One Size Does Not Fit All: Mistakes Students Make While Studying

Cram [kram]

verb (used with object), crammed, cramming.
1. to fill (something) by force with more than it can easily hold.
2. to force or stuff (usually followed by into, down, etc.).
3. to fill with or as with an excessive amount of food; overfeed.
4. Informal.
a. to prepare (a person), as for an examination, by having him or her memorize information
within a short period of time.
b. to acquire knowledge of (a subject) by so preparing oneself.

- from dictionary.com

An Update for Outdated Study Habits

Until recent years, students were encouraged to spend hours reading and rereading articles,
books, and notes from class, ostensibly to learn the information. This gave them a false sense of
preparedness on testing days. This old school method of ‘kill and drill’ (practice, practice,
practice!) is not only monotonous, but also a terribly ineffective way to transfer information
from short-term memory to long-term memory. Reading and rereading information does not
give the brain an opportunity to actually process or distill the information that it is seeing.
A more effective and meaningful way to store information is the process of ‘active retrieval’.
Having students attempt to remember information on their own turns passively-absorbed
information into understanding and knowledge. Active retrieval requires the student to
stimulate memory during the learning process, rather than passively listening to and taking in
information while reading or during a lecture.

Active Retrieval in Action

Curious about what active retrieval actually looks like? Let’s look at the following example:
Imagine you are learning to cook. Your teacher shows you how to make chocolate chip cookies
walking through the directions step-by- step, but he does not give you a recipe. After his cookies bake, he gives one to you. He encourages you to eat the cookie. While you are eating the cookie, you can taste the butter, sugar, the creamy melted chocolate chips. In the next bite, you taste the slightest hint of salt, then vanilla. Now, your teacher asks you for the recipe. While you don’t have it in front of you, you know you can taste the flavors. You think through his steps. Remember, you only tasted a hint of vanilla - was that a teaspoon? Also, the slightest flavor of salt - ¼ teaspoon? While you may not get the recipe exactly right the first time, you have engaged many of your senses to try to better remember what went into the cookies. Those little memories will be more deeply ingrained in your consciousness than if had you simply read the directions in order to respond to a prompt from your teacher.

Pulling an All-Nighter?: The Enemy of Effective Studying

We’ve all been guilty of cramming the night before a big test. Staying up late, reading and
rereading the same information, ad nauseam, trying to ‘cram’ information into our brains. The
definition of cram, as shown above, is essentially to try to fill something excessively with force.
Cramming as it relates to studying is a fruitless method of learning and attempting to retain
information for a number of reasons:
1) Sleep is essential to performing well in school. When students stay up late at night to
study, their ability to reason and rationalize test responses using critical thinking skills
will be significantly diminished.
2) Reading and re-reading does not move information from short-term memory to long-
term memory. The only way to do that is to understand and absorb the information in a
meaningful way.
3) Information and subjects should be studied for a short period of time in order to
maximize comprehension and retention. Educational experts recommend studying
subjects for shorter chunks of time and switching subjects often, ie; instead of studying
each subject once per week for 3 hours, study each subject nightly for 30 minutes each.

Bridging the Generational Study Gap

While change is hard, it is so important for educators and parents to revisit the way they think about good study habits. Long gone are the days where every student is encouraged to sit in a quiet room, at a table or desk, and to quietly read and reread notes and articles. Bean bag seating, soft music, colored light bulbs can all be components of an effective and practical study setting. It is important to recognize that what may have been an effective study setting for you may not produce the same results for your student(s). Experimenting with settings, seating, light, and background noise can be helpful to find the right setting for your student at home, or in the classroom. For more information on individual learning styles, or to determine what your personal learning style is, you can check out this website.

Contact Planting Seeds Tutoring Today

At Planting Seeds Tutoring, an Austin, South, and Central Texas-based tutoring company, we
are committed to ensuring that every student we work with has access to the most
comprehensive tools and strategies to ensure that they are well-positioned to be successful
both in and out of the classroom, regardless of whether they are extroverts or introverts. To
learn more about the full range of services we offer, visit our blog, visit our website and follow
us on Facebook. You can also contact Planting Seeds Tutoring with your questions at (972) 342-6496, or via email at plantingseedstutoring@gmail.com

Introverts in the Classroom: Helping Quiet Kids Succeed

“Each person seems to be energized more by either the external world or the internal world.” -
- Carl Jung.

