Putting It All Together: 25 Ways to Study

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The student will be able to create and carry out an effective plan for studying.

Big Idea

Students generate 25 ways to study and practice some of these strategies as they prepare for their summative assessment. Students analyze their own formative assessment data to identify their individual learning needs and create a lighbulb graphic organiz

Introduction and Connection to the NGSS and Common Core

In this two day lesson, students learn how to study and begin preparing for their final summative assessment.  Students brainstorm 25 ways to study, analyze their learning, and create a graphic organizer to represent their learning. 

The lesson connects to the following NGSS and Common Core Standards:

MS-PS3-1  Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object. 

MS-PS3-2  Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

MS-PS3-3   Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.

MS-PS3-4  Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.

MS-PS3-5  Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

Science and Engineering Practices:

As students look into their formative assessment scores in the gradebook to analyze their learning, they use graphical displays of data to interpret and analyze linear and non linear relationships (SP4). 

Cross Cutting Concepts:

As students create a lightbulb to show their understanding of all of their learning targets, this lesson also can provide students with practice in Cross Cutting Concepts of “Scale, Proportion, and Quantity”, “Systems and Models” , and “Energy and Matter”.  On their graphic organizer, students include graphical representations of the relationship between mass, velocity, and kinetic energy (CCC Scale, Proportion, and Quantity).  Students also include on their graphic organizer examples of how energy flows within systems (CCC Systems and Models).  In addition, their graphic organizer includes examples that show the relationship between potential and kinetic energy and students notice that energy may take different forms and that the transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows (CCC Energy and Matter).

Connecting to the Essential Question: What are you going to learn today?

5 minutes

Ask students, "What are you going to be learning today?".  Students should respond with the essential question, "How does energy transfer through various systems in the natural world?" (I keep this posted on the board.  Students also have it in their Unit Plan).

Explain that today, they are considering the unit in its entirety as opposed to a specific learning target.  Let the students know that the summative assessment for this unit is approaching.  Although it may be a week or even two weeks away, preparation for summative assessments should begin early.  Studying should not be a "cramming" event, but a process that promotes growth in specific skills.  Explain that in today's lesson, they will be investigating effective methods for studying.

Day 1 Mini Lesson: How do you study?

25 minutes

I share with students that it always amazes me how students respond when I ask them how they prepare for a test.  Most students pause, make a confused face, and respond, "Uh....study."  When I ask them "How do you study?  What does that mean?", students often hesitate again and say, "I guess I read over my notes a lot."  I explain to the students that "reading over notes" is actually one of the most ineffective ways to prepare for an exam.  While it does have its benefits, there are so many more strategies that can impact their individual learning.  In addition, I explain that varying their studying practices is very beneficial.  If a student studies in only one manner, their learning is not tested in a variety of methods.  Thus, if the format of the test does not correlate with that one way of studying, they can struggle on an assessment.  

I then ask each partner pair or table group to brainstorm 25 ways that they could study for the upcoming Energy Final Assessment.  I do not help them with this list in any way during the brainstorm time.  And, let me tell you, that can be hard.  After the first three or four on the list, students can really get stumped.  It forces them to think hard about their learning and studying practices.  However, allowing the students to come to these realizations on their own is essential.

After groups brainstorm, share ideas as a class and write them on poster paper or projector.  I then put this list on my website so that all students have access to it as they study at home.

Here is a sample list that one my sections of classes created this year.  Anything in italics provides some insight into what this means in my classroom.  The choices that are bolded are the focuses of the remainder of this lesson.  Over the rest of this lesson and in the next class period, students will be practicing the bolded choices.

Section 3:  25 Ways to Study

  1. Quiz yourself on Quizlet cards.  (If you haven't used quizlet before - it can be a great tool.  It is an online note card website with games, quizes, and access to notecards on devices.  Here is a link to a set of notecards I created in the past for a multi-unit exam.)

  2. Reread the labs.

  3. Record your voice saying the concepts and listen to it.

  4. Make a light bulb for all units.  (Creating light bulbs as graphic organizers is one strategy that my students use.  In Day 2 of this lesson, you can see some student work using this strategy.)

  5. Have a parent quiz you.

  6. Rewrite information. 

  7. Make a study game.

  8. Read the articles, notes, texts, in binder.

  9. Make a study plan (work backwords).

  10. Review your FA’s to find areas you did not get a 4 on.

  11. Get all of the skill sheets together and reread all skills.

  12. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 - 4 on each skill to find your focus areas.

