Joe’s Jotter: The Importance of handwriting your own notes

With a lot of schools switching to iPad’s and tablets as a mode of Education, the debate rages about which type of notes is best to have from a classroom lecture i.e. typed or handwritten ones. I still think there is a question mark about learning content in digital format, with it being more suitable in some subjects than others. It is a super Idea to work with a study buddy or group, where you can swap essays and notes. Upon swapping these notes with your friend, always rewrite them into knowledge you understand. This is my ACE tip for being able to recall this Information later.

From listening to students, I think many of them still like to hold a hard copy book in their hand. Even as an ICT teacher myself, I believe that the old-fashioned way of taking notes by hand is best for the following reasons:

  • Since we now can type faster than we write, students are tending to type notes verbatim (exactly to the word) as they try to keep up with their teacher. We are copying down a lot of the teacher’s language directly. There would be more of our own language than the teacher’s used in a handwritten set of notes, which makes them easier to understand and ultimately, of better quality.
  • With handwritten notes, we spend more time thinking about the Information before the actual physical act of writing occurs. If we are attempting to type everything exactly as spoken, there is less thinking time about that same information. In essence, I believe that slightly more learning takes place during the actual handwriting process.
  • Keywords are valuable in any content. When you are taking down notes by hand in a lecture/class, you are listening out for the keywords to ensure you are grasping the bones of the sentence. Again, while typing you are trying to get everything down and so your brain misses out on this ‘essential keyword focus’.
  • When handwriting notes, you are putting your own special stamp on them, making it easier to recall information you have translated into your own words.
  • During class, you can link up handwritten notes quicker with bubbles, arrows etc. and while doing this, you are learning what the connections and linkages are in the teachers’ content. Joe

To view last weeks feature on ‘My Top 10 reasons to do after school study’,  click here.

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition Classes (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB: facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

 

Joe’s Jotter: The Importance of handwriting your own notes

Joe’s Jotter: The Importance of handwriting your own notes
Joe’s Jotter: The Importance of handwriting your own notes

Joe’s Jotter: My Top Ten Reasons to do After School Study

I am a big advocate of after school study with many schools now running it after class time finishes. Parents, I would highly recommend you enrol your child for these sessions (assuming it is affordable for you). I believe that (from second year upwards) this daily routine will help them settle into positive habits of completing their homework and getting some revision done every day.

Students, here are my top ten reasons to engage in regular after school study:

  1. Quiet Place

In this noisy world, it can be difficult to find quiet times in the home; meals to be cooked, chores to be done and siblings running around. At school study, you are assured of quiet time to concentrate and put goals and preparation in place for whats upcoming that week.

  1. Learning Environment

Being in school, you are in the place you are used to learning in. In the study hall, you will be assigned a proper table and chair with good heating and lighting for your sessions. Your study environment at home may not be as good. Study in school could turn out to be more productive than home revision. Your friends studying with you in the hall should provide extra motivation also – fostering a ‘we are in this together’ attitude will help the focus.

  1. Proper Supervision

After school study will usually be supervised by one of your subject teachers and this ensures you will be required to get on with your work and study during the session. It may also be handy to have someone knowledgeable present that you can ask questions of if you’re unsure about your homework or studies.

  1. Homework Opportunities

After school study should be looked at as an opportunity to get all homework of the day done to a high standard. Exam students should always complete every piece of homework like an exam question. I view homework as the best form of study.

  1. Revision Blocks

Sometimes if a day contains free class periods, much of the day’s homework may already be finished. In this case, you should set out two or three study blocks of thirty minutes in after school study to maximise your revision time. Getting some extra revision done during the week will give you a great sense of satisfaction for that day and will take pressure off your workload for other days that week (including your weekend).

  1. Home Unsuitability

Sometimes good quality study and revision in your home at night may not be feasible; there may be just too much going on. Your parents knowing that you have these extra hours in school will be reassured you are engaging in constructive schoolwork and homework.

  1. Catch-up Time

Just before after school study is a great time to get notes from your buddies for any classes you may have missed over the previous few days. Prior to study, you will have a chance to discuss with them what homework needs to be done and clarify any issues for the next day’s school also.

