01 Jun

Study Skills Go Social

click for a larger imageWhen OpenStudy picked up a very prestigious 2012 Edison Award for innovation we wondered … can online community really be as good as  live study group? We all  learn more when we learn together.  Why not just use Facebook? Or a chat group?

At first glance  OpenStudy  looks a lot like any other social network.  You make an free account to join, give yourself a cute name along with a funny picture and then start sharing messages.  The difference is that messages in OpenStudy are divided into areas by school topics.  Biology, Chemistry and Math all have their own ‘areas’ that you move into.  Once you are into the area you want, you can post questions and provide answers to others.  So what’s the big deal?

click for a larger imageThe  problem with any online discussion is you don’t know who is giving you good information and who is dumping mulch into your Horticulture homework.  That’s were  OpenStudy  jumps in. Every participant gets three little rating thermometers measuring their teamwork, problem-solving and egngagement.  The more you help, the more people like your answers, the more your ratings improve.  It’s pretty  addicting.  You can pump up your ratings by helping other people or Cialis posting good questions yourself.  When you help someone else they get to rate the quality of your assistance.   When you post a question, people can rate your question. If you have used eBay you already know about seller ratings.  It helps keep everyone honest.  You also get your own “fans”.  It makes you feel like a rock star.

Click to view larger

Overall OpenStudy is simple, fun and easy to use. It makes study time more focused and your personal study buddies are available 24 hours a day.  You might even have study partners on the other side of the world. Could you learn more French by studying with a friend in France?  Certainly. However, OpenStudy is not the only study tool you will need. You’ll have to look for practice tests, flashcards and research sources elsewhere.  Should you use OpenStudy? If you don’t have a living, in-the-flesh study group at school then we say … yes.  It works great as an online study group. But don’t forget the real people at your school.  Send them a message on Facebook and plan to meet up for study.  It’s always better with friends.

 

 

26 May

How to Break Through Study Barriers

Students Studying at Cathedral Senior High School in New Ulm, Minnesota...Sometimes you just can’t plow through your class study materials no matter what.  You’re stuck. Maybe you don’t enjoy the subject.  Actuarial tables? Bleh. Maybe you  are exhausted or maybe it’s you just have been studying too hard for too long.  Nothing works to get you focused.  And the test is coming up fast.

What do you do?

Here are some quick fixes that work great:

1) Get some sleep.  Drink a big glass of water and make sure you have a good meal.  Then snooze.  It’s the only real cure for old fashioned exhaustion.  8 hours of sleep and 2 hours of study is more effective than 10 hours of foggy eyed, exhausted cramming.

2) Exercise. If there is a  magic potion that helps people focus – it’s excercise.  Drink it! Go for a run, play some soccer or dance with your friends.  Exercise kicks up your blood flow, boosts brain oxygen and burns off stress. You’ll be clear headed and ready to study when you are done.

3) Find someone who loves it.  If you are studying a required subject and, honestly, you buy cheap cialis site espharmacycom hate it then there is only one answer.  Find a friend who loves it.  Then study with them.  Their excitement will rub off on you.

4) Laugh (a lot). Watch a hilarious movie that just makes you smile. Share some jokes with a friend. Laughter has a wonderful way of making everything easier.  It also helps you relax. Take a 5 minute break.  Watch something that makes you bust out with laughter.  Can’t think of a funny video? Try Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance for starters.

5) Use a clock and race.  For those super-competitive people who love to race you can beat the clock – with your homework!  Make a guess about how long the study session will take.  Write down your guess. Then start your stopwatch.  And beat it!

Extra Credit Tip

Energy drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine work great … for about two hours.  Then you will crash.   Their short term energy boost actually robs your body of energy, drains your brain of calories and leaves you more exhausted than before.  It’s not worth it. Try a quick nap or a fast run around the block instead.

18 May

Study with a Better Batch of Flashcards

click to view larger pictureWhat did 50 million  students  do last year?  Study using flash cards in Quizlet!  If that seems like a lot … it is.  Quizlet was started by high school student Andrew Sutherland back in 2005 to help him study for French class. He wanted the computer to flip over his flashcards on screen instead of the paper card decks we all use. It worked so well he shared it with some friends. And they shared it. And so on.

The Quizlet of 2012 brings some great additions to the basic flip-and-check flashcard drill. You can build a deck of flashcards with pictures or words on either side. Then Quizlet will turn them into a practice exam, or a game or review session for you. You can study the same materials multiple ways. You can also share your flashcard levitra coupons 30day free deck with friends in your class and they can send you theirs. Or browse through more than 11 million existing flashcard decks to find one you like.

click to view larger pictureWe love Quizlet for its easy setup and sharing along with a huge library of existing decks you can borrow. Creating a new flashcard deck is simple. The games are pretty addicting too as you race to finish with the highest score and lowest time. Study groups should love sharing their workload by sharing their study materials. Strangely we did not find many flashcard decks that appeared to be created by teachers.  Why not? Couldn’t your instructor create a flash card deck and share it with the whole class?