Leveling the Field for Reserved Students

Extroverts tend to be outgoing, conversational, and enjoy social interactions. Introverts, on the
other hand, are more typically quiet, reserved, and introspective, and they need time alone to
recharge. How a student behaves in class colors an educator’s perception of what kind of
student they are. This is a mindset that progressive educators are actively working to combat.
Most traditional classrooms are set up in a way which favors extroverted students, from
emphasis on group projects and collaboration, to the way students are called on (or ‘out’) to
share answers. What can we as educators, parents, and advocates do to ensure that
introverted students also have an opportunity to thrive?

Participation Grades and Introverts

Often, 20-40% of a student’s classroom grade is attributed to class participation. There is no
true objective way in which to measure classroom participation and the long-held belief that
hand-raising is a measurable tool for student engagement is increasingly thought of as archaic.
Teacher-pleasing behaviors, such as sitting still, raising your hand at the appropriate times, and
maintaining eye contact with the speaker can be signs that a student is listening intently.
Introverted students may be listening just as intently, without the inclination to volunteer to
answer questions or drive discussions or debate. We need to shift the way we perceive other
indicators of student engagement. Using body language, written responses, and informal
conversation in a small (or one-on- one) setting can provide opportunities for introverts to show
what they know.

How to Support Both Introverts and Extroverts in the
Educational Setting

Ideas come so quickly to some students that they end up being the ones whose hands shoot up into the air and who are recognized for participation. Often, the introverts are slower to offer to contribute, then feel as though they have nothing new to contribute to the discussion and keep their hands down.

Here are some options to encourage participation from introverted students:

Think Time: Educators often find that mandatory “think time” provides all students with the time to think through a question and how to share their answers with the group. This is a great strategy for students who need a bit more time to process before they find the confidence to offer up their contribution.

Think-Pair- Share: This method of group work who is a powerful method of drawing introverted children into the wider discussion. Think-pair- share is when students are paired with one another and given an opportunity to work through a problem or a question through talking with a peer. Once their time together comes to an end, the pairs are encouraged to share their solution(s) with the larger group. This provides students with many opportunities to develop an answer, to talk through it with a peer, and to build confidence before speaking to a broader group.

Recess Options: Recess can be difficult for introverted students. While extroverts thrive on noise and activity, the introverted child fills their tank with quiet and introspective time. Doing something as simple as giving students an option as to how they wish their “down time” can make a significant difference in how they get through the rest of their day

Contact Planting Seeds Tutoring Today

At Planting Seeds Tutoring, an Austin, South, and Central Texas-based tutoring company, we are committed to ensuring that every student we work with has access to the most
comprehensive tools and strategies to ensure that they are well-positioned to be successful in
the classroom, regardless of whether they are extroverts or introverts. To learn more about the
full range of services we offer, visit our blog, visit our website and follow us on Facebook.
You can also contact Planting Seeds Tutoring with your questions at (972) 342-6496, or via
email at plantingseedstutoring@gmail.com

Curriculum Standards in the Lone Star State

"All states and schools will have challenging and clear standards of achievement and
accountability for all children, and effective strategies for reaching those standards" -- U.S.
Dept. of Education


What does that look like for students in Texas, one of the few states to push back against the
Common Core?

Common Core Versus State-based Curriculum Standards


The Common Core Standards initiative is an educational initiative that details what K-12
students throughout the United States should know in English language arts and mathematics
at the conclusion of each grade. As of 2010, 42 states and the District of Columbia adopted the
Common Core Standards Initiative. Texas is one of 8 states which did not initially adopt those
Common Core standards and, in fact, it is one of only a few states in which it is technically
illegal to teach Common Core within the state. Texas officials have long been of the opinion
that the state-based curriculum, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), are superior to
Common Core standards.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)


The current standards in Texas, which outline what students are to learn in each course or
grade, are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). These standards are adopted by
the State Board of Education, after extensive input from educators and other stakeholders.
TEKS begins with prekindergarten guidelines and continues throughout high school. Examples
of TEKS across grade levels can be found here.