  1. Leisure Time

Putting a big effort into after school study should leave you with more free time when you get home. Even during the week, every student needs a little bit of down time, whether that be, going to the cinema, visiting friends or just hanging out. This free time should be viewed by parents as a reward for their child’s efforts during the day.

  1. Minimal Distractions

After school study is now even more important given the emergence of the smart phone. As you well know, social media and phone access is a big distraction now, especially when trying to study at home. Not having devices in after school study will make it much easier for you to concentrate on tasks at hand without being disturbed by notifications.

  1. Early Finish

Going into study soon after classes finish will ensure all school work will be completed earlier in the evening. This should improve productivity with your mind being fresher. It should also give more opportunities for family meals and getting into good sleeping habits during your week. Joe.

To view last weeks feature on the ‘ACE Guide to Exam Prep From Home (Feature 1 of 6), click here.

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition Classes (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W:  acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: My Top Ten Reasons to do After School Study

Joe’s Jotter: My Top Ten Reasons to do After School Study
Joe’s Jotter: My Top Ten Reasons to do After School Study

Joe’s Jotter: ACE Guide to Exam Prep From Home (Feature 1 of 6)

Getting used to the new norm of being at home more regularly than is proving challenging for both students and parents. This feature contains recommendations and practical advice for both, in order to get that revision routine going and exacting the maximum from this unusual period. Being at home preparing notes and revision is alien to most students, unless you are home schooled. Always remember that you haven’t been taught or asked to structure and balance your day like this before, given that your usual weekly routine consists of school, homework, sleep, repeat. The goal of these feature articles, which come in six parts spread over the year, is to provide you with tools and ideas to help you get organised, advise you on motivation and explore the role your parents may have at this time.

Your Plan for Tomorrow

From an exam student’s point of view, the first thing you need to look at each night is your plan for the next day. If your plan is to ‘do a bit of study’, a large part of the day could well pass you by. At this stage you need to develop your own workable home routine. To do this, I would recommend getting up at the same time, showering and having a structured plan for revision, meals and breaks to facilitate that pattern you need. Organising yourself the night before is key. Knowing what to expect the next day will make the process so much easier. Being able to work alone (including from home) will become an even more important skill as third level institutions increasingly develop their online learning platforms.

Revising at home for a longer period than your used to presents its own set of challenges. You will need to investigate new ways of finding and using material online. You will probably need to become familiar with new technology, as teachers strive to communicate with you. You will definitely need to be more self-disciplined and more efficient at managing your time than ever before. During holidays or non-school times, there will be no school timetable to follow, so you will need to set, pace and organise your own learning. If you can manage to embrace and overcome some of these Initial hurdles, you are already halfway there. Change is challenging but can often turn out to be a worthwhile. You will need to learn to work alone more and challenge yourself and your motivations. Hopefully you will look back later and view this change as a positive period in your life. Without knowing it and as we speak, you are effectively turning yourself into independent thinkers and learners, and these skills will stand to you at third level and in the world of work to come.

*****

Your Revision Area

Being at home more has placed more emphasis on your place of study. Ask yourself the following questions; Is my revision area free from distractions, comfortable, warm and spacious? Is there natural light in the room and is the desk and chair I am using the right height for me? Is my study desk full of ‘non educational material’ or is it clutter free? Is this a place to prepare notes and learn? Your answers to these questions will indicate if you need to make changes to this area or not.  Up to now, your study area was only used for three to four hours each evening, but now it may be required more, and you need to ensure you are happy with its setup. Ideally, I would set up my revision area outside the bedroom, in order to disassociate sleep with revision. Depending on your circumstances, all of the above may not be possible. Link in with your parents to try and get as many of these elements in place as you can.

To view last weeks feature on ‘being more successful in Maths’, click here.

I will publish the five subsequent parts of this feature at Christmas, Mid-term and Easter times. Stay tuned for more useful Insights as the weeks progress… Joe

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition Classes (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: ACE Guide to Exam Prep From Home (Feature 1 of 6)

Joe’s Jotter: ACE Guide to Exam Prep From Home (Feature 1 of 6)
Joe’s Jotter: ACE Guide to Exam Prep From Home (Feature 1 of 6)

Joe’s Jotter: How to become more successful in 2021 Maths

Grasping a subject of difficulty is always a big challenge for even the best students. One of those subjects is too often Mathematics. Maths seems to have developed a ‘bad boy cred’ over the last twenty years, but I feel things are getting better slowly and I know students feel more positive about it since the introduction of Project Maths in 2008. In general, I think students are enjoying the more practical approach in the subject since the changes. The existing course is however still quite long, and you need to box clever in order to pin it down. Many students are still trying to come to terms with the amount of words on Maths exam papers and indeed how they link to the concepts. I totally get this. However, I still believe you can learn to grasp key concepts without being born a Maths genius.

