Study Skills for a Tough Time

Study Skills for a Tough Time

October 20, 2020 Organizing 0

It’s a tough time for students. Learning remotely has its own set of challenges – for parents and kids, as well as for college students. What organizing tips can help make schoolwork more manageable? Since many students with learning disabilities struggle with organizational skills even in the best of times, I’ve asked an expert: my son, Michael Brian Murphy, author of NLD From the Inside Out: Talking to Parents, Teachers, and Teens about Growing Up with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities – Third Edition (Jessica Kingsley) (www.nldfromtheinsideout.com), to share some of the organizing tips he used through high school, college, and graduate school. Below are his strategies for how to write an essay or research paper, adapted from his book, and used here with permission.

Organizing an Essay or Research Paper

1. Get assignment (from class syllabus or when given). Read all the syllabi on the first day of each class and put a check mark next to each writing assignment.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_________________  Completed ___

2. Immediately read the entire assignment for clarity. If questions, ask teacher.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?___________________ Completed ___

3. Figure out the exact steps you will need to take in order to complete the assignment correctly and on time, using this model as a template.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?___________________  Completed ___

4. Calculate approximately how long each of the steps will take.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

5. Schedule each step and write down the time allowed into your master calendar.Allow five hours of writing time to produce a good draft of one page, exclusive of research and planning time.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

Repeat Steps One through Five for each assignment you now have in hand, even onesthat are due after this assignment. The reason is that you probably will be doing early steps of later assignments at the same time you are completing an earlier assignment. Now, back to the first paper due.

a) Choose a topic (if essay),

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

b) and/ or find the book (if report)

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

c) and read the book or books (if analysis). Is it a novel or popular book that you can download or get on CD or Playaway? If so, ask your library how to order it.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

7. Find and read the primary sources (if research).

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

8. If necessary, get your topic approved by teacher or professor.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

9. Look at the assignment again. If there is a choice of questions, choose one question.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

10. Create your topic thesis and write it in one sentence.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

11. Write 3-5 sentences (depending on length of final paper) that support your thesis.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________    Completed ___

12. From library or Internet, find secondary sources. How many will you need? Which are most appropriate?

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

13. Look through or read secondary sources, marking good quotes with highlighter or sticky notes.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________    Completed ___

14. Begin to write the draft. From this point on, plan on needing five hours to produce one page of writing.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed __

15. Re-read the assignment. THIS IS CRITICAL! Be sure you are answering the question completely and thoroughly.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

16. When the draft is finished, you can send it to your aide or tutor for edit/proof.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

17. Make edits and changes.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________    Completed ___

18. Create bibliography or works cited page.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________    Completed ___

19. Create any handouts, visuals, illustrations, charts, notes for oral presentation, etc. that may be required.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

20. Produce final draft and turn in early or on time.

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________   Completed ___

21. Pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a reward or treat!

How long will this take?_______________ Due date for this step?___________

When will I do this step?_____________________  Completed ___

22. Get busy on the next paper or project.

“Atomizing” and recognizing all the steps it takes to produce an essay or paper can make it simpler for those who struggle with organizing their schoolwork.

As always, I welcome your comments and organizing questions.

Gail R. Shapiro

About the author

Gail R. Shapiro Gail Shapiro is pleased to bring you her experience, education, and energy to help you create harmony, efficiency, and systems that work. Gail first worked as a Professional Organizer in the mid-1980s, after many years in the development field, and before founding a non-profit community women’s center. She brings her clients more than 40 years of teaching and organizing skills garnered from her work as a director of development, project manager, grant proposal writer, executive director, workshop presenter, writer and editor, and strategic planning consultant, as well as a lifelong volunteer and board member at several charitable organizations.

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