How to Take Notes on a Nonfiction Book, Part 1

Do you have a hard time remembering what you read? I have this trouble all the time — I read a super interesting nonfiction book, but when it’s time to tell a friend about it, I can’t remember a single interesting fact!

Today I want to share a way I have of taking notes that allows me to capture the most important points from the non fiction books that I read. See: it’s not just students that study skills are good for! 🙂

Check out this video in which I walk you through the “book charting” process that I learned from my mom back in the day.

 

In today’s video I show you how to set up the process, and in the next two videos I’ll show you how I fill it out. So tune in the next couple of weeks to get more information!

 

How to Get Work done While You Travel

?Do you often intend to get school work done when you travel during breaks, but then can’t quite bring yourself to do it?

More and more of my clients these days have at least one, if not more, plane rides during the course of their school year.

These same clients are also the kind of students who often have late work they need to catch up on!

In this video, I talk about how one of my clients came up with a “Plane Plan” in advance of his trip, so that he could make better use of his time on the airplane. This plan was very successful in helping him follow through with his goals. Check out the video to find out how.?

Make sure you come up with your plan in advance so you have a solid idea and can stick to it!

How to Have a Productive and Fun Break

Summer is here for almost everyone! Which means relaxation and rest, right?

Hopefully for most of you that’s the case. But some students need to be productive, even over summer break thanks to classes at community college, rigorous summer assignments, internships and more.

Here’s a tip that might be helpful for those of you who want to maintain a sense of fun while also making sure you are responsible about being productive, too.

Listen in as I share a tip given to me by a 16 year old client who discovered a simple but powerful way to be productive over spring break! He was able to study for his AP tests AND have fun with his friends too.

I hope you all have a great Summer break!

210: Take Your College Visits to the Next Level

College visits can get repetitive and boring, and the “official” tours offered by the school don’t always reveal the hidden details that help you make a decision about which school is best for you.

Let Megan school you on how to take your visits to the next level! She’ll cover:

  1. How early is too early to start taking college visits?
  2. How to go beyond the basic two-hour info session, with tips like eating in the actual cafeteria picking up the school newspaper
  3. How to use college visits to help make the “short list”

Click here and listen in and Megan will also share some notes from the road, observations based on the college visits her clients and her daughter have done.

Do You Get Bored Reading? Try This Spark Notes Hack!

English teachers beware! You are NOT going to like my tip for the day.

A certain subset of my clients simply won’t read their English texts. They just won’t. No amount of cajoling, creative tips, and incremental steps will get them in the mood to tackle a hard text.

Today a client of mine WAS willing to practice reading a text as long as I didn’t expect her to read the whole text, and as long as we used a variety of online resources to support her.

In the following video, I walk you through the 5 step process that she and I came up with, and then I show you that process in action by sharing my screen.

I know the solution is not ideal, and ultimately we want students to have the stamina, attention and grit to sit with difficult intellectual material. However, especially students with learning differences, we also need to meet students where they are, acknowledge that they have had traumatic experiences with reading in the past, and offer them incremental doable steps on the road to tackling difficult academic tasks.

I’m excited that MY CLIENT is excited about this process, and I believe it’s a whole lot better than ignoring the reading completely. Let me know what YOU think, and I’ll keep y’all updated with how it goes with this student.

If you do not have the time to watch the video the image below describes some of what I talked about in the video to help you with assignments you are having trouble reading.

And if you feel you could use some help getting your homework done each week, please consider checking out my course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.

 

A Surprising Benefit of Turning Off Notifications!

Do you get a ton of notifications on your phone 24/7?

If you’re an avid follower of my newsletter, you may have noticed that recently I’m working with more and more of my clients to turn off many of their notifications.

Not all of them take me up on it, but those who do notice some surprising results.

In the video below, I explain what one 15-year-old is discovering about her new life without as many notifications.

 

Everyone hates to study get my step by step system to getting the grades you want here!

A Trick for Managing Your Parents’ Anxiety

Parents these days are overcome with anxiety — anxiety about their kiddo’s achievement (or lack thereof), ability to get into college, ability to get a good job, etc etc.

For better or for worse, a significant amount of time in my coaching sessions with teens is spent helping them figure out how they can get ahead of their parents’ anxiety.

One tip I’ve been working on with several of my clients is how to initiate communication with their parents early on, before parents have time to nag.

Listen in to this video for the nitty gritty details of this simple trick.

If you do not have time to watch the video below is a great tip for you to use to help manage your parents’ anxiety about your school work.

