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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. 


Know-It-Alls With Comprehension Problems August 27, 2015 05:54


Since we can all learn from each other, I would like to share questions a parent posed about her son recently at one of my trainings and my answer. I hope this helps other parents struggling with the same thing.

Questions: She shared that she is concerned about her first grade Know-It-All son who struggles with reading comprehension.  He is going to be in a first grade accelerated class in the fall. What should I do?

This is my answer to her:

It is hard for parents to know exactly how much to push their children and when to back off. I have the advantage of having seen children grow and develop over the years. Firstly, the know-it-all child doesn't always grow into the know-it-all adult. If your fear is that he will become that adult that no one can stand, I can assure you that he will quickly be leveled by his teachers, peers, and the reality of the real world.

"Know-it-alls" tend to be more insecure and that is how they cope. It can be a coverup for knowing he isn't as smart as everything thinks he is. Young children coverup not knowing how to do something by saying it is boring or they already know it. If he begins avoiding work and doesn't do assignments because they are "boring," he will be sending the message that he is struggling. In the minds of bright children, it isn't okay to struggle. They don't realize that even bright people struggle. Helping him identify that he is labeling hard things boring and offering strategies to solve the challenge will help him more in the long run. Reassure him that hard is okay for even bright children. 

Since he is going to be in an acceleratd class, I encourage you to watch his reactions to those things that are challenging.

If he is a strong math student, he may not be great at writing. He may be a good reader, but his comprehension skills do not match his oral reading fluency. This is not uncommon for young readers. They are so focused on reading the words, which is what they are learning to do at that age, that they haven't yet develped the ability to retain what they have read.

I can read a whole chapter to my class, have them engaged because I am reading with feeling, but I won't remember the next day if I read that chapter.

Reading words and retaining the meaning are two separate skills created in two separate parts of the brain. The left brain is reading and the right brain is forming images to retain the meaning. They don't often come together, especially for boys, until later. For this reason, your son may not remember what he has read. If someone pressures him, he will feel inadequate and resort to being a know-it-all. It's all a coverup. I would recommend having him stop after each sentence and see if he can picture what he read in his mind. Then have hime retell the story. That is training for real comprehension. 

Watch my video on the brain. It will explain what will happen to him when someone asks him questions about what he read that puts him into stress mode. He will not remember his name if he is stressed enough. 

One more point: Most early readers skil the important skill of learning the rules of phonics. They make the connections between letters and sound, but because they come in with reading, they are skipped into a program that doesn't teach phonics. As a result, when they are older and the words become more difficult, they don't always know how to break them apart. If you see that happen, I would alert the teacher about his never being taught phonics and that he might need some training in the rules of syllabicaiton and irregular sounds.