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Would a Study Group Help?

January 16, 2019

Harvard discovered that one of the best predictors of college success was having a study group. Would your students benefit? Study groups can help students stay motivated and organized. In fact, it’s shown that they can be even more effective than classroom discussions in helping students learn and remember. If you have students who struggled first semester, or just lacking motivation or enthusiasm, consider encouraging them to form study groups. Be sure to help guide them, as there is clear evidence of what works, and what doesn’t, in study groups. Rule #1: Manageable Size   Keep a group size of 3 to 5 members so everyone has an opportunity to actively participate while allowing for diversity of opinion. Rule # 2 Shared Goals  Ideally all participants have a similar objective for… Read More

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Want to Ensure College and Career Readiness? Develop Flexible Thinking

December 17, 2018

It’s true that verbal and abstract reasoning are the cognitive skills that predict academic achievement. The ability to make sense of complex information is undeniably essential to learning at every age. But once students leave the K12 classroom, research suggests that flexible thinking might be equally important to college and career readiness. As explained by author Eric Barker, “Schools reward students who consistently do what they are told— and life rewards people who shake things up.” What is flexible thinking? Flexible thinking is the ability to shift gears or change direction to adjust to unexpected circumstances or novel problems. Educators might be acutely aware of students who struggle with flexibility, even if they don’t always realize it. They might view these students as “stubborn” or “challenging”. Inflexible thinkers often resist change, reject redirection, or refuse… Read More

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SPEED: The Standardized Tests Demon

November 17, 2018

  There is no single reason why a student under-performs on standardized tests. But if there’s a pattern of a student’s standardized test scores not living up to grades, SPEED is often the culprit. If the classic fable of the tortoise and the hare were a metaphor for school, standardized tests might be the one occasion that the hare comes out ahead. Standardized tests favor quick thinkers — the kids who finish first with an A, even if they don’t get the highest score in the class. In contrast, students who work more slowly and deliberatively might be capable of answering the most challenging questions, but they run out of time to show it. Speed Challenges Can Worsen Over Time Unfortunately, the… Read More

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ACT Changes Extended Time: Does it Matter?

June 6, 2018

Summing it Up Students who qualify for extended time will still have the same total amount of extra time. Before, students could spend their extra time (1.5 hrs) on whichever of the four tests they chose. Now that time is proportionally allocated across the four subject tests. This is a change for the ACT but exactly how the SAT allocates extended time. The change takes effect September 2018. Read the full ACT press release. Who Benefits? Students who struggle with time management and organization, typically those with ADHD. This might also help students with weak flexible thinking who often have difficulty evaluating trade-offs. Not needing to make decisions about how to allocate that large block of time across four tests… Read More

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The Opposite of Grit–Why Kids Quit

April 17, 2018

It can be painful to watch talented kids quit. We muse how successful this kid would be if he just had grit and resilience. We might have even said it outright, “You have so much talent. If you just…” And yet even Paul Tough, one of the leading authors on grit, would be the first to say, that we can’t teach [or implore] students to be grittier. And telling a kid he shouldn’t or can’t quit rarely does much good. So do we stand by and allow talented kids to “throw away” their gifts?! Of course not. It’s Natural to Want to Quit According to evolutionary psychologists, wanting to quit is the most natural human response when we face challenges. Most of us are hardwired to avoid failure; it’s only a small percent… Read More

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