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Monday, February 6, 2012

School Bell: Television for Study Skills

We are entering the more intensive part of the school year now. While homework time and review work are still going to be the staples of your helping your kids, try changing it up a bit by using television to help them learn.  Today.... teaching them a basic learning technique crucial to studying:

Summarizing [rather than retelling every tiny detail] is a skill and it needs practice. It is basic to eventual notetaking, reports, etc.

Television is especially useful because the story plots are broken up into clear segments by the commercial breaks.  

Younger kids: 
Start with a half hour show. Even cartoons can work because they have pretty simple, straight line plots. During the first commercial break ask your child what has happened so far in the show.  Help them put it into a sentence. You could even write it down if that helps.  Do it at each break. At the end of the show ask them to pick which sentence tells the main idea of that episode. 

Older kids:
Point out that if they put together the "main idea" sentence for each segment, they have a great summary of the entire story and that this is similar to the "plot outline" that authors use and teachers often ask kids to identify.  Keep a TV notebook of the shows they watch where they/you write in the summary sentence for each segment and star the main idea when they are through. 

Later on you can compare the summaries and begin to identify the concept of "genres' and eventually the characteristics of each genre etc.

[Note:  Often the genre they prefer in television will give you a hint in picking out books they are more likely to enjoy... comedies/humor, crime shows/mysteries, etc. ]

Next month I will show more ways of teaching literature through television.

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