Sunday, October 18, 2020

Study Habits Your Students Can Do

Most of the inspiration for my blogs come from my day job as a Technology Integration Specialist. But I'm also a mom and sometimes my daughters provide me inspiration. I'm taking a break from my focus on Google Classroom, but I'll come back with more soon.

This week I will be on a soapbox. Study habits - study skills - study methods. It's something I realized a long time ago as a classroom teacher that my students didn't natively know how to do. We want to believe they can and often we assume they can. But the truth is, most students don't know how.

What spurred this soapbox? My 5th grade daughter had a vocab quiz last Friday. I somehow missed it until Thursday. When I asked if she studied, she paused and then said yes. I asked how, and she replied with my least favorite response ... she said she looked at the words on her paper. Only this time, her paper was digital, so that means she stared at her computer screen. Aaaarrrggghhhh!!!! Go ahead, ask me how she did ... 😞.

Here's the deal - my daughter is a good kid. She can do well at school, but it takes effort. She doesn't mind studying, but she's not always interested IN studying. We have found methods that work for her and work really well. BUT - she has to work at it. She has to put forth energy. And she needs the push to do it. (Can I also interject that she adores her teachers?) She did ... or least she felt like she did. She's in 5th grade ... she should know, right? And as the "mean mom", I expect her to make her own study material. I will help her, but she has to do the work.

Soooooo .... what works? What are my chosen tools for this? Well - I have a couple. But it really depends on WHAT she is studying. That's the key. There isn't one perfect tool for studying. There isn't one perfect way TO study. That's also the hard part. And it's different for each student.

And now, more than ever, our students need to be taught how to create their own study material. We no longer assume they will be face-to-face and we can support them in person. We HAVE to teach them how to utilize the tools available. Using tech is ONE method. It isn't the ONLY method. Some students do better with pencil and paper. But when we provide the material to study from/with, they can create what works best. We as teachers need to help our students figure out what IS that method, or methodS. 

And that's the thing ... we have to teach them. Below are two super easy, super flexible, and super impactful tools that you can get going with to help your students (or your own children). 

Two of my favorite tools to help students study are & Quizlet.

Flippity is my favorite tool. All of the options are built from a Google Sheet. This means that all you do is make a copy of the template and customize it for your needs. This means NO account creation ... NO worries about how to log in at school or at home. The final product is a website that can be shared, posted in Classroom or another LMS, emailed home to parents, accessed on a computer, tablet, or even phone. And, it's free. Yep! Flippity has numerous templates you can use; below I highlight 3 that work really well as study tools. MAKE sure you check out all the rest! Flashcards: suggested use vocabulary words or study guides

Key features:
  • front/back traditional look
  • can be spoken for accessibility and additional support
  • images can be also be used
  • color can be changed for the card and/or the text
  • hyperlinks can be included
  • videos can be included
  • multiple ways to practice ➔ flashcards, list, matching, practice
  • generate printables Spelling Words: suggested use ➔ study spelling words. This tool will all you to create a customized list for each of your students OR make one website to use long-term and add to each week. 

Key features: 
  • words will be spoken for students
  • sentences can be - but don't have to be - added for context
  • multiple ways to practice ➔ list (listen to words); practice spelling words; quiz (independent testing); more - additional "games" Matching Game: use this to help students match 2 items; for young learners to teach words or match capital to lower case letters; for older students to learn vocab words, work on memory skills, learn foreign languages; pretty much anything you can think of!

Key features:
  • words spoken
  • match image to word
  • timer is an option
  • cards can be numbered

*** BONUS *** Flippity is built on Google Sheets. This coming Saturday I will be presenting at the TCCA virtual conference. My second session is 100% about using Google Sheets in the Classroom. It's a FREE conference and I will be sharing templates for many Google Sheets activities. I hope to see you there! You can register for the conference at this website My first session is Google Classroom Top 10 Tips. You are welcome to join one or both ;). 

Quizlet is a website where you can create sets of study material. Each set of material you create allows students to customize how they choose to learn, review, and practice the information. If they are old enough (over 13), students can also have their own accounts and generate their own study material. If they are under 13, I highly recommend YOU create the material and share it with students. They do NOT have to have an account to practice.  

Quizlet is a tool I discovered a good many years ago and it quickly became a regular study tool for my students. I began using it with my own daughter when she entered 3rd grade. It was incredibly helpful for my students and my daughter. I know it will be beneficial to yours, too!

I loved it because I would make the set of material to study/review and I KNEW my students were studying accurate information. There were plenty of options for them to choose the method that works - a practice test, games, flashcards, and a couple more. I had a handful of students who enjoyed using what I pushed out to write out study material on their own. (Again, I then KNEW they were studying the accurate information.) One girl would regularly make her own flashcards by simply copying what I pushed out ... and it worked really well - FOR HER. Many of my students would play the game pieces but so many more of my students would generate practice test after practice test. I even had some who would use the printable option to print out flashcards or practice tests and do them on paper. I encouraged any/all of these methods. The only one I wouldn't accept as "true" studying was if they told me they went through the flashcards. I would put them up on my projector and showed them why ... all they had to do is click through in about 5 seconds. This is NOT studying! They had to show actual effort.

Now, the first year was tough as I built the study sets, but after that, I had my study sets ready to go at the beginning of every chapter and all I had to do was share the links. I could adjust easily and know that the information was accurate.

And just like Flippity, Quizlet is accessible on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It's fantastic!

Now ... these both are great independent tools but there is something to be said about doing some review/studying IN the classroom, too. For that, I've collected resources in a Wakelet. Check out my Gamification Wakelet Collection. There are a bunch in there for you to check out & use!

Wrapping up, I'd love to hear from you! Do you have a comment? Leave it below. Want to connect on Twitter? Please do - @kiefersj . Have a specific comment or request for help? Please email me:

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