People regularly ask me about this hypothesis, and I believe Maths is a subject everyone can do well in by being more open minded and willing to try different methods. For sure, your parents have a role to play here, so make sure and get them involved. Parents can get involved in homework from an early age and should be encouraged to send notes to the teacher if there is a particular area their child is struggling with. Above all, it is imperative that Parents pass on a positive attitude about Maths early in their child’s development. A ‘can do’ attitude gives the student belief that they can face problems in the subject and come through them. Encouragement and positivity are the most constructive way any parent can help boost their child’s ‘Maths conviction’.

Maths: Learning by Doing

To me, Maths is a subject where you need to be continuously ‘learning by doing’ and the importance of attempting exam style questions cannot be underestimated. Reading through questions and text like you do in other subjects will not work in Maths and having access to a structured solution book for exam questions is important. Inevitably with some challenging questions in the subject, you will run into difficulties getting started and this is where having the first line or two of the solution can be extremely helpful; a detailed solutions book is ideal for this. I believe that referring to the first part of a solution and then revisiting the question yourself is a very efficient way of developing key Maths skills. This technique isn’t one much practiced in other subjects.

You must adopt different approaches in Maths; it is unique. A genuine attempt to start a question in Maths will allow you to gain some momentum and progress to apply the concepts you have learned in class. In my experience, the biggest stumbling block to achievement in Maths is getting the question started; but a single grain of rice can tip the scales. In general, if you are finding it difficult to get started and feel lost in Maths, start by practicing the part (a) questions in your past exam papers and work your way upwards to part (b) and so on. If you are an exam student, go back on your 2nd or 5th year notes to refresh those key basics. The majority of students just fire notes from previous years in a corner. Past notes should be stored carefully in order to have easy access to it later. It’s amazing how much you will recall about what you wrote down and what advice your teacher gave you back then. Re-do some questions from then to start a Maths revision session. As you always hear me say, Algebra is jewel in the crown at all levels. Maths is about having a go, knowing the tricks, when to use formulae, consistent practice and really believing in your ability and the work you have done. Joe

To view last weeks Joe’s Jotter feature on ‘Parents & Primary School Children: Working in Harmony’ click here.

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition Classes (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: How to become more successful in 2021 Maths

Joe’s Jotter: How to become more successful in 2021 Maths
Joe’s Jotter: How to become more successful in 2021 Maths

Joe’s Jotter: Parents & Primary School Children: Working in Harmony

With Primary school students having spent much time recently learning from home, parents are now taking a greater role and Interest in their children’s education. This is a difficult task, as many parents are working from home and trying to support their child’s learning also. Creating a consistent routine, keeping positive, keeping calm, putting rules and consequences in place, allowing time for your child, talking to and reassuring them are all factors that will contribute to producing a more harmonious learning environment.

I have worked with a Primary School Teacher to develop this feature and I hope you will find it helpful as we move to a new normal and different ways of learning and communicating. In this feature I have included some areas I consider important to you as a parent at difficult times like these. I hope they are of some help and create a safe, happy and loving environment for your child.

It is important to plan a daily structure and involve your child in this process. With your child, sit down together and draw up a balanced timetable of learning, fun and breaks. A child will follow a timetable better if they help plan it and this will also build their confidence. In doing this you are giving them a level of ownership of their own routine.

