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To Guarantee a Successful Year-Start at the End! August 18, 2017 07:17

It’s a new school year and an opportunity for students to get a fresh start. Now is the time to decide what they want to accomplish this year. 

The best way to have a good year is to start at the end. This may sound odd, but I am a firm believer in creating a clear picture of what one wants to accomplish and the specific reasons as to why. 

I ask students to write what they would like to see on their report cards at the end of the semester. Some of the comments might be, “Susan was an active participant in the class,” or “Jane never gave up and when things got hard, she eagerly asked for support.” I focus on the behaviors they might exhibit rather than on grades.

If students initially focus on the grade, I ask them to define the behaviors or actions to demonstrate in order to achieve the desired grade. It is helpful to coach students with some of the following statements:

To get an “A” I will need to:

  1. Listen intently in class.
  2. Pay attention to what the teacher writes on the board.
  3. Remember to ask for material I miss when I am ill or out of class.
  4. Preview chapters and form questions about what I think I will learn.
  5. Read the questions first on all assignments before reading the material and before the concept is being taught. This will allow me to focus better on the things I need to learn.
  6. Read written work aloud several times to both proofread and check that it makes sense.
  7. Ask for clarification to be sure I understand the teacher’s instructions. 
  8. Make note cards to use for studying and review material regularly.
  9. Ask questions when I am unsure of what the teacher is explaining.
  10. Pay attention to homework assignments when I enter the classroom, so I know what I am expected to complete after school. Plan to get started during recess, if I have a lot to do after school. 
  11. Pre-read homework assignments to see what I do not know and ask questions before I leave class. 
  12. Do nightly homework and turn on time.
  13. Check over graded work and find out why I missed problems.
  14. Have someone quiz me before tests, so I am sure I understand the material.
  15. Use only positive comments when thinking or speaking about my abilities.
  16. When I do not do as well as I expect, I immediately make an appointment with the teacher to ask for strategies to improve. 
  17. Write reasons I made mistakes on my corrected work.
  18. Review all tests for information to check to see if there were possibly errors in correction and to find out what I didn’t know.
  19. {Made a separate item.} When studying for a semester or year exam, I will make sure to determine the correct answers and make note cards for review.
  20. Use the teacher’s office hours to discuss my progress.
  21. Keep a running record of my grades so I know where I stand at all times. 

I ask students to visualize themselves opening their report card at the end of the semester and reading all the wonderful comments and seeing the desired grades. I want them to tap into the wonderful feeling they get when they achieve what they have planned. Tapping into that feeling is a crucial step towards insuring they stay on task. 

Then they are to type up a copy of their goals to review each morning when they are brushing their teeth. It can be posted on the bathroom mirror as a constant reminder of the things they need to do daily to achieve their goals. 

All students can benefit from using the list provided above, however, high school and college students often have to take classes they don’t want to take to meet a school requirement. There has to be a reward in it for them in order to create the desire to make it through the class. I ask them to list three reasons they are taking the class and three ways it benefits them.

Examples:

I am taking counseling in order to get a clearer picture of what I want to do for a career. Then I will know what classes to take, and understand the way I learn, and school will be easier for me.

I am taking photography to learn new skills because I love taking pictures. It will give me personal satisfaction, and I can learn about career options related to photography. 

I am taking anthropology because I need to improve my grade, and taking it again give me a better chance of getting into a four-year college.

It will also allow me to try out my new study strategies, because I think they will help to improve my grade.

With an image of the end of the semester clearly in their minds, students will find it much easier to achieve their goals. 


Cure For Hissy Fits Over Homework October 02, 2016 08:32

"When people feel that they have no control over their situation, they may also begin to behave in a helpless manner. This inaction can lead people to overlook opportunities for relief or change." Theory on Learned Helplessness

"I am going to get into trouble because I forgot an assignment. The teacher is going to yell at me and embarrass me in front of the class. I don't want to go to school tomorrow. I want to change schools. I hate my teacher!" Susie screamed after she realized she left her workbook page at home. Her mom stepped in and tried to console her, but she didn't get anywhere because Susie was unconsolable. She was certain of the outcome of forgetting a paper. So, her mom did what many mothers do, she got angry at the teacher and threatened to report her to the principal, "No teacher should make fun of a child who forgets a paper! I'll just have to do something about this." 

