All About The "1 to 2" - A School Wide Program Focused on Studying

A school-wide approach to improve study skills and awareness.

One of the number one skills I see high school students struggle with is the great mystery of studying. A constant comment I get is “…but I am done with my homework!”. In high school – some students can get by with minimal studying efforts – I was one of these students myself. However, I also know from firsthand experience that the collegiate expectations are completely different. I was smacked in the face with the expectation that I study between 25-35 hours per week. This is where the “1 to 2” campaign comes in. I hope you read through and download some of the materials below!

The Average Minutes a HS Student in America Studies per day:

The Suggested Minimum Number of Minutes A HS Student Should Study Per Day:

“Intellectual death is endemic in areas where people are unprepared to obtain new information for development. Learning is a way of staying alive.”

Israelmore Ayivor


As most educators are aware – studying is not the first priority for many if not most of our students. The majority would rather being playing soccer, Snapchatting, or playing those mindless smartphone “just tap the screen like crazy” games. The truth is: most of us are probably the same!

However, we also know the story on both sides of the fence – how studying pays off and how procrastination (or not studying at all) provides negative consequences. When I arrived at North Tahoe High School – I surveyed students, teachers and parents and found out a big factor getting in the way of student success was poor or non-existent study habits. Teachers were frustrated because their students were not reaching mastery levels on their assignments and assessments and the students were giving up (*more about this below) before they had really put in the time. I had to figure out a way to address some of these problems but not let it consume me and my other responsibilities.

That is when I thought about my time at Cal Poly SLO.

When I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as an Aerospace Engineering student, I distinctly remembered getting letters, emails, and seeing posters/flyers/banners plastered all over the campus in bright colors saying “Study 25-35”. To the right – you can see an example of the letters sent out to each students of each department highlighting the expectations. This is an awesome resource and I wanted to borrow and adapt it to the high school setting. Thus was the start of the “1 to 2”.


*I find that students can resort to self-sabotage when their internal or external expectations are telling them they are “A” students, but when they do try – only obtain average results. I feel that some students would much rather be able to say “I am failing because I choose to fail and not try” rather than “I tried my hardest and only got C’s”. Through education and counseling – this can be avoided.

[Tweet “Bringing the “1 to 2″ study campaign to my school with @CounselingGeek #scchat”]

Download the Cal Poly letteracad_succ_booklet-page-001

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“If you are one of those people who can’t hold a lot in mind at once—you lose focus and start daydreaming in lectures, and have to get to someplace quiet to focus so you can use your working memory to its maximum—well, welcome to the clan of the creative. Having a somewhat smaller working memory means you can more easily generalize your learning into new, more creative combinations. Because you’re learning new, more creative combinations. Having a somewhat smaller working memory, which grows from the focusing abilities of the prefrontal cortex, doesn’t lock everything up so tightly, you can more easily get input from other parts of your brain. These other areas, which include the sensory cortex, not only are more in tune with what’s going on in the environment, but also are the source of dreams, not to mention creative ideas. You may have to work harder sometimes (or even much of the time) to understand what’s going on, but once you’ve got something chunked, you can take that chunk and turn it outside in and inside round—putting it through creative paces even you didn’t think you were capable of!

Here’s another point to put into your mental chunker: Chess, that bastion of intellectuals, has some elite players with roughly average IQs. These seemingly middling intellects are able to do better than some more intelligent players because they practice more. That’s the key idea. Every chess player, whether average or elite, grows talent by practicing. It is the practice—particularly deliberate practice on the toughest aspects of the material—that can help lift average brains into the realm of those with more “natural” gifts. Just as you can practice lifting weights and get bigger muscles over time, you can also practice certain mental patterns that deepen and enlarge in your mind.”

Dr. Barbara Oakley

"Female Indiana Jones"

When thinking about how to adapt the 25-35 concept to High School, I knew that college students only spend a few hours a day actually attending class while much of the learning is done outside of the classroom. When HS students sit in a classroom for 6.5 hours a day – the 25-35 model will not fit. I decided to adjust it to study 1-2 hours per day minimum. I felt this was a reasonable time-frame for student studies.

One side note before we jump into how we use the program at NTHS and some of the resources I created – AP, IB and upperclassmen will typically find themselves at the 2 hour or more time frame and I make sure to mention this to students. This 1-2 hours is simply the minimum expected of all students – more may be required depending on the time of year, course loads, and if there is a big test or project coming due soon.

