notes, then see the teacher for make-up work. Also, consult the syllabus if there is one. If you do poorly on an assignment, ask the teacher if you can meet with him to review it. Record everything the teacher writes on the board, overhead, or PowerPoint. Homework Your assignment notebook is your lifeline. Use it in every class to record homework assignments. Your assignment notebook also has the parts of speech, the writing process, MLA documentation, and guides to the Writing Process. Use it as a resource. Before you leave every day, consult your assignment notebook to see what books you ll need to bring home. Plan on about half an hour of homework a night, more if you are in an Honors or A.P. class. Studying English 8

9 Studying ESL Improving Listening Skills Listen and look carefully to the way different native speakers speak English in different situations. When listening to a speaker, focus on understanding the main idea or the general message of the speaker. Do not get frustrated if you do not understand every word. Improving Speaking Skills Look for opportunities to speak as much English as possible with native English speakers. Speak to your classmates. Use English outside of class as much as possible. Listen to yourself speak in front of a mirror or record yourself speaking English on a tape recorder. Use newly learned English words when speaking. Improving Reading Skills Read difficult material two times. The first time read for basic meaning. After finishing, take a moment and write a short summary of what you have read. Next, read the passage again and concentrate on details and specific information. Read public signs when you are in your neighborhood. Improving Vocabulary Skills Make flash cards. Remember that there are two ways of making flash cards: 1. Translating from English into your own language; 2. Translating English into easier English words. Use newly learned English words when speaking and writing. Improving Grammar Skills Complete all assigned grammar exercises. Ask for help and review the grammar point. Then do more exercises. After you have learned a new grammar concept, use it when speaking or writing. Improving Writing Skills Keep a journal in English and write in it for five minutes everyday. Complete all writing assignments and make the corrections your teacher tells you to make. Read on your free time. Remember, reading improves your writing. Studying ESL 9

10 Studying Foreign Language Listening Listen and pay attention in class. This is the first step in learning a foreign language. Always ask questions when in doubt. The teacher may assume that you understand the material if you say nothing. Speaking Learn the sounds of each letter of the alphabet of the language you are studying. Speak as much as possible in the new language, both in and outside the classroom. Volunteer often in class, raise your hand, and risk making mistakes. Remember that you and your classmates are all in the same situation. Improve your speaking ability by participating fully in oral exercises. Only use the second language when working in small group or pair activities. This will improve learning for you and your partner. Reading/Writing When reading a text, skim first for the general message, then re-read to study individual words. When going over homework in class, always correct your mistakes so that you will always have the correct information to use in your studies. Bookmark Internet sites in the second language that relate to one of your hobbies or interests so that you can read about it in your free time. Studying Foreign Language General Study Techniques Always come prepared with your textbooks, pens and pencils. Complete homework assignments and study on a daily basis. Make flashcards and bilingual lists of your vocabulary and study them regularly. Organize your materials in a notebook or folder so that you can easily access them when you need to study or complete an assignment. Finally, take notes in class. If your teacher writes something on the board, you should write it into your notes. 10

11 Studying Math What To Do Before Class Use time wisely: prioritize your work for math and other subjects. Stay organized: reorganize your notes when they begin to become messy. Complete homework: make sure you attempt all problems. Prepare questions: figure out what you understand. Then figure out what you don t understand. Write down a note to yourself to ask about a certain problem or concept. Review notes: it is never too early to begin studying or reviewing the material. The best way to understand the math is to do the math. Keep a notebook: have notes, homework, handouts, and assignment guides organized for class each day. What To Do During Class Take notes: this includes definitions, example problems, graphs, etc. Ask questions: there is an old saying, there are no stupid questions. This is true. If you do not understand, ask a question about that topic. Complete in-class work: all of the work given in class is relevant. This will help you with homework. While Studying for a Math Test Continually study: spread study out over a period of time. Ten review minutes a day is far superior to hours of last-minute cramming. Actively study: this means writing the problem on a piece of paper then trying to solve it. Do not just glance over old notes, problems, or the book. Test yourself: treat the collection of possible problems as a test. See if you can work the problems without looking at references. Explain concepts: if you can explain a process, theory, or problem to someone else, then you know it. Review everything: use prior tests and quizzes, notes, and your textbook. Using Resources and the Resource Center Understand the book: there are many practice problems, explanations, and examples in your textbook. This is the best reference next to your teacher. Schedule time with your teacher: speak with your teacher if you need additional help outside of class. Ask your teacher when he/she has free time. Visit the Resource Center: ask your teacher for a pass to the Resource Center. Teachers are available there throughout the day to help you. Interacting With Your Teacher Keep up after absences: ask your teacher about missed assignments and set up an appointment to understand missed material. Be proactive: do not wait for your teacher to come to you to offer help. Seek your teacher out when needed. Studying Math 11

