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Grace Fleming

Grace\'s Homework / Study Tips Blog


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Are You a Good Leader?

Sunday April 20, 2014

Being the leader of a group project can be fun and challenging, but it is not always easy. As a leader you'll quickly discover that there are all types of personalities in any group, and some of those will be easier to work with than others.

You may also find that you face your own personal challenges as you try to lead the group. For example, some first-time leaders may come across as too bossy to their close friends, and some may come across as timid, because they don't want to make their friends angry. Are you likely to be too bossy or too soft? It's something to consider, but it's something you can control if you plan ahead.

Before you volunteer to lead a group, review some of the leadership styles and consider what qualities and organizational tools will be necessary during the completion of your project. As always, planning ahead will save you plenty of headaches.

How Many Pages Should You Write?

Saturday April 19, 2014

Teachers often give students essay assignments that include a certain page length requirement. For the most part, they really do this to encourage students to dig deep and cover all angles of a topic. Although they may tell you that they require five pages or so, teachers really tend to prefer quality over quantity.

But just to give you something to shoot for, a typical page that is double-spaced can hold about 300 words in twelve-point font. That means a 1000-word essay should be at least three pages long.

The next time you receive an assignment with a certain page minimum, ask your teacher if you'll lose points for being a page short. This way, you'll be less inclined to water down a good essay or research paper with extra fluff.

But if you plan to go short, you should pack your paper with great quality writing!

But what if you have no idea how long an assignment should be? If you have absolutely no idea how much to write in a certain assignment or about a certain topic, you could follow some very basic guidelines I've provided.

Messy First Draft?

Wednesday April 16, 2014

I have been searching around for famous quotes about first drafts, but I've found that first drafts are so unloved by writers that I can't repeat most of the quotes on a site dedicated to students!

That should tell you a thing or two about first drafts. Everybody struggles to write a first draft, and most everybody agrees that their written words are pretty ugly and disorganized the first time around. But the important thing (and every writer agrees with this message) is just start writing.

If you find that your essays are not earning the grades you'd like, you should consider whether you're giving yourself enough time to edit and rewrite sufficiently. Every writer has to do this.

You can find additional help from this list of resources.

As always, I'd love to hear from you if you have any tips to share with others.

Framing Your Class Notes

Thursday April 10, 2014

Do you become frustrated reading your own notes sometimes? If you do, don't feel bad.

Many students fall into the trap of attempting to write down every word the teacher speaks. This is not only unnecessary--it's also pretty confusing. You can improve your note-taking skills by learning to start each day with a framework or theme in mind. When you do this, you are able to identify the most important things to write down and then organize them effectively.

And those themes you see in your notes? They become essay questions!

Photo © Gary Woodard and iStockphoto.com

Are You Really Ready for College?

Saturday April 5, 2014

We're barely approaching spring, but I know that plenty of students are getting pretty excited about fall right now. That's because they'll be moving onto campus (or commuting) for the start of a new and exciting chapter in their lives as they head for college!

This is an exciting time for you for lots of reasons: because you will be living on your own (or with a roommate) for the first time ever; because you'll be setting your own curfew and planning your own schedule (maybe planning your day to start late so you can sleep in!); because you'll be meeting new friends and discovering many new activities and opportunities for fun; and because you'll be pretty free to come and go as you please. It all sounds like so much fun!

College is fun. It may be the most fun you've ever had. That is why I don't want to see you blow it in the first semester. You can be sent packing before the year is out! Did you know this can happen? In fact, it happens a lot, every single year!

You should definitely have fun in your first year of college, but you have to be prepared to have fun and be successful. If you're not successful in classes, you can lose all the fun stuff! How?

  • If you withdraw from classes in your first semester, you can lose your financial aid. For many students, that means pack your bags and head home! (Read why.)
  • If you skip too many classes, you can fail. That can lead to academic suspension. Pay close attention to the syllabus.

You can also get into academic trouble and risk your college career if you don't understand some of the differences between high school and college. Think about this difference in lectures and teaching:

  • In college, history is taught by historians, while in high school, history is taught by history teachers.
  • In college, biology is taught by scientists, while in high school, biology is taught by science teachers.
  • In high school, it is the job of the teacher to teach, but in college, it is the job of the student to learn.
  • College professors are professionals in their fields, and they are there to share their expertise with you. They may be hard to understand at first, but you will find it easier as they semester progresses.

I want you to be very excited about college and have the best time of your life. But I want you to know who to be successful in college, so you can stay there!

Persuading Your Audience

Monday March 31, 2014

Do people tend to listen to what you have to say, or do you find that your voice gets lost in the noise of a buzzing conversation? When you're speaking in a group, do you stand out as a leader, or does another person always seem to capture the audience and lead the discussion?

Some people were born with a knack for persuading and convincing others. They seem to know instinctively how to say the right things to make listeners agree with their conclusions. If you were not born with this ability, you don't need to worry! You simply need to practice the art of persuasion.

A few thousand years ago, a Greek philosopher named Aristotle identified three means of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. People with a natural talent for "arguing" a case simply use these very means instinctively. The good news is that you can become just as skillful at persuading an audience! You just have to practice a little.

Why does this matter? The art of persuasion is one that you need to use in many school assignments. Any time you defend a thesis, write a speech, or participate in a school debate, you must craft a sound argument.

Beginning Your Book Report

Saturday March 29, 2014

The first sentence of any report is important, because it (hopefully) contains a hook to grab the interest of your reader.

If you are struggling to come up with a good first sentence, you shouldn't let that hold you up. You can skip over the first paragraph altogether and start writing your body paragraphs, if you want.

Once you have a good basis, you can go back and consider that first paragraph or sentence. The five ideas below can be very good starting points. Try starting with:

  • a question
  • a little known fact
  • title and setting
  • meaningful quote
  • author information

Chart Your Bad (and Good) Habits

Monday March 24, 2014
Time tracking chart

Do you ever wonder where all of your time goes? Do you suspect that you may be spending a little too much time watching TV or playing games on your phone? These activities could be robbing you of valuable study time. Now you can chart your habits and see how much time you spend on your good and bad habits.

It can be fun and interesting to see a visual representation of your activities. If you follow some simple steps using Microsoft Excel, you can create an instant chart - and it can be a real eye-opener!

Beware the Time Traps!

Wednesday March 19, 2014

We're nearing the end of another school term, and you know what that means (finals!). At a time like this, it's more important than ever to manage your time.

The first step toward improving time management skills is identifying your time wasters. These little traps can cost you valuable time that you should spend preparing for back-to-back exams.

You can pick more than one:

Browsing in the Library

Friday March 14, 2014

When you hear the word "browsing," you probably think of moving from page to page on the internet.

When you think about research, you probably think about using the internet and a few books that your librarian or your teacher has helped you identify.

But the next time you visit the library, try spending some time browsing the old fashioned way. You can find some fascinating books and articles by simply scanning the titles of books (or articles in a journal) that sit on the shelf. The library's system of organization will ensure that the non-fiction books you see in the same general areas are related by topic, and sometimes you will find books that you would never have considered otherwise.

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