  13. Ask Mrs. Roehm questions about concepts you are unsure of.

  14. Take a practice test.

  15. Read and answer the Essential Questions.

  16. Make flashcards. (Put around house)

  17. Play “Scatter” on Quizlet.

  18. Time yourself on Flashcards/Sort into stack you know and don’t know.

  19. Make a song about concepts.

  20. Have someone else quiz you on flashcards.

  21. Reread or write ABCDE paragraphs.

  22. Play “Chase” on Quizlet.

  23. Take a test on Quizlet.

  24. Reread worksheets.

  25. Read a text book or alternate text.

  26. Go on powerschool and find your 2’s and 3’s for your focus areas.

  27. Do experiments.

  28. Use the notes from Mrs. Roehm’s Website.

  29. Complete the study guide.

  30. Cover up the answers on the study guide answer key and quiz yourself.

  31. Highlight areas of focus.

  32. Create models at home of the skills.  (This one made me smile!  NGSS has a focus on models.  I love that they realize that this is a way to demonstrate learning that they could do on their own!  We use a strategy frequently called "Mystery Box" that students could do on their own.  Here is a link to a lesson about "Mystery Box".)

  33. For each skill, come up with real world examples.

  34. Create diagrams about each skill.  (Diagrams are a focus in my classroom as well.  They are a quick way to create a visual model of scientific terms.  Here is a link to a lesson about diagrams.)

  35. Write all of the vocabulary in the shape of their definitions.  (Shape vocabulary is a strategy we use in class to commit vocabulary to memory.  Here is a link to a lesson involving shape vocabulary.)

The list your students create will end up reflecting the strategies that you have utilized in your classroom.  Many of the bolded choices above are a reflection of my classroom and the manner in which I assess.  I run a standards based assessment classroom in which students are provided with an Essential Question and specific learning targets or "I Can" statements.  Students self assess and rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 4.   In addition, all of their formative assessments are in the gradebook so that they can track their own learning.  However, these formative assessments do not affect their overall grade.  The bolded choices demonstrate that some students are recognizing that self reflection and monitoring of where they are in their learning on specific learning targets is actually a large part of their learning.  Organizing "Working Towards Mastery Lists" (Lists identifying areas of struggle) and charting their mastery level on all skills are key study strategies!  

Students need to come to the realization that studying does not mean memorize everything.  And, students need to gain an understanding that they may not need to "study" everything.  That is a scary idea to those over-achieving students!  I emphasize to students that they should not spend hours studying things that they have already mastered.  Instead, students should focus their studies and learning on the concepts and skills that they have not yet mastered.

Day 1: Creating A Study Plan

10 minutes

Students need to realize that one effective strategy for preparing for an exam or test (or any large task for that matter!) is making a plan and working backwards.  This is actually a strategy mentioned on the brainstormed list of 25 ways to study.  I explain to students how I tackle large tasks in my life.  I look at my calendar and mark off dates that I have previous commitments, create a list of tasks I have to complete to finish the task, and then put each task on a calendar as a set of "due dates".  

Explain to the students that they will be creating a study plan for the upcoming test.  Provide the students with a blank calendar of the month that you are in.  Have students write on the calendar their events (games, recitals, practices, other tests etc) to identify days that they might be very busy.  "Studying" does not have to happen every day, but it is important to recognize how many "open days" there are in a student's schedule so they can distribute the work effectively.  Then, on the open days, have them write in the method of studying they are going to use on that day.  As they write in their calendar, I explain that they may not write, "Study."  They must choose a specific strategy from the brainstormed list that they will use on that day.  The more specific they are in their plan, the better chance they will have to actually accomplish what they set out to do.  For example, instead of just writing, "shape vocabulary", writing "Shape Vocabulary for Skill 6 (types/forms of energy)" will provide them with better direction.

In addition, I emphasize that at the beginning of their study plans it is important to make time for assessing themselves on their areas of focus.  This should be included in the plan.  Let them know that in class today and tomorrow, they will be completing this in class.

Have students show you their study plans.  For many, this may be their first attempt at making a plan.  They will need feedback as they complete them!

Day 1: Analyzing Formative Assessment Data

30 minutes

After completing their study plans, have students analyze their formative assessments and identify areas of focus.  Students should refer to the Essential Question and "I Can" statements on their Unit Plan.  Then, I have them look at their formative assessments in the grade book and graph their scores on this Working Towards Mastery Document.  Below the graph, they should write topics/concepts/misconceptions they need to work on.  The graph in the document is organized based on my grading scale, but you could adapt it to fit your own classroom.  For me, all scores are on a scale of 1 to 4.  On the x axis you will notice "a, b, c, d, e".  In my gradebook, this is the way I indicate the first, second, third, etc. formative assessments in chronological order.  In addition, students in my class keep all of their returned work and documents so they can refer to the feedback they have received on each formative assessment.

In this case, the student would analyze what this graph means about their own learning.  This student in particular noted that he had made a lot of growth from the beginning to the end.  However, while he did earn a "4" on one formative assessment, the last assessment he earned a "3" on the most recent assessment.  Thus, the student concluded that while there were areas in this skill that he was confident in, there were also topics that he needed clarification.  Thus, he wrote the things he wanted to focus his studying on in the "Things I need to work towards mastery on:" section of the paper.  With this complete, the student can focus his studying in this skill to these most important points. 

