GEAR UP at Southridge High School identified a need for academic skills in our cohort students. Teachers had also expressed concern that students lacked the necessary academic skills for academic success. We decided to create “Workshop Wednesdays” a series of academic skills workshops given at lunch and afterschool each Wednesday during first semester.
The workshops are a mix of lecture, video presentation, class discussion, and practice activities. They are based on a series of videos that GEAR UP purchased. From the videos, GEAR UP created the presentations, including focus questions, discussion questions, practice activities, and note taking sheets for students.
Our first workshop was ’Getting Organized,’ which covered time management, organizing school materials, and organizing your space. It was followed by ‘Take Better Notes,’ on 6 different styles of note taking and the best note taking style for your learning style. The workshop series was rounded out with ‘Say Goodbye to Test Anxiety,’ ‘Study Smart,’ ‘Answering Reading Passage Questions,’ ‘Answering Tricky Essay Questions,’ ‘Tackling Test Questions,’ and ‘Taking Math Tests.’
The counseling department decided the workshop series was exactly what students needed. However, students who needed the skills the most would not choose to attend on their own. They asked GEAR UP to partner with the Counseling department and give the workshops in freshman core classes. The counseling department and GEAR UP to do the four most useful and generally applicable workshops due to classroom time constraints. These were ‘Getting Organized,’ ‘Take Better Notes,’ ‘Say Goodbye to Test Anxiety,’ and ‘Study Smart.’ GEAR UP and the Counseling department planned the schedule and split the presentations. GEAR UP trained the counselors for each workshop and provided the materials needed.
The classroom workshop presentations were very successful; 871 students attended at least one workshop. Students responded positively to the presentations and many engaged in class discussions. They also enjoyed the videos, which have an element of humor to make them more memorable. Teachers thought the workshops were a good use of class time, as they applied to their subject and taught students valuable academic skills.
A follow-up discussion with students is in the works. The goals is to remind students of what they learned and to follow up on their use of the academic skills from the workshops. GEAR UP will continue offering these workshops after classes every Wednesday for second semester.