How to be an Organized Student

Starting tomorrow, students in Canada will change from a relaxed summer schedule to the structured program of school and other activities. The key to success in achieving your academic goals is good organization and time management.

As you head back to school, here are a series of tips that can help students get organized:

Improve your work habits

In class

  • Have all the materials you need: pen, sharpened pencil, paper, etc.
  • Listen carefully to your teacher.
  • Don’t talk to friends during class instruction.
  • Learn to take better notes.
  • Finish all assignments and make sure they are handed in on time.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand.

At home

  • Organize yourself each night for the next day by putting assignments, books and materials you will need at school into your backpack.
  • Use a folder to put your assignments in so they don’t get ripped or bent.
  • Do homework in a quiet place.
  • Set a regular time to do homework every weeknight.
  • Talk to your parents or older brothers and sisters about your work and ask for ideas about how to be a successful learner.

Manage your time

  • Use a calendar to write down tests and due dates. Keep your calendar in an easy-to-see place, such as on the fridge or on the family bulletin board.
  • Break larger assignments into smaller parts and do one part at a time.
  • Set deadlines for finishing your work, and stick to them.

Take notes to help you study
Write down the important points the teacher makes during a lesson:

  • your teacher will add information that isn’t in the textbook
  • notes are your source of material to study for a test
  • writing things down helps you to understand and remember what you hear
  • taking notes makes you a better, more active listener.

How to take and organize notes

  • Write down a date and title for each lesson. If the teacher doesn’t give you a title, make one up.
  • Don’t write down everything the teacher says. Focus on the important points – things the teacher writes on the board, things the teacher says more than once and any questions the teacher asks.
  • Underline, star or circle anything the teacher says is important.
  • Skip lines and leave wide margins so you can add information later.
  • Put question marks beside things you don’t understand.

How to use notes to study

  • Re-read your notes carefully, and out loud. Repeating the information will help you remember it.
  • Rewrite your notes neatly and clearly so there isn’t anything that is confusing or too hard to read.
  • Make your notes stronger by adding additional information from the textbook, a class discussion or a handout. Use a highlighter to mark important information.

It’s never too early to develop good time-management systems. The productivity skills you develop as a student will serve you well the rest of your life.

From Alberta Education

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How to Connect With Your Audience

Communication works best in an active, not a passive environment. If you want to get your message across to your audience members, you have to connect with them.

Interaction is a continuous way to get feedback on how well your content is understood. It also gives listeners a chance to contribute their experience to the learning process.

How do you build interaction?

  • Be prepared to be spontaneous. Have questions ready—begin with relatively easy, accessible ones. Ask questions that create disagreement and watch the audience come to life.
  • Work to get everyone involved: even in large groups. I have an assortment of candy ready. I give a chocolate bar to the first person who answers a question. It’s amazing how responsive the rest of the group gets when there is chocolate at stake. (Yes, these are adults. )
  • Break into small groups. Ask participants to consider issues with the person sitting next to them or small groups.
  • Discuss as a larger group. Have the smaller groups present their findings to the whole group. Use those points to generate further discussion with the audience.

The way you move when speaking also affects you connection with the audience. If you spend the entire speach leaning on the lectern, with your arms folded, it will be difficult to connect with the listeners.

Move!

  • Don’t rock or scurry back and forth, but don’t get locked into one position.
  • Walk toward the audience.
  • If you can’t walk toward the audience, lean in.
  • Use eye contact.
  • Energize and use gestures. The larger the audience and the room, the bigger your gestures have to be.
  • Get your face involved.
  • Use vocal variety.
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