Brain Upgrade

Brain Upgrade

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Becoming an Active Learner

To give students the skills to be active in their studying, provide opportunities for them to be active learners in the classroom. For example:

- Have students restate learned information in another form, e.g., verbally summarize what was read, draw a semantic map of what was heard, etc. Encourage students to visualize, or create pictures in their minds, during reading and math activities.

- Encourage students to recognize patterns in content areas. In science, examine laws of nature; in math, identify patterns in word problems; in social situations, examine rules of behavior, etc. Teach students to use self-questioning to trigger patterns (e.g., how is the main idea of this paragraph familiar, how is this math problem like the other one, etc.).

- Help students create personal meaning by relating new information they learn to information they already know.
Intersperse opportunities for students to state in their own words the significant points of a lesson, attributes of key concepts, or steps in a process.

Make use of students' areas of interest and affinity. Provide opportunities for students to become "experts" in a field and to share that knowledge with the class. Challenge students to find ways to actively involve other students in an affinity-related activity.

Teach students to evaluate the reading difficulty of textbook passages by considering the novelty of information, the degree of focus required, and the appropriate reading rate for comprehension.

Have students write down questions about what they don't understand during reading, then allow time in class to go over these questions.

Give students practice summarizing and paraphrasing, in both written and oral form.

Teach students the meaning of elaboration, with examples and non-examples. Give students practice elaborating on topics that interest them.

Give students questions and sample tests through which they can assess their own progress.

Create a study buddy system where students check their notes for accuracy with each other before beginning an assignment or studying for a test.

Discuss techniques that your students can use to be more engaged in their studying. Examples of techniques are:

- Change Topics. Many students can better sustain concentration by regularly changing the subject they are studying every one to two hours, finding that changing content and/or patterns of thinking helps refresh attention.

- Develop Incentives and Rewards. Encourage students to reward themselves for completing a task. The task might be large or small, for example, staying with a difficult assignment until it is finished.

- Study Actively. Students' concentration may wander more easily when they read an assignment straight through. Suggest instead, that students turn the heading for each section into a question, and then study the section to answer the question.

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Donah Shine

Head Master

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