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Grace Fleming

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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.

Study Habits that Really Work

Sunday March 9, 2014

If you feel you're not making the most of your study time, you may need to revise your study habits. Have you really given all of these top study habits a chance?

Finding Statistics for Your Next Paper

Wednesday March 5, 2014

Any report can be spiced up a little with some interesting facts or statistics sprinkled in. Imagine putting one of these facts in your next paper:

  • Seventy-eight percent of public school students say a teacher who tries to make lessons fun and interesting would help them learn "a lot more," but only 24% think most of their teachers do that now.
  • Poisoning deaths in the U.S. are up 66% since 1999
  • Wicca is projected to be the 3rd largest U.S. religion by 2012

All of these statements came from my list of places to find statistics. Take a look and see if you can find an interesting tidbit to add to your next research paper. It might provide the perfect touch.

Giving a Speech in Class?

Friday February 28, 2014

Few things make our knees wobble like standing in front of a crowd and speaking, whether you're giving an impromptu speech or an oral report you've worked on for weeks.

I put together my own list of tips for keeping a cool head during a talk, but I also asked for tips from readers. Here are just a few of my favorite submissions:

  • Fluctuate your voice. If you speak in nothing but a flat monotone, everyone will tone out.
  • Practice. Lots.
  • If you need to pause because you are nervous or have forgotten something, pausing while looking at the judge/teacher/audience can be one of the most effective ways to reinforce a point.

These are all great! If you have any advice for a nervous speaker, share it here!

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