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The 10 Back-to-School Tools & Apps that Every Student Needs

As you’re preparing to go back to school, having the right tools to work with can make school a lot easier!  As you’re preparing to go back to school, having the right tools to work with can make school a lot easier! Here are the most important tools I would recommend setting up before the year begins. 1. Binders and/or Folders for homework, notes, and handouts While some schools are going electronic and giving out less paper than they used to, most students still have a lot of paper they need to keep track of for their classes.  So, it’s important to find a system for storing that paper that is going to be organized and easy to use. For some students, this will be one binder with a 2-pocket divider for each subject to store homework and handouts, and some lined paper for notes behind each pocket.  For students on block scheduling, it might be 2 different binders — one for “A day” and one for “B day”.  Other students might prefer to have 5 smaller multicolored binders— one for each class, with a homework packet in the front of each one.   For students who dislike binders,

By |August 11th, 2017|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

Back-to-School Goals: What you need to know

For many students, Back-to-School goals are like New-Year’s resolutions…they’re set with the best of intentions, but are typically forgotten within the first few weeks.    Studies suggest that only 8-10% of people who set New-Year’s Resolutions actually end up achieving them.    Why are these success rates so low? Because most of us have never actually learned how to set goals effectively.   We’re trying to figure it out by trial and error.  And a lot of the time, we’re getting it wrong.    This is especially true for students, who have significantly less real-world experience setting and achieving goals than the average new-year’s-resolution-setting adult.   The good news is, there ARE strategies you can use to beat the odds and help your teen set more effective back-to-school goals this year.   Here are some guidelines to get you started!     4 Keys to Setting Effective Goals: 1. Don’t just “do your best”: Set specific, challenging goals How many times have you been told to “do your best”?  Well, it turns out that may not be the best advice, after all.In studies of how goals affect performance, researchers have found that “specific, difficult goals consistently lead to higher performance than urging

By |July 31st, 2017|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

Missing Homework? Two Quick Solutions!

Now that classes are in full swing, a lot of teachers are starting to assign more homework. And with more and more schools going digital, a lot of these assignments are being posted online. Depending on your student's school, assignments may be announced in class, posted on individual teachers' websites, or posted on a learning platform like Scoology, Canvas, Edmodo, or Its Learning. This can be challenging for students, especially if they forget to check the website every day, or if they're checking the wrong sections of their websites and missing important announcements. I've been having lots of fun this week exploring some new tools and techniques to make it simpler for my students to track their homework more effectively, and wanted to share a couple of videos with you about how to make this process easier. Here are Two Quick Solutions to Combat Missing Homework: Technology Tip 1: Create a bookmark folder for teachers' websites If you have teachers who post their assignments online, it's a really good idea to check those websites every day to make sure there's nothing new that's been added. However, a lot of students find this is tedious to do, so they don't end

By |September 15th, 2016|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

4 Steps to Avoid Summer Procrastination

Even though school is out for the summer, most students still have assignments to do…whether it’s reading 3 books, working through a math packet, taking an online class, studying for the SAT...or all of the above.Left to their own devices, many students end up scrambling to complete these summer assignments in the final week before school starts...which creates a lot of stress & anxiety for them and their families.While this may be the default way students operate, it’s often not what they really want.When I sit down with students to discuss how they'd like to handle their summer work, and discuss the pros & cons of different options, they typically choose one of two approaches..."I want to finish my work as soon as possible, so it’s out of the way and I can relax for the rest of my break!"OR "I want to do a little work each week, so I don't have too much to do on any one day"So, if students don’t really WANT to procrastinate on their work & leave it until the last minute, how can we help them make better choices about how to spend their time?Here are 4 tips to help avoid summer procrastination:1. Put them in charge of making the planStudents are much more likely

Making the Most of the End of the Semester

Students often wait until the final week before exams to study, believing they will remember the material better if they study it closer to the time of the exam.  It's true that the material will seem more familiar if they have seen it more recently, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to recall it on the test.  In order to remember what we’ve learned, we need repeated practice recalling it from memory and applying it to practice problems.This makes sense if we think about how we practice a sport, or a musical instrument.  In these contexts, we intuitively understand short-term “cramming” doesn’t work.  Can you imagine a football team waiting until the week before playoffs to practice, and then staying up late – putting in hours on the field – to “cram” before the big game?  Of course not.  No team would practice that way…and if they did, they would certainly lose the game.Yet, students often attempt to study hard right before their final exams.  In addition to leaving less time to study, “cramming” also causes students to…Feel stressedWorry about the testAdopt quick and ineffective study strategiesStore the material they learn in short-term, rather than long-term, memoryLose

