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Generations of teachers have reminded students to review their notes nightly. Generations of students have ignored that advice and crammed the night before the exam.  Is there a way to turn that behavior on its head? Perhaps.

Teachers send messages about what they value by the amount of time they spend on a topic or skills or procedure. If we want students to develop the habit of regularly reviewing class notes/work, then we ought take the time to teach them how to do that. The middle grades are an opportune time to help young adolescents develop study habits that will serve them well in high school, college, the military, or on the job.

Looking closely at the team schedule may reveal time where team teachers can build in guided reviews of class notes and materials.  Perhaps it’s during homeroom or the fifteen minutes before lunch that often gets frittered away. Set up a schedule–Tuesday is social studies, Wednesday is science, etc.  As a team come up with easy prompts to get the students talking about the material they are reviewing:

  • What are the 3 things you bet will be on your quiz on photosynthesis?
  • Think solving algebraic expressions–List 3 things you know so well you could could me who hasn’t studied algebra in 20 years, two things you still have questions about, and 1 thing you will do to answer your own questions.
  • Use this 3 x 5 index to card to write down everything important from your notes from the past two weeks.
  • Have students work together to create a visual representation of the big ideas they are studying.

    Big Kids!

By collaborating to build in regular study time, the team sends a strong message to their students and parents that they value regular and consistent review.  When you see results from this review, be sure to celebrate with your students.

Here are a couple of variations:

  • Overtime allow students to take control of the review.  Help them become responsible for building their own study habits.
  • Talk with other teams in your school and build a systematic approach 6-8.  Over the three years gradually release the responsibility for studying to the students so that by the last quarter of eighth grade, most of them are on their own.  Some may still need additional scaffolding.

Gradual Release of Responsibility Model


  • I do it  (Modeling)
  • We do it together  (Modeling)
  • You do with a partner  (Teacher coaching and giving descriptive feedback)
  • You do it independently (Students demonstrating what they have learned)

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