 

3 Tips to Take Action on Hard Assignments!

One of my main tasks as an academic coach — other than to help students study more effectively — is to help teens with learning challenges figure out how to follow through on tasks that feel insurmountable.

This week a client of mine reported with such pride that she’d actually finished — and turned in on time! — two history assignments that have been torturous in the past.

I asked her what worked for her, and the tips that poured out of her mouth were so spot on, I couldn’t help but share them with you.

I’m consistently blown away in my work as a coach that, as I help build students’ self awareness, they are less reliant on my creative tips and more capable of finding their own processes. The tips in this video are a perfect illustration of this point:

If you do not have the time to watch the video here are the tips for you:

 

If you are a teacher, tutor, or academic coach, or perhaps even a parent, interested in learning about how to help your students become independent learners and test-taking powerhouses, please consider checking out my course, The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically.

208: How to Make Your Final College Decision

April 1 was the date by which all colleges should have notified students of acceptance; students have this month to make the final choices and notify schools of their decisions.

Tune in as Megan walks you through 10 factors to consider as you make this final decision, including:

  1. General impression / ranking from your visits
  2. Money– How much will you pay EACH YEAR?
  3. Choice of Major– Are you in? Can you change your mind?
  4. Required courses– what will you have to take at each
  5. AP or transfer credits?
  6. Activities, organizations, Greek life?
  7. Travel costs and issues
  8. Academic support
  9. Need for family connectedness
  10. Where will you feel supported and pushed to be your best?

Listen in to learn how to make your final decision on which college to choose.

Follow Through More Often With This Smart Phone Tweak!

Most of us have smart phones these days, and many of us depend on a number of different apps to keep us organized.

With a certain subset of my teen clients, however, I’ve noticed that they don’t have their time management apps organized in such a way that they are easily found.

Check out the video below to discover a simply tweak that every student should consider to make their most important time management apps more accessible.

 

I’ll also introduce you to the most important time management apps to prioritize when you reorganize your home page.

 

 

If you would like some study tips head on over to the College Prep Podcast site. I co-host a weekly podcast with Megan Dorsey and we discuss a wide range of academic topics, including things like “How to Make Your Final College Decision.” 

207: Give Your Time Management a Mid-Semester Makeover

By mid-semester students’ time management routines have often weakened or collapsed.

 

 

Consider these four questions when giving your routines a makeover so that you can make it to the end of the semester with your grades and self esteem intact:

  • First, do you have a weekly planning routine? This can be a helpful Sunday task to help you look ahead and plan for the week ahead.
  • Second, do you have a daily routine to do right before and after your homework? This can be helpful to make sure you are adjusting your weekly plan as needed, with every new assignment your teachers give.
  • Third, if the daily routine doesn’t work for you, are you doing a midweek check-in ritual? This enables you to check off items from your To Do list, add new items, and make a plan for the weekend, so that you take action rather than procrastinate during your “off” time.
  • Finally, do you have a plan for accountability? Who else besides you can know about your plans and help make sure you feel a low-grade pressure to follow through?

Listen in to learn how to revamp your time management skills.

206: Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension on SAT, ACT or AP Tests

Believe it or not — raising your reading comprehension scores on standardized tests is often not about improving your reading skills!

 

Tune in as Megan outlines surprising skills to improve if you want improved performance on this section of your tests. Specifically she covers how to:

  • Develop college-bound vocabulary
  • Practice reading challenging material (fiction, non-fiction, archaic rhetorical style, complex scientific, detailed, etc.
  • Learn to find details (open book skills)
  • Practice analysis skills, and
  • Understand that every word matters

Listen in as Megan outlines surprising skills to improve if you want improved performance on reading comprehension of your tests.

 

205: One Student’s Takeaways From a Semester of Coaching

How much can a student’s behavior truly change after a semester of coaching?

In today’s episode, Gretchen walks us through a sixteen year old’s reflections about how he has grown as a result of academic coaching.

The following eight ideas resulted from a brainstorm during this young man’s final coaching session, during which he and Gretchen reviewed what he has learned and what habits he would like to maintain:

1. The Set Up Routine
2. Doing Spanish hw first
3. All the different study tools from the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying
4. Self Advocacy.
5. Keeping a Planner.
6. Finishing homework by a reasonable hour
7. Take advantage of meds before they wear off.
8. Marking period supply clean out.

Tune in to the episode to hear more about each of these take aways!

