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Technology Time Management Strategies April 11, 2019 15:32

Tech Management Strategies That Get Buy-in By Children

Before students begin to schedule themselves they need to understand the following:

  • Their brains form and prune dendrites, which helps build memories and recall information
  • There are chemicals emitted during game playing that are needed for concentration and proper healthy sleep 
  • The brain needs a break after video game playing to maximize their study time and sleep
  • Scheduling games before study times and before they go to sleep will make studying harder and make it more difficult to remember what was learned the night before.

Scheduling their game playing requires an understanding of time. Because their prefrontal cortexes are not formed fully, it is difficult to schedule themselves automatically, but they can be trained how to do it. Firstly, they need to see what time looks like. Providing them a daily schedule broken into fifteen minute increments for the time represented when they leave school until their bedtime is not enough. To a poor time manager, the scheduler below gives them a false sense of having a lot of time.

So, we need to help students see time differently. To manage tech, they need to think about all the other things in their day they need to consider that they normally wouldn’t think about. The first part of time management training is to make a list of all outside activities they have after school. Ask the children to fill in the times they have to set aside for extra-curricular activities and chores.

Most students do not consider all the time wasters that result in finding themselves out of time. They need to put time to travel, dress, eat, bathe, and the need to add extra minutes to each task to allow for unexpected challenges.

To a poor time manager this schedule has a lot of white space that gives them a false sense that they still have a lot of free time. We need to show students how little time they have. When I began highlighting unavailable time, it created a sense of urgency in my poor time managers to get to work right away.



Now this student has a better sense of the actual time left to study, do homework, or play a video game.

When scheduling their game playing, they have to take into consideration how much brain rest they need to be effective with their other responsibilities. If they play for fifteen minutes, they should allow a minimum of 30 minutes of brain rest from video games before attempting to study or complete assignments. They will need to have at least an hour of brain rest prior to going to sleep to maximize their recall of information learned that night. Looking at this schedule, my student decided he could play for fifteen minutes before he went to soccer practice. He considered everything he needed to do before he could play, such as get into his soccer clothes. He also stated, "If I play for fifteen minutes and go to soccer, that will give my brain enough rest so I can concentrate on my homework when I get home." On another day, he announced, "Doesn't look like I have any game time in my future today." 

When they understand that their brain functioning can be compromised by playing the game, they will gladly make appropriate decisions. Ask the students if they would like to remember tomorrow what they study tonight. Video game playing before going to bed can impact their brain’s ability to get the right kind of sleep that promotes easy recall the next day.  Ask them if they want to waste their time by playing a game and risking not remembering what they tried learning the night before. They will usually make the choice of planning their game playing when it won’t impact learning and sleep. After they have assigned times to each activity they need to complete for the evening, they are ready to decide when and if they have the time to play games.

Empowering them to make these decisions about game playing will serve them well when they are alone in their dorm room with no one monitoring them. 

Next Blog will deal with the advertising strategies game makers use to capture our children's attention. 

 


How Can I Motivate a Student? November 23, 2018 13:47

At my most recent presentation, I was asked, "How can I make a child do their homework?"

My answer was rather blunt, "One can't make another do anything against their will." The old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," holds true to children as well. 

So, how do we encourage children to do their homework? I use the same means to motivate students as advertisers employ to motivate people to purchase products, or politicians use to motivate people to vote for them. I help them see what is in it for them. 

There many things teachers have done in the past in their desire to motivate students. Some have been punitive, while others use rewards. Neither is tremendously effective when the fear or the reward is removed. We want students who are intrinsically motivated. Neuroscience Education has accomplished that for my students. 

Neuroscience help to create buy-in for my students.  They begin to see the value of regular practice provided by homework.  Neuroscience explains how the brain makes and retains information. It explains why students make think they will remember concepts, but without practice, they forget.  It has been the single most effective way for students to be encouraged to:

  • Study every night instead of waiting until the last minute
  • Review for tests and quizzes to determine what they didn't know
  • Practice for presentations
  • Ask questions about homework so they are prepared to do every part of it when they get home. Neuroscience explains why questions help the brain find answers and cement concepts. 

I begin the year with a lesson on the different parts of the brain involved in learning and creating memories that will support them with their homework and tests. Once they understand how each part of the brain functions best and how to use each part effectively, students will practice for tests and presentations without any prompting from the teacher. 

I have several ways to share neuroscience with students. Contact me for more information.


