How to Create Your Own Study Skills Curriculum Studying can be a real pain in the brain! You know it. We know it. There’s no denying it. However, it absolutely does not have to be a pain at all and we are going to give you the solution right now. Ready for it? The answer is simple and only consists of three words: study skills curriculum. Now we know what you’re probably thinking. “What… a study skills curriculum? What are we teachers all of a sudden?” If the word “curriculum” has thrown you off a bit, it might be because it’s usually associated with something teachers and professors draft up to what their students will study each term. There’s so much more to a curriculum than that, though. While you will essentially be creating a guide to study by, we like to think of our version of a study skills curriculum as a process rather than a just a list of stuff to study. We’ve used this study process many times and have seen great results, so we hope you find it as helpful as we do. Let us know what you think! Before You Start… Start smart and make the most out of your new study skills curriculum by keeping three simple things in mind: Make It Practical: Study skills don’t rely on how smart you are. They instead rely upon your ability to apply all of your brainy abilities in a practical way in an effort to get the information you’re studying to stick around. The good news is that it’s not hard to keep your study skills curriculum practical. The best things to do are: keep your learning style in mind, create study tools (flash cards, mnemonic devices or self- made quizzes) and make all the information fit into your memory within these parameters so you can use it later. Find Your Focus: You can use a study skills curriculum for anything you need or want to study. However, you will need to tweak and fine tune it for each different subject, topic or test you’re going to use it for. All you have to do is find the focus for each new study task at hand and then you can shape any specific study needs around it for your new study skills curriculum to maintain its awesomeness. Daily Work: Remember that you’ll be using your study skills curriculum to make the most of your study sessions each day, which means there’s no need to go full throttle and overwhelm yourself every day. Instead, find a balance between how much and what to cover during each session as you spread them out across the week. Steady progress will help you stick to your routine rather than throwing in the towel because you’ve heaped too much on yourself. How to Create Your Own Study Skills Curriculum The whole point of whipping up a study skills curriculum is to get a better grasp on the material you need to cover for a class, test, project or even a hobby. The steps we are offering to help you create your own study skills curriculum aren’t traditional by any means, but they are effective and will help you study smarter with positive results. Lesson 1: Find the Best Place to Study and When to Do It The best way to start your study skills curriculum on the right foot is with a solid study space. In creating an ideal space where you can focus, you will be taking command of the information you are trying to absorb. This is really essential to your studying success and will result in your success when the time comes to actually apply the information you’ve been working so hard to study. It’s very important to remember that every person and study style is different when trying to find the optimum study environment. Figure out how you learn, what will help/hurt you during your study process and try to find a place that fosters healthy study habits. Most people find studying in a quiet space without a whole heap of distractions to be the ideal setting, which makes sense unless you have super human focusing abilities that enable you to block out external chaos. So, if you’re a mere mortal like most of us, tuck yourself away for your study sessions in a corner of the library, your room, the park or any other place that will allow you to get into the study zone. Try to limit as many controllable distractions as possible, too. This means turning your phone off, closing any browser tabs that are unrelated to what you’re studying and politely telling your friends and family to bugger off until you’re done. Pay attention to your biological clock when trying to decide when to study, too. You want to get the most out of each study session, which is hard to do if you’re physically and mentally exhausted from a long day at work/school and other life responsibilities. If won’t take long for your study session to quickly turn into a snooze fest if you’re totally zonked and drooling all over your books. Keep your materials slobber free and make each time count by planning when you’d like to study around the times that you are at peak performance. Squeeze in a hearty study session in the morning before you start your day if you’re an early bird. Sit down for an action packed afternoon study session if you get a brain an body boost around lunch time. Take advantage of your night owl tendencies by hitting the books in the quiet late night hours when everyone else is snoozing. Lesson 2: Note Taking 101 A huge part of your study skills curriculum is going to depend on your note taking ability. Why? Well, the quality of what you’re studying essentially rests upon the quality of your notes. The quality of your notes depends upon your ability to include all of the pertinent information needed to give you a firm grasp on the material in question. There will also be many times when you will take notes as part of your studying sessions, because taking notes while studying helps to drive the information home. and makes it easier to recall information later. This makes the need to have some kick-butt note taking skills even more important since both your study success and how you apply the information you’re studying ultimately depends on it. There are many different ways to take notes, so be sure to test different methods before settling on one in particular since there’s a possibility you may find one that works better for you than another. Here are some different note taking methods to try out when making your own study skills curriculum: Outlining Method: The outlining method to note taking will look similar to an outline for an essay. You’ll write/type your main points and add corresponding bullet points beneath to keep the information organized. For example: you’re taking notes on the art of the 1940’s with individual headings for art inspired by war, the art of music and the art of fashion. You could then have a bullet point discussing the paintings on bomber jets, swing music and t-strap shoes under each main point. Mapping Method: When taking notes using the mapping method it will look a lot like the early brainstorming method you likely used when you first started writing essays as a kid. You’ll write your main idea in a circle in the center of your paper followed by branches containing ideas extending from the circled main idea. Cornell Method: The Cornell method is a bit more involved as you will need to make a column on the left side of your paper with the right side of it free for ample note taking. The right side of your notes allows you to go into detail while the left side is open for you to highlight or summarize specific points and notate important words or phrases. It’s actually a really effective way to take notes and a personal favorite. Charting Method: You can easily use the charting method when taking notes if you’re a fan of viewing your notes in the form of an information table. You’ll label each column with something that specifically pertains to what you’re taking notes on with each row beginning a new thread to complete the full picture of your notes, Sentence Method: The sentence method of note taking is pretty much what it sounds like. You’ll sure enough write/type the material covered in full sentence form. This method is often put to best use when it’s used with