*Download links and info below – please consider sharing this post*

The “1 to 2” program has 3 main components. Component 1 is visibility and awareness. Component 2 is classroom integration. Component 3 is daily conversations and follow up. For this program to be successful – you (or your team) cannot be the only ones championing the cause. Enlist the support of your administration and teachers before you set out on your quest. For the “1 to 2” to work – it needs to have the whole school support it. One way that I got that support was integrating the program with the school-wide goals each year.

Component 1: Visibility and Awareness

Just like with Cal Poly – I created letters that go home in each enrollment package to parents, I provide copies at each of my parent events, and include PDF copies in several emails throughout the year. This letter for parents and teachers is a little more in-depth and comprehensive then my student focused flyer.


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In addition to distributing flyers – we talk about the “1 to 2” at each of our parent events, send out robocalls with info several times a year, and cover it at Back To School nights, open houses, and SST/504/Conference events.

For students – I created a student focused flyer that gives information in a more teen-friendly medium. The details are pared down some and it is more “catchy”. See below for the student flyer.



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I also add the “1 to 2” icon to all of my email signatures so students and parents are reminded each time I email them (which is a lot) about the importance of studying each day.


The final approach to this first component is our “1 to 2” signs. I created a simple sign that I ask all teachers to place in a highly visible location in their classroom, the sign is posted in all the offices, and throughout our hallways, on doors, and in the lunch areas. The idea is that students shouldn’t be able to turn a corner and not see the sign. The “1 to 2” sign can be printed on any color paper (I chose blue to match our school colors) but the link below has the plain white document you can copy to your own drive and print as many copies as you want.

Download your own 1 to 2 sign!

At the very bottom of this post, you can find additional document formats (like MS Publisher files so you can edit the files to fit your school).


Component 2: Classroom Integration

As with many programs – success is tied to how well it is integrated into the classroom. This is also the area I am still working on developing further at my own site – it is not always easy. Things like other teacher priorities, staff turnover, and other obstacles can create some challenges that require follow up throughout the year. To integrate within the classroom and content of each class – I have asked each teacher to include information about the expected “1 to 2” in all of their syllabi and start of the year materials/presentations. Each teacher discusses (some more than others – a growth area for NTHS) the importance of studying and specifically how to spend their “1 to 2” time with regards to their classes.

This year, we are having all of our teachers create general lists of “1 to 2” activities that can be used throughout the year for their students who “run out of things to study”. I don’t believe that students run out of things to study, but to combat the “I am done with my homework” bit we are including this in our school goal action plans this year. Some things included in these lists are studying for future quizzes and tests, reviewing chapters for key information, READING, working on projects and more.


Component 3: Daily Conversations and Follow Up

The third component of the “1 to 2” could be the most important. It is the day to day reminding and conversations that staff have with students regarding their study skills. When I am working with my D/F list students and checking their grades, I always ask “What did you do for 1 to 2 last night?”. When talking to kids in the hall at lunch, I always try to work a “How’s your 1 to 2 this week?” into our conversations. I also don’t let the “I dunnos” prevent them from answering. If they didn’t do their “1 to 2”, I ask them to tell me what they will do that night.

I ask teachers to also use the language and consistently ask throughout their weeks – although I am not so sure it happens as often as it should. Tracking some of this data is going to be a goal of mine for this school year.


Next Steps:

I am going to add a component this year which is a student “1 to 2” commitment. Each student will sign (or not sign) a commitment to hold themselves accountable to studying at least 1 hour a night, each night of the week. At the end of each semester – we will re-visit the commitment and reflect on how well they upheld the commitment and what was the pay off or consequence of either side of the equation.


Additional Downloads:

Google Doc – Editable Teacher/Parent 1 to2 Document

Student 1 to 2 MS Publisher Editable File



I hope you get some use out of the “1 to 2” program and that the downloads above are useful. If you run into any problems or cannot download anything – please do email me. This program, while HS focused, can easily be adapted to Middle School as well. I look forward to hearing how it works, collaborating with you in the future and providing more resources throughout this year.

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All About The “1 to 2” – A School Wide Program …

time to read: 18 min

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