    What Would Your Children Put in Their Bags? August 21, 2017 15:17

    My grandson just started second grade. His first homework assignment was to fill a bag with five items that would tell the class something about him. He gave it great thought and placed the following items in his bag: 

    • A medal he earned from swim team that required lots of practice to show improvement
    • A belt that he earned in Tai Kwon Do
    • A medal he earned in diving that only came after many back and belly flops
    • His Par Core Band 
    • A badge he earned in Cub Scouts

    I thought he would put in a dinosaur because he used to spend hours playing with them. Each of his choices are centered around something that didn't come as a gift, but instead came only after hard work. His medals weren't the "you tried and so you deserve a medal" kind. They represented a symbol of hard work. Not one of the items were connected to anyone helping him.

    There were times when he wanted to quit, because he wasn't making progress. My daughter encouraged him to keep working at it. She retold stories of people who gave up on mountain climbs one foot from the top of the mountain. He heard stories of Michael Jordan, who was told he would never make the high school team, but kept practicing until he did. 

    So when we want to step in and help our children do that which they can do for themselves, we need to remember the struggle is what holds the real value. We simply need to coach in strategies that will allow them to experience the joy of the journey and obstacles they overcome. They will come to realize the real joy is in the struggle and not the medal, grade, or award.

    Be sure to take time to celebrate every struggle as a means to an end. When they achieve their goal, celebrate the struggle that led to the success. Tap into how the struggle felt and how the achievement feels. Tapping into the emotions will assure them of continuing the work toward future goals.


    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. 


    Summer: A Great Time for Grit Building July 02, 2017 08:58

    One of the attributes of truly successful people is they have grit. Grit is the courage and resolve to complete what one has started no matter what obstacles are met. I do not believe grit builders are just born that way. I believe they learn it at a very young age. This summer, I will be sharing different strategies for facilitate grit building. 

    Grit building comes from an environment that allows for mistakes and imperfections. It doesn’t expect a perfect product, but celebrates the process a child goes through in completing a goal. It celebrates mistakes as opportunities for change, and it is an optimistic environment where all things are possible.

    Working with children over the years, I have come across a lot of parents who do things naturally that we can all learn from to help our children. I want to share the wisdom of a mother I met several years ago whose child clearly possessed grit before he entered school.

    I recall observing her son on the Pre-K playground trying to figure out how to put the blocks together in just the right way to create a tunnel through which others could crawl. The tunnel would collapse, but that didn’t stop this little fellow. He tried a different configuration. It didn’t work. He continued working the entire recess. When the bell rang, he begged the teacher to leave the blocks the way they were so he could continue working on his plan.

    His teacher shared that it took him two days to finally find the right configuration. She shared how he celebrated quietly with some “Yes, I did it,” hand gestures and promptly called his classmates over to test it out.

     How did he learn this? I was curious, so I asked his mother about the motivational strategies she used to help her son stick with a job until it was successful. She said it simply, “I just always felt he could work things out. A puzzle frustrated him, so I just kept telling him to try something else. I didn’t play into his crying like I have seen other mothers do by showing him how to do it. I just had confidence that he would eventually get it. He didn’t that day or even the next week. I think it was a month later while he was in the playroom, that I finally heard a shout of excitement that indicated he had achieved success at something. When I went to see what the shouting was about, he held up the puzzle and showed me he had done it. I didn’t want to praise the product, but I did want to praise his effort and the fact he didn’t give up, so I asked, 'Aren’t you glad you didn’t give up?' He was definitely glad he didn’t. I think this is why he sticks with a project until he gets it complete. I was not one who tolerated crying. But I did recognize the frustration when it didn’t work. I would tell him, “I get that this is frustrating. Put it away for now and come back to it when you feel like you want to try it again. Crying won’t help put the puzzle together, so go play outside for a while and you can try it later.”

    This mother was helping her son develop strong character and at the same time was providing him with strategies for coping with challenges that he will use for his entire life.

    It's easier to do things for frustrated children, but that does not build grit. It eventually creates co-dependency. Grit building can begin today, by establishing a mindset reset about our children’s challenges. If we see them as opportunities to try a different way, our children are more likely to develop the girt necessary to experience success in whatever they pursue.

    How can you do it today? Try teaching your child a new game. Pick something that would not be easy, but something that the child could get better at with practice. My mother never let us win. We had to win legitimately. I played Scrabble with her for years and it wasn’t until I was 65 that I was able to beat her. I was so proud of that win that I posted my success on Facebook.  Throwing a game so the child can feel good now does not teach grit. Being a gracious looser and learning to try again will help build grit. Offer to share a few strategies, if the child wants it. Giving up is not an option. Extrinsic rewards for the effort a child puts into playing a game or learning a new are not as helpful as praising their effort and the the fact they did not give up. Take time to recognize improvements your child has made and encourage them to keep at it, because practice will improve performance.  

