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Inside the Apple – Study Skills

One of my favorite parts of working at Applerouth is how we are encouraged to wear different hats and get involved in different sides of the company. Matt Kiesner is the perfect example: in addition to being the most-requested tutor in Applerouth history, Matt is also the Training Manager for all incoming tutors and an Instructional Design Content Creator. For this look inside the Apple(routh), I asked Matt to speak with me about how students can grow their study skills during the era of distance learning (and a sneak peek at the new study skills book that Matt has been working on!). 

If a student struggled with distance learning in the spring, do you think that means they’ll struggle with online tutoring? 

Not at all! We’ve been working with Zoom and other platforms for quite a few years, so we had a track record of success with online tutoring even before it became a necessity. Distance learning was such a struggle for many public schools because you have many talented teachers who can command a room of 30 teenagers, but dealing with technical limitations isn’t the same skill set.

Applerouth has spent years building the technical resources and pedagogy to help us – and our students – succeed online. For example, for the past three years, we have trained all our tutors online! With online tutoring, it’s important to incorporate the three levels of learning: visual, audio, and kinesthetic. All of our assets are digitized, our video call program enables annotating for both student and tutor, and we make sure that students are empowered to find self-efficacy in their lessons, no matter what the format. For me personally, my highest scoring SAT student of all time, 1590, was someone I worked with online.

What strategies can students use to adapt their study skills to a computer interface?

What I’ve been doing is a lot of research into how to effectively process reading online and how to take our methods of engagement with students’ working memory to still have the same impact as using a pencil and paper. The good news is that reading in a digital environment isn’t a problem – you can still do well! The one thing we’ve noticed is that when you’re reading, part of your processing is making a mental map. Let’s say you’re looking through a book — if you’re searching for a certain fact, you may remember it’s on the top of the left page and then you flip around to find that information based on the picture in your head. Knowing that spatial relationship is important, and when you’re reading online, you still want to make that mental map. So a lot of it is paying attention to the passage’s structure, and what most hinders that is scrolling. Scrolling forces you into the now. So one good tip is to wait until you’ve read all the information on the screen, then scroll down to the next full page of text on the screen.

What can students do to avoid losing math and reading skills over the summer?

We’ve actually addressed that issue in our upcoming study skills book! The book is going to talk about helping students explore their interests, and then to use those interests to apply them to academic skills. For example, if a student loves sports, maybe baseball in particular, we can start at the lowest level by encouraging you to start reading the sports page. Then you can take it to the next step up, maybe biographies of famous players, famous managers, Moneyball. Then, you could get interested in the statistics of it, calculating your own RBI, for example. If you have a favorite author, the next step might be to research the authors who influenced that author and expand your understanding (and your research skills). It’s always going to be more motivating to go the extra mile if a student is naturally interested in that subject to begin with.

Can you give us a sneak peek at that upcoming study skills textbook? It sounds really cool!


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