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Study Skills for Middle School: Activities & Ideas

Instructor: Esther Bouchillon

Esther has taught middle school and has a master's degree in gifted education.

In this lesson, we will discuss ways to improve study skills for middle school students. We will learn about using a calendar, goal setting, what active studying looks like, and memorization tools.

Middle School Responsibilities

Middle school is a time of great transition for many students. Parent-signed homework and constant agenda checking is usually left in elementary school, because middle school students are given more responsibility. They usually juggle more classes and increase their participation in extra-curricular activities. This means that time management and study skills must increase for middle school students to succeed. This less will focus on some ways to help middle school students think about studying and activities to help improve their study skills.

Where Did All the Time Go?

Have you ever felt like time just slipped away from you? Middle school students tend to feel like this often. Usually, in elementary school, children were told when to do their homework and were supervised at all times. In middle school, students are usually given more freedom and do not always have a parent telling them to complete their homework. It is important for middle school students to recognize how they spend their time and understand where they can make improvements. During this time many students think they do not have time to study or are surprised by how quickly time passes while playing video games or on social media.

One way of doing this is by having students predict what they do during the hours they are not at school then compare it to their actual use of time. First, have students list everything they do outside of school like sleeping, eating, participating in activities, playing video games, studying, etc. Then have them list the number of hours they think they spend daily on each activity. Finally, give them a blank daily agenda page with time written in 30-minute increments. Have them use the paper to track how they are actually spending time outside of school.

Students can track their time using a printed agenda page.
agenda book

In class, have them compare how they thought they spent their time to how they actually did. Making graphs that show how they spend their time is a great way to incorporate math into this activity as well! Discuss which activities would be healthy to reduce - such as video games - in order to increase study time. Also, talk about which activities would be unhealthy to reduce, such as sleeping.

Calendar & Goal Setting

Middle School students frequently have long-term projects and cumulative tests. If school policy allows, encourage students to use their smart phones, tablets, and other digital devices to set calendar reminders about assignments. Many middle school students now have smart phones and use them several times each day. Most calendar apps even allow reminder alarms to be set, further reminding the student about deadlines. After giving an assignment or test date in class, allow students time to use their devices to set reminders. While using a paper calendar is better than nothing, a calendar doesn't help at all if you don't look at it!

Even more than simply putting the event or assignment on a calendar, teachers should encourage goal setting. After giving a large assignment or the date of a cumulative test, have students make daily or weekly goals for what they will accomplish leading up to the final event. This can help take a large assignment and break it down into manageable chunks. Provide an example of how to break down assignments for the first few times. Then, throughout the school year, provide less direction on goal setting and allow the students to practice making their own goals.

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