Are you teaching study skills in junior high? Looking for easy activities and essential skills to cover in your study skills classes in middle school? Read on to find out more about how to teach students study skills in junior high.
Teaching study skills is such an important thing for all teachers to do, not just life skills or study skills teachers. It shouldn’t be something that is only covered in study hall or life skills classes.
Today we’re going to look at what skills are suitable for junior high students. We’ll also cover what skills are essential for junior high students and how to integrate teaching study skills into your classroom despite your crowded curriculum.
What are study skills?
Study skills are those academic skills that enable students to perform to the best of their academic ability at school. It includes skills such as
- taking notes
- prioritizing reading
- memorizing information
- planning and organizing their study time
- managing their ability to focus and concentrate
- avoiding procrastination.
- using effective strategies to study for exams
- managing test anxiety
- writing papers and essays
- managing their general physical and mental well-being as students
Why is it important to teach study skills in junior high?
It’s important to teach study skills in junior high because academic skills like these are necessary in high school. As students progress through school, they require more sophisticated academic and study skills to succeed.
Similarly, not only does teaching study skills improve academic results, but it also
- reduces students’ stress levels
- improves students’ workforce readiness
- creates students with a higher sense of self-efficacy
- reduces the amount of time students procrastinate
- improves students’ academic results
- increases the amount of productive time students spend on study tasks
- shows students effective study techniques
Unfortunately, many families are no longer able to teach their students study skills because caregivers are too busy working to provide for the family. This is particularly true of lower socioeconomic families where parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Teaching study skills also improves students’ job readiness
In your professional life, how many times have you used study skills? My bet would be too many to count. How many times have you
- taken notes or minutes during a meeting?
- planned out a project?
- drafted and edited some kind of written communication?
- prioritized reading of essays, papers, reports, or curriculum documents to manage your workload?
- used reading skills such as skim, skip, read?
All of these are skills required for professional jobs and many of them are required in trade jobs or paraprofessional jobs too.
Further, these skills are important not just for work, but also for life. How many times have you had to
- book a doctor’s appointment
- plan and manage travel arrangements
- schedule a car service
- plan and organize a menu
- schedule out home maintenance tasks
All of these skills are the same executive functioning skills that are considered part of study skills or academic skills.
If you’re lucky enough to have a study skills curriculum embedded somewhere within your school, then you might only need to revise skills. But if not, your students could likely benefit from incorporating study skills throughout your content area.
What are the most important study skills in junior high?
Ok, so I’ve convinced you that you should be teaching study skills in junior high. But what skills are the most important?
This will depend on your class and school context. Some students will come to school knowing how to use a calendar, how to break down tasks into smaller steps, and how to plan ahead for assessment tasks.
But, many will not. You will need to look at your class and work out which skills you think are the most important for your class.
If I had to pick five essential study skills for junior high, I would pick
- taking notes
- planning and organization
- focus and concentration
- avoiding procrastination
Taking notes requires students to be able to
- identify important information and write it down
- work out what information they know and understand
- establish what information they may need to go back and find out more information about
- keep their thoughts organized
- go back through their notes and find relevant information
Taking notes is also useful for helping students get all of their ideas down on paper before any kind of extended writing.
Planning and organization
Another really important skill is the ability to plan and organize. This skill is really important because the better your students’ planning and organization skills are the more successful students are likely to be.
Planning and organization are required not only in the workforce but also in your home. How are you supposed to remember when the car is due for service if you don’t know how to use the calendar?
How are you supposed to remember when you last cleaned the windows if you don’t have some kind of schedule that you follow? How do you remember to get a gift for your sister’s birthday if you don’t plan ahead?
Planning and organization skills are essential not just for academic success, but also for life.
Focus and concentration
Another important skill is being about to manage your focus and concentrate. While students need to know how to focus and concentrate, it can be a really difficult skill to learn in today’s social media-saturated world.
Learning how to flex that muscle, and practice avoiding distraction is a really important skill. Students report that it is one of the most important study skills they can be taught.
Teaching students about ways to increase their ability to focus and concentrate doesn’t have to take much time and can be as easy as
- showing students apps or browser extensions they can put on their computer to silence notifications
- encouraging students to put their phones on do not disturb
- explaining how bursts of strong focus can reduce their overall study time and give them more time for fun stuff
Another essential study skill for junior high students is to learn how to use their memory effectively.
What do I mean by that? Using your memory effectively is about knowing how your memory works, and then planning your study schedule in a way that takes advantage of that.
Most research shows that spaced repetition is the most effective way to remember information. You remember something and you review it at short intervals. As you can better recall the information, you increase those intervals.
Showing students tools such as Anki cards is a great way to get them to practice this skill, as is showing students how to use old-school flashcards.
The final tip is avoiding procrastination. Oftentimes, procrastination is a result of not having the executive function skills to initiate a task. So how can we help students better learn this skill?
The ability to initiate tasks is so important because in life there are many jobs or projects that we take on that require research, planning, decision-making, and prioritizing.
All of these skills are used in task initiation and the more effectively we can do complete these steps, the smoother our lives tend to be.
How can you use this information in your classroom?
You can use this information to help integrate study skills into your classroom; you don’t necessarily need to dedicate huge amounts of time to study skills lessons. You can do this easily in many ways.
Crash Course Study Skills
The Crash Course skills videos are great. They’re short and run for about ten to twelve minutes.
The videos are free online and available through YouTube or the CrashCourse website.
The Crash Course Study Skills videos cover topics such as taking notes, prioritizing reading how memory works, how to plan and organize, as well as strategies to improve focus and concentration.
They also cover how to avoid procrastination, how to study for exams and avoid test anxiety, how to write papers and essays, and overall how to manage your own physical and mental health to enable yourself to study more effectively
They also cover skills such as different note-taking styles, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different note-taking type styles. The videos also show students how to use a planner to schedule study tasks and how to use a to-do list to manage study time effectively.
How to integrate study skills activities into your class
You can integrate study skills activities into your junior high class in many ways, and in fact, you are probably already doing it in some way.
- show your students study skills videos that explain important skills
- give students time in class to plan out their study schedule and tasks using a homework diary, to-do list, or planner of some kind
- scaffold the steps required for assessment
- run mini-lessons on skills such as note-taking
- create pop quizzes that force recall at increasing intervals
- start lessons with ten true or false questions that review previous material
- model skills such as creating a study schedule and writing a study task list
- get students to write questions and answers for revision quizzes
- model different styles and uses of different note-taking styles such as Cornell notes, outline notes, and mind maps
- show students how to use spaced repetition tools such as Anki
- create spaced repetition activities on tools such as WordWall, Kahoot, or Blooket
- use “focus time” in class by projecting a Pomodoro timer and enforcing silent individual work for different lengths of time
Hopefully, you’ve found some useful ideas about how you can show junior high students study skills to improve their academic skills.
Other posts you might be interested in…
- Easily teach your students to take effective Cornell notes
- 10 awesome study skills worksheets: high school and middle school edition
- 8 awesome reasons to focus on study skills in ELA (which also has citations for many of the claims at the beginning of this post)
- 5 research-backed reasons you should be teaching mind mapping
- Avoiding procrastination: 10 tips to teach your students how to stop procrastinating
- Fear of test taking: 7 tips to help your students overcome test anxiety
- 9 quick and easy study skills lesson plans for high school (these can easily be used in upper middle school too)