These agreed-upon standards provide a timeline for instruction throughout the year and
progress is measured through testing each spring, using the State of Texas Assessments of
Academic Readiness (STAAR). The STAAR test is designed to evaluate student mastery of the
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills learning standards. For younger students, these tests
evaluate students in the areas of reading, math, and writing. Beginning in fifth grade, students
are also tested in science and social studies, as well.

Standardized Testing: An Accurate Measure of Success?


Ask any educator and they can provide you with a list of reasons why standardized testing is not the most effective measurement of assessing student knowledge. Having a standardized evaluation method across the state has merit, but it is not without concerns including the effect of test-taking anxiety on student performance, the challenges faced by low-income students who are often less prepared than their more privileged peers, the fact that current STAAR tests are written in language above the grade level in which they are taken, and that failure on a single STAAR test can keep students from graduating, among others.


While TEKS is a comprehensive standard for students in Texas, some argue that students who are not exposed to Common Core curriculum may be at a disadvantage when it comes to taking nationally applied tests, such as the SAT and ACT, which are currently being brought into alignment with the Common Core. Whether or not students from Texas will be affected by lack of exposure to Common Core curriculum may take years to prove or disprove, however; Texas legislators are steadfast in their commitment to and support of TEKS and that the rigor and thorough scope of STAAR testing will leave students in Texas well-prepared for nationally-normed college entrance exams.

Contact Planting Seeds Tutoring Today

At Planting Seeds Tutoring, an Austin, South, and Central Texas-based tutoring company, we
are committed to ensuring that every student we work with has access to the most
comprehensive tools and strategies to ensure that they are well-positioned to be successful in
the classroom, during STAAR testing, and during the ACT and SAT tests. To learn more about
the full range of services we offer, visit our blog, visit our website and follow us on Facebook.
You can also contact Planting Seeds Tutoring with your questions at (972) 342-6496, or via
email at plantingseedstutoring@gmail.com

University of Texas at Austin Chooses Planting Seeds Tutoring for Business Class Site

As we announced on our Facebook page on February 28, Planting Seeds Tutoring has been selected by the University of Texas at Austin as a site for their MIS 374 class in which business majors practice their skills by designing systems to help grow our business.

What is the MIS 374 Class?

MIS 374 is a Business System Development Class for students who are majoring in business. The course “provides a foundation in business system analysis, project management, planning, design, and implementation.”

The MIS 374 class is a popular one which has left its mark on many businesses in the community, including non-profits, start-ups, local businesses, and even some University of Texas at Austin-based campus groups. These client projects give students a real-world learning experience while also delivering measurable business value for clients, companies, and organizations.

The Selection Process

When University of Texas at Austin put out a call for proposals from potential partners, we felt strongly that UT Austin’s core values of learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility, aligned squarely with our own core values and that a partnership would benefit our students at Planting Seeds Tutoring as well as the students of UT Austin.

We submitted our proposal in January, and were thrilled to receive notification that University of Texas at Austin had accepted our application and would provide dedicated students with the opportunity to help grow our business, therefore increasing our potential impact on students in the Austin, South, and Central-Texas area.

Next Steps

Now that we have been selected as a site for the MIS 374 students, the exciting work begins! Students from the class will work directly with our staff during the semester with several different areas of focus. Those focus areas include restructuring and generating creative content for our website, ideas for growing our social media presence, and creating software, systems, and processes for our tutors to use internally.

We are thrilled about this collaboration and are so excited to learn, grow, and prosper with our friends at University of Texas at Austin.

Contact Planting Seeds Tutoring Today

To find out more about whether or not your student would benefit from tutoring, to follow the growth and progress we are making as we work with the University at Texas in Austin, or to learn more about the services offered at Planting Seeds Tutoring, an Austin, South, and Central Texas-based tutoring company, visit our blog, visit our website and follow us on Facebook.

You can also contact Planting Seeds Tutoring with your questions at (972) 342-6496, or via email at plantingseedstutoring@gmail.com