• Study Skills

    Getting Organized

    Dear Parents:

    As Grace Fleming, a homework/study tips expert says, “The middle school years are so important for a student's academic career! This is a time when habits are formed that will remain with students through high school and college. It is important to lay a solid foundation when it comes to time management and taking responsibility for the actions that lead to school success! Middle school is the time to start using a planner the right way.”

    As middle school counselors, we often talk to students about their study skills habits. One of the first questions we ask students is “Do you use a planner?” The answer is often disappointing. It is almost impossible for a student to be successful at the middle school level if he/she does not write down or record their assignments and tests in a calendar format. This organizational skill precludes learning any other study skills strategy. If students are not going to use a written planner, then another option is a digital format. Every student with a Chromebook has access to Google Calendar, an excellent organizational tool for recording due dates for assignments, projects, and quizzes/tests.

    Please encourage and monitor the use of either a written agenda/planner or Google Calendar by your student. Ask to see your student’s planner or Google Calendar on a regular basis. Below is an article by Grace Fleming that includes tips for using a planner. At the bottom of this page are Youtube videos about how to effectively use a written planner and a tutorial about Google Calendar.

    Please take the time to review this information with your student. Study skills are the most important skills to master for students to get good grades.

    Fairhope Middle School Counselors  
    Tips for Using a Planner (excerpt)

    By: Grace Fleming

    The assignment is due when? Tomorrow?"

    We've all been there at some point. Somehow, that assignment due date just slipped right up on us without our noticing. That is why organizational skills are so important to school performance. Who can afford to score a big fat "0" on a paper, just because we got lazy and didn't pay attention to the due date? Who wants to get an "F" because we forgot to put our completed project in our book bag the night before it was due? Poor organization skills can reduce your final scores by a whole letter grade. That's why you should learn to use a day planner the right way. 
    Tips for Using a Planner
    Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
    Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you're still in the classroom. Write the assignment on the page of the due date and put a reminder message a few days before the due date. Don't put it off!
    Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
    Use a color- coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.
    Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you don't put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
    Use flags. You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
    Don't discard old pages. You will always have important information in your planner that you'll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you'll want to remember those things later on.
    Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time. On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement. 
    Things to Include in Your Planner
    It is important to block off anything that consumes your time, in order to avoid conflict and crisis. Don't forget:
    • Regular blocks of homework time
    • Assignment due dates
    • Test dates
    • Dances, parties, celebrations
    • Family gatherings, vacations, excursions
    • School events
    • Fees for field trips—due dates
    • Holidays

How To Organize/Utilize School Planner

Google Calendar Tutorial