Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to Become a Straight A Student

School just seems to come easier to some students - and that leads many others to believe they just can't "do school."  Much of the earlier success can be pretty easily linked to family background and the sort of structure and social expectations that lead to success.  I must admit that my k-12 experience was pretty much a breeze, not due to any particular effort on my part.  That said, once I got to college, I had to learn how to learn all over again.  Graduate school brought even more challenges.  And, as a teacher, I realize that many students are not well-equipped or trained to be successful.

So what happened to study skills, huh?

Having become a stronger proponent of teaching reading, rather than just assigning it, I am giving more and more thought to how students learn.  In the course of my recent reading, I have been impressed by some study assistance from MIT professor Cal Newport, who has written several books about being a successful student.  One worth picking up - or recommending to students - is How to Become a Straight A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less.  Professor Newport - both as a student and a teacher - took the time to study and document how those "uber-students" do.  And he has crafted a really helpful - and readable - guide to academic success.

Among other things:

  • Don't Read Everything - there is no way to successfully digest all that is asked of students these days, so they need skills in determining "what is important."
  • Manage your time using lists and calendars - seems like common sense, but many kids need help in the field of time management.
  • Choose where, when, and how long to study - those marathon sessions are beast and not helpful.
  • Utilize resources

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