Tips on planning a routine/timetable:

  • Set times to get up and go to bed
  • Agree on a timeline including structured work, recreational activities, practical activities and break times
  • Choose activities the child enjoys
  • Plan short sessions e.g. 20 mins and always allow flexibility. There is no set time if the learning is balanced and varied
  • Identify times you can work with them and times they can work independently
  • Aim to include movement breaks regularly throughout the day
  • Ask your child what they like to do and include this in the daily schedule
  • Introduce a positive reward system e.g. choice time, sticker chart. treats etc
  • Decorate the timetable and display it at your child’s eye level

Supporting schoolwork at home

Junior Infants – 2nd Class

The best way to support Primary School children is to:

  • Sit with them as they work
  • Work for short intervals
  • Take movement and snack breaks
  • Use the outdoors to break away from tabletop tasks
  • Use a reward system
  • Encourage your child to focus on the task in front of them
  • Read words/questions carefully
  • Form letters correctly
  • Check correct pencil grip
  • Have concrete materials readily available for number work
  • Provide practical experiences for Maths work, e.g. Shapes around me, weighing food from the cupboard, counting, checking etc
  • Challenge them by asking different types of questions in various subject areas
  • Try and relate topic areas to your child’s own experiences
  • Always give praise and encouragement

3rd Class – 6th Class

  • Allow children to work independently as much as possible
  • Offer support and assistance as needed
  • Assess learning by observing, questioning and correcting work
  • Monitor presentation of work and handwriting
  • Look at their school workplan beforehand to familiarise yourself with the different subject areas
  • Use age appropriate actions from the ‘Junior Infants – 2nd Class’ list above

Outside the Classroom

It is important for your child to enjoy free time and activities they have fun with. Here are a range of activities that you and your child can choose from:

  • Practice how to keep safe during Corona virus spread
  • Exercise, sport, games
  • Imaginative free play
  • Fine motor skills: Lego, play dough, beading, building blocks and cutting
  • Linking in with loved ones and friends on voice calls and video calls as social interaction is very important
  • Learn life skills: indoors and outdoors (Choose jobs that children can do)

– Baking, cooking, gardening, (planting, weeding), setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, making their bed, tidying their room, folding clothes, sorting clothes, hanging out the washing, farming (safely) etc

Media and Online Time

It is important that your Primary School child has access to recommended online facilities during any school closures where possible. Ensure your child’s safety online and set up parent controls on devices to monitor child’s activities online. Below I will list some of the more useful websites you can work on with your child.

It’s a good idea to link with the school and class teacher through email, in order to give and receive feedback and to send on work samples for assessment.

Twelve Useful Websites to Support You

helpmykidlearn.ie   (Learning for all Age Groups)

PrimaryScience.ie  (Science)

twinkl.ie/offer  (enter the code IRLTWINKLHELPS)

webwise.ie (Online safety)

vooks.com (Literacy)

starfall.com  (Literacy)

scoilnet.ie  (All curricular areas)

topmarks.co.uk  (Maths)

learn.khanacademy.org/khan-academy-kids (Words and Numbers)

askaboutireland.ie (SESE)

krokotak.com  (Arts and crafts/colouring)

positiveparentingsolutions.com (Parental Advice)

To view last weeks feature article on how to check in on your Motivation levels, click here.

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: Parents & Primary School Children: Working in Harmony

Joe’s Jotter: Parents & Primary School Children: Working in Harmony
Joe’s Jotter: Parents & Primary School Children: Working in Harmony

Meath Post Primary Schools – Virtual Open Days (Enrolment 2021)

Meath Post Primary Schools – Virtual Open Days
Enrolment for Sept 2021

St Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School, Navan.

https://youtu.be/f1D7wocPQRs

St Michael’s Loreto Secondary School Navan.

http://loretonavan.ie/News/Virtual-Open-Night-Videos-1st-October-2020/61628/Index.html

St Patricks Classical School, Navan.

https://www.stpatscs.com/2020/09/09/information-evening-for-admissions-to-first-year-for-the-academic-year-2021-22/

Colaiste na Mi, Navan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu1-VfBLdmI&feature=youtu.be

Beaufort College, Navan.

https://kuula.co/share/collection/7Pkq5?fs=1&vr=1&zoom=1&initload=0&thumbs=1&chromeless=1&logo=1&logosize=179

Ratoath College, Ratoath.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWbYBtQQbVhswoDO7JiJeEdq4FDiaux_L

Eureka Secondary School, Kells.

https://youtu.be/3qdmCX41jw8

Boyne Community School, Trim.

https://youtu.be/tWPn4OdQkUY

Ashbourne Community School, Ashbourne.

https://youtu.be/HoBszFhffCo

Scoil Mhuire Secondary School, Trim.