Taming technology distractions: Internet blocking apps for students

Do you feel like you're always having to police your kids, telling them to put away their phone and computer so they can start their homework? Are you concerned about how the phone and computer are affecting their ability to stay focused on their assignments, and complete their work efficiently? Even when teens have good intentions to sit down and focus on their homework, technology is such an enormous part of students lives, is often very difficult for them to turn it off. And for many students, turning technology off completely is impossible, because their assignments are posted online, so they need access to their computer in order to complete their work. However, once they’re on the computer, there are about a million other things to do that are more interesting than homework.   If only there was a way for kids to have access to the sites they need for their homework, without being distracted by everything else on their computer! ...Introducing web blocking apps There are actually a number of apps that allow students to do exactly that — block the distracting websites & apps on their computer and phone, while giving them access to the sites they need to complete their homework.  If this sounds like

Papers everywhere? Help your kids create an organization system that works.

Does your child's backpack look like a whirlwind hit it? Despite the increasing numbers of schools that are “going digital”, many K-12 students still receive a large amount of paper on a daily basis. And without a system in place to reliably organize & keep track of all this information, students can end up... Accidentally leaving the worksheet they needed for their math homework in their locker at school Spending "study" time searching for the notes they need to prepare for the test Staying up late to complete a history assignment...and then getting a zero because they can't find it when they get to class.  If organization has been a struggle for your child in the past, here are 5 steps you can take to overcome the challenges they've been facing and set up a paper management system that works for them. Step 1: Set goals that matter to your kids What are the benefits of getting more organized? It’s especially important for your child to have an answer to this question. It may seem obvious to you that your kids "should" be more organized. But unless they understand the benefits they’ll get from the new system you’re creating, they’re unlikely to

By |January 9th, 2016|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

Prioritizing homework: What to do first?

"What's the best way to prioritize homework?" "Should I do the easiest assignments first?  Or the hardest ones?" I’ve heard from a number of parents and students recently who have been wondering how to prioritize homework. It’s sometimes hard to know whether starting with easier or harder assignments is better, because there are benefits to both approaches... Starting with the easiest assignments...Reduces the risk of procrastinationGives students a quick ‘win’ so they feel encouraged to continueGets some assignments checked off the list quickly, so there are fewer things to think about Starting with the hardest assignments...Enables students to tackle their most difficult work when their focus & energy level are highestGets the most challenging work out of the way, so the rest of the homework feels easier & more enjoyablePrioritizes work that is a large percentage of students’ grade, and/or the classes where they need the most improvement Since there are pros and cons to each approach, how do you know which one to choose? For the majority of my students, I actually recommend using a blend of the two approaches.  What I like it do is...Start with an EASY assignmentTackle a CHALLENGING assignmentTake a short break...then repeat until the work is finished! Here is a diagram of what

Is homework taking forever? Try taking more breaks.

 Now that we're a few weeks into school, students are starting to spend more time doing homework in the evenings.  The standard guideline for homework is that students should be spending approximately 10 minutes a night doing homework per grade level.  So, that equates to an hour each night for a 6th grader, and 2 hours for a senior in high school. Unfortunately, many students spend far more time on homework than this, which is frustrating for them and their parents. So, what can we do to help students work more efficiently? Somewhat counter-intuitively, one answer is to take more frequent breaks! Study breaks provide a number of important benefits, including...Less procrastination. When homework seems challenging, students often put off starting it until as late as possible.  However, if they know they're only committing to work for 30 minutes or so, and then they will get another break, it's often easier to get started.  More focus. When there's a clear distinction between work time & break time, it's easier to distinguish between "work time" and "break time" activities (texting, etc.). It's also easier for students to resist tempting distractions if they know they'll be able to to whatever they want on their next break... instead of until

Why students procrastinate (Hint: it’s not what you think)

How does your teen respond to deadlines & due dates? Do they typically...a) Get started on their work as soon as it's assigned?  b) Wait until the due date approaches before they begin?c) Delay starting their work until (or past!) the last possible second? While many students argue that waiting to start their work is "no big deal", procrastinating can actually have some pretty serious costs. For some students, it means they don't have time to finish their work before the deadline...so they're getting low zeros on uncompleted assignments and low grades on tests for which they weren't prepared. Other kids manage to meet the deadlines by staying up late to complete their work...but end up feeling stressed out, exhausted, and coming down with frequent colds & illnesses.  And these are just the short-term costs. In the long term, high levels of procrastination are associated with lower salaries, shorter terms of employment, and a greater likelihood of being unemployed or under employed rather than working full‐time (Nguyen et al. 2013). WHY do students procrastinate? Given all the problems procrastination creates, why is this such a common and widespread problem? Why don't students learn to avoid it?  We used to think that procrastination was due to a character flaw, and that people who put things off until the last minute were simply lazy, or unmotivated. In