With examinations round the corner, here are strategies for pupils.
M.U.R.D.E.R (Ah! What a pleasant thought for those struggling with studies!!!)
Set a positive mood for yourself to study in.
Select the appropriate time, environment, and attitude
Mark any information you don’t understand in a particular unit.
Keep a focus on one unit or a manageable group of exercises.
After studying the unit, stop & put what you have learned into your own words.
Go back to what you did not understand and reconsider the information.
Contact external expert sources (e.g., other books / your teacher / your study buddy) if you still cannot understand it.
In this step, ask three kinds of questions concerning the studied material.
If I could speak to the author, what questions would I ask or what criticism would I offer?
How could I apply this material to what I am interested in?
How could I make this information interesting and understandable to other students?
Go over the material you’ve covered.
Review what strategies helped you understand and/or retain information in the past and apply these to your current studies
Adapted from Hayes, John R., The Complete Problem Solver, Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, Hillsdale, NJ: 1989. ISBN: 0805803092
Skim the headings of the entire chapter. Your most important goal is to find out how the chapter is organized.
If the major terms in the headings are unfamiliar – look them up.
The same material could be organized more than one way. If the way it is organized helps you to remember the main topics, then use that organization. If you notice some other way it could have been organized that makes more sense to you, then use that method.
Turn the subheadings under the major headings into questions that you expect to be answered in that part of the text.
Try to see if the questions you anticipated are answered. Reflect on what you read; put it in your own words. Try to connect what you are reading to things you already know. Don’t mark or highlight words or passages as you come to them the first time. Wait until you have reached the end of a small section, maybe a paragraph or two and look back to decide if there is anything there that you probably wouldn’t remember without highlighting it. Try to learn through trial and error how much marking is the minimum you need to do to remember all the material.
This is the most critical part.
After reading a small section, perhaps a page or two CLOSE THE BOOK and try to write down the main ideas and as many details as you can, and then check yourself.
Put main ideas & details in your own words; don’t just memorize exact words in the text.
When you check, look for important things you omitted or got wrong.
Do it again. Do it as many times as you need to until you can close the book and reproduce the material accurately, but meaningfully, not just by rote.
Once you can do that immediately after closing the book, then start trying to do it after being away from the book for a while. First take short gaps, like an hour, then longer gaps, like a day or two.
This is hard work. You might start by first trying to be able to make just a skeletal outline and build up the ability to fill in details.
Develop your own mnemonics for memorizing points that you find confusing.
After some time has passed, try to reproduce the material as you did above. The key here is that you must give yourself enough time to forget some of the material so that you are forced to really re-generate the material. Re-generate means that you use your mnemonics and connections from the easier-to-remember main ideas to pull up the details.
Research has shown that reflection, spacing your study, and organizing all improve learning significantly.
Found this method in Atkinson, R. L., Atkinson, R. C., Smith, E. E., & Bem, D. J. (1993). Introduction to Psychology Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace, but could not trace its original source
Survey (1 minute):
Before beginning reading look through the whole chapter. See what the headings are — the major ones and the subheadings; hierarchical structures seem to be particularly easy for our brains to latch onto — check for introductory and summary paragraphs, references, etc. Resist reading at this point, but see if you can identify 3 to 6 major ideas in the chapter.
Question (usually less than 30 seconds):
Ask yourself what this chapter is about: What is the question that this chapter is trying to answer? Or — along the curiosity lines — What question do I have that this chapter might help answer? Repeat this process with each subsection of the chapter, as well, turning each heading into a question.
Read (slower for some of us than others!):
Read one section at a time looking for the answer to the question proposed by the heading! This is active reading and requires concentration so find yourself a place and time where you can concentrate.
Recite/write (about a minute):
Say to yourself or write down a key phrase that sums up the major point of the section and answers the question. It is important to use your own words, not just copy a phrase from the book. Research shows that we remember our own (active) connections better than ones given to us (passive), indeed that our own hierarchies are generally better than others.
Review (less than 5 minutes):
After repeating steps 2-4 for each section you have a list of key phrases that provides a sort of outline for the chapter. Test yourself by covering up the key phrases and seeing if you can recall them. Do this right after you finish reading the chapter. If you can’t recall one of your major points, that’s a section you need to reread.