Susie's mother made an appointment with the principal the next day, and the principal asked her to speak with the teacher. Susie's mom met with the teacher reluctantly. She really wanted to tell her off for being so mean, but she quickly discovered the teacher was very sweet about the missing assignment, "We all forget things and this will not be the last time Susie forgets something. I will make sure she knows that it is not a big deal. We are working on strategies in the class to help children resolve issues like forgetting assignments. When children have strategies for handling challenges, they will stop with the meltdowns. Should Susie get upset again, please reassure her that all she has to do is come to me and let me know she had a challenge, and we can discuss ways to avoid the same mistake again." 

Susie was conditioned to respond to mistakes in a learned helplessness way. Her mother would respond emotionally each time and step in to resolve the problem. Susie's mom became the momma bear ready to protect her disturbed cub. Susie had FEARS: Feelings and Emotions that Appeared Real to her. Her mother's reaction validated the unrealistic fears. Both Susie and her mother lacked strategies for handling challenges related to the homework. 

With the support of Susie's teacher, Susie's mom was able to fill her toolbox with strategies to help Susie manage future challenges. 

Homework Solutions for Weary Students and Their Parents offers 32 different challenges students face and the possible solutions which will fill student's toolboxes and empower them to no longer feel helpless. 


I'm Beaming September 04, 2016 06:29

It was September 2012 when I first taught my granddaughter how to do her first night of homework scheduling. She is a strong willed child and my daughter thought I could deal with this task while she went to Back to School for the kindergarteners. Alex had just turned five, and as any proud grandparent would tell you, she is very bright.

Most people would think I was crazy doing a 5 day schedule with a five year old, but she took to it like a duck to water. I asked her to decide if she was going to do her homework before dinner or after. We discussed showering and when she would watch a little television. Her response, "I think I'll do it tomorrow." That was not an offered option. We discussed the ramifications if she overslept or if the work took longer than she'd predicted. She was told she would not get to go to gymnastics on Thursday if her homework wasn't done by Wednesday night.  That was enough for her to stick to doing work in the afternoon. 

Since dinner was a fixed time, she decided when she would shower, put out her clothes for the next day, do her homework, play, and watch television. 

Fast forward to September 2016. My daughter presented my granddaughter with five daily plan sheets for her to schedule her coming week. I asked her to share her thinking process with me as she completed each pay. I was blown away by this nine year old. I heard things like, "I have to be in bed by eight. I want to read a little, so I really need to get to bed by 7:30. I don't want to go to bed with wet hair, so I will need to shower before dinner which is 5 o'clock. I will have to shower at 4:30 to give my hair time to dry. I want to play a little Mine Craft, but I know I need time to come down from playing, so I think I'll do that right after I eat dinner at 5:45 until 6:30. I'll make my lunch at 6:30. Then I'll still have time to talk to mom and dad if they are available. If they aren't, I can read or play with my Legos. That means I'll need to do my homework before I shower. I guess I'll do my homework right when I get home. I'll put it at 3:45, so I have enough time to have a snack. I'm starved after school. That gives me 45 minutes to do homework and if I need more time, I just wont' play Mine Craft or read." 

I was amazed at her backwards planning. She started at the last thing she was going to do and planned the rest from there.

This was no accident. There there many failures since 2012. They, however, were viewed as learning opportunities. She did go to bed with an uncomfortable wet head, which she lived through but did not like. There were natural consequences such as incomplete assignments and forgotten lunches and backpacks. Though uncomfortable, she survived and is still motivated to avoid them to this day. 

It's much like traffic school for adults. We hate it, but it does motivate us to watch our driving closely for at least a little while afterwards. 


Learning to Fail Successfully Guarantees Success February 27, 2016 23:40

Learning to fail successfully is the foundation of the Homework Solutions' Method of instruction. Too many children are afraid to fail, because they don't see the value of it or know how to benefit from what it tells them. 