     

     


    What I've Learned From My Students June 14, 2017 06:59

    Two things I have learned: I can't read minds! I am not a magician.

    I am entering my 23rd year of teaching third grade. In my 45 year in this profession, I think I have enjoyed what I have learned from my students more than anything. I think the one most important thing I've learned from them and an Ah Ha I would want new teachers to know about is I can't read their minds. 

    When I finally realized that I could not predict what my students would glean from my words of wisdom, I became a more effective teacher. It was when I stopped teaching concepts and started answering their questions that real engagement occurred. Yes, the good old Socratic method of teaching. It is by far the most effective way of engaging students I have found to date.

    Students today are more self-centered than in the past. The influence of technology has changed the way they think. They want immediate gratification and have little patient for long drawn out instruction. I can't model their games, so I just have to cut to the chase. I begin by sharing with them the following words, "I don't know what you don't know. I want to know what you don't know, because I don't want to teach you what you know already because that would not be interesting. I tried taking mind reading classes and have been hugely unsuccessful. So, since I don't know what you don't know by looking at you, how am I going to know?" Of course, it takes them a few minutes to process what I have said, so I often repeat it. It gets a chuckle and then one student raises his/her hand and answers, "If we tell you?" Then that follows with how can you tell me what you don't know? The obvious answer is by asking questions. 

    Why does this method engage so beautifully? Think about our engagement when we ask someone a question. We want to hear the answer. 

    The one challenge with this method was getting students to recognize the value of listening to their classmates questions. So, I ask them, "Whose question is more important than your own? It is your classmates. They are going to ask something that you didn't even think of asking and alert you to something you didn't realize you needed to ask. When others ask questions, think to yourself, 'Can I answer that?'" 

    I love this method of instruction. It puts the students in the driver's seat and allows for natural differentiation of instruction. I have been teaching the curriculum for 22 years and I always get questions I have never heard before. It really takes the boredom out of teaching for me. 


    Even the Worst Teachers Can Offer Valuable Lessons May 16, 2017 21:02

    This sounds wrong. How can a terrible teacher be the best teacher for a child? 

    As my children traveled the educational highway, they hit many potholes along the way. Some of these obstacles were the teachers they encountered. I was like any parent and wanted great teachers for my children. They lucked out most years with teachers who loved what they did, but there were a few teachers who clearly had chosen teaching for the summers off. 

    Like any mama bear, I wanted to protect my children from teachers who treated students poorly. Since my policy was never to go to battle for my childrenI did what a friend said she would do I armed them for battle by teaching them how to diffuse and process comments that were less than supportive.  What I discovered along the path was poor teachers would offer me opportunities to teach my children how to talk to and deal with people who didn't appear to care about them nor their education. I now realize these teachers were offering my children opportunities to learn life skills that would take them far in their secondary education and beyond. The skills they learned by interacting with difficult people has served them well in their careers. 

    As a student educational coach, I have come across students who have also formed negative self-images because of an unkind comment from a teacher. 

    One middle school girl came to me for tutoring in math. As a tutor, I don't do the instruction. I coach children how to ask questions of their teachers which helps the teacher become more effective. It also empowers students to get what they need from their instructors. This method ultimately ends the need for tutoring. 

    As I worked with this twelve year old (let's call her Svenia), I discovered her questions indicated how bright she was. I asked her, "When did you decide you weren't smart in math?"

    This question sparked a memory that brought tears to her eyes. She shared that the question caused her to see a green eyed monster and heard her say, "You are so smart in everything else, how can you be so dumb in math?" 

    After much questioning, we were able to determine that it was possible for the teacher to have said that she found it funny that math was so hard for Svenia. This middle schooler had added her own interpretation of this comment because she found math to be her only challenging subject in school. She didn't realize that although math was not her strongest subject, it didn't mean she was dumb. She spent years suffering with this idea, which translated into her giving up any time there was a challenge. 

    At the time, her mother just got mad and blamed the teacher for not understanding her daughter. This teacher had offered Svenia a great opportunity had her mother capitalized upon it. 

    When Svenia first complained that she felt stupid in math, her mother could have asked a few questions: Why do you feel that way? Did something happen to make you feel that way? 