https://scoilmhuiretrim.info/new/virtual-tour-video-2020-welcome-to-scoil-mhuire/

Athboy Community School. Athboy.

https://athboycs.ie/

St Ciaran’s Kells, Community School, Kells.

http://www.stciaranscs.ie/Admissions

Colaiste Clavin, Longwood.

https://colaisteclavin.ie/

Franciscan College, Gormanston.

http://www.gormanstoncollege.ie/News/Gormanston-College-Open-Evening/19457/Index.html

Colaiste na hinse, Laytown.

https://prezi.com/view/daT8BQg8Ms600GnEwWBm/

Meath Post Primary Schools – Virtual Open Days (Enrolment 2021)

Meath Post Primary Schools – Virtual Open Days (Enrolment 2021)
Meath Post Primary Schools – Virtual Open Days (Enrolment 2021)

Joe’s Jotter: Check in Now on Your Motivation levels

Students, did you find that being at home all the time with no teachers or fellow students to encourage and motivate you has been a tad challenging? Could you have higher motivation levels? The reality is that a good chunk of your preparation will be done ‘home alone’. There are things you can do to maintain high spirits and decent motivation levels. Firstly, set up a Lifestyle (Study) Timetable with all different subjects, different subtopics and different ways of learning each day. Secondly, challenge the brain to perform different types of tasks every thirty minutes, whether that be taking notes, writing bullet points, watching a YouTube video, listening to an audio file or discussing a sub-topic on the phone with your friend. Variation in stimulus will trick the brain into maintaining concentration for longer. Mixing the above with regular breaks will alleviate boredom and increase productivity.

Improving your Motivation at Home

Maintaining high motivation levels is an important element of getting any task completed. The first thing to realise is that you can achieve any goal by discovering ways to motivate yourself. The way we converse can sometimes reflect our motivation levels and can also increase them intrinsically, without us even knowing. Highly motivated individuals will use words like ‘could’, ‘will’, ‘may’, ‘like to’ as opposed to ‘must’, ‘won’t’, ‘can’t’ and ‘need to’. Writing, considering and repeating positive sentences out loud can improve motivation and reset a positive mind-set. Here are some examples of these sentences in the context of your exam year. You should re-write these into the back of your journal to reflect your own current situation and attitudes:

  • I want to start preparing myself for the upcoming exams.
  • I need to put a structured timetable in place.
  • I’d like to get into Third level when I complete school.
  • I should get my head in the books this week.
  • I must start working hard to reach my short-term goals to enhance motivation.
  • I can achieve whatever I want through hard work.
  • I will deliver brilliant exam scripts in this year’s Junior/Leaving Cert.
  • I will get organised and sort this out step by step.
  • I know that I have plenty of ability.
  • I must organise to share study notes with my friends.
  • I can be as positive and as focused as anyone in my year.
  • I am a good all-rounder.
  • I am well able to take on this challenge.
  • I am a force to be reckoned with.
  • If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.

Hearing about the study habits of others on Instagram or Snapchat can be a positive thing. Instead of feeling guilty about not being currently highly driven; use it to motivate yourself. The fact that there is someone out there competing against you, who wants your college place, should get you going and make you more determined.

Another motivating factor in your exam year is its length. The length of the school year is nine months, and with only a few months of that left now, you only really need to raise your game for that short period. Do you fancy repeating the year while your friends head off to college or employment? Not too appealing I would imagine. Again, don’t ignore these thoughts; instead use them as the driving factor every morning to ‘get started’, while always remembering It’s never too late to step into your own greatness! ?

It’s a nice idea to copy down your motivation drivers into the back of your school journal, having a glance at them whenever you find yourself losing interest in your work. Having a role model friend who is very driven can also help you to fulfil your potential. Talk to as many former exam students as you can to find out how they navigated their path. Above all, I want you to compete against yourself and not anyone else. Use your previous results, grades and recent comments from your teachers to strive for something more.

