Tag Archives: learning

The Art of Learning: Note Taking Skills

notetakingGood learning skills can be cultivated from young. By knowing how to approach each new lesson or topic appropriately and by understanding thoroughly how you (one) yourself learn best, “learning how to learn” becomes a habit if practiced over time and could produce good results depending whether the correct field to learn is chosen in the first place of course.

In this series, we shall share with readers “The ‘WHYs’ and ‘HOWs’ of Note Taking”.

Importance of Taking Notes

  1. Organised notes will help identify core of important ideas in lessons.
  2. Documentation creates a permanent record to learn & remember later.
  3. Lessons may contain information not available anywhere else and its the only chance to learn it especially when tutors are sharing it from their personal experience.
  4. Lesson is where we learn what the tutor thinks is important and will facilitate learning more efficiently.
  5. Underlying organisation and purpose of the lesson will be clearer.

Note Taking Strategies

  • Before
  1. Make preparation to predict the organisation of the lesson (if possible)
  2. Check the lesson plan to check if the tutor will be going through the topic so as to convert information you have read into questions to ask.
  3. Complete outside reading or supplementary materials readup.
  4. Review any reading notes given prior to lessons or materials given and tasked to readup in prior lesson.
  5. Sit as near to the tutor in front as possible to eliminate distractions.
  6. Copy everything on whiteboard/transparencies especially the outline. (If its too much, ask tutor whether a copy could be passed around or emailed).
  7. Listen well with proper attitude.
  • During
  1. Write down the title/name and date of the lesson.
  2. Watch and listen to the tutor carefully.
  3. Listen carefully to the introduction whenever there is a new topic.
  4. Be brief in note taking. *Important: Understand what tutor says but not exact what tutor says. Understanding is the crux!
  5. Recognise main ideas by signal words e.g. importantly, especially, take note etc.
  6. Give special attention to details not covered in textbooks as they might help in your understanding.
  7. Copy down main points in summary to check whether you missed out or disorganised your notes.
  8. Ask questions about points you do not understand. *Remember: There are no stupid questions, only stupid people who remain stupid since they do not clear their doubts.
  9. Be attentive, listen, take notes until dismissal to prevent missing out any important points.
  • After
  1. Revise notes as quickly and as frequently as possible. Especially within the 1st 24 hours. Why? Check out the graph below.

    Forgetting Curve

    Forgetting Curve

  2. During 1st revision, compile and document reading notes and lesson notes.
  3. Review at least once a week and before next lesson. It takes hard work alright.

Now that you know better about good habits and good learning skills like note taking, be sure to stick to it and pick it up if you haven’t. If you are a personal home tutor at ConsultAtutor.com, try to inculcate it in your teaching method so as to cultivate good learning skills in your students!

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Thinking out of the box

Learning how to think in different perspectives and “out of the box” needs to be nurtured from young. Not only do schools come up with curriculum that encourage creativity, various organisations have been actively trying to promote a culture of innovation and “design thinking”.

The skill, or you can put it as a habit to be a creative thinker who challenges the existing norms to come up with solutions that solves different problems that could not be solved as effectively using conventional methods has to be honed and cultivated from young. Having this skill/habit to be able to think out of the box will allow you or your child to be a great asset to the company, employee or entrepreneur alike.

Start from home! Parents have a part to play in moulding their children’s thoughts and behaviour by providing them with a conducive environment to learn and creating a family culture of open conversations and engaging activities that helps to unleash every child’s creative potential in them. Check out a simple video we have for you of how household chores like teaching your child to fold his/her own clothes can be an example for your child of how things can be done in a different way simply by “thinking out of the box”!

Maybe you would like to challenge your children first by letting them do it the conventional way before you show them how simple it can be by doing it another way. Have fun!

Click here for step by step instructions in English.

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Know your child’s predominant learning type: V,A,R or K?

Ever wondered why when you are back in Primary school some teachers want the class to read a passage aloud, take part in numerous role plays, learn new words using big pictorial cards and why when you are in Secondary school some teachers seem to “teach less” and allow you and your classmates to take more charge in the learning process by organising more group discussions etc.?

