THE CoolerRuler:

Boost Your Learning Power

July 2008's Articles

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Proof Reading

Most kids dislike reading the work they have written before they hand it in. They seem to think that it's something only children do, but everyone has to check their work for mistakes. Even Mrs. Bruce does it!

Even if you do check your work, just reading it through is unlikely to highlight spelling mistakes - the brain tends to see what it's expecting and it's easy to miss errors.

The solution? Read BACKWARDS! Skim through it forwards to check that it all makes sense and then start again from the end and look at each word in reverse order. Any spelling mistakes should jump out at you and you have a chance to correct them.

Organising Worksheets

My own children were always coming out of school clutching a work sheet which had been given to them at the end of the last lesson. This would usually find its way to the floor of the car and there would be a panic later when it couldn't be found.

The solution is to get an A4 display folder with about 20 pockets. (This is better than a ring binder, because it's slimmer.) Label each of the interior pockets with the name of a subject - History, Art, Maths etc. - don't forget extra lessons or clubs.

File any loose sheets in the right section as soon as you get them. This not only helps you to find them when you need them, but it also keeps them in a good, clean condition so they look much better when you hand them in.

When you have to fill in a sheet that the teacher has given you, it's a fair bet that it will be on A4 paper. When you try to stick it into your book, the edges will stick out a little. Over time, these edges become dirty and torn. To avoid this, trim a little off the edges of your worksheet before you stick it in. Your book will be much neater than the others in the pile and your teacher will be feeling good about you even before s/he starts to mark your work.

Which has to be a good thing.

Topic Tabs

The more often you mis-spell a word, the less chance you have of remembering the correct spelling. When you start a new topic at school, take a large post-it note and make a list of the special vocabulary for that subject - for instance, if you are studying the heart, you might list 'aorta, ventricle, arteries, pulmonary, atrium...' This is your Topic Tab.

Keep it stuck on the page of your exercise book so that you have the correct spellings immediately under your nose and it's easy to get them right. Move it when you turn over the page and add to it as and when you need to.

When you have to hand in homework, move the Topic Tab to the inside back cover of the book, but remember to retrieve it when you get the book back. Your teacher will be really impressed at the improvement in your spelling.

Start a new one when you start the next topic.

Memory Shelves: I forgot my...

Some people have good memories. Lucky them! I have an awful memory and I was always in trouble for forgetting to bring things to school. Here is a useful way of remembering all the things you have to take.

Go to a supermarket and ask them for 5 identical cardboard boxes. Wine boxes are about the right size. Now stack them up on top of each other, all facing the same way and stick them together. You should have something that looks like very tall, thin, bookshelves.

Paint them. These are going to stand in your hall, near the front door, so you will need to paint them a suitable colour to blend in. Make large stickers to go at the back of each 'shelf', saying Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc.

Now simply put anything you have to take with you in the right box for the day. If you have a music lesson on Tuesday, put your music book in the Tuesday section. (If you are using your book during the week, put a reminder in the Tuesday section.)

If you have a geography trip on Thursday and you need your wellies, pop them in. Homework that has to be handed in on a particular day goes into the right section as soon as you've done it.

Now all you have to do as you rush out in the morning, is to check the Memory Shelves and collect whatever you need for the day.

Colour, colour, colour - and pictures!

Teachers tend to make kids write everything out neatly in blue or black ink. It looks very smart, but it's not easy to remember, so use colour wherever possible - either by highlighting or underlining in different colours. Make sure that it still looks neat though - it's worth keeping your teacher happy - teachers are human, (believe it or not!) and will give you a better mark if they think you are trying hard.

If you have difficult spellings or foreign vocabulary to learn, write the words out using several different colours. For example, 'through' is easier to learn than 'through' and 'fenĂȘtre' is easier than 'fenĂȘtre'.

Also, look out for little words within long words and draw pictures of them to help you remember - 'pretentious' can be split into pre-tent-ious. You could put the 'pre' and 'ious' in two different colours and draw a tent between them.

You'll be glad you spent 5 minutes with coloured pens when you have that test at school.