Huh? Do what?
The blank stare
Do something, anything
Today’s kids study in front of the TV set or with music in their ear. Many don’t have their own rooms, so they must study with family distractions in the kitchen or living room. Some will even do their homework in the school hallways or on the school bus. With most of today’s moms working, it’s a good bet that a large number of your students don’t have any enforced study habits.
Many elementary schools require little if any learning of factual or conceptual information. So, your students’ experience with homework has been limited to coloring, building projects and memorizing spelling lists.
Given that background and environment, you could well be the first person in your students’ lives to teach studying as a discipline. Too many teachers, however, simply set aside the last ten minutes of the period for silent studying. Not knowing what to do, the kids just stare at their books.
“You need a system for effective studying. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you have one.” I remember hearing that quote long ago. My observation of kids and discussions with parents, who were all students once, too, has confirmed the truth of that statement. Every successful student has developed his own unique technique. Don’t miss the opportunity afforded by the last ten minutes of class. Teach your kids some technique for studying. Don’t be concerned with finding the “right” one. There isn’t one. The truth is that anything that actively involves the kids with the material is bound to be more successful than just staring at it.
Perhaps they could write sentences using key words. Or, they could incorporate key words into a paragraph. They could make a chart listing events in chronological order. English students might make up sentences demonstrating the use of verbs and adverbs. Math students could design their own word problems. You could hand out paper and scissors for them to make flash cards. Geography students could write the names of countries on little slips of paper and then repeatedly position them on an unmarked map for practice. The list is endless. The key is that they must actually perform some task related to the material.
Rather than a time killer, if done right, this could well be the most valuable part of any lesson. You’ll be teaching your kids a valuable skill in quite possibly the only environment available to them to practice it.
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