Accept the Things You Currently Cannot Change

As this point in time, you need to reflect a little about what kind of a start you have made to the year.  Ask yourself now, “Am I on track to deliver a performance when the big day arrives?”, “Will I feel better or worse if I do absolutely nothing over the next week?” It is worth remembering that you cannot change the past and it shouldn’t limit you either. This week is a good time to start. I always remind my students that you can only shape your future through present actions. Start again tomorrow if today didn’t go so well. Move on and accept. For me, the prayer of serenity comes to mind here:

“Accepting the things, I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

Having a bad day may commence a negative thought process: “I’ll drop down to pass or foundation to concentrate on other subjects”. You need to guard against one lapse destroying your desire to achieve at a given subject. A bad day is not a bad week and remember that this is a long-term project. However, there are things that you can control, including, keeping yourself as healthy as possible by eating well, exercising and completing those timetabled revision blocks you put in place.

In summary, find out what motivation techniques work for you and repeat them. Try not to worry about what you cannot control. At the minute, you have no control of when the exams will happen or even when you will be back in school. Your job now is to settle into a good revision routine at home. You can only do your best so try not to be too hard on yourself. Joe

Click here for the steps top set up a Lifestyle (Study) Timetable.

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB: facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: Check in Now on Your Motivation levels

Joe’s Jotter: Check in Now on Your Motivation levels
Joe’s Jotter: Check in Now on Your Motivation levels

Joe’s Jotter: Creating A Lifestyle (Study) Timetable

A “Lifestyle (Study) Timetable” is an extended version of a “Study Timetable” that will allow you to become an expert at managing time during exam year. On a Lifestyle Timetable, you will enter other elements of your life outside your study and exam preparation in order to achieve a healthy leisure-study balance. Putting a Lifestyle Study Timetable together is the first step in taking control of real exam preparation. The following is a shortened version of the ten steps you need to put in place to get your first Lifestyle Timetable up and running:

  1. Create Blocks: Draw out a large rectangle representing your full week on an A3 sheet (landscape). Divide the week into thirty-minute blocks from nine a.m. in the morning until ten p.m. at night. Put a five minute break block at the end of each thirty minute one. If it is a school week, your revision blocks will commence at four p.m. on the weekdays Monday through Friday.
  2. Commitments: Write in all the things you have committed to for that week. These are fixed activities for that particular week that you need to attend. For example: school, mealtimes, sports practice, swimming lessons, attending church, etc. Note that there could be a different set of commitments for each subsequent week’s timetable.
  3. Prioritise: List the seven or eight subjects you study in order of difficulty for you. In other words, list your subjects from one to seven, one being the most difficult and seven being the least in order of priority. Consider how much you enjoy the subject when ranking it.
  4. Breakdown: Break down each subject by topic and sub-topic on a separate A3 sheet, so that you can tick them off as they slot into your new timetable over the weeks and get completed.
  5. Frog Subjects: Fill in your first set of sub-topics (from your breakdown sheet) onto your blank study blocks for the week. These are sub-topics of the subjects you find the most difficult or those which are not your favourite (subjects ranked one to three). You should consider giving slightly more blocks to these subjects than those favoured in point six below.
  6. Fav Subjects: Subsequently, enter the sub-topics for the subjects you are good at or like, remembering you always need to leave some free wind-down time before bedtime. These subjects will be ranked four to seven on your priority list.
  7. Rotation: See how you can build in the rotation of learning styles into your study blocks to keep your brain interested. Rotate your study blocks for each topic between learning things off, listening to audio, creating mind maps, online videos, writing, doing summaries, creating flash cards, reading textbooks, drawing diagrams, discussions with your friends, checking solutions, educational television/DVD, rewriting notes, reviewing class work etc.
  8. Breaks: It is recommended to take a longer break every two hours, using one (thirty minutes) or two blocks here. Along with breaks, include free time for leisure activities and meeting friends etc. Your Lifestyle Timetable will change every week as you move closer to a more realistic and better balanced version week on week.
  9. Urgent or Important: Your Lifestyle Timetable blocks for each week should reflect what is urgent and what is important for that particular week. It is important to be able to distinguish between “Important” and “Urgent” work. For example, homework will normally be urgent, and revision will become more so as the year progresses.
  10. Catch Up: You should only plan a week in advance to ensure your focus is firmly on what’s coming up. I would advise you to leave a few blank ‘catch up’ blocks at the weekend (when you have more flexibility), as sometimes things crop up during the week and you might lose the odd block. If you do miss a study block for whatever reason, enter that sub-topic into one of these weekend ‘catch up’ blocks you’ve put in place. In this way, you never miss a block and eventually everything gets done.