12 Studying Science Scientific Language Review all new terms. Be prepared to apply these terms to the scientific concepts being taught in class. Be aware that familiar usage of terms may be different from scientific usage. Test your knowledge of these terms by preparing flash cards and/or concept maps using language that is familiar to you. Know the meaning of symbols that are used in equations. Know the metric system. Associate appropriate units with all measurements. What to Do Before a Lab Read the entire lab. Identify the problem being investigated. Create a concept map, outline or flow chart to familiarize yourself with the procedure. Explain the purpose behind each step in the procedure. Familiarize yourself with the usage of specific equipment associated with each lab. Identify the data to be collected in order to answer the problem being investigated. Create data tables to organize data collection. Bring to class questions related to the steps listed above. What to Do During a Lab Follow the prepared concept map, outline or flow chart to complete the lab. Record data using the appropriate number of significant digits. Analyze data as it is being collected to determine if it is consistent with expectations. Analyze data independently of lab partners. Repeat any data collection affected by carelessness. (Note: human error is not an acceptable explanation for any results that substantially deviate from what is expected; therefore, data collection that is flawed by human error must be repeated.) Studying Science What to Do After a Lab Think about the data collected. Look for trends and similarities before beginning detailed analysis. Choose the appropriate graphic representation for the data. Determine best-fit values. Consult with instructor to determine the best way to communicate results. Arrive at class with lab prepared to hand in. (Note: this includes having the lab stapled and your name written in the appropriate place.) General Tips for Daily Success Arrive at class prepared and on time. Bring a functioning calculator to class. Bring a textbook and materials for note-taking. Deal with modified and excused absences in a timely and appropriate manner. Be sure that you understand the assignment for the next day. 12

13 Studying Social Studies In Social Studies, you are reading for the following reasons: To Get Information Pre-reading is a quick systematic way of getting an idea of what an article, chapter, or other written material is about before you read it carefully. It provides a quick overview of the content, style, and organization of written material. This should include reading the title of the unit, chapter, section headings, diagrams, review questions, and pictures. Scanning written material is probably the fastest way to locate a specific bit of information in an article, chapter, or book. It is important when scanning to know exactly what you are looking for, and to allow your eyes to float rapidly over the page until you find it. Look for key words or related words or ideas. When reading full text, make sure that you understand the main ideas which are presented in each section. Take notes on or outline material as you read and review notes when you have finished. To determine a writer's point of view as it reflects his/her objectivity, reliability, credibility, and usefulness Always take into consideration the reliability of the sources you read and of the people who wrote what you are reading. When reading primary sources diaries, letters, autobiographies, eyewitness accounts, and other original documents and research look for bias since such sources may represent only one point of view. When reading secondary sources, biographies, reviews, reports, critical analysis, and your textbook, remember that the authors may not accurately interpret or represent or reflect the original information. Consider the credibility of the information you are reading. Are facts documented? Do they come from reliable sources? Have you read information on the same subject by writers with differing points of view? How do their writings hold up when objectively compared? To analyze and evaluate written information Assess newspaper columns, editorials and other material for credibility and accuracy. Evaluating written material requires that you have the ability to discriminate between fact and opinion. Look for qualifying words such as "apparently" and "allegedly" to signal that there is some doubt about the accuracy of the information. Look for verbs such as "think," "believe," or "feel" and adjectives such as "important" or "beautiful" to signal that what you are reading is an opinion. Studying Social Studies 13