John Maxwell is a motivation speaker and success coach. His blog this week focused on developing grit in children and I wanted to share it with you. It is worth your time, so I hope you enjoy it. 

This Blog post was created by John Maxwell and can be viewed at his website at John Maxwell.com

"It turns out success has little to do with intelligence, personality, appearance and social standing. And the long-stand measure IQ is not difference between great and passable performance. Research today says,  all kids and adults are capable of success, but what we need is a better understanding of what motivates us in our pursuits. It’s not all about acting quickly and easily, it’s about who can get gritty and outlast the rest, the ones who make it despite challenges along the way.

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, studied cadets at West Point military academy, students in the Chicago public school systems and participants in The National Spelling Bee. In her research, she discovered that kids with solid work ethic, marathon-like motivation and self-discipline are the most successful. These are kids with what she calls, “a growth mindset,”This means they have the ability to learn and understand that they can change the outcome of a problem with effort. When kids realize that failure is not a permanent condition, then they keep trying and keep going. They get “grit.”

Grit as defined by Duckworth, is passion and perseverance on a daily basis. It is a belief ingrained in the mind that success takes years, it takes commitment and resilience to make a future dream a reality. Simply put, it’s living life like a marathon, not a sprint.

Through her research, Duckworth also debunked the misconception that the more talent a person has, the more successful they will be. She showed that talent is inversely related to success, meaning that kids with talent have more trouble overcoming challenges than those who accept their lack of skill in an area early on.

It becomes a choice of will. Being willing to be wrong. Being willing to start over. Being gritty.


How do you do it? How do you teach a tee ball team with a losing streak or a tune-deaf amateur piano player to try again? John C. Maxwell gives us four practical skills to hone as adults and pass down to the ones just a few steps behind us as we harness grit and resilience in our daily living.

1. STAY OPTIMISTIC.

Optimism is not naïveté. Expect that failure is an option and it’s one more “way to do something.” It might be a wrong way, but recognize that you’ve eliminated a method or approach that doesn’t work and therefore, you learned something good and valuable. Choose optimism and choose to keep moving forward.

Ask: What did I just learn and how can I use what I learned to make it better?

2. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

Failure generally doesn’t happen in a vacuum; others can always be pointed to or passed the responsibility for what went wrong. Owning our part in the breakdown will provide a moment for reflection, refinement and ultimately reward. Taking responsibility creates maturity, understanding and wisdom in the one who practices it.

Ask: What did I do to contribute to this situation and what can I do better next time?

3. REMAIN RESILIENT.

Move on and don’t look back. Remember what you learned, but don’t stay stuck on the pain of the present. Carrying the burden of failure overtime makes us weak to our problems. We allow failure to gnaw at us instead of having control over thoughts and feelings. Be mindful of comparison, rationalization, isolation, regret and bitterness toward others. These are signs that you’re getting stuck and you need to evaluate your thinking.

Ask: How am I thinking about this? What does my self-talk sound like? How can I force myself to stand up against it?

4. GET GRITTY.

Once you’ve reflected on your failure, it’s time to try again, and quickly. There’s nothing worse than time to let fear flourish. Recognize the reality of where you are and then act your way into facing your failure head on. Get back on your two-wheel bike, approach the person who’s gossiping about you, take the test again, try out for the team once more, and this time, be courageous, be bold, and get your grit.

Ask: What do I need to try again, and this time be ready to fail without fear?"

Please share you felt about this article.


Cell Phones For Children February 27, 2016 17:22 3 Comments

Sleep issues plague my students. Recently a student approached me for help with her sleep problems. It was clear that the culprit of her sleep deprivation was due to the endless group texts that continued binging until eleven o'clock at night. 

One would not be surprised if this comment was made by a middle schooler, but I am a third grade teacher. Apparently, this is a common problem amongst my eight year old students.

The first reaction of most is to past judgment on the parents for letting the children have a phone or ipad of their own in the first place. There is a belief held that parents should control its use. 

