The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum is great for the following programs:
-Response to Intervention (RTI)
-Before and after-school programs
-Academic probation programs
Features of our study skills curriculum include:
-100% money-back guarantee
-Assessments for progress monitoring
-Aligned to 21st Century Skills & ACT WorkKeys®
-A student-friendly system!
To learn more, request a FREE digital review copy of the SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum by filling out the form in the black box in the top right corner of this page.
Or, keep reading…
Students Are Drowning!
Legislators are mandating that we cover more and more content in school. Meanwhile, most of our students are drowning in seas of papers, notebooks, folders, textbooks, and lectures. They don’t like school and think that learning is boring. More and more content is shoveled at students but very little of it actually sinks in and connects with them.
Our “better” students maintain good grades because they don’t want to get in trouble, do anything wrong, or upset their parents and teachers. Other students are too bored and/or disorganized to achieve much success in school. Even “bright students” are suffering and “not working to their potential,” as we often say.
Many of these mandates are and will remain out of students’ control, but there is a vital component we can offer students to bring some pizzazz back to learning. Teach them study skills: principles and strategies for being organized and learning efficiently. Show them that they have the power to beat the system.
Well, maybe not beat the system, but at least work with the system strategically to succeed. When strategic learning enters the picture, students regain some control. They develop personal power. And they learn important life-long skills that will someday help them manage a home and career.
Study skills level the playing field for all students. They help our responsible students become more engaged in their learning and more efficient in their studying and homework. A comprehensive study skills curriculum also helps students who have traditionally struggled in school get organized, study smarter, and take control of their own learning so they can discover success in school.
Study skills are the skills that:
-Improve standardized test scores, blocking common “exit ramps” on the path to learning.
-Prepare students to be independent learners.
-Improve performance, preparing our students for high-stakes tests and the globally competitive job market of the future.
-Enable students to be proactive, make good decisions, and think critically.
With the right tools, students can regain control, becoming strategic about what they learn and how they learn it! Study skills take that passive state of learning – where students have no excitement and little sense of responsibility or power – and turn it on its head! Study skills enable students to “wake up” and become engaged in learning.
However, study skills have gotten a bad rap over the years. In fact, most students (and a lot of educators) will tell me, point blank…
“Study skills are boring!”
Ouch! As an educator who has devoted my life to study skills, that can hurt. Truthfully, however, there is a good explanation for the reputation that study skills have developed over the years because a lot of boring things are labeled as “study skills:”
Learning how to use guide words in a dictionary… a necessary skill, but boring!
SQ3R… is a reading strategy with many merits, but it leaves me asking, “Who wants to take the time to do all five steps?” Boring!
Identifying the main idea and supporting details on endless worksheets? Another important skill, but a boring process.
Mind maps and T-charts… are not necessarily boring if you know how to use them properly, but that is precisely the problem: most students don’t know when to use them!
In fact, the two biggest enemies of any study skills curriculum are resistance from students and confusion about when to use each skill!
The resistance comes from the perception that study skills are boring (as explained above) and the fact that traditional learning skills, such as SQ3R, take a LOT of extra time. Let’s face it… do we Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review our own reading material?
The second point of resistance is confusion about when to use each skill. Most study skills curriculums are developed for college students and expect a certain level of maturity from students. However, even college students have trouble evaluating their textbooks to determine whether a T-chart or a mind map is the best way to take notes on a given section. This process is certainly not age-appropriate for middle school students or most high school students!
The Cure for Study Skills Resistance and Confusion
The antidote is to follow the three criteria for making strategies “student-friendly”:
-Apply across all content areas!
Time-efficiency is the first and most critical step for student buy-in! If students perceive that a strategy or skill is going to take a long time and involve a lot of steps, they will check out immediately. However, if they realize that the focus is on reducing study time, they perk up and pay attention.
Next, they must be effective! When students discover how much easier it can be to:
-Study for tests
-Communicate with teachers and parents
-Write research papers
they will automatically develop the intrinsic motivation to use their new-found skills and develop more of their own!
Finally, the study skills must apply across all content areas. This way there is NO confusion about when to use a skill. It’s that simple!
Do Not Underestimate the Importance of a System!
Systems enable students to take responsibility, so more learning can be accomplished in less time. This frees up more of your time, more classroom time, and more of your students’ time!
A system is an established process of “triggers” and “responses.” When students have an automatic response to specific learning and organizing situations (“triggers”), the teacher does not have to be engaged all of the time.
Sure, not all students learn exactly the same way and not all organizational strategies will work perfectly for all students.
But a system that teaches principles along with strategies allows students to modify a strategy to meet their needs. Principles are universal; strategies can always be individualized.
-We can acknowledge that organizing papers and schoolwork is difficult because traditional systems actually complicate the process. Can you imagine if you had 12 different e-mail accounts to check every day, each on a different computer? That is not far from what students deal with when they have 12 to 16 different folders and notebooks to manage at any given time! We can help students explore principles for organization and strategies to simplify the process.
-We can acknowledge that textbooks are boring. But if students understand how to maximize their brain’s learning processes, they can be strategic readers and exponentially increase their reading comprehension while only reading a fraction of the text.
-When we want to say, “Why can’t you plan ahead?!” we can pause and understand that they have never really learned how to plan ahead. Armed with that perspective, we can help them discover how to prioritize their time and model proactive planning.
SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum
The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum is student-friendly because it was originally created by a struggling student. In 1996, Susan Kruger, author of the SOAR® program, was a new teacher just out of college and looking to meet the demand for study skills from her summer tutoring students.
As a new teacher and long-time student, Susan was acutely aware of what turned students off to study skills… most of the common strategies are time-consuming and difficult for students to identify when to use.