It’s December and we are on the threshold of a brand new year…one with immense promise and potential. While many of us adults look forward to the New Year, there could be some of you students who want time to stand still! You guessed it right, exam seasons begin from now to March / April and these Board Examinations – be it in Grade XII or X will make or even mar your future.
Many in this part of the world at least do not want to take chances with a school based examination. I am inclined to agree with the parents of these students – with the veil of recession still enveloping and engulfing the gulf region, it is not surprising that parents do not want their wards to opt for a school based examination. They aver – what the future hold in store no one knows!
So how can you survive the onslaught of exams and still be a winner? These tips on handling the pressure of exams could hold you in good stead, hopefully and make you a SURVIVOR who can last the onslaught of examinations.
Start early. Well, easier said than done. And let me tell you only a handful of students ever do this!! You can’t turn the clock backwards. Besides it is futile trying to cram everything on the eve of the exam. So the thing left for you to do now is start from today. Now!! It is not late even now. Believe it and plan a schedule for yourself. And be truthful to yourself and to your plan.
Understand. Do you know the syllabus well? At least, are you acquainted with the topics and areas? Do you know the pattern of the question paper? Do you know the weightage as per the Board’s blue print of the question paper? If you don’t, go to www.cbse.nic.in and click the examination link. You will find sample papers, weightage and blue print details there. Do you know to manage your time? It would be a good idea to do a full paper or two under exam conditions. Keep the phone off the hook, cut out distractions and disturbances. Seek the help of your parents and they will delightfully do it for you.
Routine – plan and keep to it especially during holidays / study leave. Set aside 8 -10 hours every day for study. You know your peak times and off peak times. Use time judiciously as there is no point in waking up early and dozing off and on if you are not a lark by constitution. You could be an owl; so sit up late. Look at what you have to learn and break it up into manageable chunks. And don’t put it off!
Vanish – from distractions. Select a place where you will not get distracted. I know, your friends mean a world to you. However, it is a truth that you will accomplish more if you study on your own. TV, mobiles, I-pads, blackberry, social media and internet … all are out there to demolish your concentration and shred your plans. Keep your balance; you need inner strength the most to say a firm NO to distractions.
Immerse – yourself in your studies. Condense, summarize, and make notes … do what you are comfortable with. Mnemonic devises are a great aid to memory. You know what they are right? Rainbow colours, for instance, can be remembered as VIBGYOR: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. Create your own to memorize important information. Develop memory enhancers like flash cards, content / mind maps.
Vow – to get some sleep. Many students make the worst mistake by studying sleeplessly on the eve of the examinations. This spells disaster. You need at least 4-6 hours of sleep every night to function normally. Being sleep deprived will not help you face the challenges of an examination. In fact, you may even black out due to sheer exhaustion or blank out while sitting with the question paper in the exam hall.
Omit – cramming on the eve of the exam. This can only confuse you. Relax and take deep breaths before an exam. This supplies the much needed oxygen to the brain and enlivens the grey cells. This will also help you to focus.
Review the lessons. Do practice and work out past papers. Many websites provide them. This will also give you insight into the oft repeated questions which exam paper setters are fond of. Practice diagrams. On the day of the exam read instructions and questions properly, make good use of the reading time CBSE allows you. It would be good to answer easy questions first to gather momentum. But at the same time remember to write in sequence. Neat and clear presentation leaves the evaluator with a good impression. Don’t waste time on 2 mark questions when you have 10 mark questions to tackle. Don’t write too much – it is another time waster. Keep a time schedule and see that you have answered all questions.
So, be a SURVIVOR, & wish you productive study hours and successful examinations.
Dear Mr. Sibal
I am not a lawyer. I am not in politics nor am I in position of power like you. I am not a cyber specialist. I am just a simple citizen, an educator who exhorts my students to think for themselves, have an opinion and make sure that they express it.
My pet peeve over the last few days has been you. First when I read this report in the India blog of New York Times through, you guessed it right, a Facebook link, on the 5th of December 2011, http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/india-asks-google-facebook-others-to-screen-user-content/I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. (Our Indian media caught up a little late!) I can understand if monarchies & autocracies demand this. But a demand of this nature from a legal luminary-cum-elected-representative (Aside: – the board to which I belong to was under your care – and you made so many radical changes there!) from the world’s largest democracy was far too much to digest. And that too at a time when social media is playing a vital role in engineering change in many countries globally; and when young and old are equally members of such online communities that foster a sense of camaraderie and oneness in them.
