Explore strategies and digital tools your students can use to effectively study at home.
During hybrid learning, and certainly during remote learning, students are spending more of their time independently learning and studying at home. In order for students to be productive and successful in their studies, they need effective study skills. As teachers, we can provide them with resources and strategies. The following articles offer specific strategies and tools that you can use to teach your students how to study effectively during digital and remote learning:
- Develop growth mindset
- Set personal SMART learning goals
- Develop time management skills
- Set up effective study spaces and routines
- Organize class materials
- Develop digital note-taking skills and effectively take and use digital notes
- Critically read and view digital resources, including marking up digital documents, PDFs, and websites as well as viewing videos and annotating digital images
- Reflect on learning during remote teaching and self-reflect during synchronous teaching
- Leverage assistive technology
- Know the digital learning environment
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
Along with teaching students these strategies and tools, it’s important to provide students the means and resources by which they can take responsibility for their own learning and be more independent. One strategy that students can use is a slightly modified version of the 3 B4 T strategy, where they work independently and/or with their peers to study before they reach out to their teacher for help.
Below are specific strategies and resources for each step in the study version of the 3 B4 T strategy. The strategies are written with the older student as the intended audience, so you may share them directly with those students. You can also reference these strategies and resources to design age-appropriate lessons and materials for teaching your younger students. The strategies are summarized in this 3 B4 T: Study Strategy template to share with your students. You can make a copy of this template and customize it to reflect your class’ and/or school’s resources.
The following strategies and resources can help you independently study for your classes.
Reading, Listening, and Viewing Course Content
As you read, listen, and view content, use digital tools to annotate/mark up the content. This can help you process the ideas, make sense out of them, and remember them better. There are several tools listed below to help you annotate each type of material. Give them a try!
- Documents: Use digital formatting tools like underlining, italics, bold, font colors, and highlighters in Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
- PDF Files: Use Chrome extensions or sites like Kami, DocHub, or Xodo.
- Websites: Use Chrome extensions like InsertLearning, Scrible Toolbar, or Page Marker.
- Images: Use the Windows Snipping Tool or Chrome extensions like Nimbus or Awesome Screenshot.
- Videos: Use Chrome extensions like ReClipped or YiNote.
As you read/listen/view class materials, including when viewing screencasts from your teachers, be sure to take careful notes. The first step is identifying the purpose for your notes so that you can select the best format to meet your needs. Here are some format options to consider.
- Column Format: Use columns or tables to identify important ideas as well as your responses/reflections in Google Docs, Microsoft, or PDF.
- Mind Maps: Show connections using tools like MindMeister or Popplet.
- Graphic Organizers: Organize the information using the draw features in Microsoft OneNote, Google Drawings, or Google Slides.
- Sketchnotes: Combine handwriting and drawings by using tools such as Sketchboard, Explain Everything, Drawing Pad, or Autodesk SketchBook.
- Audio Notes: Record your ideas by using the record tools in Google Docs, Microsoft OneNote, or a website like online-voice-recorder.com.
Pro Tip: It is not enough to take notes and mark up resources. To improve your understanding and recall, you must regularly revisit, reflect upon, and use your notes. Creating and using an eBinder can really help you in revisiting, reflecting, and better recollecting your learning.
Along with marking up content, taking notes, and revisiting those notes, use the below strategies and resources to improve your recall of new information.
- Flashcards: Create and use your own digital flashcards by using tools such as Flippity (Tips), Quizlet, GoConqr, and StudyStack.
- Mnemonic Devices: Create acronyms, rhymes, and/or visuals to help recall the information by using tools like mnemonicgenerator.com and NASA’s Mnemonicizer.
- Diagrams, Flowcharts, and Mind Maps: Create your own visual representations of your learning using tools like Creately, Bubbl.us, Draw.io, Canva, MindMeister, Coggle, and Mindomo (Tips).
The following digital resources can assist you when writing your papers and/or working on projects.
- Outline: Organize your notes using digital lists or bullets in Google Docs, Microsoft OneNote, or Microsoft Word.