As she worked with more and more students, she also found that the same problems and issues kept resurfacing for most of her students. On one hand, she was relieved to discover that many of her own struggles as a student were not unique to her. She had already developed several ways to simplify the study skills she had learned as a student.
On the other hand, she quickly noticed a pattern, so she took notes, interviewed parents, teachers, and students, and reflected on her own school experience to identify and label the most common problems. She continued to research and apply solutions to help her students resolve their learning and organizing struggles.
That was the beginning of SOAR®. Since then, Susan has updated and modified her study skills curriculum based on continuous research and feedback, but the foundation remains practical and student-friendly. In fact, the same three “student-friendly” principles guide the contents of the SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum as when Susan first created the program:
-Time-efficient. Strategies must be realistic for students to use, save them time, and remove as many unnecessary steps as possible.
-Effective. We respect teachers’ and students’ time and will not teach anything that does not deliver results.
-Apply across all content areas. Many useful techniques are taught as “study skills,” but we only select and develop strategies that apply across content areas so that students will clearly understand the appropriate times/settings to use them. This approach empowers students to confidently take more responsibility for their own work and develop a more strategic approach to all of their learning.
“How Does the Program Work?”
The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum is a series of 10-20 minute lessons that follow a brain-based learning model. Each lesson:
-Identifies the organization or learning problems and explores why those problems exist.
-Presents solutions and the principles that make them work.
-Applies the solutions to students’ lives and school work immediately.
-Encourages regular reflection and review, making modifications as necessary.
For example, in the “Organize Your Papers” lesson:
-First, students learn why papers are so difficult to manage and how the most common organizing systems actually complicate the process.
-Then, we present the SOAR® Binder System (with examples and photographs) to help them streamline their paperwork.
-Students immediately apply this solution as they organize their papers into a neat binder system.
-Several times throughout the program, teachers are prompted to check in on the status of the binder system and help guide students through any modifications.
This structure is effective because it teaches students principles for getting organized and learning more efficiently. They also learn specific strategies to take advantage of those principles, but can modify those strategies to “personalize” solutions. We appreciate each student’s unique character and encourage them to make modifications, as long as they adhere to the learning and organizing principles.
“How Is SOAR® Organized?”
The lessons can be presented in any order to fit specific curriculum needs, but they are deliberately organized sequentially in SOAR®, with each strategy forming a building block for the next strategy. This building-block format helps students draw connections to everything they have learned before.
As a result, they remember the tips and strategies more easily and see how the steps interrelate with one another. It is exciting for students to discover that learning can be strategic… and that they have the power to control their learning!
“What Is Included in the Program?”
The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum includes our award-winning student book and the SOAR® Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide.
The SOAR® Study Skills book includes:
-160 pages of user-friendly text, visuals, photographs, and samples to demonstrate strategies.
-Reproducibles for students’ long-term use.
-Action-oriented lessons with immediate application to students’ current coursework and schedule.
-142 pictures, illustrations, and visuals to demonstrate strategies.
-Guidelines for students who live in two homes.
-Guidelines for students with ADD/ADHD.
-Multiple Intelligences inventory to empower all learners.
Buy the SOAR® Study Skills Book Now…
$29.99 + Shipping
The SOAR® Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide includes:
-Turn-key, done-for-you lessons
-150 slides with interactive visuals for demonstration/instruction.
-Several assessments to monitor and document progress.
-20 10-20 minute ready-made lessons that can serve as the basis for a study skills class or be embedded across the curriculum.
-Additional internet links and resources for FREE activities and demonstrations to support student learning.
-Teaching tips for each lesson.
-Clean, bright, colorful presentation to attract students’ attention and enhance visual learning.
Buy the SOAR® Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide Now…
“The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum Is Very Comprehensive, But Is This Another ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Program?”
Of course not! We provide as much information and as many resources as we can to simplify the prep work for teachers, but this program will never replace the care and individuality that a live, compassionate teacher brings to his or her students. We view ourselves as your partners in education and value your expertise as you guide your students through the principles and strategies that will help them become more independent and successful learners.
We are continuously updating and expanding the SOAR® program, curriculum, and course options based on the feedback we receive from educators like you, your parents, and your students. We are always available for consultation and ask that you continue to share your experience and feedback.
“Are Any Additional Supplies Required?”
We recommend a few inexpensive supplies for students. The list includes: a planner/agenda book, 1.5-inch binder, poly binder folders, notebook paper, and a file box (or similar storage container for home storage). We have a list of recommended vendors for these items on our Resources page. Many of these vendors offer quantity discounts for classroom purchases.
“What About Professional Development?”
The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum materials (the student book and the Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide) are comprehensive and clearly laid out so training is optional. However, if your school is looking to implement a strong initiative (typically with three or more teachers), training is a good way to coordinate an effective program.
Click below for more information about our teacher training videos:
Click below for more information about live professional development options:
“How Do We Get Parents Involved?”
The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum is intended to develop independent skills for students, but we all know that parent involvement is very beneficial for students. Therefore, we have a variety of options to help you communicate with parents so they can most effectively support your initiatives in the school.
Six Steps to Conquer the Chaos: How to Motivate and Organize Students for Success, is our free guide for parents, available directly from our website. This resource provides insight and information that will help parents support SOAR® at home.
We also provide guides for giving presentations to parents:
More About the Author and Creator
Susan Kruger, M.Ed. is a certified teacher and reading specialist. She combined her personal struggles as a student with her professional expertise to create a powerful, student-friendly system. She has taught her SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum in workshops to hundreds of students with great success! Susan travels the country training educators in study skills and literacy topics and continues to help students and their families achieve success in school and peace in the household. Her study skills curriculum is used in 1,250+ schools across the country.