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Aug. 5-18, 2004
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Teens Attend Study Skills Course at CBA
More than 50 teens from around the Syracuse area attended a four-day study skills class at Christian Brothers Academy in order to increase their academic competence. Attendance in the class, which is in its fourth year, continues to rise as students in grades seven through 12 learn how to study, write essays, learn time management and note-taking skills as well as test-taking strategies.
Mike Marciano has been a history teacher for 17 years, eight of which have been at CBA. Marciano said that in his years of education, he has seen an ongoing weakness in reading and writing among students. “Those two areas are what students need to work on the most,” said Marciano. “Reading is more than word recognition. It’s comprehension –– that’s the hallmark of a good reader.” During the instruction period, Marciano taught the students how to outline an essay using the four-square method. He explained that the thesis topic should go in the middle square and in the four squares surrounding it, the supporting information should be outlined. “Each paragraph of an essay should have a point,” said Marciano. “The reader should be able to see the relationship between one paragraph and another.” Marciano also explained to the students that if the transition between one paragraph and another is uneasy, it will slow the reader down. “Essays are required in more and more classes,” said Marciano. “Essays will be required on math and science tests in addition to language arts and history.”
Carly Conley, an incoming ninth-grader at Bishop Grimes, said that she took the study skills course because she often doesn’t do well on tests. “I don’t have good study skills,” said Carly. “My mom suggested I take this course.” Carly said that the course gave her a lot of valuable information such as setting a scheduled time to study, picking a quiet place to study with no interruptions, studying while sitting up, and taking breaks after each hour of studying. “I’ll probably study harder and use some of the skills I learned here,” said Carly. Emily Wanamaker, an incoming seventh grader to CBA, said that procrastination is one of her study skill weaknesses. “I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “I haven’t been using my time correctly. I waste a lot of time.” Emily said that she used to do her easier homework first and then when it was time to do the more difficult work, she was too tired. “I never did my homework in the same place,” she said. “I did it in front of the TV or in front of the computer, or at Karate class while I was waiting for my brother.” With the tips that she learned in class, Emily said she will now focus on studying the correct way. “Mr. Marciano taught me a lot that will help me next year,” she said.
Learning the correct way to study is essential for Chyleigh Harmon’s academic success. Chyleigh is going into grade seven at CBA, transferring from Edward Smith Elementary School. At age 10, she will be the youngest student in the school. Because she excels academically, Chyleigh skipped grade six. She and her mom thought taking the study skills course would help prepare her for junior high school. “I’m not used to having a lot of homework,” said Chyleigh. “I know that will change in junior high. I used to do the easiest stuff first and now I know I should do the harder stuff first. That way, if you are too tired to finish your homework, you can save the easier homework for the morning,” she said.
Another topic the students discussed was note taking. They learned the key ingredient to taking helpful notes was listening to key words given by the teacher. “Listening for the key words will tell you when you should be taking notes,” said Chyleigh. “I spend a good deal of the time teaching listening skills,” said Marciano. “I explain how to be an active listener, listen for signal words that should prompt note taking and how not to become distracted.”
Marciano said that the course remains popular because there is such an academic culture shock for students moving from a public school to CBA. “I experienced it with my own children –– late nights doing homework,” he said. “You have to give the students the tools to learn. It’s not what they learn but how to learn that’s important.” Marciano said that when students come from middle school to high school, there is a large increase in the workload and the stakes go up. “Having good study skills teaches them to be better students and opens up options for the colleges they can attend,” said Marciano. “I teach them techniques to make them more productive and to make the experience less painful.” In addition to learning motivation and discipline, the teens have to care about being a good students. “They have to choose it,” Marciano said.
“The class was great,” said Emily. “It wasn’t too long. I liked that it was four days instead of five.” “It’s cool because it’s early in the day,” agreed Chyleigh. “It gives you the afternoon to still hang out with your friends.” For more information on next summer’s study skills course as well as athletic camps offered for baseball, football, soccer and lacrosse, contact CBA at (315) 446-5960 and ask for the summer program coordinator.