We all want to set our high schoolers up for success, whether for college, a job, or being able to navigate life independently. But how do we ensure they have what it takes to be successful and organized? How do we teach competencies like study skills and time management skills? How do we teach them how to learn effectively, no matter the difficulty of the material?
It’s not always easy to teach effective study skills and organization when you’re already juggling multiple subjects and grade levels.
This is especially hard if you’re not an expert at these yourself (and I believe most of us haven’t been taught more than the basic skills during our school years). Many times, we aren’t even sure how to break these skills into easily digestible steps for our kids to understand so they can apply them to complex learning situations.
That’s where a solid study skills curriculum comes in. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at what 8 Steps to Powerful Studying has to offer and how it can help revolutionize your high schooler’s study habits for life.
This is a sponsored post. I was given the product to review and I might have been compensated for my time. I would never endorse or recommend programs we wouldn’t use ourselves. Read more about it in my Disclosure.
At A Glance – 8 Steps to Powerful Studying Review
Summary: 8 Steps to Powerful Studying is a self-paced online program by Mr. D Math. It’s a comprehensive study skills curriculum that covers everything your middle or high schooler needs to know about studying effectively and staying organized (from taking notes to using them as powerful learning tools).
This self-paced class covers a full semester of lessons and offers a 0.5 high school credit. The videos are short and enjoyable, and the practical advice, activities, and clear instruction make it an invaluable resource for anyone that wants to learn how to tackle difficult learning materials.
This study skills curriculum isn’t just essential for college-bound students, it’s a must-have class for everyone. It teaches intentional learning and growth mindsets related to learning, emphasizing on the importance of staying organized and managing your time in a productive way.
Read the full review to see if this program is right for you or not.
Grades: 7-Higher Ed.
Style: self-paced, hands-on
Type: neutral-briefly mentions sermons
Components: 17 lessons
Formats: online video + PDF printables
Duration: 1 semester
Credit: 0.5 credit
*Prices are shown at the time of this review and they are subject to change. Check the publisher’s website for accurate prices.
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What are study skills and why are they important?
Study skills are a set of techniques, strategies, and methods that help students to improve their academic performance and overall learning capacity for academic purposes and beyond.
These skills cover a wide range of practices, such as:
- effective note-taking
- active listening
- time management
- critical thinking
- effective learning habits
- decision-making skills
Strong study skills can improve comprehension and memory, enhance collaboration, help with expressing ideas clearly and coherently, and apply the knowledge in real-world contexts.
Students who have developed strong study skills are more organized and self-disciplined, which can help them be more productive and successful in their personal and professional lives. Strong study skills can also help individuals to develop a growth mindset, which is a key attribute for success in any domain.
With the right study skills, high school students can approach their coursework with confidence and develop lifelong learning habits that will serve them well in college and beyond.
Why teach study skills?
Although we expect these skills to come naturally, studies have shown that not all children develop all the study skills necessary for success, so it’s a matter of teaching them and modeling these skills for them that helps them be prepared for the challenges to come. That’s why having a study skills curriculum handy is essential as we approach high school years and even more important as kids transition from high school to college and beyond.
The problem is that not all of us are equipped to teach study skills to our children. I know I struggled with juggling everything during college because no one showed me strategies to manage them better. I just did what I felt would help me. I don’t want that for my son. I want him to be prepared to tackle difficult learning situations and different tasks and deadlines at the same time.
Sure, we might intuitively know the direction to guide kids to basic learning techniques, but I feel leaving this to a dedicated study skills curriculum is the right way to go, to ensure they get a clear and step-by-step breakdown of effective study skills that would make their life easier. That’s why I decided to try out 8 Steps to Powerful Studying from Mr. D Math.
Self-Paced Classes with Mr. D Math
If you’ve been reading my articles, you know we love Mr. D Math for his pre-algebra math curriculum, and I deeply resonate with his views on teaching kids to be independent learners in his book Teach. So it was only natural I was curious about what other awesome things Mr. D Math offers on his website (because there’s more than math they provide).
