Find the Gist: A Textbook Study Strategy

Find the Gist: A Textbook Study Strategy

Let’s face it: plowing through textbooks is no easy task, especially if you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for. Finding the gist of sections of textbooks, stories in magazines, newspaper articles, and other nonfiction reading material is an important skill. Not only does it help a reader understand and synthesize what they’re reading, but it helps for studying later on, and saves time too.

Find the Gist: A Textbook Study Strategy

Want to help your child learn to find the gist? Here’s an activity to help your child manage their nonfiction reading by focusing on the most important elements.

What You Need:

Nonfiction book or magazine article without subtitles
Sticky notes

Nonfiction study strategies
What You Do:

  1. Find some good nonfiction reading books or magazine articles that don’t have any subtitles. After you gather a few samples, place them in front of your child.
  2. Have your child look through all the books and magazine articles and pick something she would like to read. Having your child read something she is interested in will help comprehension, not to mention motivation!
  3. Tell your child that you have noticed that there aren’t any subtitles anywhere in the nonfiction piece and that together you’re going to read one paragraph at a time and decide on a title for each paragraph. Explain that this is called finding the gist of the paragraphs as you read, and it’s a great skill for nonfiction readers to develop. They’ll be able to manage the information they’re rapiding digesting.
  4. Model how to do this for your child. Read the first paragraph out loud and tell her what you’re thinking. Say something explicitly like: “Well, I see that this first paragraph is telling the reader that a lot of people think wolves are vicious, but they rarely attack people. It seems to me that wolves have a bad rap. Perhaps a good subtitle for this paragraph would be “Wolves: A Misunderstood Species.” Write your subtitle on a sticky note and cover the paragraph with it.
  5. Now have your child practice. If she need a little help, try out a few with her, and then encourage her to do it on her own. Your child may want to read the paragraph aloud as you read it silently. Either way, when she’s ready to write a subtitle, have your child explain her thinking. What information did she read in the text that lead her to come up with this subtitle?
  6. Explain to your child that every good nonfiction reader stops and thinks about what she read. Urge her to keep sticky notes around to practice finding the gist in her nonfiction reading. She can keep her notes as future study aids, or to help her organize essays and projects.
Grammar Galaxy
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ACT Math Boot Camp from Mr. D Math: A Review

ACT Math Boot Camp from Mr. D Math: A Review

I was given access to this course for free and was compensated for my time. I was not required to give a positive review. 

After training our children in the faith and teaching them to love learning, preparing our children to do well on the ACT is a top priority for me and my husband. We have six children to put through college and a high ACT score opens the door to significant scholarship money. (For more on preparing your child for college scholarships, be sure to listen to my interview with Lee Binz on The Homeschool Sanity Show).

Our third son will be taking the ACT for the first time this summer, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to enroll him in the six-week ACT Math Boot Camp from Mr. D Math.

ACT Math Boot Camp from MrD Math: a Review

Math makes up a significant portion of the ACT score. Mr. D. of Mr. D Math claims that he can raise your child’s ACT Math score 5 points. That’s significant! That’s taking the math score from average to above average, for example.

I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think of this online interactive course. My first two sons had only prepared for the test using ACT prep books. I am also very picky about teaching style.

MrD Math ACT Boot Camp

What the Mr. D Math ACT Boot Camp Includes

The boot camp is an online course taught live by Mr. D. himself. It is scheduled for Monday evenings in our time zone, which is challenging for my son because he has drum lessons at that time. Attending live allows students to ask and answer questions. However, replays are available, allowing viewers to hear Mr. D’s responses to questions. The interactive course includes teaching of test-taking strategies, help converting word problems to equations, and review of math formulas needed for the ACT. Students look over problems prior to class that Mr. D. then solves with students in class. Students work to solve the same problems on their own between classes, promoting mastery.

The online course is not the only part of the boot camp, however. The course fee also includes the Test Prep Portal. Inside the portal are numerous videos teaching skills such as how to use your calculator during the exam. There are also ACT practice questions for math, links to math games, and even practice questions for the other subjects comprising the ACT. My son characterizes it as “a ton of stuff.”

What We Think of the Mr. D Math ACT Boot Camp

I wasn’t sure if my son would like the boot camp. He is very picky, too! But he was quite complimentary of Mr. D’s teaching style. “He makes things very easy to understand,” he said.

He does indeed! I am very impressed. He has a very warm, patient, positive teaching style. I now understand why his approach to teaching and testing transformed a poor-performing school in Hawaii.

My son is strong in math, but even he can benefit from this boot camp. I think students who are weaker in math would absolutely love this, as would students who learn best through audio and hands-on teaching.

My son hasn’t yet taken the ACT, but I do believe Mr. D.’s claim that he can raise my child’s math score by 5 points. Since 5 points can be the difference between a scholarship and no scholarship, the cost for this boot camp ($197) is a real bargain in my opinion. It’s like having a top-notch math tutor in your home.

How to Get Started With the MrD Math ACT Boot Camp

If you’d like to enroll your child in the boot camp to prepare him or her for the June ACT, go to the Mr. D Math site today. The session just started this week, so your child can still fully participate in this boot camp. Click the same link to enroll in future boot camps. You should also follow Mr. D Math on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, especially if your child isn’t quite ready for the ACT. Then you won’t forgot this amazing resource for ACT preparation!


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