Why do you want Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to screen content? What kind of content are you particularly keen on removing? Anything that is anti-government or anti-congress? With millions of web users logging in and out, posting anything from tweets to status updates, to photographs to videos, writing blogs to discussing in webinars, how on earth are they going to monitor that? Besides, I fiercely value my freedom of speech. As long as I am not using objectionable language and graphics, why should anybody screen the content that I post?
I have three blogs. One question that I had to answer before I started them was whether it has adult content. I could set up one only when I said no to it. I write something disparaging about X / Y / Z, someone can always report me for abuse of the virtual space. Which means that there is a built in mechanism for social media to purge unwanted / abusive material, right? Why, then, did you want to be the super cop, ask for content censorship of kinds & earn the ire of millions of Indians in the cyber world? What is more shameful is that you are using this as a ruse and saying that by indulging in such free exchange of views & ideas, religious sensitivity will be exploited. Come on, Mr. Sibal, the internet is not a new thing now. If such instances gave rise to communal riots, India would have been in shreds by now. In fact, I have heard many a time that it is your tribe who engender communal issues and use it effectively in vote bank politics.
I am aware of the IT act. Section 66A is about punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc which is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine. Section 66E is for violation against privacy; 66F deals with punishment for indulging in cyber terrorism. Section 67 is about punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material. As a legal expert you know it all too well. And perhaps you know the loopholes too. Is that why you can’t invoke these sections against erring individuals? So how about plugging the loopholes instead of gagging us?
Mr. Sibal, common people like me have tolerated nonsense for very many years. A new found enthusiasm is coursing through our veins, thanks to our communities in the very same social media that you have targeted. India will not go the China way! Do read the writings on the wall!! Or you will not have any wall to write over!!!
An Awakened Citizen
Corruption is no doubt a global phenomenon. There have been many instances of corruption all over and thanks to the media many were exposed.
Today, with technological advance and an alert print and visual media, things have become a lot easier for exposes. Whistle blowers too have played a vital role in informing us about corruption.
The Transparency International, a leading anti-corruption watchdog, published its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2011 on 1st December 2011. In this index they actually name the least corrupt to the most corrupt countries in a scale from 10 to 0. While the top slot with 9.5 rating goes to New Zealand, they are closely followed by the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Finland with 9.4 as their score. The ignominious last two places go to Somalia & North Korea with the lowest 1.0 scores. Where does India figure in the list? India is 95th (out of 183 countries covered by the index) with a 3.1 score. It is worth pointing out that in 2010 we were at 87 with 3.3 score and have dropped 8 places, thanks to the innumerous corruption scandals involving the ruling governments in both the Centre and the States unearthed.
On 8th December 2011, Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari have touched a raw nerve when they calculated the figures that the corrupt earn in India – a mind blowing Rs. 92,122 crore ($18.42 billion) which works out to 1.26% of the GDP! In their book aptly titled, “Corruption in India: The DNA & RNA”, Debroy who is a professor with Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research and Bhandari who heads Indicus Analytics, monitoring the performance of the Indian economy, lists out the various public services that are plagued with the mire of corruption. This includes industries of transport, real estate, illegal mining, government procurement, agriculture, forestry and logging, fishing, registered manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply, construction, trade, hotels and restaurants, railways, storage, communication, and banking and insurance. Well, reading the exhaustive list, it occurred to me that it would be a lot easier to point out where corruption does not happen in this country than the other way around! It is sad that India’s economic growth is undermined by corruption that permeates the entire warp and weft of the nation.
Today, though there are anti-corruption laws, they are toothless and powers that be can easily circumvent them, break them with impunity, sneak away through loop holes and walk out of prisons & courts with ease. Coming out of prisons, they target whistle blowers (we have had so many – Manjunath Shanmugham, Shehla Masood, Niyamat Ansari – just to mention a few names that cannot be forgotten) and meticulously eliminate them, leaving no traces. RTI activists find themselves at the receiving end.