    Svenia needed reassurance that a struggle did not indicate she was dumb. She never learned that a struggle means one needs to ask some questions and persevere

    When I shared this story with another mother, she said, "Well, there are some teachers who judge children and don't like it when they ask questions. And when they do, they get criticized for it and are told they aren't smart enough."

    My daughters had a few of those types of teachers. They discovered two of them in middle school and a few in high school and a lot of them in college.

    The first experience my daughter had was in middle school math. She worked very hard to do well in math. She found her questions resulted in getting one-to-one instruction from previous teachers.

    In seventh grade she came across one of 'those' teachers who didn't seem to like children. He had formerly been a high school math teacher. He didn't have time to deal with questions in the short time he had the students. However, my daughter knew the power of asking questions, because they had been so powerful in the past. She was a little frustrated because this teacher had made students feel stupid when they asked questions. Because she didn't know how to deal with this type of teacher, we role played how she could ask for support. We practiced scenarios she might encounter, until she felt comfortable asking him for support. She asked for a conference with him during lunch. He surprising agreed to it, but he stipulated she would need to make it fast. 

    My daughter shared the following with him"I know it can be frustrating answering questions when you have so much to teach. I am not sure why I don't know this one step, but I really want to do well in this class, and I'm afraid if I don't understand this formula, I'll get lost with new lessons. Could you show me where I went wrong with this problem?" She showed him her attempt to out work the problem. He looked at it and said, "I'm so glad you made an appointment. It is hard to deal with questions in class." He proceeded to show her where she had gone wrong, and then he spent the entire lunch helping her clear up her thinking.  

    From that point on, he would stop by her desk and ask her to show him her work to be sure she was doing it right. 

    My own daughters' experiences with poor teachers have been wonderful opportunities to teach something that was not on the curriculum: How to deal with mean people who don't always have common sense (seem to lack compassion???).  

    What I have learned over the years, is that when students have teachers who respond in rude and/or negative ways, it creates opportunities to learn a great deal beyond the curriculum: 

    How to survive in less than desirable conditions.

    How to recover from snide comments, rise above them, and still communicate in ways to get their needs met.

    How to diffuse an angry person. 

    How to persevere.

    If I had stepped in, my daughters would never have learned how to diffuse the difficult people they have since had to work with in their professional lives. One daughter is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and is very comfortable respectfully questioning doctors about the protocols they may have prescribed for their patients, when she feels it's in the best interest of those patients. Quite simply, those early potholes were truly teachable moments for the realities of life. 

    For this reason, I am grateful to those 'less than wonderful teachers' who taught my children that there is much more to education than academics. 


    Nuts and Bolts Not Included March 18, 2017 09:36

    Very few people read directions carefully which can be very time consuming. I am no exception. Students rarely read directions to their homework and projects 'as if' they are going to tackle their assignments right away. So, it stands to reason they experience challenges once they get home.

    I encourage them to read the directions so they can ask clarifying quesitons. Many of students read the directions like I did when I went to the store to purchase a "Do-It-Yourself" bookcase. I looked at the directions on the box and determined I could do it. I purchased the bookcase and proceeded home. The trip took a half an hour, but once home and changed, I took out the toolbox I inherited from my father's. Remembering all his instructions about construction, I felt confident to do the job. 

    I laid out the pieces on the floor and opened the directions. The first direction said, "Attach piece "A" to piece "B" with a quarter inch bolt."

    I looked inside the box and didn't find any nuts and bolts. I thought they might have been taped to one of the pieces, but alas, they were not. 

    So I read the directions more carefully. The last thing on the directions was, "Nuts and Bolts NOT Included."

    Imagine my frustration. I had to get dressed, get back in the car, go to the store, and find the right sized nuts and bolts. An hour and a half later, I was able to start the construction. 

    I tell this story to the students to emphasize the need to read their directions carefully, or they will waste time like I did.

    Their homework will take 1/3 the time if they ask about it before they leave the class. Half the work is done when they examine it carefully enough to ask questions. The act of asking actually improves memory, which will make the assignment easier to complete. 

     

     


    Stories From the Classroom-Stopping Blurters March 17, 2017 06:44

    My students have taught me more than I think I have taught them.

    I had tried several different strategies in my bag of tricks to get students to be respectful of one another and wait their turn to share ideas. Most of them worked for a short time, but would not have a lasting affect on the repeat blurters.

    Last week, I finally found a strategy (by accident) that has had the longest lasting affect than any others I have tried in the past. 