If you haven’t realise it, educators-teachers and tutors love to explore various teaching styles to suit the student’s learning style such that the delivery method and style bring about the most effect in a student’s learning. At various stages of a child’s education, pedagogies like assessment styles and delivery methods differ greatly. Hence, it is important for you to understand your child or student’s (if you are a tutor) predominant learning type in order for learning to be most effective in terms of skills vis a vis academic results.

In general according to Fleming’s VAK/VARK model, there are 4 types of learning styles:
1. Visual learners
2. Auditory learners
3. Reading/ writing -preference learners
4. Kinesthetic learners

In summary,

1. Visual learners prefer to learn by seeing and learn better via visual aids like diagrams, mindmaps, slides, animation etc.

 2. Auditory learners prefer to learn by listening and learn better via lectures, group discussions, audio-cds, podcasts etc.

3. Reading/ writing preference learners prefer to learn by reading or writing and learn better via  jotting down notes, preparing summary sheets, reading prepared handouts etc.

4. Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn by experience and learn better via hands-on projects, science experiments, labwork etc.

Teachers who conduct classes for a number of students can identify and implement various methods of instruction to suit the class in general or a ConsultAtutor Personal Home Tutor can customise tutorials (delivery methods and teaching aids) specially for your child/student’s learning type after a period of observation.

Know more about your student/child’s predominant learning type today! I’m a V type. How about you? Share with us by taking part in the poll below or if you are unsure, try finding it out by doing this questionnaire before polling.

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How do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths?

If your child is in Primary 6 this year and is going to take the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) in just a few months time, you should have heard of how past years’ PSLE Mathematics paper have been so challenging and mind-boggling  for students. 

With the introduction of the calculator and algebra into the Primary 6 Mathematics syllabus in recent years, the PSLE Mathematics standard has been raised considerably compared to 10 years ago. Not only do students have to pick up another skill to use the calculator wisely and appropriately(you will be surprised how some students use their calculators), they have to learn not to lose focus on their fundamental arithmetic skills while tackling the famous PSLE Problem Sums. 

So in the midst of remedial lessons in school, preliminary examinations and of course tutorials, how do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths? 

Firstly, we would recommend setting a clearly-defined goal or grade to achieve. Set a realistic goal and always aim high. If you ask your child what grade does he or she wants and you get the answer “I dunno..” instead of “I’m working hard to get an A!” You probably should start thinking about fixing this first. 

Secondly, in general students at different level of proficiency will require different approaches. Hence the strategies a personal home tutor, or you as a parent could map out for your child’s progress in Maths would be according to the goal and current proficiency level. Spot weaknesses that emanate from repeated mistakes, identifying level of understanding of topics and analyse scoring trends according to sections in the practice exam papers or preliminary examinations is key to formulate a winning strategy for your child’s academic progress. 

If your child has set a goal to achieve an A* and is consistently scoring 80 marks and above in school examinations, you can target to let your child focus more on challenging non-routine problems sums while at the same time ensure that the foundation sums in the front sections of the paper still maintain a high score and preferably, be bold and aim for full marks.    

For a goal to achieve an A or B, it is important that the fundamentals is strong and good. Work on the concepts and the important links between topics like Fractions and Decimals, Fractions and Ratio, Fractions and Percentage (they are very very closely related topics) More practice on basic mental sums or arithmetic calculations is important too but only allocate a small portion of time on this. Finally, move on to focus more on the problem sums solving methods (with examples first) once a good depth of knowledge is attained on the relevant topics. Remember, mathematics to a certain extent is about practice, practice and practice! 

Depending on the learning pace of each child, which is different, you or the tutor should adjust and suit the learning progress accordingly.  

Thirdly, inculcate good examination practices if your child still has not know or practice any yet. Plan the time for each section or even each question well and allocate enough time for checking such that your child can answer you how much time he is going to spend for example, a Section A MCQ. 

To make a point, we would actually recommend that the preparation as stated above starts at least 1.5 years before the PSLE. Some of the strategies as stated above are not limited to Maths alone and are in fact also employed for students in ConsultAtutor’s One to One Tutoring Program. As time is a luxury at this moment for those taking PSLE this year, even more hard work and personal attention would have to be put in. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain! 

