Monday, April 23, 2012

3 Steps to Lift the Fog of Finals

Do you feel overwhelmed by your finals?
It's easy to give up if you can't see the finish line.

The beginning of an article by Randy Alcom reminds us of the importance of perseverance.In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She’d already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away.

At a news conference the next day she said, “All I could see was the fog.…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

1. Create a vision board and look at it often to remind yourself of your finish line.
2. Don't let little things like your cell phone, facebook, and laziness hold you back. Make a decision to remove distractions and stick to your radical schedule.
3. Get energized before you study by listening to upbeat music, jumping up and down, or taking a quick walk outside.

Your finish line is right around the corner. Start studying today and enjoy the joy that comes with your accomplishments.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How To Apply The 5 Steps Of FLIRT To College Reading

As a college student you are regularly assigned to read designated chapters for that particular course. Reading multiple books from different classes can be somewhat difficult and confusing. Applying the FLIRT system before you read can really help you understand the text. Here are the five steps to becoming a successful reader:

Find The Form: Preview the text to determine the genre demands and establish your reading behaviors. (Example: non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.)

Look At The Text Features: Skim the text features to create interest and identify essential themes.

Identify Connections: Make connections to determine what you already know about the topic and identify difficult sections.

Reveal The Purpose: Ask questions to set a purpose and to anticipate the author’s point of view.

Transfer To Organizer: Scan for transition words to determine the external structure and establish a system for organizing new information.

In conclusion, FLIRTing with the text is a great way to become familiar with the reading for a better and complete understanding. By following these guidelines you are guaranteed satisfaction in understanding the whole text.

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Adrien Pagan. I would love to hear your secrets for preparing your mind to read. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

5 Easy Ways to FLIRT With the Text

There are five methods you use to FLIRT with the text. Flirting with the text is the beginning stage when you start to read a book. FLIRT helps you understand the reading and what you want to know. The five stages of FLIRT are find the form, look at the text features, identify connections, reveal the purpose, and transfer to organizer. If you noticed FLIRT stands for the beginning letter in each of the stages.

The fist stage is Find the Form. What does it mean when it says find the form? Finding the form of the text is when you try and determine the genre of the text. You go through the text and look at the title, headings, and anything else that stands out in bold print. This will help you figure out what kind of reading that you will be doing and what kind of p[ace you need to read at.

The second stage is Look at the Text Features. At this step you look at how the text is structured. You look if it is has paragraphs or if it has one paragraph. You also look for bolded words or different headings to see what the text is like. In this step all you are doing is skimming the text for the different text features. Most of the time you are looking for bolded words for this part of the section.

The third stage is Identify Connections. In this stage you are looking at the headings and bolded words and making connections on them. You are using your past knowledge or experiences and connecting them with the words in the text. You can look at the pictures and other things in the text and connect to them. Usually the pictures in a text are easier to connect to because you can visualize them easier by seeing everything.

The fourth stage is Reveal the Purpose. In this stage you are determining what the author wants you to know. The author always will show you in the reading what he wants you to know and what the purpose of the text. There is always a purpose to the reading and the author puts clues in the reading to show you that. He/she puts questions at the end of the reading sometimes to hint you the purpose.

The final step is to Transfer to Organizer. In this stage you determine what the author's purpose is, and then that will tell you what type of organizer you need to use. There are all kinds of different organizers that you can use. some of them are compare contrast, description, etc. the organizers will show you what you are going to be looking for in the text. All of these will help you better understand the passage and get you set up with the reading.

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Alex Leland. I would love to hear your secrets for preparing your mind to read. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

3 Reasons Why You Should Visualize the Author’s Message

Everyone has had to read something for school. One of these reading assignments at one point probably was difficult to read. And now that most of us are in college the reading assignments are just going to get harder and harder. That’s why when you read you should visualize the author’s message. Here are three reasons why you should visualize the message.

1.) Pictures are a Brain’s Best friend – When you are reading your brain favors pictures over text. This engages your brain in what you are learning. The visuals; pictures, charts, maps, graphs, etc.; all help you realize what is important, and your brain will thank you!

2.) Graphic Organizers = Focused! – Using graphic organizers keeps your ideas clear and concise. When you choose the graphic organizers you have to make sure you use the right kind. For example, if you read something that has problems and then a solution for those problems you would want to use a diagram as shown (Fig 1.). When you are organizing your thoughts make sure to place them in a usable, non-confusing way that makes it easier to use.

3.) Visuals Make You Remember! – The visuals help you remember the new information, because you can quickly visual the pictures before you can text. When you are reading and taking notes pictures can make new confusing ideas into easy-to-understand pictures.

The author’s message can be confusing but using the visuals within the text helps to turn confusion into understanding. Pictures, graphic organizers, and other visuals help with your understanding. A picture is worth a thousand words, so why read those thousand words when you can see them in a picture!

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Britteny Smith . I would love to hear your secrets for visualizing the author's message. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

3 Reasons a Radical Routine is Essential for Scheduling Your School Work

If you’re constantly stressed over getting all of your school work done on time, a radical routine is a great thing for yourself to create.

By having a structured plan you eliminate procrastination and give your mind time to rest and relax avoiding stress. Having a structured plan is very important when it comes to your success in college.

By having a routine and a structured time do complete the work in every class nothing will ever get left out. Being reminded of your work becomes second nature and really helps take the stress off. A big problem for students is procrastination. Having a radical routine is a great way to avoid this problem. I find that I do my best work when I take my time and do not rush through assignments. Always allowing yourself plenty of time to do so is a great thing that a radical routine does for you. All your work is done good and correctly, on time every day of every week.

