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Multiple Methods of Presentation: Making Study Tools

Part of my job as an intervention specialist is to provide copies of the class notes for some of my IEP students.

The reasons for this are numerous: poor handwriting, poor processing speed, poor hand-eye coordination, organizational issues, need for review and re-explanation, etc.

My 8th graders are required to take the notes to the best of their ability. In science class, the notes are on the SMARTBoard or taken from the book. For those who have trouble getting notes from the board or book to their paper, a hard copy of the notes is provided. They are allowed to keep these hard copies but they also need to make a valiant effort to copy the notes in the allotted time.

In other words, students get a copy of the exact notes that were provided in class.

However, an additional responsibility is to provide study guides and study materials for my IEP students. It would only make sense that these study guides present the same information, but in a different manner. This is my chance to be creative and do my thing. This is my chance to do what I really love.

I have a variety of formats I use for review sheets and study guides and I tend to mix it up to prevent boredom and to reach students in a variety of ways.

One thing I always try to do: I use the same vocabulary, definitions, and some of the same graphics so they can make connections to what they’ve done in class.

Ways that I modify/tweak/enhance/personalize study tools:

  • Explain definitions in simpler words.
  • Use bold, color, italics, and underline tools to highlight key info.
  • Include diagrams, charts, or additional graphics.
  • Bring in examples and situations we discussed in our intervention study hall. (Ms. K’s car is out of gas. If she pushes it herself, it won’t go very far. If Cory, Paul, and Andrew help push it, it will be easier to move out of the intersection. Which law of motion applies?)
  • I include graphic organizers where students must take the info they learned in class and plug it into charts, boxes, webs, etc. When they get to the test they can visualize the position of the information and remember answers.
  • I load all study tools onto Edmodo so that students who are more digitally inclined can access the tools at home on their computer or on-the-go with their smartphones.
  • I summarize the key information in tri-fold pamphlets.

Below I have included samples of the two sides of a pamphlet for an Astronomy unit. I make these pamphlets on Publisher, copy them front-to-back on bright paper, tri-fold them, and pass them out a few days before the test. Students can keep them tucked in the front of their binder, journal, or book and review the notes quickly between classes, at the start of study hall, on the bus (ok, i doubt that.), etc.

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I try to “chunk” related material. I also try to create an “outline” with bullets.

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Trying to stay consistent, these graphics are the same ones that the science teacher used in class.

Over the next few weeks I will post some more ideas and examples of study tools I use with my 8th graders. If you have any particular content you are interested in, leave a comment. I just might have a study tool that’s right for you!

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