When freshmen got their schedules at the beginning of this year, many were surprised to see one of their classes listed as “Study Skills.” Some thought it would be a class to help students with studying, while others hoped it was some sort of free time, like Academic Support at the middle school. The first day of school passed and many questions were answered. However, the students who have it next semester and upperclassmen who have never had it still wonder about the point of the class. As someone who is in the class this semester, I hope to answer some of your questions.
To start this off, the name “Study Skills” doesn’t represent the full meaning of the class. To the relief of many, it isn’t a class that only teaches you how to study. It’s much more than that. The main point of the class is to help newcomers adjust to being at Peabody High and give them the skills to succeed during their time here. In addition to this, it helps you organize, plan, and even gives you strategies that you can use outside of school.
One of the main themes of this class is called the “Vision of the Graduate.” The list of characteristics that make up this can be found on page 6 of the PVMHS handbook. If you don’t know what they are, the list can be found below:
Each activity we do in class always has something to do with the Vision of the Graduate. Whether it’s building the tallest tower with only 12 sheets of paper or debating if a hot dog is a sandwich, there’s always an aspect of these characteristics in them. If you’re still curious, below are interviews with the class’s creator, Ms. Skerry, and one of its teachers, Mr. Harris.
What were your goals for creating this class?
SKERRY: “The main reason for this class was to help freshmen transition from 8th grade into their high school year. In 8th grade, you have clusters and there’s more kind of supervision and guidance and you just get dropped off at the high school. It’s overwhelming for a lot of kids, so I wanted to make a class that helps students figure out what’s expected of them here at the highschool level. How to find their way around, who to go to for help, how to take notes, how to stay organized, a bunch of different things that would help them find more success in their high school classes.”
Do you think kids are enjoying the class?
SKERRY: “I don’t personally teach the class, but I’ve been following up with all the teachers who do teach it. There are seven freshmen teachers working with one to two classes each. There is some mixed feelings because a lot of students didn’t know what it was when they first got here based on the name of the course. However, I think it’s helping a lot of students. A lot of students have said that they like the activities that they’re doing. It’s hard to tell. It’s still so new that we’re going to have to wait and see where everybody lands towards the end of the quarter.”
How do you think of the activities we do in the class?
SKERRY: “We’ve actually been working as a team. There are, like I said, seven teachers. There’s been a team working on this since probably December of last year to come up with the curriculum, figure out where the gaps are from what we’ve seen, what we need freshmen to know, and what freshmen are coming in with. We’ve worked together to come up with activities that would lead to a better foundation so that they can be more successful in their other classes. We also have focused on the Vision of the Graduate. We’re really pushing on that this year because those are the core things that we want all the students to leave high school with, so most of our activities and assignments are designed to really focus on those.”
Do you think freshmen are enjoying the class? HARRIS: “Yeah, I think so. So far, I’ve gotten a lot of kids who are enthusiastically participating which is usually a good indicator whether kids are enjoying the class. I’ve anecdotally been asking kids that they seem to enjoy it, so I hope so, but we’ll see.”
Do you think it helps them?
HARRIS: “I hope so. I mean, it’s hard to tell right now because it’s the first month of school and things are still getting going. I will be very interested to see the kids who are in it the second half of the year and how we can help them if they struggled in the first half, but I think really in the next couple weeks we’ll see how effectively we can be in helping them do well.”