We're nearly at September which, for me, is more like the new year than January. It's the month where I embrace good intentions, plan for the future and, crucially, invest in some pretty new stationery. For those of you starting your A Levels, this is the time to start thinking about your approach to learning because you are going to need to do things very differently compared to your GCSEs. The crucial elements of success at A Level are organisation, independence, enquiry and evaluation. I'll talk about all of these over the coming weeks but today I'm looking at the first two.
I know that there will be a range of students reading this: some of you will be dedicated users of ring-binders and colour coding; some of you will have a pile of old notes and essays shoved under your bed. Which ever version you are, make sure that your PC or laptop is in order. Create folders somewhere that can be accessed at home and at school (clouds are great as long as you have wifi). Make one for each subject. Make a sub-folder for each text/topic. Promise yourself that you will use them! Make sure you're making use of your bookmark bar as well. Add the sites recommended by your teachers and any links that I post up here (look at past blog posts as well).
I would also recommend getting yourself a Gmail account if you haven't already. Google Docs is an incredibly useful resource as are the various other apps available from Google. Register for the free versions of Miro and Ayoa to help you with your note-taking and keeping. Set up the notifications on your laptop so that you are not disturbed by constant temptations from social media. Create a Google calendar (or similar software) and use it religiously from now. Make sure you put every school lesson on there, block out time when you know you can't work and block (in a different colour) time when you know that you must.
When you start your A Levels you will suddenly find yourself with what looks like masses of free time. Schedule it now. Don't allow yourself to think that multiple free periods in a day means you have nothing to do. Decide that P2 on Monday will be for History reading or that P4 on Thursday will be about annotating texts. Each week make sure you put specific tasks into those slots so you are clear about exactly what you will be doing and what resources you will need.
Make sure you also schedule in rest time. I would strongly recommend that you don't attempt to do homework after 9pm. You can read if you want to but this should be wind down time. Think about your plans for the next day and get your bags packed.
Next time I'll talk about what to do with your study periods if you think you have nothing to do. For now, go and find yourself a snazzy new pencil case and start organising your workspace.