My daughters are starting 7th and 8th grade this year, and it is our eighth year homeschooling. High school is just around the corner! One of the things we are focusing on during the middle school years is developing study habits that will serve them well in their future learning experiences, whether at home or in a traditional school setting.
I’m partnering with Post-it® Brand to share some of our favorite learning and study tools for middle school students. When you write something down, you are more likely to make it happen. Because of this, Post-it® Brand is encouraging people nationwide, especially students, to write down goals, aspirations and more, as a way to make them stick and accomplish tasks in the new school year. Join me in sharing your goals and aspirations with @Postit Brand on social media using the hashtag, #MakeitStick.
Like their fellow Gen Z students (the group born between 1995 and 2012), my girls are quite savvy with all things technology. They read e-books, use the internet to do virtual museum tours, play sophisticated apps, and create amazing slideshows and movies. Yet, for our everyday to-do lists, note-taking, and project planning, they still rely on good ol’ pencil and paper. And this busy, often forgetful, mom of three, always has to write things down or they just don’t happen!
According to recent Post-it Brand research, not only does Gen Z value composition and handwriting, but they recognize the benefits, particularly when it comes to learning. In fact, 93% of Gen Z use handwritten notes to keep up with schoolwork in a typical school week. It just works.
Here are a few of the techniques we are using in our home school to help us plan, learn, and be productive:
1. Create a goals board for the new school year.
Start the school year with some forward-thinking! My girls direct much of their own learning, based on personal interests and skills they want to build. When we plan goals for the new school year, I ask open-ended questions to get the ideas flowing, such as:
- What do you want to accomplish this year?
- What skills would you like to improve?
- What kind of interests would you like to pursue?
- Is there a big dream you could work towards this school year?
They each choose 4-5 broad goals and write each one on a Post-it® Super Sticky Note. Display the goals where you will see them often – a clipboard in your room, on the wall by your desk, or on the refrigerator. Throughout the year, your personal goals can be modified, moved to the completed board, or new goals can be added.
We also create a new Pinterest board each school year, to collect resources, podcasts, books, and other ideas that apply to each girl’s personal goals. When motivation is lacking, a scroll through this board usually stirs up some interest!
2. Practice note-taking strategies from books, articles, and websites.
When my girls do a research project, they don’t have to rely on outdated encyclopedias for information. They can find high-quality websites with a quick search, and our library has an excellent collection of current books on just about any topic. Taking good notes from any source is definitely a skill that takes practice.
One method we find effective is summarizing main ideas or interesting facts using a clipboard and Post-it® Super Sticky. On a 4×6″ lined Post-it Note, start a numbered source list for every book, article, or website you use for research. Write facts, in your own words, on smaller Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, with the source number written in the corner. That way, you can easily look back at a source for more information. We love the bold colors of the Post-it® Super Sticky Notes from the World of Color Miami and Rio de Janeiro collections – it makes studying more fun!
Once you have completed your research, you can sort and organize your notes on a table or wall, and use them to storyboard an essay, speech, slideshow, or other project. My girls like to take photos of completed storyboards with their phones, which they can reference while typing at the computer.
3. Engage with literature and collaborate on a “quote wall.”
My girls are SO into this, and to be honest, so am I! We have started a quote wall on the side of a bookshelf. Throughout the school year, we will be writing quotes from our current reads on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and adding them to the wall. My girls are avid readers, and I plan to keep encouraging reading in every way I can, as they transition from middle school to high school. We’re on a classics kick right now, and someone is always re-reading a Harry Potter book in this house.
While we are reading, we keep Post-it® Flags nearby to easily mark the exact passage we might want to add to the wall. If we are reading e-books, we use the highlighting or note features to mark interesting quotes.
So far, the display of quotes is encouraging us to discuss books with each other regularly. It’s always fun to ask why someone chose a certain quote. I don’t make a big deal of this to my girls, but I know they are also practicing spelling, punctuation, and grammar when they copy these well-written phrases from favorite books. I love that we can rearrange the Post-it® Super Sticky Notes as we choose, sorting the quotes by time period or theme. I can’t wait to see our quote wall fill-up as the year goes on!
4. Customize your spiral notebooks.
I always pick up a stack of spiral notebooks during back-to-school sales. We use them for a variety of things, including note-taking, writing summaries, journaling, collecting poetry, and working math problems. To make our notebooks easy to use and reference, we make our own dividers using Post-it® Tabs. These tabs are my favorite! I love how durable the tabs are – they last all school year, even if we move them around. Also, five tabs fit perfectly along the edge of a standard spiral notebook.
My oldest daughter is passionate about creative writing and has set-up a Writer’s Idea Notebook for herself. She divided her notebook into 5 sections using Post-it® Tabs – Characters, Plot Ideas, Dialogue, Setting & Maps, and Words & Names. She loves having a place to jot down all her ideas, and she can easily take her notebook on the go, too.
There are so many applications for this simple technique – the sky’s the limit!
- Make a Formulas to Remember section in your math notebook
- Divide a history notebook into sections for important people, maps, timelines, and vocabulary.
- Put a tab at the beginning of each science chapter’s notes for easy reference when studying.
5. Put important information front and center.
This is an oldie, but a goodie – write something you want to learn or remember on a Post-it® Super Sticky Note and place it on the mirror. I had to include this tip, since it has served us well starting in our elementary school days. Our bathroom mirror was covered in those few tricky multiplication facts, to be read and practiced during teeth-brushing twice a day. We have used this for math facts and formulas, spelling or vocabulary words, and interesting history facts.
This strategy also works great for habit-building, like remembering daily piano practice or chores! Definitely have your kids do the writing on the Post-it® Note, too – just the act of writing it down helps so much with retention. I even used this technique as a college student. The whole front of my closet was filled with biology vocabulary on Post-it® Notes!
*This post is sponsored by Post-it® Brand. For more information on Gen Z, ideas on using Post-it® products to accomplish goals and complete tasks, visit www.Post-it.com/study. You can also visit Post-it® Brand on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.