Of course, Mr. Dennis DiNoia isn’t teaching all the classes himself, but from what I’ve seen so far in the course catalog, he gathered classes that reflect his philosophy and are emphasizing student independence and responsibility.
Here’s an overview of what Mr. D Math is offering in terms of live and self-paced classes:
8 Steps to Powerful Studying – Study Skills Curriculum
8 Steps to Powerful Studying is a video-based self-paced curriculum that teaches kids how to LEARN, whether it’s for academic or personal reasons. This course is all about intentional learning and it prepares kids for difficult learning situations: a college class that’s difficult to digest, a book that’s difficult to understand, or a topic that’s challenging to learn.
This study skills curriculum takes children beyond the usual note-taking and flashcards and into the world of mastery by taking effective notes, maximizing class time, processing notes, being an active learner, teaching test prep techniques, and many more!
If you prefer watching a video to reading, check my YouTube video:
The strategies presented in 8 Steps to Powerful Studying will help kids tackle even the most complex learning situations with confidence because they will have the right tools to do it.
I love that this course, as all the other Mr. D Math’s courses, is aimed at the student, encouraging self-teaching and independence. I think this is an ideal combination when we talk about study skills because kids need to learn the importance of learning for themselves.
About the creators
I got interested in 8 Steps to Powerful Studying as soon as I learned about the background of its authors, two veteran homeschool moms, Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman. They have successfully homeschooled 10 kids (over 35 years of combined homeschool teaching) and graduated most of them from college with impressive results. I was so curious to find out their secrets!
8 Steps to Powerful Studying was born more than a decade ago from a personal need to teach their own children how to be prepared to excel in tough college classes. I love how their children were surprised at how well-prepared they were for college and how they ended up teaching their peers some of the techniques they learned at home. They eventually urged Jenni and Jody to create a class for these steps to share with the world, and I am so grateful they did!
Jenni Stahlmann is the video instructor, and I love her energetic nature and pleasant way of teaching. She was a journalist for over 20 years and I feel it shows in the way she organized the topics and the way she is introducing them to students, step-by-step, managing not only to keep the classes engaging but also easy to follow through.
She explains difficult concepts in an easy-to-digest manner by breaking them down, providing anecdotes and examples where needed, and even citing scientific studies to back the information up. What’s more, throughout 8 Steps to Powerful Studying she is encouraging a growth mindset by urging students to be mindful of their thoughts and attitudes when learning.
“You, the student, have to decide that you want to learn. You have to choose your attitude about each class that you take.[…] You are the only one who can teach yourself.— Jenni Stahlmann,8 Steps to Powerful Studying
[…] An excellent student understands that you’re not a container, you’re more like a hunter-gatherer of information.”
Who is this study skills class for?
8 Steps to Powerful Studying is a great program for anyone who wants to enrich their learning toolbox with powerful techniques that can be applied to anything they want to learn. This study skills class is an invaluable tool to have as kids step into high school, college, or life.
It was created for students in grades 7 through higher education, but I strongly feel that even adults could learn a thing or two from watching these. I know I have!
See inside 8 Steps to Powerful Studying
The dashboard and overall user experience are exactly what we’ve been used to seeing in Mr. D Math’s classes. Everything is easy to use, and the layout is very intuitive. The only difference from the other classes we’ve taken with Mr. D Math is that 8 Steps to Powerful Studying has locked levels. This means you have to take the classes sequentially and cannot skip from one lesson to another.
8 Steps to Powerful Studying is split into 17 lessons that cover various topics for building strong study and organizational skills. Each lesson will be further split into sections and the required pace to finish this in one semester is about 3 sections per week.
The classes are a blend of video instruction, printable materials, articles, quizzes, and assignments.
Each lesson will have a different number of sections ranging from 4 to 13 and they are usually following the same format:
The 8 steps
As the name suggests, this study skills curriculum teaches students 8 main study tips to help them overcome any difficulty in their material. These tips go beyond basic study techniques and include skills like annotating, creating a master study guide, combining multiple sources, and taking effective notes.