Day 2 Mini Lesson: Topic Sentences and Sorting Student Work

10 minutes

For their summative assessment for this unit, students will be writing a formal piece.  Thus, this mini lesson is important preparation for them.

Cut out the student responses into slips of paper from the Student Response Sorting Document.  

With the four student responses, have the students sort the student work and answer the questions, "When you look at the response, does it "sound like a scientist" or "sound like a 7th grader"? How do you know?  What characteristics make it stronger or weaker?

As each pair sorts the student work, walk around and listen in to their conversations asking for clarifying reasoning about what makes each student resource "sound like scientist" or "sound like a 7th grader".  The key to the success of this activity is that students can verbalize the qualities that make each responses strong or weak.  

Have students share for the whole group their reasoning for each student response.  Below is the feedback typically discussed about each response.


#1:  This is a topic sentence a student wrote for their Bottle Rocket Lab Report.

I am going to tell you about why my rocket design will work.

 Discussion:  Scientists write in third person and avoid I, my, etc.  Beginning a topic sentence with "I am going to tell you about", sounds like a 7th grader. 


#2:  This is a topic sentence a student wrote for their Bottle Rocket Lab Report.

Water bottle rockets are able to propel into the air due to Newton’s three laws of motion.

 Discussion:  Students say that this "sounds more like a scientist".  They note that it is written in third person using strong scientific vocabulary.


#3:  This is a topic sentence a student wrote for their Bottle Rocket Lab Report.

Rockets are able to take flight due to Newton’s three laws of motion.

 Discussion:  Students say that this "sounds more like a scientist".  They note that it is written in third person using strong scientific vocabulary.

#4:  This is a topic sentence a student wrote for their Bottle Rocket Lab Report.

My rocket design will work because of Newton’s three laws.

 Discussion:  Scientists write in third person and avoid I, my, etc.  Beginning a topic sentence with "My rocket design will work", sounds like a 7th grader. 

Day 2: Creating a Lightbulb Graphic Organizer

45 minutes

Explain to students that graphic organizers are a great way to put a large amount of important information on a page.  Provide students with the Energy Light Bulb Student Document.

Explain to the students the directions for this activity.  These directions are included in the student document.

**This is a link to a video of me explaining this activity.  In this video, I go through all of the directions included in text below.  I wanted to include this video as it is actually a sub plan that I left one day when I was at a conference this year.  I have found that screen shots of instruction are a great way to not "lose a day" when you have to be out of your classroom.  So, if you watch the video and I reference a "sub", you will understand the point of view I am making this video from.  More about the benefits of screen shots for sub plans in the reflection!

Lightbulb Activity:  How is energy transferred through various systems in the natural world?

Your task is to create a pre-writing graphic organizer to answer the essential question for our Energy Unit.  Below are some tips to help you.

  1.  Start with the essential question in the middle of your graphic organizer.  (I have already included this in a lightbulb on the other side of the paper.
  2. The main ideas have been broken down for you into skills as “I can” statements.  Find your energy “I can” statement page.
  3. Each ray of light coming off the lightbulb represents one of these skills.  Find a way to paraphrase the skill sentence into a few words or a phrase and write those at the end of the light rays.  One example is completed for you on the other side.
  4. You are going to add examples and evidence of these skills with “light rays” coming off of the paraphrased skills. 
  • For each example or evidence you list, you must cite the resource. 
  • You should have a minimum of three examples/pieces of evidence per skill. 
  • These pieces of evidence can come from written text, notes, in class conversations, real life experiences, labs, activities, worksheets, etc.
  •  Often pictures are useful in helping you remember what idea you are referencing. 
  • These should be written in only a few words, not sentences!  One example is completed for you on the other side.
  • Make sure your example/evidence references the EQ.  For example, the example on the other page says, “Convection box shows how heat is transferred in the atmosphere.”  The atmosphere is in the natural world so it shows a connection.  Just writing, “convection box” would have not shown a clear connection.
  • If you would like a bigger piece of paper, just let me know! (Or, you can tape extra sheets to this sheet.)

Below is a completed student example. (Want to see the summative assessment the students use this light bulb for?  Check out this lesson!)

This video is also a clip I removed from my "video sub plans".  However, this video will actually really further your understanding of what student work might look like.  While the link to the previous video was me going through directions, this video shows me going through some student samples and things to look for.  I did just want to preface that in this video I am speaking to the students while I am out of the district and they have a substitute.

Closure: What is your study style'?

5 minutes

After practicing and developing strategies to study, it is important that students reflect on the strategies that work best for them.  Just as students have different learning styles, students also have different study styles (most of the time, those two correlate!).  Have students share with a partner the study strategies that work most effectively for them and identify their "Study Styles".