This strategy takes a little bit of time up front, but helps students really understand the material and makes studying much more interesting. Test grades improve because students are really thinking about the information instead of just trying to “ingest” it by rote.
It’s called Concept Diagramming and is great for use with content areas such as history or science. It is a good tool to use when studying in groups or with a partner (or parent).
What to do
The student should:
- Put important events, dates, vocabulary, and names on 3×5 cards.
- Organize the cards in some logical way, and then orally explain why it makes sense to group the cards in that way.
- Then mix the cards up and group them in a different (still logical) way. Again, orally explain the new organization / connections.
This process may show students that they don’t really know the material. Memorizing a date is not the same thing as understanding a date and why it’s important. If the student really does understand the material, it will be fun to come up with multiple ways to organize/group the cards.
After each test, save all of the cards, labeling them by chapter or section so that they can be used again to study for unit tests and finals.
What is Really going on When a Smart Child is Struggling in School?
When smart children or teens struggle in school or have to work harder and longer than they should in order to keep up or make the grade, it is almost always because there are one or more areas of underlying processing/learning skills that are not supporting them well enough.
Accommodations at school or through traditional tutoring may help students to get by, but just coping with a problem for a long period of time is not comfortable and is not the answer.
These underlying processing/learning skills can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through specific brain training.
With the right kind of help, children and adults with learning challenges can work to their potential, comfortably and independently.