Where does all this leave us? Surely the need of the hour is a strong Lokpal Bill which will ensure stringent punishment to those who indulge in corruption of any kind. Let us all support it in every possible way. Let us hope that we are able to chain the monster of corruption and signal the awakening of the giant that India is – thanks to her man power, resources and timeless national values. Let’s remove the blot on this land which has “Satyameva Jayate” (meaning Truth alone triumphs, from the ancient scripture – Mundaka Upanishad) as its motto.
I want to end this post on a very optimistic note borrowing the immortal lines of John Keats in the Ode to the West Wind.
“The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
- Identify what students know: Effective scaffolding requires that teachers are cognizant of what a student already knows (background or prior knowledge) and of the students’ misconceptions.
- Begin with what students can do: Be aware of individual student ability levels. Provide tasks which can be independently handled or with little teacher assistance to students with learning disabilities (LD).
- Help students achieve success quickly: Accommodation is the word here. Help students with LDs in whatever little way so that they can cherish their success.
- Help students to “be” like everyone else: Students with LDs have an overwhelming desire to be regarded like other students. Assure them assistance at the same time & provide it whenever required.
- Know when it’s time to stop: Overkill erases. Continued drill and practice may not be effective. Ensure systematic review and purposeful practice.
- Help students be independent when they have command of the activity: Effective scaffolding means that teachers need to listen and watch for clues from their students as to when teacher assistance is, or is not needed. Obviously, teachers do not want students to fail, but they should not allow students to become too dependent on the teacher. Teachers need to help their students gradually move from teacher assistance to student independence as students demonstrate command of the task or activity.
Part of Speech:
- Clean the board when you finish
- If you rearrange the furniture, return the room to the state you found it in
- Return borrowed materials
- Start and finish lessons on time
- Make sure you know how to use the machinery. Try not to break it & if the worst does happen, report it.
- Smile – it shows a friendly attitude and warms the students to you.
- Respond to what students say as communication – respond naturally and show interest in what they say
- Find out about students, get to know them; address them by name.
- Take time, show interest in both the learning & the personal interests of the students. Talk to them before and after the lesson. Notice if they are absent.
- Try to enjoy their company as a group
- Show them that you are enjoying teaching them
- To ensure students have understood what they are supposed to do & know what is going on
- To indicate who is to speak
- To encourage ideas during eliciting ideas / responses
- To show a student who is talking that you are taking notice
- To keep in touch with students – especially those whom you are not dealing with at that time
- To stop, to hurry up or to signal an activity like pair work
- To check everyone is participating
- Helps to establish rapport; it creates a friendly cooperative atmosphere
- Shows you are interested in them as people
- Makes possible to discuss students with colleagues / superiors
- Get students to introduce each other and go around the class in random order, saying their names aloud to check if you remember
- Keep a register and call out if needed to learn names
- Associate names with physical features
- Use names consciously in the first few lessons
- Finally, if you can’t remember a name, admit it and ask!
- Use simple language & short expressions
- Be consistent
- Use visual or written clues
- Break the instructions down
- Target your instructions
- Be decisive and use words as signals, like Right / Listen etc.
- Gives students more valuable talk time for practice, especially language
- Allows you to withdraw and monitor individual performances
- Encourages rapport between students
- Increases cooperation and independent of teacher
- Gives opportunity for shy / unconfident students to participate
- Provides change in pace
- Adds variety to a lesson
- Stand back
- Quickly check
- Don’t interrupt unless there is a real need
- Spread your attention
- Be easily accessible
- Feed in ideas only if needed
- Provide encouragement & be positive
- Give correction and / or gather data for feedback
- Have the right style that suits your personality
- Don’t prejudge a class
- Enjoy your job / look as if you enjoy your job
- Be positive about the activities and materials you are using
- Show personal interest in students
- Personalize materials and activities
- Respond and react to what students say
- Be interested in their progress
- Ask for comments on the class
- Be punctual
- Be well prepared for the lesson
- Return homework promptly
- Do what you say you are going to do
- Treat students & people consistently and fairly
- Try not to let your personal feelings about individual students influence the way you treat them as members of the group
- Don’t ignore their problems
- Never make threats you are never able or prepared to carry out
- Never lose your temper