    A student was sharing her idea during a classroom discussion. She could barely get her idea out before ir stimulated several other comments. The expression on her face told me she was very frustrated, so I asked her, "Sweetie, how did it feel when you were trying to share your idea and your classmates started talking over you?"

    Her response opened up further conversation. "I felt like no one wanted to hear what I had to said."

    I asked the class if they had ever had others talk over them or cut them off. Every student in the class had friends or parents cut them off while sharing ideas. So, I asked the class, "How did it feel when you had something really important to share and the person you were talking to wouldn't let you finish?" 

    The following were their responses:  

    "I felt like I didn't exist."  

    "I felt like the other person didn't care what I had to say."

    "I felt like I wasn't important."

    "I felt frustrated when I was trying to share my ideas."

    "I felt like they didn't think what I had to say was important."

    "I felt like my idea were wrong and their's were right, and they wouldn't even give me a chance to tell them what I was thinking. It was like they didn't care about my idea and only cared about being right."

    I was amazed at how well these 8 and 9 year olds could articulate their feelings.                                                                                       
    I followed up with another questions, "Do you think the people that cut you off do it to make you feel this way?" "Why?"                         
    The students realized that those who consistently cut others off didn't realize how it made the others feel when they were interrupting them.                                                                                     
    I had no idea how powerful this dialogue was going to be. From that point on, we have had five class discussions and a group assignment. In each case, the students have been great listeners who allow their classmates to complete their thoughts before sharing their own ideas.      
                                                                           
    Yesterday, the students worked in groups of three and were asked to construct a paragraph in response to a social studies question.      
    The paragraphs were great and definitely the result of a collaborative effort. The best part of all wasn't the amazing paragraphs they constructed, it was the comments afterwards.
    "I felt like they were open to my ideas."
    "I got to share my idea and my friends helped me see why I wasn't correct."                                                                                               
    Every child felt heard. I'm holidng my fingers crossed that this will continue. I'll keep you updated.                                                                                               
    It only took forty-four years to find this strategy. 
    It is June and I can say that the children have not forgotten the discussion we had in October. There are still a few who get very excited and forget, but on the whole this has definitely been one of those strategies I will write in my journal as a must do next year. 

    Secrets Students Should Know #7 March 12, 2017 10:27

    Secret #7: Secret Makes Mistakes, Too!

    Because teachers make mistakes in grading or when writing on the board, it is important for students to keep a watchful eye and be respectful when they catch an error.

    Instead of shouting, "You left out a 't'," it would be more productive to ask for clarification about how the word is spelled. For example, one could ask, "I might be wrong, but I think the word has a "t" in it." 

    The mistakes on tests are more important for students than getting 95%. They tell the student what they didn't know. It is very important that they get used to reviewing their corrected papers to find out what they missed. 

    If a mistake is detected, telling the teacher they made a mistake is not an effective form of communication. Instead, state, "I think I got number five right because......(state the proof). Can you tell me why I got it wrong?" 

    This approach will demonstrate students' thinking about the question and aides the teacher in offering more effective instruction. 

    Teachers often write questions with one answer in mind, and they don't realize the other possibilities until students bring them to their attention. If students support their answers with facts and reasons, they will demonstrate their true understanding and gain favor in the teachers' eyes.

    Through their questions, students can alert teachers to a question that needs rewording. 

    Students can also improve their grade in three ways by advocating for themselves:

    1. They may be correct and an error was made in grading which will raise their score.

    2. Grading is subjective. Therefore, if a student is wavering between a B+ and an A-, the teacher will feel comfortable giving the A- if the student has been a respectful self-advocate.

    3. Asking about errors on tests helps students think about the questions and improves memory for later recall. 


    Recommended Reading October 11, 2015 19:29

    I highly recommend Goldie Hawn's book 10 Mindful Minutes. It is amazing how much students performance can improve when they learn how to be mindful. There are many books available that offer strategies that I will share in the future. For now, her book offers strategies that gives students and ourselves the social and emotional skills to reduce stress and anxiety for happier and healthier lives.

    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. 


    Secrets to Managing Time: Cure for Procrastination August 15, 2015 12:08

    LIMITED TIMED OFFER!!

    With the new school year starting, getting students to understand their daily schedule is very important. To help you help your children, I have created a Backwards Planning Time Management Video. I am making the first in the series available to you for FREE.

    Click here to view this video NOW! It will only be available for viewing for a short time, so tell your friends.