Overall we found Quizlet simple, fun and joyfully effective.  But don’t take our word for it.  Try it yourself. Merci beaucoup Andrew.

27 Apr

Improve Your Memory with Word Pictures

School throws a lot of strange words at you. PhytoplanktonAdherent? Since you don’t use these words every day they tend to exit your brain as fast as they enter. Even if you know the word’s definition, your brain needs something more personal as a ‘hook’ to recall the word .

So how do you remember these words? Say them out loud all them time? Please say you won’t.

Elefants Never Forget by Sunny Marry

Photo credit: Sunny Marry on Flickr

While strange words can be easily forgotten, personalized pictures make a much stronger memory imprint  and ‘sitck’ in your mind longer. Try creating a ‘word picture’ for each word that turns the word into a scene.  These imaginary pictures can be strange or funny.  They work best if they are personal too.  Here are some examples:

Phytoplankton: These tiny, single cell plants float in the ocean like grainy spinach  soup.  Imagine yourself slurping up a big wet spoonful of greenish soup.  Then say ‘Uck! Phytoplankton!’.  Now that’s a personal picture.

Adherent: This is a person who is ‘stuck’ to a religion. Imagine a bottle of glue with the word “ adherent” stuck on the label.  Try writing the word Adherent out on paper using a glue stick as your pen.  We guarantee it will stick in your memory!

Independence: Wasn’t a pen used to sign the American Declaration of Independence? Imagine a pen dancing across the page of this classic document.  Then make up a crazy dance with your own pen as you write out the word on paper.

Word pictures are a fun way to spice up your study time. They work too! Give it a try today.

 

30 Mar

Great Teachers Make Class That Much Better

Harvard University’s new Great Teachers project videos got us excited not only about teaching but also being a student.  One of the best ways to succeed in school is do your homework – about your teachers!  Find out who is the best instructor for Biology, Math or Ancient Literature.  Then get your self into their class!

Talk with other students, talk to other instructors and listen for the teachers they love.  Then go into the indian cialis registrar office oh-so-early in the morning (right when it opens) to make sure you get into the right class.  With the right teacher. Your grades will improve because you will enjoy the class.  A little work pays off in a lot of learning.

Here’s Harvard’s Jonathen Zittrain to help you see why great teachers are important.

Harvard’s Great Teachers: Jonathan Zittrain from Derek Bok Center on Vimeo.

24 Mar

Study Skills from Colleges and Universities

Schools all over the United States have ‘how to’ pages and test taking tips for their students. Why not?  They want their students to succeed.  Your school might have an Academic Skills center on their web site too.

Here are links to some of the best ones we’ve found:

Belinha has more than good looks

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Francisco Martins via Compfight

14 Mar

Thank You Ethiopian Goats

Legends tell of a lonely shepherd, wandering in the mountains of Ethiopia, who notices his goats eating the blackened berries from one particular bush. After eating the berries, the goats begin to dance and kick and run around in crazy circles. Fascinated, the shepherd  picks a handful of berries for himself. He eats them all and soon the shepherd, too, is dancing and kicking and running around in circles. His new discovery?

Coffee.

Students on campuses everywhere regularly energize themselves with a sip of Goat Berry Brew from the campus coffee shop. It’s fun, it tastes great, and it also helps you stay up Semenax late to study for an exam.

Coffee cupBut does it help improve your grades?

Research studies show the answer is yes — and no. Drinking smaller cups of coffee during a study session or before a test helps your brain stay alert, improves your memory and your grades too. Drinking a large amount of coffee, however, actually makes it worse. Your brain becomes highly stimulated by the caffeine and has trouble focusing. Your grades go down and studying becomes a frantic, useless jangle.

So, the next time you need a kick from the goat berries to help you study, please remember — small doses work best.

23 Feb

Method of Loci Memory Madness

Not everyone is good at memorization. Have you noticed? Some people easily absorb long lists of facts and recite pages from their books for fun. Others wrestle just to remember their own phone number. Yet the same person who forgets their phone number can remember pictures, faces and places with ease.

Has anyone told you “I can’t remember your name but your face is sooo familiar”? That’s because your brain remembers pictures and places better than words. What did your family cat look like when you were a kid? That’s easy. Just picture kitty cat sitting on the couch in your mind. You can ‘view’ the scene in your head and describe everything you need.Where is this bench?