another note taking method, but you can certainly use it on its own if you find it works for you. Lesson 3: Study Smart Possibly one of the most important elements to your study skills curriculum is going to be your ability to study smart no matter what material you are covering during a given study session. Studying smart will help you to get the most out of what your studying and will enable you to apply it like an ace whether you’re showing the fruits of yours studying labors on a test, project or presentation. There are a lot of ways you can become an awesome study skills jedi, but these are the ones we’d vote for: Get the most out of your classes, lectures or seminars at all times. This means showing up prepared, well rested and ready for action with any and all bases covered from pre-studying to having all the required materials needed to get the most of your class, lecture or seminar. Commit yourself to being just as present mentally as you are physically and you’ll notice how much easier it is to retain the information needed to study later. Don’t be afraid to use memory aids as a means of mastering study material whether you’re in a classroom setting or at home. Try mnemonic devices like chunking, linking or the Loci System to help you grasp the information and commit it to memory. You’ll be able to call upon these methods later when the time comes to demonstrate all you’ve accomplished with your study skills curriculum. Figure out what you’re expected to know for a test, project or presentation well before it’s time to show your stuff. This way you can work all of the necessary material into your study skills curriculum’s study sessions. You’ll look like a rock star if you’ve prepared in advance and really embedded the information into your brain. Don’t be afraid to try a different study tactic or ask for help if what you’re trying to study is quite clicking for you. The best way to study efficiently is to attack the information from various angles in an attempt to really understand it rather than just remember what you’ve read. You can try to dissect the material you’re studying in further detail rather than simply reading it as a way to get a better understanding of what it is you’re trying to learn. You can also ask an instructor, fellow student/co-worker or anyone else who may have more information about the material at hand. Remember studying is not the same as doing homework. This is a common misconception made and it’s super important to approach each task in a separate manner to ensure your success on both fronts. Homework is important as it serves as a way reinforce what you learn in class whereas studying is used as a way to really take command of material covered in class to call upon later for exams. Get creative with the way you study by developing and using smart study strategies that work best for your learning style and the material you’re covering at any given time. Some tried and true study strategies are making flash cards, working up an outline as a study guide, re-reading all of the material a few times over followed by a test of your memory and/or re-writing your notes in sections in an attempt to commit the information to memory in a different way. Lesson 4: Make a Plan and Make it Work Now that you know how to study, it’s time to put it all together by making a study plan and making it work for you. Remember that this is just a template and can be modified to accommodate anything you’re studying for any reason. You can write or type your plan and keep it with your study material in order to stay organized. First, you’ll want decide what you’re subject or topic you’re going to cover, what material you need to do the actual studying and what the intended goal is upon completion of your said studying. This first step will pretty much remain the same no matter what you’re actually studying as it serves as a good foundation with lots of possibly ways to be built upon. Second, take all of those notes you worked so hard to create and take them to your study space along with any other study related items you may need like pens, paper, pencils, a computer and highlighters. Try to be as prepared as possible before you sit down to study in order to prevent any unnecessary breaks in your concentration. Next, decide how you want to study. Do you want to re-read your notes, rewrite them, make flash cards or practice the required study materials somehow? The choice is yours and should depend upon your learning style, but don’t limit yourself to just one study method if you’re able to take advantage of other ones. Your goal is to get the information into your head, so do whatever works and gets you the maximum benefit. Lastly, you’ll want to study just the right amount so you don’t become overwhelmed both physically or mentally. Set goals for yourself and stick to them instead of trying to go full gorilla. This important because you’ll ideally use your study skills curriculum daily, which means it’s a marathon rather than a sprint and doesn’t require you to totally tax yourself. It’s important to maintain this balance, so try not to fall behind if you can avoid it to prevent causing more work for yourself. That’s it! By now you can see that it is super easy and can be super helpful to whip up a quick study skills curriculum each time you need to rock a study sessions. Lesson 5: Test Time By now you’ve nailed down your study skills curriculum by finding a suitable place to study, used your notes and note taking ability to the max, studied smart and reduced the stress associated with studying by making a study plan that works. Virtual high five for you hard working guys and gals! It’s time to put that newly created study skills curriculum to work by testing yourself. No pressure, though! The point of a self-test is to determine how well your study skills curriculum is working for you and as a way to pin point any areas that you may need to tweak in order to increase your odds of study success. You can test yourself by taking online quizzes pertaining to the information you’re studying, by re-writing the information by memory only or a quick flash card quiz. Anything will work as long as it tests your knowledge of the material you’ve been trying so hard to cram into your noggin. Hopefully you’ll find that your study skills curriculum does the job without any or only minor changes needed. If not, head back to the drawing board to find out where the disconnect is occurring. Study Skills Checklist We’ve found that using a handy little checklist each day as a way to keep ourselves in check and to ensure that the new study skills curriculum is used in the best way possible. You may want to give it a try, too. You can print it out and secure it to the folder or notebook you use to study for each of your subjects, tasks or tests just like you do with your study skills curriculum. This will make it easy to look at each day and serve its super helpful purpose. Here are the questions you could ask yourself as a checklist for your study skills curriculum: I wrote down all important information that will help me study more efficiently. I brought all necessary study items home today to ensure that my study time is maximized. My study space is in an ideal setting for today’s study demands. I am prepared to study and have all necessary supplies in excess of the actual study material – such as paper, pencil, highlighters, pens and dictionary. I have a fully functional computer or tablet that will work as a study aid should I need one. I am physically and mentally prepared to tackle the demands of today’s study needs. I have set clear, attainable study goals for myself and am confident in my ability to accomplish them. I have taken care of additional study related demands such as family/word demands, homework and/or writing assignments to ensure my focus is solely on the studying at hand. I have gathered my study materials and placed them in a designated spot for future studying or to take with me to another location.