Sunday, June 5, 2011

Study Guide process

As a response to one of the comments on Stephen's blog today about study guides, someone requested I make a posting of one my comments. So here it is, modified a bit, to show my process of creating a study guide to supplement my books.

The question was: Can you point to any study guides that you would hold up as shining examples? I'm still intimidated by the idea of writing one.

My study guides aren't very long (about 10 or 12 pages overall) and consist of a cover (I use an already created study guide to just swap out my information and change my footers to match the title of the book) which has across the top STUDY GUIDE, my website addy, cover of the book; my copyright page which includes information about reproducing the pages; an index of what all is in the study guide; the discussion questions or research projects; the science experiment or map/math skills activity or H.S.I in-depth social studies research project (H.S.I. stands for Historical Scene Investigation (borrowed the idea from this site - like CSI but it takes a specific clue further with the kids performing historical research and working on timelines and other parts of the clue; a simple clue can be very intriguing); an art or craft project if there is one; my secret message puzzle; and the end-of-book quiz (only in books 1, 2, and 3 for now until those come out of contract with the publisher and are converted over to the new format) or end-of-book trivia game (State map outline as the gameboard with question cards); the answer keys; and the bibliography - simple, not too long yet covers a lot of ground.

My response was as follows (this is modified a bit), which I was asked to post on my blog:

You can make them as simple or as in-depth as you feel is warranted. My basic formula is this:

First, before the book is published and the final stage of me "writing" the story, I go through the clues and figure out which ones would make short discussion questions to be included in the book; at the same time, I scan to see which would make more in-depth discussion questions or research projects for the study guide. The discussion questions/research projects for the study guide may include doing a project or writing an essay or something to go along with the research. This falls into the ELA curriculum.

After that, I figure out which clue would make a decent science experiement or map skills activity or even math or more social studies. I search for some fitting activity to fill in another piece of the curriculum. Sometimes it seems a book is very science based, and others there is a lot of history basis to the clues. With book 6, the first two books have had science experiements in them as have the 5th and 6th ones. I'm really trying to stay away from overloading everyone with science experiment after science experiment. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Some books will have clues that can be turned into a creative project/activity or be used for something for fun. State of Successes has a weave your own basket using foam circles (I picked up the idea from the making friends craft website in the Girl Scout swap section) and either plastic bags cut into strips or other things for the weave (I've also found that ribbons work well for the weave but have also used yarn and tried the raffia as suggested on the website).

I use Disovery's puzzlemaker for my "secret message puzzle" (there are five puzzles I'll use throughout the series). The secret message in my case is the state's motto.

And my last section, originally was an end-of-book quiz, is a trivia game using the state's map outline with the capital marked as my game board. I put the state map in paint and either flip it (if the state is longer than it is wide and won't fit properly on a standard sheet of paper) and then add the squares and lines to follow the track around the state until you end up at the capital.

Since my study guides are book specific, if you haven't read the corresponding book, then the quiz/trivia game may not make that much sense, as those are just to make sure the student has read the book completely.

I also include the same bibliography that is in the books in the study guides since I use the same sources for many of the clues in the books.

I create my study guide in Word first and then I convert it to a PDF file (I use cutePDF in my printers group to convert the document).

This is my process for creating a simple study guide of about 10 or 12 pages in length which are reproducible for a teacher to use in a class when using the books to supplement his/her social studies or US History class.

If anyone would like a sample PDF file of a study guide, just email me at eeldering AT gmail DOT come with "Sample study guide" in the subject line and I'll be happy to email you a copy of the 1st and 4th (the one with the end-of-book quiz and the first one with the end-of-book trivia game) - Mrs. E :)


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elysabeth .. these Guides sound so clever - well done for instigating them and setting up your system.

I spotted you on Stephen Tremp's blog to start with .. and am so grateful for your offer of the PDF here - it will be very interesting to look at and perhaps convert in some way for my own blog - at a different angle.

All the best - Hilary

elysabeth said...

Thanks, Hilary. I'm struggling trying to finish the 6th one up right now but have to get it done tomorrow sometime before heading to Sumter for a homeschool conference. Eventually, I hope to have an overall unit study to be used with any of the books in the series (am planning to pick my unit study friend's brain at the homeschool conference this weekend coming up - lol) but coming up with the idea and implementing are two different ballgames - the idea of doing such an endeavor is the easy part; the implementing it and coming up with something that can be used over the course of 50 books without becoming boring or being disregarded after a couple of uses is the tricky part. This is where I am right now - I'll keep ya'll posted on what I come up with for the unit study - E :)

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