Presentation Skills 101

Last week’s Study Skills class focused on learning the ins-and-outs of presentation skills.  5th and 6th graders Kevin, Amalie, Bryce and Ayushman have fun learning exercises that help them get into the perfect posture in order to project their voices clearly for a speech or presentation.

Language Arts 'Chew On This' Presentations

Chase Phillips presents his power point during Mrs. Zmarzly’s Language Arts class.

The 7th/8th grade class read the thought provoking book Chew on This about the fast food industry.  Students were given a choice to either write an essay or design a poster board/power point. Students then gave a classroom presentation on the topic “How fast food effects people, communities and the food industry.”

Earlier this month, the 7th/8th grade students worked on presentation skills during a Study Skills class with Mrs. Wynne.  All students were asked to apply what they have learned as they gave their oral reports to the class.  Students were critiqued by both Mrs. Zmarzly and Mrs. Wynne over the delivery, content/organization and enthusiasm/audience awareness of their presentations.

A super job done by all students!!


Special Segments in Triangles

The Geometry students at Heritage Academy enjoyed their lesson on special segments in triangles.  They took part in a hands on lesson to bring the vocabulary to life. They folded different types of triangles in four different ways to create the special segments. The students used the tools of math in their construction to get the points of concurrency and find their hidden attributes. We found perpendicular bisectors create the circumcenter, which is the center of a circumscribed circle. We found angle bisectors create the incenter, which is the center of an inscribed circle. The medians connect at the center of gravity for the triangle called the centriod. Finally, the altitudes can be in, on, and outside the triangles. The vocabulary of geometry came alive and the folded triangles will make a great study tool for the upcoming test.

t.Geom special segmentsNick Geom

Triangle 5 Triangle 4 Triangle 3 Triangle 2 Triangle 1 Geom Special Segments 2Triangle 6

Middle School Study Skills Class

Students Bryce Garbett and Owen Van Marten work on Outlining: Taking Notes From Reading during the 5th/6th study skills class.   The Study Skills class is incorporated thirty minutes a week into their regularly scheduled classes and is designed to help students build great habits to last a lifetime.

Test-Taking Tips

With final exams right around the corner, every student should be aware of these simple, yet effective, test-taking strategies.

Bring at least two pens/pencils with good erasers, a calculator with enough batteries and any other resources that your instructor allows you to.

Bring a watch to the test so that you can better pace yourself.

Keep a positive attitude throughout the whole test and try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel nervous take a few deep breaths to relax.

Keep your eyes on your own paper, you don’t want to appear to be cheating and cause unnecessary trouble for yourself.

When you first receive your test, do a quick survey of the entire test so that you know how to efficiently budget your time.

Do the easiest problems first. Don’t stay on a problem that you are stuck on, especially when time is a factor.

Do the problems that have the greatest point values first.

Pace yourself, don’t rush.   Read the entire question and pay attention to the details.

Ask the instructor for clarification if you don’t understand what they are asking for on the test.

Write legibly. If the grader can’t read what you wrote, they’ll most likely mark it wrong.

Always read the whole question carefully. Don’t make assumptions about what the question might be.

If you don’t know an answer, skip it. Go on with the rest of the test and come back to it later. Other parts of the test may have some information that will help you out with that question.

Don’t worry if others finish before you. Focus on the test in front of you.

If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions. Only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one. Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.

Lastly, double check to make sure that you put your first and last name on the test.

How to Write an Outline

An outline is a road map of your book or paper. It organizes your thoughts, the points and the ideas you want to make. There is a specific structure to an outline.  An outline breaks down the parts of your thesis in a clear, hierarchical manner. Most students find that writing an outline before beginning the paper is most helpful in organizing one’s thoughts. If your outline is good, your paper should be easy to write.

No matter what the purpose of your writing, the structure of your outline should be consistent throughout the project. Maintaining consistency helps you determine if your points are put in logical and easy-to-follow order. Once your outline is complete, writing the paper consists primarily of filling in the blanks and tying your points together. It also helps when you review your outline to make sure you have put in everything you intended to.

The best way to start your outline is to put down your main points. The standard here is to use Roman numerals. Points you want to make that support your main points are sub points. These points are noted by using capital letters. The process continues until all the sub points have found a home and all major points have sub points supporting them.  If you follow this blueprint, your ideas will flow smoothly.

The basic format for an outline uses an alternating series of numbers and letters, indented accordingly, to indicate levels of importance.

The thesis is stated in the first section, which is the introduction.

The body follows the introduction, and breaks down the points the author wishes to make.

Note that some section have subdivisions, others do not, depending on the demands of the paper.

Sections II, III, & IV have a similar structure, but this will not necessarily be true for all papers. Some may only have three major sections, others more than five.

Your conclusion should restate your thesis, and never introduce new material.

Rules for Outlining:

1. Subdivide topics by a system of numbers and letters, followed by a period.












2. Each heading and subheading must have at least two parts.

3. Headings for parts of the paper, such as Introduction and Conclusion, should not be used.

4. Be consistent.  Use either whole sentences of brief phrases, but not both.

How Teens Can Build Better Time Management and Study Skills


Getting good grades isn’t easy, and understanding how to make the best use of your time and effort takes careful planning. It also helps to be a strategic learner. That means you:

  • Plan how you are going to learn and manage your time in the process;
  • Use the skills you have to learn the task at hand;
  • Keep track of the progress you’re making.

Time Management Skills

Developing a system for managing time can be the single most important step you take. The pressure of trying to stick to a schedule can be stressful. It may take great effort, help and practice to find a system that works for you. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How long does it take me to get ready in the morning?
  • What time of day am I most alert?
  • How long can I study in one sitting?
  • What types of things distract me the most?
  • What rewards can I give myself to stay motivated?
  • How long do my different commitments really take and how much leisure time can I expect to have?