I’d like to introduce you to an ancient memory trick that helps us ‘visual’ memory people recall words and facts. It’s called Method of Loci i meaning ‘technique of places’. How does it work? You use familiar places and images to ‘stick’ your facts and words. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Use a familiar place like your house or your dorm room.
  2. Set up ‘stations’ or ‘rooms’ that will become stops along a ‘memory walk ‘.
  3. Write up the material you need to memorize on a sheet or list. Perhaps your chemistry class already gave you a list of equations to memorize. Have the list in hand.
  4. Create a ‘walk’ which starts at one place and moves through a series of rooms or stops. This walk should be the same walk you use each time you want to memorize. The same stops in the same order.
  5. Walk to your first ‘stop’  (such as the front door) and stand still. Read the first fact or item you need to memorize out load. Then close your eyes and repeat it again. You might even write it onto a post-it note and hang it there at the front door.
  6. Move on to the next stop (such as the kitchen stove) and read your second item out loud. Now close your eyes briefly and say the item again out loud.
  7. Continue on your walk until you have covered all the facts or items you need to memorize. Ideally your memory walk should have enough ‘stops’ to memorize your whole list and return you to the starting point.
  8. Now walk the whole memory circuit again, stopping at each station and reading out your fact.
  9. Do the circuit three or four times, preferably on different days.

When the exam comes, imagine your self standing in the location where your started your memory walk.  Then visually recreate the walk in your mind.  The facts or items you memorized during your walk should easily return to your mind as you imagine yourself moving through the ‘stops’ of your Loci walk.

Extra Credit Tip

Sometimes you need more ‘stations’ than your little dorm room allows.  Don’t fret!  You can use furniture or other familiar items in a room to make more memory stops.  Each room should have no more than five items you use to ‘hang’ your memory items on.  Pick the same items in each room in the same order every time.  Like door – chair – desk – bed – sink.  Some people use this method to memorize hundreds of facts.  Yes … hundreds.

04 Feb

Better Grades in only 6 Seconds?

Could you use a fast way to improve your grades? Then get ready to slow down. Many exam and test errors come from the same source. Not reading the question well. We get stressed and hurry through the tst questions, missing the main points. We trip onto an answer that ‘looks right’ because we haven’t fully comprehended the question. And we end up getting the question wrong.

Here is how you can fix it.

Each time you come to a question on a test or exam STOP and count three long, steady breaths.

In.

Out.

Breath slowly and easily while your eyes scan the test question and possible answers. 

one … ( IN … OUT)

two … ( IN … OUT)

three … ( IN … OUT)

As you breath slowly and count, let your eyes slowly read the complete exam question and ALL possible answers or options.  There is no hurry.  Please read every word even if you think you know the question or the answer seems obvious.  There are often hidden traps or nuances to test questions that Pele miss.  Slow down.  Read everything. Breathe.

Now here’s the kicker. After counting out three long breaths and reading everything thoroughly, ask yourself “How would my instructor answer this question?”. This prompts your brain to recall the class when your teacher discussed the topic. Don’t try to force yourself.  Just imagine yourself asking the teacher and then imagine their answer.  This removes the focus from yourself and your stress. It also turns on your visual memory – the most powerful way to remember things.  Now you are ready to answer the test question.  Go ahead.

This three breath method may feel like it takes a long time.  It doesn’t.  Using a stop watch you will find that it takes less than 4 seconds per test question. If you use the three breath method on a 60 minute, 100 question exam, you will be done in less than 45 minutes, leaving lots of time for review.

Most people actually finish there exams faster with this method. And they get better grades too.

We suggest you pick up a practice exam and with each test question repeat this pattern until it becomes automatic:

(breath) one …

(breath) two …

(breath) three …

(think)“How would my instructor answer this question?”

Try it today. It works.

 

* * * * * * *

 

26 Jan

Writing for Essay Exams

Have you ever faced an exam with only one question? It’s the essay exam that we all dread. You’ll get a single question on the page like “Explain the causes of the American Civil War including parties involved, issues and key people.” followed by 2 hours and 1500 words to answer.

It might be the toughest type of test there is.

The best way to prepare for essay is exams is … to write essays.  And nothing helps write academic essays better than Gerald Graff’s book They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. If you haven’t yet checked this slim gem out from your school library we recommend you do payday loan consolidation. Soon. Be prepared to get in line with a lot of other people who want help with their essays too. This little book helps you write persuasively and conversationally with the ‘academic’ flavor needed to win good grades.

We recommend working through this book as a group or with a writing teacher since the best practice is … practice. Find topics that excites you, like the newest snowboards, and then turn out 1500 words to amaze and educate your friends. Or start a blog and write weekly about skirt styles. Whatever works best to get you writing.

The secret to success on essay exams is learning to write great essays. On any topic.