Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More on Studying Smart

I have been listening to a series of lectures with my high school students, a Teaching Company DVD series by Tim McGee, entitled "How to be a Superstar Student. In one session he tackles the subject of how to read a textbook. I listened with interest to this one, because we have learned almost entirely without textbooks the past 10 years, using whole or "living" books almost exclusively. The transition into high school brought with it a biology TEXTBOOK that made me sweat (I wrote about that experience here). Although I don't anticipate putting down the living books and switching to a textbook, still I understand that my students need to expand their horizons to include textbook learning. So the focus on textbook learning in this lecture was well-timed.

McGee begins by explaining that there are two kinds of reading: social reading and academic reading. Academic reading, the kind you use when you are reading a textbook, requires a little more than a cursory look. It requires
* taking notes
* writing and underlining in the book (gasp!)
* pausing frequently to put the concepts in your own words

Because we have practiced narration skills for many years, that 3rd suggestion will be easy. It's the note taking and underlining that we will need to work on; learning how to glean the most important ideas and vocabulary words from the reading.

It is also helpful to know that nearly all textbooks are set up the same way, whether it be a science, history, or language arts textbook. They always begin with objectives, then move to explanatory material, and end with a summary or review.

I liked McGee's note taking suggestions~~which include using different colored inks and drawing original diagrams to enhance understanding.

He has come up with some good illustrations for high schoolers, such as the example of a star football player who goes into the game without a helmet. McGee likens this to the student who comes unprepared to class~unable to find his completed assignment, without a pencil, etc.

It's back to habit training; the simple habits of organization smooth the way for academic learning. I find I have a lot of work to do in this regard! It's still a struggle to get everyone to pick up their papers, pencils, and put everything away after a day of learning. Sometimes I wonder if there will ever come a day when I don't have to remind?

I'm hoping that this DVD series will reinforce my investment in habit training.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Between you and Carol recommending The Teaching Company tapes all the time, I feel like I should own some.

Alas, I am out of students.

Except myself :)