  • Study for short periods of time and plan to reward yourself after completing a predetermined amount of reading, writing or reviewing. Take needed breaks and be sure to monitor the progress you are making along the way.
  • Try to develop a study routine, and select a preferred time and place to study. If it helps, change your routine each week and try different places to study. Be flexible, but also be sensitive to what works best for you.
  • Find ways to stay organized. For example, try using index cards and wall calendars. These simple tools can be quite helpful in helping you to arrange and manage your time. A large monthly wall calendar can be useful and you might consider making copies of your schedule on index cards that you can carry with you. If you prefer to use a computer, smartphone or tablet, there are numerous software programs available with built-in calendars and reminders. There are even watches available that have calendars that can be programmed.
  • To figure out how much time to set aside for long-term projects, first list all the steps required to complete the project. Next, estimate how much time you’ll need to finish each step and then, count backward from the due date. Always allow more time than you think you will need for each step. If you are not sure about the project’s requirements, speak to the professor, teacher’s assistant, or learning specialist about how many steps are involved and what each step entails. This can give you a better sense of the time you’ll need to finish the project. It also can help relieve some of the anxiety of the “unknown” in tackling a new project.
  • Keep the syllabuses for all of your courses in a place where they won’t get lost. Make extra copies, just in case. Make sure that you know the due dates for each assignment. Sometimes you can ask the professor to set interim due dates for you to turn in parts of the assignment. This can help you get each step done on time.
  • Build in a little extra time for unexpected problem-solving. Be prepared for projects to take longer than originally planned.

The main goal of time management should be to strike the right balance of work, academics and social activities. Smart planning will give you enough time for both work and play.

A Strategy for Reading Textbooks

Below is a simple method that will help you more effectively read textbooks.

P = Preview what you are going to read.

Q = Question what you are going to learn after the preview.

R3 = Read, Recite, and Review.


P = Preview what you are going to read

Form an impression about the subjects and concepts you’ll be reading about.

  • Look over carefully what you are going to read paying attention to main ideas, subjects and headings — don’t focus on the details.


Q = Question

  • Form a question in your mind about what you are about to read and learn.
  • Practice — form a question like “What are the main reasons the Roman Empire fell?”


R = Read, Recite, and Review

  • Read – Read the assignment.
  • Recite – Stop every so often, look up from the book, and put in your own words what you have just read.
    • Practice on this page – “R” stands for read, recite, and review.
  • Review – After you have finished, review the main points.
    • Practice on this page – “I did learn a system to improve my reading comprehension. The main parts are ….”


You Are Finished
After you complete the review step, don’t forget to go back and reread any section that you are not sure of. If you practice this method, your study time is going to be much more productive!

Taking Cornell notes is also a great tool to record main topics and ideas over individual chapters. Please visit the learning center homepage to download a copy for your use.

Me gustan los tacos

Spanish 3 students on field trip

Will Miles, Sheridan White, Maddy Metzger, James Hammond and Rebecca Warth love to “Hablar espanol” at our local Mexican restaurante con amigos!

Finding a Good Place to Study

Finding a good study space is an important part of effective studying. If your surroundings are distracting, you can not expect to study very well. This doesn’t mean that you have to find a place that’s secluded and dead silent either. The most important thing is that you find a study space place that fits your specific learning style.  For example, some individuals are able to concentrate better with a little noise in the background while others are easily distracted by any noise at all. Some individuals can concentrate perfectly well in the middle of the library amongst dozens of people constantly passing by, while others are able to concentrate better studying in a cubical where there is no visual distraction at all.

While each individual has their own personal learning style and preferences, here a few suggestions in order to improve your study time.

Create a Routine.
Assign yourself a specific place to study and set a regular time to study each day. Some people like to study in the library. Others find the library very distracting. Some people like to study outside. Others find studying outside difficult because they are tempted get up and “smell the roses”. There is no perfect study place for everyone — but there is a perfect study place for you. Your goal is to find it.  It may sound a little bit tedious but creating a set study routine will  also improve your ability to study effectively. Studying at the same time each day or each week — in your study place of choice — will ensure that you develop a habit of studying and studying effectively.

Your study place should be comfortable
If you plan on doing a lot of studying you need to make sure that your study place is absolutely comfortable. If you don’t, you’re likely going to find yourself looking for a new study space down the road. Set up your chair, computer and desk in such a way that you don’t hurt your hands, wrists, neck or back.  Little discomforts can turn into repetitive stress injuries if they are not addressed.  Also, stock your study place with all of the tools you’ll need (i.e. pens, pencils, dictionaries, etc.) so you aren’t constantly disrupting your studying.  You may want to ensure that your study place has plenty of  light.  Many people will find a comfortable study place but find that studying is difficult because they don’t have adequate lighting.

Evaluate your study preferences
As we mentioned previously each individual has their only learning style and preferences. Before you select a study place you should try to figure out what your learning style and preferences are.  Are you distracted  by noise? Are you distracted by visual interruptions? Do you do study better for long periods of time or do you need regular breaks? Again, there isn’t a strict rule for how you should study but it is important to discover your study preferences and evaluate your study space to make sure it is adequate for your needs.

Create study rules and follow them
If you’re constantly being hounded by your parents or RI’s when it comes to your study habits then we recommend that you (1) establish some study rules and (2) that you communicate those rules with your parents. For example, if one of your study preferences is to study for a period of time and then take a short break, make sure to communicate this to your parents so that it doesn’t not appear that you’re ‘slacking’.  If the only person you answer to is yourself, it is still recommended that you create study rules and that you stick by them.

Finding a good place to study, discovering your personal learning preferences and establishing a few useful study rules will go a long way toward ensuring an effective study experience.