- Pre-learn – Learn how to establish a foundation of knowledge, take effective notes, annotate, create outlines, and organize your work.
- Maximize class time – Discover how to prepare for class with the right mindset and tools, become an active listener and learner, take fast notes, and ask questions.
- Process notes – Develop skills to create and organize your notes, use notes from various sources, and optimize your work.
- Individual study – Learn how to create a study guide, concept map, visual and study tools, and study intentionally.
- Group study – Understand the importance of group study and learn how to benefit from what your peers have learned, clarify questions, and pre-test.
- Pre-test – Learn strategies to take before a test.
- Taking the test – Discover strategies to use during a test.
- Reviewing the test – Learn how to learn from your mistakes, ask further questions, and more.
These steps are flexible and can be done in any order. Not all of them will be necessary for every class, but they are valuable tools for tackling challenging classes and learning situations.
Assessments, credit, and grading breakdown
I love the combination of self-check and auto-graded system that Mr. D Math offers, and 8 Steps to Powerful Studying follows the same system.
This self-paced study skills class has weekly quizzes and assignments, two different midterm exams and two final exams.
The grade weight for each of these is:
- 40% – Quiz score average
- 40% – Rubric score average
- 20% – Test score average
As with any Mr. D Math course aimed at high schoolers, this one is offering a 0.5 credit, since it’s a class meant to span over 1 semester.
What we loved about 8 Steps to Powerful Studying
I went through more than half of 8 Steps to Powerful Studying on my own since Marc is going through it at a much slower pace (because he is on the younger end of the intended audience). I have to admit I am blown away by the amount of useful information I got from this study skills class.
Of course, there are some things I already knew about studying, but I feel this class goes way beyond the basics, prepping you for difficult classes or learning situations, and teaching you strategies that would make your life and learning process easier.
My plan is to keep this course to revisit with Marc before high school and then throughout the high school years at least once or twice. I believe you can get the most out of it by applying the techniques Jenni teaches, immediately, and then refreshing them all from time to time.
There are a lot of things I loved about 8 Steps to Powerful Studying and some of them are:
In-depth, comprehensive study skills curriculum
Learning goes beyond being able to parrot back information, it’s understanding and applying it and I think the techniques presented in this study skills curriculum help students to go beyond the basics of learning by reading and making flashcards. It’s teaching them that learning is a skill, and like any skill, it can be taught and perfected.
One thing that stood out to me was the focus on teaching students how to learn anything, not just teaching them how to navigate classes that are easy, but also how to be prepared for difficult lectures, books, articles, and more.
Some concepts cover how to take different notes like telegraphic or short notes, taking notes from multiple sources, including articles, non-fiction books, textbooks, and lectures like TED Talks. And also, students can practice these skills with the teacher.
I loved the section on creating a clear master study guide that would help kids organize multiple sources. Learning how to integrate information from different sources is such an important skill, and I wish I had learned the difference between all these when I needed it the most during my college years.
Clear lessons and a practical approach
I have to say, the lessons in this course are incredibly clear and easy to follow. What I really appreciate is the practical approach the teacher takes when working with the students on the screen. She provides real-life examples and clear instructions, rather than just giving generic tips that may not be relevant or easy to understand because of their abstract nature.
I like that the class starts with a thorough introduction to organizational skills. The teacher starts by explaining how to organize a binder, what each tool does, and what tools you need to be prepared to take good notes. These are practical tips that I have found to be incredibly helpful, and I discovered some tools that Marc did not know how to use correctly, like the clear sleeves for binders.
What sets this course apart is that it encompasses not just theory, but practical application as well. Kids won’t sit through lectures with no idea of how to put the concepts into action. Instead, this course offers plenty of opportunities to apply the techniques they learn through the assignments they have to undertake.
Some of the practical techniques taught include surveying and skimming when reading, critical thinking, asking the right questions, taking telegraphic or short notes, and more. By the end of the course, students will have a toolbox of skills that they can apply to any assignment or learning situation.
