Middle school back-to-school: 5 ways to decode your science textbook


Middle schoolers will be taking a new level of science classes this year that are a little bit more challenging. Many students avoid looking at their textbook; it’s a ton of information all at once after all. However, the textbook provides some of the most helpful study tips and concept information that students need to do well in their courses. One of the reasons science textbooks can seem so intimidating is because many students don’t know how to decode them. However, once broken down into reasonable parts students will find that the vocabulary words and concepts aren’t so hard after all – it’s never too early to book your Orange County science tutor.

1. Vocab

Science textbooks offer a ton of complicated vocabulary words. Nearly every middle school student will have a vocab quiz on a regular basis, so it’s important they become comfortable with these words. The first thing to do is look at the root word and prefix or suffix. Once a student understands these terms, they will be able to apply the knowledge to nearly every term in the book. Memorization on its own can be quite difficult, so it’s a good idea for students to put different science terms into groups that have something in common. They should store all of their terms online in a website such as Quizlet, so they have the term for later on in the year.

2. Charts and graphs

Science textbooks are also pretty big on charts and graphs. Visual learners will probably appreciate the color coded organization, but not all students will find it as helpful. If this is the first time students are looking at charts and graphs at this level, they should ask their teacher to explain how they work using simple examples. The important thing is to understand the theory behind charts and graphs and how they organize information. Students can also work with a tutor if necessary so they can create their chart to demonstrate their understanding fully (READ: 5 things to ask you kid during the first week of school).

3. The glossary

The glossary is one of the most overlooked sections of a science textbook. However, it is one of the most helpful tools for students of any age to utilize.  So many students will slip through page after page looking for a vocab term from the previous week. This takes up a ton of time and wastes valuable energy. Instead, students can find all of the words in the glossary in alphabetical order. If a student has forgotten what the term means or needs to check the spelling all, they need to do is flip to the back of the book.

4. Highlighted material

Middle school science textbooks are pretty good about highlighting important information or putting it in bold. Anything in bold or highlighted in yellow is something students should take an extra look at. These terms often appear on vocabulary quizzes or are important concepts that students will need to know by heart to do well on an exam or complete a research paper. Students who become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their science textbook are encouraged to focus on highlighted material as a starting point. This will give them the main points and then they can branch out to more minute topics.

5. General Concepts

There is an amalgam of basic concepts covered in every science textbook whether it’s about earth science, physics, or chemistry. It’s a good idea for students to start by organizing different general concepts into different categories. If students discover they are utilizing all of their age appropriate study skills but are still not quite getting it, it might be a good time to work with their teacher or a tutor to explain the concept differently. Science textbooks are extremely useful, but they only deliver information in one way. With so many different learning styles out there having somebody explain information in an interactive environment can make all the difference in the world.

Score high in your science classes this year with the help of Orange County science tutoring from TutorNerds. Call us today for more information.

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