Rest and relaxation is also very important in the everyday life of a college student. With this schedule you allow yourself plenty of time to do other activities that don’t involve school work to make sure you are relaxed and well rested. All of these reduce the stress that you have and no stress equals better success in a college environment.

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Eric Sowers. I would love to hear your secrets for creating a radical routine. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

3 Quick Guidelines to Review with Note Cards

If you hate to study, try note cards for a quick and easy tool.

1.) Narrow your focus by breaking down what you read so you can get a better understanding of what you just read.

2.) They are easy to practice from and in many ways. You can make flashcards because note cards are two sided. You can take them anywhere and "Practice on the go". You also can make a group game so you don't have to study alone.

3.) They help you memorize what you read. So you're not lost or confused. They can also help you increase your memory. That way you will know the main points.

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Sarah Fields. I would love to hear your secrets for creating note cards. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

How To Prepare For Finals with 3 Quick Tips

1.Obtain A Study Guide Try to obtain a study guide of what exactly is going to be on the finals. This will tell you what words, ideas, concepts, diagrams, etc. to study. Instead of reading over all the materials you learned in the class, you can target your main focus on the given topics.

2. Review Previous Tests & Quizzes Be sure to look over your old test and quizzes. Most likely the professor will use the same questions from previously tested material for the final. By looking over your test and quizzes, you’ll have an upper hand and a better idea of what questions will be on the final.

3.Clarify Confusing Ideas and Concepts Now that you know exactly what’s going to be tested on the final, you can look over any ideas or concepts that you may be having trouble with. Look in the textbook, research online, or even ask your professor to help clarify anything that is confusing.

These three tips are quick and efficient. Instead of going through all of your papers and notes, you will know exactly what to study, so it will save you time. Following these three tips will help you successfully prepare for your finals.

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Alex Tran. I would love to hear your secrets for preparing for finals. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

3 Secrets to Speed Up Your Studying

We’ve all been taught that reducing, reusing, and recycling can help us in the long run. We never thought that those same techniques can be used throughout college. By applying reduce, reuse, and the recycle techniques, you will be able to study in a fast and more efficient way.

1. When you reduce, you are condensing the information that you were given. Searching for key points and repeated ideas is an important step in this process. It is important to know the passage’s main ideas, so you can know exactly what it is, you need to take and learn from it. Looking at the passage’s text features can also be of help. Graphs, charts, pictures, and examples throughout the text can show you what is important and show you what you need to know. It will help you focus on the key point so your mind won’t get scattered and can remain organized. Condensing the amount of information that is given can make it easier to understand, and more importantly to remember.

2. When you reuse, you look for anything on the pages of the text that can help you get an understanding of what the key points are. Once again, looking at the pages text features can tell you exactly what you need to know or what to pay attention to while reading. Looking at the titles, headings, and subheadings can help you have an understanding of what it is that you are reading and what you are looking for. Reading the introductory paragraphs, the chapters questions, captions, and conclusion can keep your mind aware of the main idea of why you are reading. Looking at the features can help limit your reading, while you still have the best understanding of what you are reading. This technique will be proven to be more efficient in the long run.

3. When you recycle, you have a clear understanding of the information you need and don’t need, so you can toss out the useless information. Once you have all the information that you were given it is time to link that new knowledge to your already existing knowledge, or your prior knowledge. It is important for you to link these two so you can have a relative understanding of the information you’ve obtained. Once you have a relative understanding of the subject, the information becomes easier to access when it comes to using it. You will have a better understanding of what you have read, and it will not only make it easier for the upcoming test but also the chapters to follow.

The 3R’s aren’t just to help us protect our planet; it is also to help us with studying. These techniques can come in handy no matter what you are studying. The next time you find it challenging to study, give the 3R’s a try. See exactly how useful those tools can be.

This was a guest blog by colleget student, Sabrina Butts. I would love to hear your secrets for speeding up your study time. Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter for more tips to become a better student.

Monday, April 2, 2012

4C's for Relevant Teaching

I feel like I am drowning in the letter C. First the message was, "Make sure students can COMPREHEND what they read." Then I was told to, "strengthen CORE instruction through CORE reading programs." Next I heard about teaching 21st CENTURY skills through, "COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION, CRITICAL THINKING, and CREATIVITY." Now, the whole nation seems to be getting involved with the adoption of the, "COMMON CORE state standards". Are there any more C's left? This blog attempts to put all the recent talk into a simple plan.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has built a simple framework of lessons that blend these C's into four main topics:

1. Communication: Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions
2. Collaboration: Working together to reach a goal - putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work
3. Critical Thinking: Looks at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines. One sample lesson suggests students visit and select a person to support. Each group creates a presentation to persuade classmates to choose that proposal.
4. Creativity: Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention.Help students bring the text to life by visiting these sites. Google Lit Trips provides a new approach to reading. There is also Google Historical Voyages and Events for history teachers.

For the iPad generation and those who educate them, what does it mean to be literate? Yesterday’s definition is no longer relevant and tomorrow’s definition hasn’t been created. Given the ever-changing definition of literacy, perhaps it is easier to define the set of skills needed to be literate rather than defining literacy itself.

Keep in mind, each C requires a lot of modeling, practice, and facilitation. Without a teaCher, C is just a letter. Let me know how you use these four C's in your classroom.