Growth mindset and independence
I love how 8 Steps to Powerful Studying combines practical advice with growth mindset techniques, trying to change the way kids look at studying as a chore or something they need to get over quickly. One of the most valuable things about this course is prioritizing, cultivating a growth mindset, and encouraging intentional thinking about learning.
The teacher does a fantastic job of motivating and inspiring students to pursue growth in their studies. As she reminds kids, “When you’re studying, you’re pursuing growth.”
Kids need the right mindset to learn and make the most of their classes by being active listeners and learners and the class did a great job at addressing all aspects of learning from the tangible ones like organizing a binder to the intangible ones like the right attitude towards learning.
Another thing I truly appreciate about this class is that it aligns with Mr. D Math’s teaching philosophy by encouraging independence when learning and becoming responsible learners.
I love Jenni and her friendly, approachable nature. She is so engaging and well-organized and she breaks down the topics into easy-to-understand steps. Her passion for teaching and her vast homeschool experience shine through her lessons and I can clearly see she created these lessons with her children in mind, being very thorough and intentional about the right skills to teach them.
Having a helpful and engaging instructor is crucial to the success of any study course and Jenni is always available to answer questions by email. Having this level of support and guidance can be incredibly helpful, and I appreciate she is offering kids yet another way to apply what they’ve learned during the course: asking the right questions and seeking your instructor out if you need further clarification.
Supporting videos and real-life examples
One thing that really impressed me about this study skills curriculum is the wealth of supporting materials provided. From videos to exercises, everything is connected to the learning process, providing practical tips and examples that help students develop a deeper understanding of the concepts.
For example, in the viewer response section, kids will watch videos or read articles about the multiple ways of reading, staying engaged in class, and even the differences between taking computer and handwritten notes. These are all topics that are directly relevant to the concepts they study in this course.
The sample papers for each assignment are particularly helpful. They make it easy to understand what is required of the students and provide a clear sense of what success looks like. And the use of real-life examples, like comparing summarizing to a puzzle and outlining to a frame, helps kids understand the concepts in a way that is both engaging and memorable.
Another standout feature of this study skills class is its accessibility. I loved being able to play this on my computer or on the TV by using Apple Airplay. Plus, the video quality and speed can be adjusted to your liking, and the video is saved where you left off so you can pick up right where you left off.
What could be improved?
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this class! The content was exceptional, and the presentation was engaging. The only minor issue I encountered was the low volume of the videos.
But, not to worry! I discovered a couple of easy workarounds that made this a non-issue. I simply popped on some headphones or sent the class to play on the TV using the Airplay option. Alternatively, you can easily use a software program to enhance the volume on your computer.
Overall, I think this class is an excellent fit for anyone looking to improve their study skills. Don’t let the minor sound issue deter you, as there are plenty of easy fixes available. I highly recommend this course!
I love this study skills curriculum and I feel it’s empowering students to be proactive about their education. It gives them the push they need to change the way they look at learning, not as a hurdle to get through, but as a stepping stone to become a better version of themselves.
With its comprehensive study skills and practical approach, the course can help students be ready to learn anything, no matter how challenging the topic. The clear lessons and practical examples, combined with the emphasis on a growth mindset and independence, make it a perfect fit for any student who wants to take control of their own learning.
8 Steps to Powerful Studying is an incredibly useful curriculum, a well-rounded and effective course that has the potential to help any student become a more successful learner. That’s why I recommend it to all middle and high schoolers.
Freebies – Cornell Note Printable & Course Cover
Are you ready to take your studying skills to the next level?
If you’ve read my review of the course 8 Steps to Powerful Studying, then you know that it’s full of valuable tips and strategies to help your kids excel at navigating even the most complex learning situations. As a special bonus, I’m excited to announce that I’ve created two free printables to help you implement some of these techniques right away!
The first is a Cornell Notes template, which will help you organize your notes more effectively and remember key concepts.
The second is a beautiful cover page for the “8 Steps to Powerful Learning” course, so you can keep all of your materials together and stay motivated throughout the semester.
I hope these printables will be a helpful resource for you as you embark on your learning journey. Download them now and get ready to supercharge your studying skills!
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