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    Do it today TO GET STARTED BEING THE FIRST TO RECEIVE FUTURE VIDEOS FOR FREE!!


    Parents Share Their Concerns July 29, 2015 06:38

    Last night, I presented to a lovely group of moms of children of various ages. They shared many of the same concerns, so I thought my readers might enjoy hearing their questions and some strategies I offered for dealing with their challenges.

    In today's blog, I will answer Question Number One: What if my son claims he is bored?

    Boredom is often misunderstood my students. They use boredom when they really mean “hard.” Clarifying this will help them understand what ‘boring’ feels like and what they can do about it.

    It helps to ask them what is boring about the subject they are studying. They may be able to answer that question, or they may say the teacher is just repeating what they already know.

    If they don't know what is boring, clarification is helpful. Ask if they have a subject that isn't boring. Then ask, "Why isn't it boring." I can pretty much guarantee they will say, "Because it is easy." Respond by saying, "So _____ isn't boring because it is easy, right? Could it be possible that ______ is boring because it is hard?"  Students will see they have been defining their feelings incorrectly and will understand what they actually are feeling is “it is hard for me.”

    Redirection again about dealing with “hard” is very important. "So if it is hard, how do you think it can get easier?" Most students will honestly answer, "By practicing." Offering students ways to practice is helpful.  They will need actual things they can see themselves doing in order to change their feelings from “hard” to “easy.” Be watching for my next blog about my soccer analogy. It helps students see the value of practice.

     

    If children claim the material they are learning is what they know already, share that teachers often remind students of past information when they are trying to offer new information that is an extension of something they have already taught.

    Encourage them to listen for the new information. Repeating information is also another way teachers help students build stronger recall around important information. Teachers will revisit concepts to assure that the concepts are not lost. The movie Inside Out beautifully demonstrates the workers throwing away old useless memories that aren’t needed anymore to make room for new ones. The movie is a beautiful explanation of how the brain stores and prunes information. Helping children see that revisiting these concepts is something to be glad about, since it is helping them store memories and saving them for future use.


    Seven Secrets About Teachers Every Student Needs to Know to be Successful July 22, 2015 10:08

    Over the years, I have been training students how to create their own Owner's Manual for their teachers. It is somewhat like a Teacher's Manual on How to Teach Me, a student's manual. When students know what they need to be successful, they are more apt to become engaged learners. Instead of passively participating in the class, they become actively engaged learners who know how to get their needs met. 

    The first place I start is by sharing my "Seven Secrets About Teachers."  Today I will share my first secret: "Teachers are NOT Mind Readers!" 

    Teachers can have the most expensive mind reading glasses or taken the most expensive mind reading course like I have, but they still don’t know what you are thinking or feeling. In fact, they may often misread your mind.

    They also might think you understand everything they are saying, and yet you do not. They may think their instruction is clear, when it is not. They may think you don’t care when you do, or they may think you weren’t listening, when in fact you were. 

    Students' jobs are to make sure they communicate effectively and ask lots of questions. By asking questions, they are helping the teacher clear up confusion.  Questions alert the teacher to the strategies for instruction that are most effective for each student.  Future instruction is directed more by students' questions than by a manual. If the questions are asked of parents, parents are the only ones who know what the students are thinking. If the questions are asked of the teacher, instruction will improve. 

    Overcoming the fear of asking questions is the next topic I will be discussing in my blog. So stay tuned.

    I will be demonstrating my "Seven Secrets about Teachers" in my new Video.  It will be available next week for trial reviews only. Only my subscribers will be offered a limited time free viewing. So keep visiting my blog for the announcement. Only the first twenty-five to respond to the "Request to View," will receive the special code.   

     


    Why Do Children Go to Lala Land? June 13, 2015 09:28

    Every year we have children who appear to lose focus and daydream. I found this article by Paul R. Scheele that explains why students go to "LaLa Land" instead of asking for support.

    It's natural to ask for help during challenging times. But why are some people comfortable reaching out, while others are anxious and restrained?

    According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, our willingness to ask for help appears to be regulated by two completely different brain systems—one detects threats and one is responsible for achieving goals and bonding with others.

    "A balance of two important systems can influence an individual's behavior and emotional expression in times of need," says Ned Kalin, lead author of the study and chair of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

    "The findings suggest that how open an individual is willing to be in asking for help may depend more than we thought on how secure that individual feels at any given time in a supportive relationship," he says.

