ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

The following article appeared in the Scottsdale Tribune 

By Amanda Keim
Tribune 

Students have a lot of power in the classroom: They can change the way their teachers teach just by asking the right questions. That's the message Victoria Olivadoti, a California teacher who operates the Web site http://www.homeworkdoc.com/, had for Scottsdale students last week. The Scottsdale Supporters of the Gifted asked Olivadoti to town to share some of her classroom strategies. 

MISTAKES SHOULDN'T BE SCARY

Don't think of a mistake as something bad, Olivadoti said. Instead, think of it as something you don't know. A lot of students are afraid to ask questions because they're afraid their classmates or teacher will think they're stupid. But students who ask questions do classmates a favor, Olivadoti said. Chances are at least one other person in the class wants to know the same information.


ASK FOR HELP

When parents help students with homework, the assignment may turn out well, but that doesn't help the teacher spot problems. When teachers see a complete, correct assignment, they assume the student understands the concept, Olivadoti said. But when students ask where they went wrong or if the material can be presented in a different way, teachers know they have more work to do. "Some of the most important information I get is from children telling me they don't know," Olivadoti said. 

STAY FOCUSED

It's easy to pay attention to a subject you like; it's the subjects students don't like that make their minds wander. Olivadoti offers several ways to pay more attention to dull subjects: 

• Ask about the test. You'll need different information if the test is multiple choice, essay or fill-in-the-blank. 
Tell the teacher you'll get the most out of the unit if you know what you'll have to do at the end of the chapter. 

• Stay positive. If you think you'll do poorly, your brain will help that become a reality - and filter out information. 
Thinking you will do well will help you remember more. 

• Squeeze something. If you start feeling sluggish, squeezing something like a stress ball will help get the blood flowing. 
Sitting at the edge of your seat or chewing on something can have the same effect. If gum isn't allowed, Olivadoti said, chewing on clean aquarium tubing works well too. 

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