- Proof and Edit: Use spell check, grammar check, dictionary, thesaurus, and other editing tools integrated into Google Docs or Microsoft Word or, alternatively, use a Chrome extension like Grammarly.
- Citation Generators: Use sites like Scribbr, or the tools within Google Docs or Microsoft Word, to give proper credit to your sources.
- Online Writing Labs: Visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab and NoRedInk for support and tutorials to improve your writing.
Pro Tip: Record yourself reading your writing to see if it reads as you intended. You can use recording tools built into Google Docs or Microsoft OneNote, or use a website like online-voice-recorder.com to record yourself.
For larger assignments and projects, consider using the following tools to manage all the related tasks and ensure that you meet deadlines.
- Project Calculators: To manage larger projects, use digital tools like Lab Report Calculator or Research Paper Calculator to break down your larger assignments into a daily schedule with specific tasks to complete.
- Individual Project Planners: Use a project planner to outline and monitor progress on your plan by using templates like this Essay Project Planner, Progress Log, and Unit Checklist.
- Group Project Planners: Work as a team to identify and divide tasks by using planners from PBLWorks: Project Management Log: Team Tasks and Project Team Work Plan.
- Task Lists: Develop and manage your to-do lists by using digital tools like Google Keep, Taskade, or Sticky Notes.
Gamifying Your Learning
To keep yourself motivated, gamify your learning. You can do this by setting up goals or challenges that include deadlines and fun rewards. For example, as you complete a challenge (e.g., a step in the project or a certain number of flashcards correct), reward yourself with something that you enjoy doing, such as watching a 10-minute YouTube video. Do this for each major step in the project. When you complete the final challenge (i.e., complete and submit your project on time), celebrate with an even bigger reward, such as watching a movie with a friend.
As you study, you will most likely have questions. Use your available resources to find the answers.
- Review Your Class Materials: Carefully review and study the materials provided by your classroom teacher. Most teachers post resources in the class’ learning management system (LMS). Some LMS options include Google Classroom, Schoology, Microsoft Teams, and Seesaw.
- Leverage Study Sites: Use free, online study sites like HippoCampus, Khan Academy, Wolfram|Alpha, or Shmoop (see the free guides under the “Students” tab).
- Visit Your Online Library: Ask your school library media specialist or public library for how to access their digital collection and online databases at home. For college prep students, you might want to also explore 101 Free Online Journal and Research Databases for Academics.
Your peers can also be a great resource for you.
- Student Study Discussions: If your teacher has created a “Parking Lot” discussion in your LMS, leverage this space to ask questions of your classmates. Be sure to give back to your class community by answering your classmates’ questions, too.
- Student Study Groups: If your teacher is hosting videoconferences for your classmates to support each other, join these study sessions to both give and get help.
- Study Buddy: For each class, find a “study buddy” who you can reach out to as needed to study together, ask questions, and seek clarification regarding assignment directions or class notes.
If you still need help after attempting to answer your questions independently, reach out to your classroom teacher.
- Visit Your School’s Virtual Learning Lab: Visit these if your school offers them. These “learning labs” may be led by teachers and/or educational assistants who are available to provide tutoring support for any of your classes.
- Meet Virtually With Your Teacher: Sign up for an individual videoconference meeting in Google Meet or Zoom if your teacher offers virtual “open office hours.”
- Email Your Teacher: Email your teacher to ask questions and seek clarification. When writing your email, use these tips to communicate clearly, effectively, and professionally.
- Call Your Teacher: Call your teacher using the phone number provided. Call only during the times that your teacher has indicated they’re available to take calls.
Extend Your Learning
- 5 Research-Backed Studying Techniques (Edutopia)
- 6 Powerful Learning Strategies You Must Share With Students (Cult of Pedagogy)
- Study Skills for Students: Proven Tips and Techniques for Studying Smarter…Not Harder (EducationCorner.com)
- Strengthening the Student Toolbox: Study Strategies to Boost Learning (American Educator)