Information and activities are from the KRP NIE tab, "It Takes Skills" distributed by the NIE Institute.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, GET ORGANIZED
If there’s one thing good students have in common, it’s being organized. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. But even those who seem to be in a constant state of disarray very likely have a method to their “madness.” Good organizational skills might include keeping your desk and bookbag orderly, recording your assignments in a journal, and having a set time and place to study. Such steps not only make it easier for you to keep track of things (like your homework!), they can help you improve your study habits, too.
ORGANIZING YOUR STUDY TIME
There is a time and place for everything, the saying goes, and that’s especially true for studying. Determining when and where you study is one of the most basic organizational skills you can acquire.
1. For starters, find a quiet place to study each day. At home, it should be free from distractions and should have adequate lighting. At school, go to the library or find a study nook in your classroom.
2. Equip your study area with the supplies you’ll need: pencils, paper, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. Keep them in a special container or in a designated drawer or cabinet.
3. Make sure you sit in a comfortable, upright chair. Never study while lying down; it’s too easy to fall asleep.
4. When choosing a study time, think about when you are the most alert. Then plan ahead — a week at a time if possible.
5. Be flexible. You can usually count on doing half an hour of homework for each class period. But if you are having trouble with a subject or it’s getting close to test time, you’ll need to spend more time studying.
6. Never wait until the night before a test to study. Instead, study regularly throughout the school year. You will remember more about a subject soon after it’s presented in class than you will if you try to “cram” it all in the night before.
7. Divide your study time into 20- to 30-minute periods, with short breaks in between. Stretch, get a snack, walk around the block — anything to help you feel refreshed.
ORGANIZING YOUR THOUGHTS
If organizing your study time makes it easier to study, then wouldn’t organizing your thoughts makes it easier to think? Not surprisingly, the answer is YES! Every task is easier when you are organized. In Writer’s Express, A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers, and Learners, the authors provide this seven-step process for becoming a more organized thinker:
1. Be patient. Answers to every question and solutions to every problem don’t always come easily. Good thinking takes time.
2. Set goals. Again, decide what you want to accomplish now and later.
3. Think logically. Look at all sides of a question and support your thoughts with good reasons, examples, and facts.
4. Ask questions. Like a good newspaper reporter, ask questions about everything — what you hear, what you read, what you see. Remember the five W’s of newspaper reporting: who, what, when, where, and why. They come in handy when studying, too.
5. Think about your thinking. As you think and work, make changes if necessary. (Slow down, speed up, back up, etc.)
6. Write things down. Jotting down your thoughts can help you think more clearly.
7. Use organizers. Lists, outlines, and graphics are all effective ways to organize your thoughts.