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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Solving Homework Struggles

Students with learning disabilities do not typically come by the development of study skills naturally. Good instruction and guidance in understanding how they learn and tools that enable them to digest, internally organize, and then recall information on demand can be critical to their success.  Of course good study hygiene includes factors such as a non-distracting place to study, energy and focus (as opposed to being sleepy or hungry), and access to all pertinent materials. 
Beyond that here are list of strategies that benefit a wide range of students. Of course, any given individual needs to pick and choose the approach that works for them.  Pick away!

Strategies that Enhance Retention of Material:
*  Use elaborative interrogation by generating a reasonable explanation for why a fact or concept is true.
*  Use self-explanation: One way to engage this tool is to explain how new information is related to already known information.  Another is to explain the steps taken during a problem solving task. Doing so aloud enhances the use of this strategies for many students, particularly those whose verbal skills are stronger than their visual skills.
* Highlight or underline:  The key is to mark only those portions of the material that are essential to learning, such as critical words, phrases, or facts.
*  Use the FACT strategy: Focus attention, Ask questions, Connect ideas, Try to picture important ideas. 
*  Paraphrase: put what you hear and read in your own words.
*  Visualize: create a picture in your head of what you hear and read.
*  Create acronyms. 
*  Draw illustrations or use Clip Art to make mnemonics. 
*  Review at the end of each page.
*  Take notes as you reads or listens to teacher instruction.
*  Use the Keyword method: pair a new word with a word that sounds like it and is easily pictured (e.g., barrister/bear); visualize the two interacting (e.g., a bear arguing her case in court).
*  Imagery: form mental images of materials while reading or listening.
*  Summarize: write or verbal explain to another person a summary of the material you are learning.
*  Break memorization into short time periods.  Use short, spaced practice over several days.
*  Recite information aloud from note cards or notes. 
*  Test yourself by shutting your eyes and asking and answering questions.
*  Have another person test you.

Ideas to Enhance Retention of Reading Material:
·      Read material in textbooks twice, the first time to get the idea and the second to concentrate on specific facts.  Rereading a third time after time away from the text will further reinforce knowledge.
·        If you own your books, highlight material and write notes in the margin as you read.            Pictures are also great. 
·         Review the chapter summaries, end-of-chapter questions, and headings in bold throughout the chapter before reading the text.  This will familiarize you with the themes of the chapter and make it easier to read and remember.  If there is a quiz at the end of the chapter, take it!
·         Have conversations with your mom, dad, or tutor about the material before and after you read something.  This will help you understand it better, particularly those abstract parts that aren’t so obvious.

One Last Tip:  
Your brain keeps processing information while you sleep. This is why we say “sleep on it.”  So, rehearse or review important information such as material for tomorrow’s test or quiz as the last thing you do just before going to sleep at night.  You’ll remember more when you wake up!

Be Well,
Jennifer 

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