Having a balanced approach to exam preparation will energise your study. Put your Lifestyle Study Timetable in place today, ensuring you pencil in the leisure activities you enjoy doing. Combining these activities with a focus on the key content for each subject will set you up nicely come exam day. Joe

To view last weeks feature ‘Six ACE pointers to settle you back into Revision’, click here.

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

*****

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: Creating A Lifestyle (Study) Timetable

Joe’s Jotter: Creating A Lifestyle (Study) Timetable
Joe’s Jotter: Creating A Lifestyle (Study) Timetable

Joe’s Jotter: Six ACE Pointers to Settle you Back into Revision

Here are six useful habits for all students to Improve the quality of your study as we move past the settling back period and try to settle back into revision:

  1. Take regular breaks:

Yes, really! Taking short five-minute breaks every thirty minutes should keep you fresh and focused. However, make sure that five minutes doesn’t turn into an hour! Go for a short walk, call up a friend or have a snack and then come back to your work on time. Some studies have found that having a natter with friends can have a positive effect on memory and laughing increases serotonin (the body’s chemical that makes you happy). It is important to leave your study area during your breaks to get a change of perspective and return with renewed energy for the next session. Enjoyable breaks will allow you to become more efficient with your study blocks. Setting mini targets like completing a long exam question followed by a prolonged break is a smart way to operate.

  1. Stay alert and interested:

When reading, it is a good idea to make notes or highlight key terms. I believe you should always revise with a pen at hand. I feel that just by reading a piece of text, you are not actively engaging with it. In my experience, you will remember more by summarising it or even just by making markings with a red or green pen on the page. This method keeps the brain tuned in to the task at hand. Other learning methods you might consider for variety include YouTube videos, online quizzes, or creating mind maps. If you find yourself struggling to stay alert, you are probably tired, and it may be time for a break or retirement for the evening.

  1. Be ruthless with your notes:

Many students go to educational institutions after Christmas to boost their store of materials and, of course, their confidence. However, I have seen many students over the years become overwhelmed with too much material and they just end up getting swamped not knowing where to start. In subject areas you find difficult, reduce your material into manageable, thought provoking snippets. If you take notes in class, make sure to date and keep them for revision later. Dig out last year’s material requiring revision at this point. It is important to keep a record of what topics you have done in class and how long your teacher has spent on them. This will ensure you are clear on what has been covered and what still needs to be investigated. Being persistently consistent in relation to your notes is a big factor in doing well in exams.

  1. Set goals and keep records:

Setting goals will help you monitor your study and will give you something to work towards. If you under perform in a class test, set a mini goal for your next test to improve by a certain percentage. In your school journal, write down all your goals and check them off as you complete them – name it a ‘Junior Cycle or Leaving Cert bucket list’. Ultimately, use long-term goals to motivate you to ACE the short-term ones. Long-term goals might include a points target in your Leaving Certificate, a possible trip to third level or scoring that rewarding job later. A short-term goal will help you get where you want to be long term. Reviewing the success of your short-term goals every two weeks will give you a sense of achievement. An example of a short-term goal could involve summarising and understanding a chapter from your book and completing a past exam question relating to it. All successful students do a small plan and set goals for themselves.

  1. Earn your rewards:

Don’t forget to ‘have a life’ as you develop a routine that works for you. Reward yourself after a long study session with a trip to the cinema or visit to your friends. Ultimately, reward yourself with breaks, taking a reasonable one after every good hour’s work. There is nothing wrong with the odd bar of chocolate, ice-cream or packet of gummy bears; everyone who has done something constructive deserves a little thank you. Earn rewards with each thorough revision session you complete. This will improve your overall revision output.

  1. Start thinking about Exam papers:

Those of you in Exam years: Are you familiar with the layout of each exam paper and its marking scheme? If not, you need to get checking. You can source all the past exam papers in the ‘Examinations Material Archive’ section of the examinations.ie website. If you are doing exams in 2021 and haven’t a set of exam papers for each subject, don’t delay, get them today. A large part of your revision should be to assess and practice answering questions from past exam papers (under time pressure) on the topics you have covered in class. Remember also that each subject’s exam paper is different, so you need to get familiar with each one. You need to find out the exact layout and style of each individual paper. Is there a choice in sections? How many questions do you need to attempt in each section? Are there short/long questions or both? And, most importantly, how long can you plan to spend on each individual question? Being super familiar with paper layout is key.

