most likely a desk and computer, and they
are likely to be more productive. If there
is not a dedicated desk or table for study,
each student can stash books and papers
in a special tote or crate and bring it to
their study spot each day.
Each student should have a three-ring
binder with one tab for each course. This
is their command center for the semester.
The first page should be a list of readings
and major writing or project assignments
in all subjects, along with due dates. Behind
each tab, there should be a copy of the class
profile or course overview—the high school
equivalent of a syllabus.
This provides a more detailed view of each subject’s requirements. Along
with this should be a copy
of each completed major
assignment along with
any evaluation rubrics or
Students should learn
to use a small pocket
monthly planner to track
deadlines, field trips,
work schedule, and other
events. The planner is also useful for scheduling the number of pages to read each day
in order to meet assignment due dates. One
way to do this is to look ahead at the number of pages of reading assigned in each
class, then divide the total by the number
of school days in order to stay on schedule.
Help students develop a habit of recording
everything they read. A printed reading log
or journal is nice, or they can simply use
a blank journal to write the title, author, a
one- or two-sentence summary of the book,
and a comment or rating. This is not just
for the student’s personal records, but also
because college admission counselors may
request a list of high school reading. It’s
much easier to record it one book at a time
than to try to reconstruct it in retrospect!
Each student should organize computer
work into orderly files with descrip-
tive names. First, create a master folder
labeled with the student’s name. Inside
that folder, the student can create one
new folder for each class taken—West-
ern Civilization, British Literature, Alge-
bra II, etc. Inside each folder will be all
the written assignments that the student
completes for that class.
Each written assignment should be
saved with a descriptive name, including
whether the document is a draft or final
copy. For example, an essay for British
history on the Battle of Hastings might be
A research paper on Shakespeare’s identity might be labeled “brit-lit-shakespeare-
identity-10Kwords-final” and a biology lab
report might be “
It is a good idea to keep
these computer files
throughout high school,
as colleges may want to
see copies of significant
assignments. In addition
they serve as a detailed
record of what has been
It is good practice to use
a college-style format,
including a heading with
student name, class name,
date, and essay prompt
or assignment, for any typed papers. This
means Times New Roman or a similar font,
double-spaced, with one-inch margins all
around. Help students develop the habit of
proofreading by reading aloud before turning in a paper. It is one of the most effective
ways to catch typos and awkward sentences.
I hope your students will learn that good
study habits and simple organization save
time and make learning easier. Once books
are gathered, dates are on the calendar, and
a plan is in place, it’s just a matter of doing
the next thing. Enjoy!
Janice Campbell is the author of Excellence in
Literature, a self-directed, college-prep English curriculum for grades 8-12, Transcripts
Made Easy, the Peaceful Planning booklets,
and other resources including the forthcoming
Model-Based Writing . She teaches Classics
Based Writing at SchoolhouseTeachers.com,
and you can find her online at Everyday-Education .com, Excellence-in-Literature .com,
and at her blog, Doing WhatMatters .com .
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develop the habit
by reading aloud
before turning in