I love technology and all it has to offer, however I am aware of the negative impact of using these devices. A few come to mind: sleep deprivation, early onset of cataracts in thirty-somethings which usually don't appear until one is a senior citizen, computer vision syndrome, and social media/game addiction. 

Some pediatricians feel children should never be exposed to technology until they are forced to use it once they reach school age. Others believe children should not have a phone of their own until they are at least eleven. Those selling apps for children's use will tell you the technology will make children smarter and more competitive. Of course, their data is designed to sell a product. 

What do you think? Please weigh-in with you opinion in below.

 

 


The Value of Play is Highly Underrated October 13, 2015 06:54

"Ask any children what they do for fun. You will be amazed at what they consider play. One little girl stated she liked to play dress-up. When asked how she played, she responded, "I have this program, and I get to click on the dress I want the doll to wear." Author Unknown

This child is missing the experiences and the fine motor development children of the past benefitted from. She is missing the cutting out of dresses, folding the tabs, and then carefully placing the dress on the doll so that it wouldn't fall off. She is missing the experiences that paper dolls offers. She is using one finger. 

If she really played dress-up, she would gain strength in her abs as she dressed in over-sized pants. Putting one leg in a pant leg forces the other leg to engage muscles and strengthen the core. Weak cores translates into difficulty completing tasks and sustaining attention in class. 

Unstructured play that engages the entire body and all of the senses can help children grow cognitively in ways that no amounts of tutoring or computer programs can replace.  In the following excerpt from my new book, I tell a story of one of our field trips and offer some suggestions to help children improve their writing ability. 

We had a wonderful trip to Shipley Nature Center. When we arrived, a student was heard saying, What are we going to do for thirty minutes? Is there playground equipment? Did we bring balls?We replied by saying, You have nature to play with. See what games you can come up with.They quickly found trees to climb, sticks to use as building materials, as well ducks to follow and watch. Games of tag and running around the park also followed lunch. As we explored the habitat of the Tongva during our time at Shipley, we were doing more than sharing the history of a people who lived in this region; we were teaching the children how to observe their surroundings. With their enthusiasm for the rabbits, spider webs, lizards, and butterflies, we knew they would have plenty to write about when they returned.

 

We know parents want to help their children maximize their performance in class. If youd like to help you child become a better writer, forego extracurricular writing classes and try some of the following free programs:

 

  1. Ask your children to turn off their devices and look out the window.
  2. Play I Spycar games. This is a game that has children describe what they see outside and the other passengers guess what it is that was spied.
  3. Take your children to the park with nothing other than a lunch and a blanket. Engage all senses by sharing what you hear, see, smell, and feel. Touching leaves, the grass, and tree bark and then describing it is offering sensory experiences that will give children something to write about.  Lie on the blanket and look up at the sky and share what you see. This is great on cloudy days, but also good when there isnt a cloud in the sky. Ask your children to wonderabout what they see. i.e., I wonder why the bark on that tree looks like it is peeling?or I wonder what is living high in those branches?” Go for a walk and talk about what you see and ask them to share. Encourage them to look at the colors in leaves and grass. Sharing these experiences is front-loading childrens writing with beautiful images. Verbalizing observations later translates into excellent writing.
  4. Go to the beach and build a sand castle together. Discuss how the sand feels. Observe what happens when the water is poured onto dry sand over and over again. Take time to let your senses experience the trip. Have them stop and take a few minutes to observe what they smell, see, hear, and feel. The texture of dry and wet sand offers great opportunities to share how each feels and why there is a difference.

If we were to translate the dollar value of these experiences, it would be far more than what the extracurricular programs cost, and have a further reaching benefit for the children. When they learn how to observe their environment, they will begin to do it automatically.




 

Anecdote: Mr. Helliwell and Ms O went on a several trips together.. Mrs. H noticed that Ms. O  was moving so fast, she was missing a lot. So, she suggested Ms. O sit in one place, carve out a one square foot section in the sand and just observe it for ten minutes. What could one see in a 1 square foot of sand is amazing, but how many of us take the time to do that. Try it, you will be surprised. 

 

The value of unstructured play and free exploration is highly underrated."