204: AP or Not to AP: Controversy & Considerations

The national average of number of AP classes taken by students admitted to top universities is five to eight total. That’s a lot!

Deciding whether to take (or not take) Advanced Placement classes is more complicated that simply taking as many tests as possible.

In this episode we discuss in detail the following considerations:

  1. The importance of students choosing an appropriate level of challenge
  2. The fact that AP classes (and the AP exams) can push students to learn at a higher level, which is great prep for college!
  3. How to think through your priorities when considering AP
  4. What does your family hope to get out of an AP class– higher learning, AP credit, boost to school GPA / rank, better teachers, taking class with peers, etc.
  5. What are your alternatives?
  6. What will the student have to give up to take these classes?
  7. How to monitor appropriateness (grades, time spent studying, mental health)
  8. When to go for it, and how to step down if you realize it’s too much

Listen in about AP courses to see if it’s right for you!

How to Stay Awake in a Boring Class!

Do you ever find yourself sleeping in class? Or struggling NOT to sleep?

Ugh. It’s the worst feeling. A client of mine was recently accused by his math teacher of sleeping in class. We spent part of our session discussing the cause, and what he might do about it.

Check out the video:

 

Check out the list of 5 clear ways to keep those eyes open, body moving, and attention alert when in a boring class:

 

If you are a teacher, tutor, or academic coach, or perhaps even a parent, interested in learning about how to help your students become independent learners and test-taking powerhouses, please consider checking out my course, The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically.

How to Procrastinate Less on Weekends!

Do you ever struggle to take action on important school tasks on weekends? I certainly do, and I’m 44 years old! Imagine being 16!

Recently a client revealed that she’d had another weekend of just “laying around”. She knew she had work to do, but she just couldn’t do it.

We realized that one of the problems was that she hadn’t made a detailed enough plan for exactly what needed to get done.

Check out this video, where I compare the plan she had made with the plan she probably SHOULD have made.

Here are some quick notes from the white board in this video of tips on how to plan what you need to get done on the weekend:

If you need more study tips and ideas on how to plan your weekends and get things done for your school week ahead have a look at The Anti-Boring Approach!

How to Make Textbooks Less Boring!

Do you ever find textbooks supremely boring to read? I asked my client this the other day, and he said, “Well, not if they’re science. But everything else, yes!” This client — a high school senior — is taking a college class on Western Civilizations, and their textbook is large and unwieldy.

Henry and I spent 20 minutes figuring out a process to help his reading assignments be more, well, “anti-boring”. Check out the video to get a demo of how we did that!

 

Here are the notes from the video if you do not have time to watch it, so you can get an idea on what to do to make textbooks less boring:

 

How to make textbooks less boring

 

If you are a parent looking for help for your child or a teacher looking for study tips for your students take a look at The Anti-Boring Approach!

What If Feelings and Cognition Are More Interconnected Than We Realize?

There’s a theme that’s popping up in every corner of my coaching practice these days, and it is:

Emotion and cognition are inextricably linked!

We academics like to think that it’s possible to learn facts and skills in a totally rational way, divorced from emotion. But that’s just not true!

Also, in a separate but related fact of the contemporary world, more and more teens and young adults are being diagnosed with high level anxiety.

In this video, I reflect about these two facts, and tell two stories: one from the course I’m teaching for educators, and another from a coaching session with a high school senior.

Check it out!

 

P.S. Here is the article that I mention in the video. And the book I’m excited to read is The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion, by Sarah Rose Cavanagh (2016)

 

203: Don’t Overlook These Seven Surprising Study Techniques

Sometimes small study tweaks can make a difference.

In this episode, Gretchen outlines seven small study techniques that can are easy to integrate into your homework time, and can help you be better prepped for tests.

We’re listing them here, though you’ll want to tune in to understand exactly how to integrate them into your study routine. They are:

  1. Take 3-minutes to quiz yourself before every assignment.
  2. Don’t use Google Translate to do your language homework, but do use it to assess yourself after you’re done
  3. Eliminate silly mistakes on math tests by doing a “speed practice” when doing homework
  4. Check your homework every night using www.slader.com
  5. Use blue tape to put flashcards up around your house, so that you can study when you’re walking to and from different rooms
  6. Draw a picture next to information that you’re having trouble remembering
  7. Make a quizzable study tool before each chapter test and save those tools for the final.

Listen in as Gretchen outlines seven small study techniques that can are easy to integrate into your homework time, and can help you be better prepped for tests.