To read about how Junior Cycle students can make more out of their evenings, click here.

******

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

******

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: Six ACE Pointers to Settle you Back into Revision

Joe’s Jotter: Six ACE Pointers to Settle you Back into Revision
Joe’s Jotter: Six ACE Pointers to Settle you Back into Revision

Making more of your evenings

Joe’s Jotter: Tips for Junior Cycle Students To get More Out of their Evenings

Students, as we come towards the end of the first few weeks back in Secondary School, it is important now that you get into a routine of homework and revision, both during the week and at the weekend. Breaks are important for all students who are putting effort in at home each night, as well as giving yourself some wind down time before bed also. Over the next few months, try and improve the standard of your homework. Always take pride in how you complete written homework. Doing homework like a mini exam is the best form of preparation for any upcoming tests. Here are four more practical tips you can try to get the more out of your evenings:

Be positive

Being positive will vastly improve your attitude towards study and therefore its quality. You should always focus on what you have studied, what you have learned or what you know as opposed to continually looking at what needs to be done. When you come across an awkward question, you need to box it off properly in your mind. Instead of thinking, “we haven’t covered this!” or “how is this relevant to what I know?”, you need to reflect on how it links into your subject, topics within the subject and what your Teacher has taught you in class.

The same goes for studying prior to the exam. Take control by changing the way you speak about your preparation. Instead of saying “I should be studying more”; be good to yourself and say, “Well I did a solid two hours this morning and will go back to it tonight”. Change “I should be…” to “I’m going to…” Research has shown that positive language can lead to more positive results. If you say: “I can’t climb that wall”, you are less likely to succeed in the task, as your brain has almost been auto programmed to fail. As a Maths teacher, I love this equation of positivity:

Positive attitude + Positive actions = Powerful results

Look after your eyes

You will be doing plenty of reading from textbooks, summary notes, post-its, flashcards and the likes over the next few years, so it is important to look after your eyes during this period. The expert’s advice on reducing eye strain is to apply the twenty-twenty-twenty rule. That is to take twenty seconds to look at something twenty feet away and repeat this every twenty minutes. Going outside on your breaks will get some fresh air to the eyes. Another good exercise is to simply rest your eyes in the palm of your hands for a few minutes, making sure that no light gets through. Too much time on devices wouldn’t be great for keeping your eyes fresh. Just saying!

Rotate your learning

The brain can only concentrate on a subject matter for a certain time period. At times, when I was penning my ACE book, I needed to get away and come back to it in order to maintain my focus. Rotate your homework between memorising content, writing, oral work, audio, Internet research and watching documentaries. Most importantly, rotate your subjects. We all enjoy discovering about subjects we find interesting, but it is so important not to forget the subjects you find difficult or the ones you are just not as interested in. Rotation of stimulus will trick the brain into performing better and going for longer.

Become an active learner

During study sessions, always have a pen and a highlighter to hand. You should mark the key points onto your textbook, write brief comments at the side of the page or underline the important sentences. This information should be transferred to a summary page later. I really like this method of revision as it reduces the quantity (amount) of notes you have to analyse and there shouldn’t be a need to revisit that part of your textbook again. Active learning in your homework and revision is a great way to keep yourself tuned into what you are studying. Spend time thinking about how you can use your life experiences and places visited to enhance essays or answers with a few extra bells and whistles. Individuality and drawing on your personal experiences are what every Teacher and examiner is looking out for. You need to try and stand out a bit from your fellow students.

To view last weeks blog on performing well in a difficult, e.g. Maths, click here.

Joe’s Jotter next week will provide students with six ACE pointers to settle them back into revision. Don’t miss it. To view more of Joe’s Jotter features, click the hashtag #JoesJotter. Joe.

*****

More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copies today!

W: acesolutionbooks.com
FB:
facebook.com/JoeMcCormackEducationalExpert/
#:   #JoesJotter

*****

© Joe McCormack 2020

Joe’s Jotter: Tips for Junior Cycle Students To get More Out of their Evenings

Joe’s Jotter: Tips for Junior Cycle Students To get More Out of their Evenings
Joe’s Jotter: Tips for Junior Cycle Students To get More Out of their Evenings