You wouldn't want this to happen! =)

You wouldn't want this to happen! =)

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Left Brain, Right Brain, Whole Brain?

If you are an educator or a parent, you probably would have wondered at times what is the “correct key” that fits into the “lock” that each child holds. Finding it is crucial for the child’s development since no one child is the same. Being able to identify various types of “locks” for different type of children and choosing the “correct key” is a skill that takes effort and a little bit of ingenuity.

To make things simpler, you ought to know more about different learning styles and personality types that are generally attributed to brain dominance. A good educator knows this and always try to identify and work with the style suited to that particular student.  In addition, she chooses the right tools that could ignite the flame of learning in the student and motivates him to improve. 

Well, you could probably have heard of left or right brain dominance but how about whole brain? A very good model created by William “Ned” Hermann commonly known as “The Whole Brain Model” is widely used in various organisations including corporations and educational institutions, it models the way our brain functions in four different systems with four preferred styles:

A Quadrant: Analytical thinking.

  • Key word: logical, factual, critical, technical and quantitative.
  • Preferred activities: collecting data, listening to informational lectures, reading textbooks. Judging ideas based on facts, criteria and logical reasoning.
B Quadrant: Sequential thinking.
  • Key word: conservative, structured, organised, detailed, and planned.
  • Preferred activities: following directions, repetitive detailed homework problems, time management and schedules.
C Quadrant: Interpersonal thinking
  • Key word: kinesthetic, emotional, spiritual, sensory, feeling.
  • Preferred activities: listening to and sharing ideas, looking for personal meaning, sensory input, and group study.
D Quadrant: Imaginative thinking.
  • Key word: Visual, holistic, intuitive, innovative, and conceptual.
  • Preferred activities: Looking at the big picture, taking initiative, simulations (what if questions), visual aids. Appreciate beauty of a problem, brainstorming.


“The Whole Brain Model”

If you would like to know more, here is a very good research article on the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) or “The Whole Brain Model”. Start exploring if you haven’t!

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Have you explored the potential of “EDUtainment”?


It is the 21st century now where the kids of today are in touch with a plethora of multimedia, different tech gadgets and also social networking platforms. You won’t be surprised if you have seen a Primary School kid fiddling with an iPhone or maybe playing games on Facebook!

So, have you ever thought of how these “gadgets” or multimedia can be of any constructive use to your kids learning?

To put things in perspective, you can actually think of how all these multimedia can serve an objective in aiding your child’s learning. Education + entertainment = Edutainment. This equation serves a reminder that a well-balanced mix between the two components does achieve a wholesome effect. It’s all about having fun while learning right!

Games with educational content and learning with multimedia platforms have been proven to better allow kids or students to explore topics that they are interested in greater depth. It not only empowers them with the impetus to find out about something they are really passionate about, but also put the fun in learning new things first before all the hard facts.  

I hope I have got you started thinking of how a reasonable amount of “Edutainment” can help your child. As for ConsultAtutor Personal Home Tutors, use your creativity to find a way to expand the range of teaching tools by using simple games, animations, videos or even real-life examples to bring the tutorials to life!

Remember, set the objective and balance the “edu” and “tainment”!

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How a Tower Crane goes uP and UP

Ever been puzzled over how tower cranes that you often see keep going up? Or you just can’t find an appropriate explanation to your child’s question when she bugs you for an answer as you stroll past a construction site with her?

Fret not anymore. Here’s a video (below) with amazing 3D Computer Aided Design graphics that you can show to your child to know more about how this Tower Crane is amazingly designed and used to build the flats or apartments that we live in. It probably could answer your childhood question that you haven’t been able to after so long!

And, if you are a ConsultAtutor 1-to-1 personal home tutor teaching Primary Science or Upper Secondary Physics, you can probably think of a way to make lessons on Forces, Moments etc. more interesting with such “real-life” visual learning in 3D. Bridging a link between theory and practical applications in real life scenarios does give students/tutees greater impetus to explore the topics they are learning in school and in tutorials. 

Have fun and enjoy the cool video!

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