    In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online, researchers separated 25 monkeys from their cage mates. For 30 minutes the researchers measured the frequency each monkey made "coo calls" to signal for social support. Researchers then scanned the monkeys' brains for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior.

    The brain scans revealed that monkeys who called out for help most had more activity in the right prefrontal cortex—the region responsible for achieving goals and bonding with others—and less activity in the amygdala, responsible for detecting threats. On the other hand, monkeys that called for help less frequently had less activity in the right prefrontal cortex and more in the amygdala.
    So why wouldn't the animals experiencing the greatest threat and most fear be more apt to call for help?

    They're frozen, Kalin explains in the study. "We showed that some monkeys will become inhibited and freeze when they're frightened, especially when a predator is nearby and the monkey believes that it hasn't yet been discovered by the predator. We observed that the greater the fear, the less likely it was that the animals would call for help."

    The authors believe that the same may be true for human relationships. "When a person feels safe enough in a relationship to express his or her vulnerabilities, this appears to be associated with a decrease in amygdala activity and an increase in prefrontal cortex activity. As relationships become more secure for the people involved, it's likely that changes in amygdala and prefrontal cortex activity may be responsible for the accompanying increase in sharing of intimate feelings."

    Do your students feel anxious about asking for support? My upcoming video, "Overcoming the Fear of Asking" will break through the barrier that students possess and help them fee comfortable with asking.  Learning to ask in a hostile environment with teachers who do not embrace questions is an art taught in this video series. Watch for the announcement of it's availability.

    Jack Canfield says, "If you don't ask, you already have a 'no. So at least give the universe a shot at it by asking."

    I say, "If  you don't ask, the answer is "No." If you do ask, you get a 50% chance of getting help and getting a yes. I'd go with the better odds."

     


    Be Alert to Repetitive Bathroom Breaks May 13, 2015 06:34

    Yesterday, I was notified that one of my students was taking too many trips to the restroom during math. The teacher also reported that this student appeared to go into "Lala Land" during instruction on long division. She is a highly gifted writer and an avid reader. In fact, she chooses to escape into her fictional world at every opportunity she can. When asked about what she was avoiding in math, she admitted that division was very hard. Even though she knew her basic multiplication facts, she confessed she had a hard time finding the facts for division.  This is not uncommon for right brain learners. After a discussion about the types of intelligence one might have and that being good at one subject does not mean you have to find all subjects easy, she admitted she felt stupid and didn't want to tell the teacher she didn't know how to do the division. 

    ***When I spoke to the teacher, she disagreed that the student didn't know her facts. Knowing ones facts and applying it in division are to completely different processes. A right brain learner needs to have facts turned into stories, so the missing factor or product can be easily accessed. "Memory Joggers" are a great way to teach the math facts.  They are available online.****

    What do Repetitive Bathroom Breaks Mean?

    Repetitive bathroom breaks can be more than a physical need to eliminate.  There are several reasons students might ask to go to the bathroom. The most obvious is they haven't used the bathroom during their recesses.  They might have a bladder infection.  

    But what about the child who consistently asks to go to the bathroom several times during one class period? If the above reasons have been ruled out, it is possible the students are avoiding an assignment or tasks that seems overwhelming to them. The children who deal with stress with this type of coping can be below average, below average, or very gifted students.

    Coping by avoidance actually can be physiological in nature. The first response to a threat, and not knowing how to do something or get started on an assignment is considered a threat, is to shift into the stress response. The first signs of stress can be the desire to eliminate.  In the wild, animals that feel threatened will eliminate any extra weight to facilitate a quick get-away. We are no different. When we are threatened, we react with a primitive response that will protect us and assure our survival. 

    So, what do children do when they feel stupid? They go to the bathroom.  

    Help students who tackle challenges this way by sharing the natural response to fear. Then help them identify why they are feeling this way. 

    If you need specific support, email me the challenges and the behaviors you are observing, and I can offer support. I am here to help.


    Cheating: Cause and Cure October 31, 2014 06:49

    Cheating can be a sign a student is stuck. Having high expectation for oneself can lead a student to resort to cheating. Many times these students are penalized, this does not change  their situation.  They are often labeled bad students.

    Why?

    Because they have not been taught to recognize what it feels like to be stuck and then how to get unstuck. 

    Stephanie was working on math concepts and asked to go to the bathroom. After returning ten minutes later, she resumed her attempt at solving a few problems. Five minutes later, her peer informed me she was cheating.  