14 Reading a Textbook Good readers continuously evaluate and self-monitor their comprehension as they are reading. Before Think about what you already know about the topic before beginning to read. Set a purpose for reading. 1. Is the purpose to answer specific questions? If so, read the questions first. 2. Is the purpose to understand major concepts? If so, take notes as you read. 3. Is the purpose to find comparisons? If so, draw a vertical line to divide a sheet of notebook paper in halves, label the comparison columns, and take notes. Predict what material you will find in the text. During Read the text with the purpose in mind. Verify or clarify the predictions you made before reading. Summarize each section as you read. If you don t understand what you are reading, do this in the following order: 1. Slow down. 2. Decide what new vocabulary words are necessary for understanding. If the words are not explained in the text, look them up in a dictionary. 3. Make mental pictures of what you are reading to increase understanding. 4. Read ahead. 5. Re-read. 6. Ask for help. Reading a Textbook After When finished reading, close the book and summarize the important points in writing. Ask yourself if you have accomplished your purpose for reading. If you have not, review the text. For example, if your purpose was to answer questions but you cannot, re-read the sections that apply to these questions. Make predictions about the next chapter. Ask the teacher about any parts of the text that you find confusing. 14

15 Note-Taking Purpose Note-taking helps you remember what happens in class and what you have read. Effective note-taking requires practice. The ultimate goal of note-taking is to record important information quickly. Use the fewest words and symbols possible. Notes should be used to review. Methods of Note-Taking Choose a method to help you organize information and connect ideas. As you become skilled at note-taking, you will modify the method. Note-Taking Hints Write down the topic of the lecture or textbook and the date. Listen for important ideas that your teacher discusses; then, write them in your own words. Don t write every word the teacher says. Write only the important words or phrases to help you remember the information. Use abbreviations or codes to help you go faster. For example: w/o = without # = number Listen for key words from your teacher. Write down what follows these key words. Key words include: one factor another thing an important point is remember Rework your notes as soon as possible after class. 1. Rewrite the materials you cannot read or may not be able to understand several weeks from now. 2. Fill in the gaps while things are fresh in your mind. 3. Identify the portions of your notes that are incomplete. 4. Make your notes complete by getting information from your text, teacher or classmates. Spend five minutes reviewing the important parts of the lecture. Try to summarize these parts in your mind and then write them down. Reorganize your notes by putting together concepts learned in past classes with what you learned today. This is a very important step in note-taking! Note Taking 15

16 Strategies for Test Preparation Tips on How to Study for a Test Develop a schedule for study time three or four days before the test. Read all the material assigned by the teacher. Organize lecture notes before you study. Plan exactly what to study and when. Review class notes and handouts. Use key words and phrases to recall specific content. Consider studying with friends who are well prepared. Anticipate possible test questions, and answer these questions using: 1. content of the class discussions. 2. outside reading. 3. your own interpretations of the material. Strategies for Objective Tests (multiple choice, fill in the blanks, etc.) Concentrate on details. Memorize facts such as names, dates and formulas. Know definitions of terms/vocabulary words. Strategies for Test Preparation Strategies for Essay Tests Concentrate on broad concepts. Memorize enough examples or facts to support your statements or conclusions. Generate possible essay questions and answers. 16

17 Strategies for Test Taking General Tips As soon as you get the test, look it over to find out the number and types of questions. Set a time schedule and check your progress. Read questions carefully, and note words such as: but, except, not and never, which can change the meaning of the question. Spend the most time on the most important questions. Check your answers before turning in the test. Multiple Choice Questions Concentrate on available choices. Eliminate all incorrect choices. Focus attention on those that remain. Matching Look at the definition column and match the definition to the correct word. Find out if answers can be used more than once. Do the ones you are absolutely sure of first. Then go back and try to reason out the rest. Strategies for Taking Essay Tests Read directions carefully, and underline key words such as or, and, list, compare and contrast. Find out how many questions you are required to answer. Scan the test, and begin to gather your thoughts. Answer questions you are sure of first. Leave time for all questions. Brainstorm and write a brief outline or map of main ideas to include in your answer. Support your position with specific examples. As part of your introduction, incorporate a portion of the question into your thesis statement. If you think of additional ideas as you write, jot them down in the margin for later use. Leave a few minutes to read over your responses. Ask yourself the following questions: 1. Have you answered all parts of each question? 2. Does the organization make sense? 3. Did you check for errors in spelling and mechanics? After Taking a Test Listen and take notes as teacher reviews the test. Ask about material you still do not understand. At home, review questions that you missed and concepts that you did not understand. If necessary, make an appointment with the teacher to discuss concepts that were difficult. Strategies for Test Taking 17

18 18 Notes

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20 Niles West High School STUDY SKILLS MANUAL Copyright 2002

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