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Topic Archives: Uncategorized

The 10 Learning Traits that Drive Academic Outcomes

June 21, 2019

  Here is a brief summary of the learning traits that determine just about all areas of academic learning. Every single one of us has a unique combination of these traits, just as we all have our own unique fingerprint. The 10 skills are organized in four key domains. Click on the links for more in-depth information on each skill. Complex Reasoning Complex reasoning is the ability to analyze information and solve complicated problems. When students use reasoning skills, they are thinking through ideas in a logical way to arrive at a conclusion. This is often referred to as “higher order thinking.” Don’t be surprised if you have a child who is strong in one area of reasoning but not in another. That’s why we… Read More

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Summer Assignment: Foster Creativity

June 2, 2019

If you read one education book this summer, consider Alan Lightman’s In Praise of Wasting Time. If it strikes too close to home, you’re not alone. Lightman articulates what many of us are feeling. That our very wired, very stressful lives are driven by a pervasive feeling of #FOMO (fear of missing out). We feel we need to be purposeful (or at least seen to be) every minute of every day. And it’s exhausting. The Joy of Doing Nothing Lightman begins with a vivid reflection on his childhood, as he describes, his “careless, wasteless hours at the pond.”  He makes us wistful for the joy of doing nothing.  While Lightman mourns that loss, at least he has memories. His concern is that today’s kiddos won’t… Read More

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Want to Ensure College and Career Readiness? Develop Flexible Thinking

December 17, 2018

Note: This is one of a 10 blog series on learning traits. Read about all 10 learning traits here. 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… Read More

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The Opposite of Grit–Why Kids Quit

April 17, 2018

It can be painful to watch kids quit. Especially when we see talent. Sometimes we hold our tongues. And sometimes we might blurt out what we are really thinking, “If you just had some grit, or cared more, or weren’t so lazy.”   Unfortunately, telling a kid he shouldn’t or can’t quit rarely does much good.  Paul Tough, one of the leading authors on grit, says that we can’t teach [or implore] students to be grittier. But that also doesn’t mean we need to stand by and allow talented kids to “throw away” their gifts. Instead, we need to understand, listen, and encourage to help them choose the harder (but better) path. Understand: It’s Natural to Want to Quit According to evolutionary psychologists, quitting… Read More

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Can America’s ‘lost Einsteins’ be found more easily than we think?

February 4, 2018

Are we looking for the ‘lost Einsteins’ in the wrong places? Research suggests we should be looking at students’ spatial and flexible thinking skills, not math and science scores. Who are the ‘lost Einsteins’? Late last year the The Equality of Opportunity Project released a report concluding that the U.S. is losing out on as much as 400% of innovation potential by failing to effectively nurture under-represented minorities, i.e. Blacks, Latinos, and girls. The report states, “there are many ‘lost Einsteins’ – people who would have had high-impact inventions” but never do because they grow up in communities where math and science in general, and innovation specifically, isn’t fostered. Stories in the NY Times and The Atlantic among other outlets fueled the social media discourse about an educational system… Read More

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Prioritize! The Key to Improved SAT & ACT Test Performance

January 9, 2018

It’s not that easy, but it is that simple. Your students’ test scores will improve if they prioritize their studying.  And since we know that most students can’t and won’t prioritize without help, these 5 steps will help any teen prioritize and create an effective SAT or ACT test prep plan. In fact, with a few changes, this 5 step plan will work for any important exam in high school, college, or beyond. 1. Make It a Priority: Take a Full Length Pre-Test. Start by taking a full length, timed practice test, including the writing section. It’s not easy to give up 4 hours on a weekend, but you need to do it. If you’re still deciding between the ACT and SAT, use this SAT vs. ACT Guide to help… Read More

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Is Your Student Hiding a Gift?

November 28, 2017

  Do you know a kiddo who can assemble a Lego set in the blink of an eye? Tells the bus driver how to find his street? Helps you design your bulletin boards to perfection? What do these seemingly nice-to-have but not particularly useful skills have in common? They are all reflections of a student’s spatial perception. And while we might not ask students to apply spatial skills very often in school, spatial skills are essential for careers in engineering, advanced mathematics, robotics, and design. What’s more, spatial skills have a unique role in the development of creativity. Many researchers believe that superior spatial skills are the “X factor” that separates creative geniuses like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Frank Lloyd Wright from the rest of us. If spatial… Read More

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Secret to Solving Math Word Problems. Hint: It’s Not about Math

November 12, 2017

Teach students to use stronger reading skills to make them more comfortable, and successful, in math. How to Use Reading Skills for Solving Math Word Problems Provide students with a reliable set of rules to follow for any word problem. Knowing exactly what to do when they see a word problem will make them more confident, and stronger, math students. Remind them that these are very similar to the rules they follow in English class so they know they can do it. Find a printable checklist of these steps here. Mark up the question. (a) Underline exactly what you are asked to find. This will ensure you don’t go astray midway through the problem. (b) Circle the numbers you will use to solve the problem. Circling will make them easier… Read More

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Parent Teacher Conferences: Making the Most of 15 Minutes

October 30, 2017

  For many, the coming weeks bring parent teacher conferences. If that engenders some hesitation, you are not alone. Parents, teachers and administrators all acknowledge the parent teacher conference system is flawed. Teachers feel rushed to cover too much information. They might feel barraged by questions from parents who recognize they have limited time and want lots of answers. Parents regularly complain there isn’t enough time to hear all they need to help their child improve. