High School Study Skills Strategies for a Regular Classroom Setting

Posted on December 30, 2007. Filed under: Blogroll, Interventions, Learning Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is a list of ideas for high school students for coping with dyslexic or LD issues in a classroom setting where taking notes and using a textbook are required tasks:


Reading issues: Using a bookmark to track is excellent–it helps you stay focused and keep your place. If you read at least 100 wpm at the 4th grade level, you have the potential to read faster and to eventually use speed reading techniques to improve your reading rate. The PQRST or SQRRR study technique and note-taking from a textbook can actually make studying for tests more efficient and effective. While the reading may be slower, the processing time and retention of information can be improved dramatically, thus decreasing the cramming study before a test and the stress and panic that accompanies cramming.


Short-term memory issues: In your hardest classes that move the fastest for listening or taking notes, ask the instructor if you can tape the lecture. That way you can go back later and add to your notes. Color-coding concepts and important facts for studying can help to improve your short-term memory and transfer the big picture issues to your long-term memory. Also, keep an assignment notebook, or some consistent system that fits YOU, so that you can use your memory for the important stuff. Assignments are picky details that do NOT need to be held in your memory—let your daytimer or calendar keep those mundane pieces of information.


Note-taking: Getting a copy from another student and copying is fine as long as the other kid doesn’t mind. The teacher(s) should also be willing to print out a copy of the Powerpoint outline for you to have at the beginning of class so you can add to the outline with your own notes. If you have a laptop or access to a laptop, ask the teacher for a copy of the Powerpoint presentation and take notes right on the outline. If you have a travel drive, this can take only a moment rather than burning a CD on a disk drive. Even if you get the notes from someone else, you should copy them in your own handwriting or re-type them so you have the processing time invested—especially since you have great comprehension—the time spent doing the notes yourself will help your writing/keyboarding skills AND be a form of studying for the tests.


Reversals and Handwriting: Your description of still reversing numbers and letters is typical of the visual form of dyslexia. Having a correct model of the letters and numbers can help you when handwriting to check your handwritten version to the actual form. You could make a card or print out from your computer on a sheet of paper to clip in your notebook or stick into the front pocket if necessary. If you don’t want services from the school, there are vision therapy doctors now that help with eye muscle exercises that can help improve those issues that involve reversals. Perhaps there is a vision therapist in your area – they are NOT optometrists for regular glasses.

There are also independent handwriting programs for adolescents and adults that can make your handwriting more legible.


Copying from the overhead, whiteboard, Powerpoint screen, etc.:  Can you decide where to sit in class? First idea is to sit closer to the front and slightly to one side (whichever is more comfortable for you). Ask the teacher not to put a fancy background to the lecture outline. Usually black or purple print on a plain, light background (light yellow or light gray) can be easiest to copy from. Make up your own abbreviation system for words that are common, but important. Words such as w/ for with, -/- for between, etc. You don’t have to write a whole sentence to keep the meaning of the info. Also, rather than trying to get everything written in class, I’ve had students who outlined their textbook as they read it. That way they had all their information and could answer questions easily and did well on classroom tests. Some teachers, however, don’t use a textbook, which can actually be more of a hassle than having it.


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