06 January 2008

Mini-Lessons on Study Skills

My plan for semester review in my biology classes includes having three stations each day: individual review/study time, small group work with those who are working on the same topic, and a mini-lesson on a particular study skill with yours truly. The thinking behind the mini-lesson was two-fold. One reason was simply to break up the materials for kids so that their brains could have some time and space to digest the other information. Secondly, study skills are things that should be learned and applied in context. There is a very good argument for me having done these little lessons throughout the semester, but better late than never. We'll see how this flies for now and then I can make changes in the future.

We have five days set aside for intensive review. I originally wanted to do five mini-lessons, but as you will see, I only planned for four. Why? Because we have a day each week when classes are shortened. This would have made the rotations that day about 10 minutes each---and I already feel like 15 minutes is pushing things. So, I won't do a mini-lesson that day.

I have packed more into each mini-lesson than I probably should have. Each one has a 5E base (engage, explore, explain, extend, evaluate) to support a Big Idea. The day prior to beginning the review, I will have kids take a learning styles inventory. Although every brain benefits from having information presented in multiple formats, my goal with the inventory is to raise student awareness about ways information can be learned.
  • Day One focuses on learning and memory. I kick things off with a great demo from "How to Teach So Students Remember" in which you can "trick" kids into creating a false memory. This will be a great jumping off point to talk about how memories are stored and reinforced.
  • The goal of Day Two is get students to think about the why of using graphic organizers (store learning in both sides of the brain) in order to take notes and learn vocabulary.
  • On Day Three, I'll model my own metacognition as a reader using some of the informational text they are using that day. Beyond that, I have some bookmarks adapted/plagiarized from Jim Burke that I want to hand out to them so that they have a reference for monitoring their own reading.
  • The final day is set aside to talk about test-taking strategies. Some kids have good skills...and others don't. I'm hoping for a good discussion and giving the students a sense of empowerment in terms of managing a test.
If you would like to download my plans and handouts for these mini-lessons, please help yourself!


Anonymous said...

It is great the way you have infused key reading/writing skills to support the science content. I co-teach a grad class at St. John Fisher College, Developing Literacy in MST, and I can't wait to share your post with the group of both soon-to-be and rookie middle/high school teachers when the class starts up next weekend. You have demonstrated that science teachers are also reading/writing teachers and we must all provide students with the literacy strategies to be successful in all curricular areas.

The Science Goddess said...

I'll be posting some more items here in the next couple of weeks. Send your students on over!

I often find myself wishing we had a literacy coach at the high school. I do the best I can for my kiddos, but I would appreciate some focused feedback.

Tom Brandt said...

Thanks for this great information. I commented on this in my new blog (http://wetlandstom.wordpress.com/) and the fact that I never had any learning skills taught to me when I was in school oh so many years ago. I'll be waiting to see more of your posts on this subject.

The Science Goddess said...

I think that things will be well received. I'm looking forward to the review sessions with kiddos.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

SG, you are so on the right track with the mini-lessons in study skills. Just a few powerful habits can help put kids over the top.

I did a lot of mind-mapping and mnemonics (not just word games), and organizational skills stuff with my students. It pays off big-time, but of course, unless you have power standards, you never will get to the end of your curriculum!

Good goin'! :)

The Science Goddess said...

There is always that struggle between the curriculum and these additional skills for success. I do think that providing kids with the right skills makes the curriculum a simpler job for us all.

Ms. Beardslee said...

SG - you clearly posted this a few years ago...just wanted you to know that I will be happily implementing some of your ideas, those of Carol Dweck's "Mindsets" book, and my own in my middle school strategies classrooms. I cannot wait to see how it all goes. Thank you!

The Science Goddess said...

Hi, Ms. Beardslee,

Glad you found a jumping off point for your classroom. Hope you'll let me know how you adapt things and what happens with your students.


Unknown said...

What learning styles inventory do you use?