    Her sudden desire to go to the restroom was the first sign of a struggle. The first sign of the stress response is to flea.  In nature, the first thing that animals do for a quick get-away is to eliminate any waste that could slow them down.  We are no different. When we feel stressed for any reason, it is natural to suddenly have to use the bathroom. So, when a student suddenly has to use the bathroom, it could be due to the fight or flight response because they are lost, confused, don't know how to get started, or are afraid the teacher will get mad at them.

    Cure:  

    1. Students must understand that it is okay to not know how to do what the teacher just taught.  Reassuring them that their questions about what is confusing helps the teacher be more effective in teaching them. Being bright is not going to save them from experiencing "not knowing."

    2. Students must over-come the fear of asking questions. There is a belief that questions will make them look dumb in front of their peers. My video will help them see the value of their questions and them overcome this common fear. Please have them watch it.

    3.  As soon as students feel like it's time to visit the bathroom, have them ask themselves, "Am I stuck. Do I need to ask a question?" Then have them determine the exact part of the question that is confusing.

    4. Help them realize that cheating means they feel they shouldn't struggle.  Tenacity is the one characteristic that sets one researcher who can cure a terminal disease apart from another researcher who falls short. Struggle is the one thing that will cement a concept.  Working through the challenge gives a good feel of accomplishment that prevents dendrites from pruning. 

    5. Teachers will want to remind themselves that if a student cheats, they don't know another way of overcoming an obstacle. They simple need another way of handling the challenge.  This requires trying different things until a strategy is found that works. 


    Perfectionism Paralyzes October 30, 2014 20:42

    I presented at a conference this weekend.  I met many wonderful teachers and parents.  I will be addressing their questions here, so everyone can learn from their challenges.  My goal is to offer strategies teachers and parents can add to their backpacks before they need them.

    Questions:  How do I deal with a perfectionist?

    Dr. David Walsh stated, "There is difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence. Perfectionism is a profound fear of mistakes."

    Embracing mistakes as indicators that there might be a better way or a better answer is not an indicator that one is not smart enough. In fact, making mistakes and learning from them by changing what didn't work is smart!

    Strategy: Evaluate mistakes and decide, "What can I do next time to avoid this mistake?' Ask yourself, "What did I learn from this mistake?" Then celebrate the learning opportunity.  Parents: Shift your review of mistakes from over reacting to the mistake to celebrating the opportunity it offers.

    Three weeks into her freshman year, I received a distressed call from my daughter.  "I don't belong here.  I am not smart enough to be here." Once she settled down, I was able to determine that the she was judging her ability to manage college life by one event.

    To help this make sense, let me give you a little background. After taking AP courses in high school, my high achieving daughter decided to attend an honors college on the opposite side of the country. She had gained confidence taking the AP courses, so she felt prepared for this big change. To help herself adjust to the new environment, she retook Psych 101 even though she could have opted out of it.  The first week the professor assigned a small paper on a topic she had researched in high school. So, in hopes of building a relationship early on in the class, she visited the professor to ask if he would look at her paper and see if she was on the right track. The professor was impressed and returned the paper the next day riddled with red pen.  This devastated her. She was certain the paper would be returned with rave reviews, because this same paper got an "A" from her high school AP Psychology instructor. She judged her ability to manage the class by the criticism of this professor. I shared another way of looking at it.  "You do belong there.  Your high school teacher was looking for one thing from your paper. This professor is looking for another. He just handed you back an "A" paper.  Go do the research and give him what he wants. If you handed  that paper to sixteen different professors, you'd get sixteen different types of corrections.  So go give this professor what he wants." 

    Not only did that make her feel better, it taught her a way to make sure she is on the right track for each of her future professors.  

    Lesson One: Asks instructors to look at your papers a few days before they are due to see if you are on the right track.  The feedback from each professor will be different.  The only one you want correcting your paper is the person who will be grading you. 

    I once heard a student stay, "I read the text book and research the topic of each class I take before the class, so I will be able to answer the instructors questions and know what is going to happen in the class."  This student shared she was fearful of being called upon and not knowing the answer.

    Another student shared how getting anything less than an "A" on a paper was unacceptable because she was bright and that was the expectation. She struggled with turning in papers in fear that they would return with something less than the expected "A."

    Many students feared asking questions in class because they feared being dropped from a college class.  They had a common misconception. They believe questions are an indicator they are not smart enough for the class. This is inaccurate. The truth is, professors want their students to ask questions so they can be sure they are being clear.  It's impossible to teach the same way year after year without questions. 


    Next Blog Topics: Cheating and Overcoming Boredom