Letter to Parents and Teachers

In 1987 Clif St. Germain developed StudyWhiz for use in his Learning Center in Mandeville, Louisiana.  In 2000, he converted StudyWhiz to a self-study learning guide, trademarked and distributed for teachers to use with students.  As a result, thousands of students have enriched the quality of their school experience and improved their academic performance.
 
In 2008 Dr. St. Germain, along with educators Deb Fetch and Dr. Gene Brewer, revised and updated StudyWhiz to incorporate advances in the science of learning.
 
However, the central message of StudyWhiz’s initial vision has not changed: “Smart is Self-Taught.”
 
Success in school is strongly linked to the learner’s ability to convert what is being taught into content that makes sense.  StudyWhiz does exactly that: It provides a framework for learning that enhances understanding.
 
Students need to learn how to study smart!  In StudyWhiz, students make their thinking visible.  That is, they leave tracks of their thinking that can be used effectively in testing and homework.  StudyWhiz’s goal is for students to take control of their own learning.  Learners are changed from passive, teacher-dependent students to active, confident, self-directed students.

The following will answer common questions from teachers and parents:

What are the benefits of teaching students to become more self-directed?
Self-directed students are more active, confident, independent and purposeful learners.  
However, a learner cannot be self-directed without working out a learning system that best suits his or her own temperament and skills set.  Again, no one can hand a learner a self-directed learning system: The learner must develop and perfect these skills over time.

Students don’t come to school with self-directed learning skills.  Most students begin school excited about learning, but, over time, formal “traditional” classrooms become an advantage only to students who learn best in that environment.  Those students are then labeled “smart.”
 
For the thousands of students who don’t fit traditional teaching methods, learning can become tedious and unfulfilling.
 
For a non-traditional learner to succeed in school, he or she must work out a personalized learning system.  Self-directed learners discover that teaching will only take them so far.  After that, they are on their own.

In a sense, self-directed learners have learned that “smart” is a subject they must teach themselves.   This is where StudyWhiz comes in. StudyWhiz is a visual framework that sets in motion the development of personal and adaptive learning tools.  These tools will work in any classroom, any school, at most any level.

StudyWhiz requires students to think about their thinking in systematic ways.  At the same time it gives “wiggle room” to modify and personalize the study system.
 
If we have discovered anything about learning in the last two decades, it is that one size does not fit all.  A study system guided by how the brain learns just makes good sense.  This is exactly what StudyWhiz does.

Why don’t teachers teach students to become self-directed learners?
Good question.  Truthfully, teaching students to learn in systematic ways is not difficult.  In fact, students love to think and talk about what they are learning.  They also love to interact as they learn.

But teachers are asked to accomplish and cover so much that they don’t have time to teach students how to learn.  Some parents model these behaviors at home, and some students grasp it intuitively.  But most students have no concept how to learn systematically.  In other words, they do not know how to study!
 
How does StudyWhiz help students make better sense of their schoolwork?
Most inefficient learners are seriously weak in organization skills.  They waste energy spinning their wheels---and getting nowhere!  

StudyWhiz provides a step-by-step progression of learning prompts that helps students become more efficient by emphasizing how ideas fit together.  

How do these learning prompts work?

StudyWhiz is organized into seven interrelated skills.  Specific “prompts” draw attention to the brain’s capacity to make sense of the world.  These thinking prompts are called “MindFrames” because each represents learning from a slightly different perspective—just as changing picture frames can transform a painting’s effect.   

Combined, these seven MindFrames follow the natural cycle of all learning.  Think about learning in this progression:

Preview:   Set the stage for learning
Name Draw attention to important differences
Connect:   Group information for ease of learning and memorizing
Recap:  Self-monitor learning progress
Construct:  Use it or lose it
Self-test:  Provide evidence of learning
Reflect: Take perspective and make learning personal



How is StudyWhiz being used?

StudyWhiz can be used in many ways:

  • As a study guide for parents helping students at home
  • By individual students for improving their performance in schools
  • As a support text for learning in regular classrooms
  • In home schooling programs
  • As a guide for Big Brother, Big Sister activities
  • As a supplemental text for Title 1 programs
  • As a text for summer transition to high school programs
  • In vocational education programs
  • As a text for study skills courses
  • In ninth grade academy programs
  • In mentoring programs
  • By learning and tutorial centers 

What results can be expected from using StudyWhiz?

  • Improved grades and performance on tests
  • Increased levels of confidence and self-directed learning
  • More efficient use of study time
  • Enhanced ability to think about learning in purposeful ways
  • Higher levels of organization in note taking, problem solving, applying, synthesizing, and summarizing learning
  • Increased confidence for meeting learning challenges and taking active control and responsibility for learning
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, students come to think of learning as natural, fun, and rewarding.  Because it is!

A whiz is a person with a remarkable skill.  For example, you’ve heard someone called a “computer whiz” or a “trivia whiz.”   

Imagine every student in school becoming a study whiz!  

StudyWhiz believes that is possible.  How students study matters as much as what they study.   Students will quickly catch on that “Smart is Self-Taught.”  Then they will figure out that being self-directed is smart.  And after that, academic success is not only possible—it’s probable!  

StudyWhiz’s vision and hope are that students whiz to the top of the class, gain confidence, and jump-start their journey towards becoming lifelong learners!  

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