Staying sharp over winter break

Tips for students to keep up on their studies

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Students such as these MHS freshman in Shelly Chander’s English class may find online resources and study practice helpful during their upcoming 11-day winter break.

How can Marshalltown students stay sharp for their return from winter break, when they’ll want to finish the semester on a high note?

“It would be nice if we were able to close up the semester at the Christmas (winter) break,” said Marshalltown High School counselor John Fitzgerald. Students will have winter break between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 of 2017. After returning, they will have over a week of school days before the first semester is complete.

It’s possible some students can drop most or all of their studying over the 11-day winter break, Fitzgerald said, and he offered some tips for students to stay ready for the end of the first semester.

“It’s good (for students) to just have their notes and review materials with them,” Fitzgerald said. “There are a lot of opportunities for students (to study) over break.”

He said most of the students’ school materials can be found online from the Google Classroom program implemented throughout the district. Additionally, he said many teachers have their own websites where class materials are uploaded.

“We have a plethora of online opportunities,” Fitzgerald said of the district. “Almost everybody is telling students what they can to do progress (over break).”

Additionally, he said most students have some access to WiFi away from school, so getting on the district’s online platform to study shouldn’t be a problem for many of the students.

“Some classes have packets that a student can work on over break,” he said.

Students may also take advantage of a selection of educational apps available on phones, tablets and computers.

“If you put in (an internet search for) ‘apps for learning’… you’re going to come up with all sorts of things,” Fitzgerald said, adding he has spoken with teachers about apps to help keep students’ minds sharp.

On his list were apps like KHAN Academy, which provides free courses in math, chemistry and English, among other subjects. Quizlet, an app that uses flash-card style learning, was another suggestion Fitzgerald offered.

“(Quizlet) offers flash cards for learning facts or dates or vocabulary,” he said. “(It’s) just to keep refreshing the mind.”

If students have questions for their instructors, Fitzgerald said email is a good way communicate. He said many teachers check their emails regularly, and it’s a reliable means to ask questions.

“Asking questions is a good thing, you should be using it,” Fitzgerald said as advice to students. He added it may be difficult to completely keep up with studies over break with factors such as travel and family time being priorities. However, he said students have to maintain responsibility over their learning.

“There’s a student-teacher relationship, the teacher has a job and the student has a job as well,” he said. “It’s really the responsibility of the students to keep up on their studying.”

Marshalltown students begin winter break on Dec. 23 and return for classes on Jan. 3, 2017. The first semester ends on an early-out day Jan. 13.


Contact Adam Sodders at            (641) 753-6611 or