I have been overjoyed to be able to peruse student results from Semester 1 during the last couple of weeks. There have been many students who have clearly been incorporating good study habits into their routine, putting in extra effort, and who are striving to achieve the very best that they can. Congratulations to all of those students who have lifted their results in any way; whether from Bs up to As, Cs up to Bs, or Ds to Cs, etc – well done to all of those girls! If we continue to put in the effort, no matter what level we are at, we should see some improvement. Furthermore, if we continue to work together for the benefit of your daughter, then we are on the right journey.
With learning at the heart of what we do here, it is so important for you, our parents, to be up to date with all of the information that we offer, and it is important for the girls to be organised and clear in setting goals and processes in order to achieve. Having said this, it was also really energising to be able to speak with so many parents and students at our recent Subject Selection Information Evenings, for both those students going into their senior years and for students moving from Year 9 to 10 in 2019. Information about the new Queensland Certificate of Education, specific information relating to each of the Learning Areas and subject offerings across 10, 11 and 12, and the opportunity to connect with leaders and teachers at the College have hopefully provided a great platform for your daughters (and you) to make clear and positive choices for their future studies.
If you were unable to attend the evenings, or have any further questions, please access the Subject Handbooks and Presentations via the Parent drop-down menu on Moodle, or directly through Igloo. Students will be able to access the 2019 Handbooks via their respective Information Hubs on Moodle.
Additionally, the SET Planning process has been another really positive and valuable exercise for all of our Year 10 students. This enables us to collaborate with you, assist with guidelines for future pathways and subject choices, and ensure that all have a clear understanding of the senior years.
The final Subject Selection Information Evening occurs next Wednesday evening, 8 August, commencing at 7.00pm for our Francis School students and parents. Information about choices for Year 8 and 9 will be provided at this evening. (You should have received a direct email outlining this).
So, as we move forward into Semester 2, all students should do a quick stocktake of where they are, and consider where they would like to be by the end of this year. For our Seniors, in particular, make the very most of your time; it will go quickly. I include a link to a useful article for you here. Whilst it is American-based – for example, you will substitute university for college, etc – it is very relevant. Your time here is so precious – enjoy it.
What to do during your last semester of High School
For all students and parents, I have taken some excerpts from another blog that I think will help to guide you through this semester, as it offers some excellent advice and ideas. If you are interested in more information, go to this [Australian] site and try the links, as well as the further reading provided. It is very relevant, and evidence-based.
Taken from the following website: The Conversation., (2018), Study Habits for success: Tips for students., Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/study-habits-for-success-tips-for-students-89147
Focus! And don’t multi-task
Our brains are impressive machines, but they can’t handle everything at once. There is simply too much going on in our sensory environment for us to digest. To be effective, we need to direct our attention to just one or two tasks at a time. That generally means no background music – it won’t help you learn.
Don’t be tempted to multi-task while you learn. When you do, your brain is actually trying its hardest to switch rapidly between tasks. But, whenever you get distracted and switch focus, it takes minutes to settle back into the groove of studying. Minimise your distractions and focus your attention on the task at hand.
Sleep well, learn well
Learning isn’t easy, and being able to focus is important for digesting new information and understanding concepts. When you get a good night’s sleep, you feel fresh and attentive the next day.
Sleep is also critical for what happened the previous day. Extensive work in both animals and humans shows a crucial function of sleep is to re-process and consolidate what happened during the day.
For example, scientists have recorded brain activity patterns first while an animal learns a task, and again when the animal next sleeps. Remarkably, the patterns in sleep are strikingly similar to what is seen when the animal learns.
This replay of activity patterns during sleep happens in your brain too, hundreds of times each night. As a result, the connections between our neurons change, helping the patterns become embedded in the brain. In other words, sleep plays an indispensable role in storing our memories for the long-term.
The 'testing effect' is a well-established phenomenon in learning. Essentially, we learn much better by testing our own knowledge than by re-studying material. So, if you’ve got an exam coming up, don’t just re-read a textbook and highlight important passages.
Instead, test yourself by doing practice exams. The process of actively recalling information helps deeper learning take place, and it works even better if you can check whether your answer is correct.
You don’t have to wait until exam time to capitalise on the testing effect. As you read through a textbook you can give yourself mini-tests, trying to recall the major points of each chapter you finish.
Although researchers are still trying to figure out the brain mechanisms behind the effect, there is plenty of evidence for its effectiveness. When combined with spacing (below), practising recall is an efficient way to commit information to your long-term memory.
Space out (your learning)
Teachers and parents are always telling us cramming is the wrong way to learn, and for good reason. It just isn’t as effective as spacing your learning over days, weeks, and months. This is known as the 'spacing effect'.
Whenever you practise something, you give your brain the opportunity to strengthen the connections between neurons. The strengthening process is similar to how hikers trampling through a forest create worn paths over time. The more hikers, the more distinct the path, just like repeated practice helps lay down strong neural pathways to store memories.
Although the best spacing strategy isn’t known, we do know an expanding schedule is better than a contracting schedule. In other words, it’s better to review your course material after a day, then a week, then a month, rather than the other way around.
Use memory aids
If you learned music as a child, you probably remember one of the mnemonics for notes on a scale – for example, 'Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit' (E-G-B-D-F). Mnemonics like this make difficult things easier to remember. You can make up your own mnemonics for classroom concepts.
For example, maybe you need to memorise the noble gases in the periodic table (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe, Rn). Just make a crazy sentence out of it and you’ll find it much easier (for example, 'he never argues, Krusty, xenophobic runt'. This one might only make sense if you watched The Simpsons).
Another approach, and one frequently used by people in the World Memory Championships, is the memory palace technique (also called the 'method of loci').
Your 'memory palace is a place you know well, like your house, or the route you take to the bus stop. You fill this palace with the things you need to remember, and then you re-create a path that takes you past all those items.
This technique relies partly on the fact that our hippocampus – the part of the brain where many memories are formed – is also crucial for navigation. Both anecdotal and scientific evidence shows anybody can improve their memory using this approach.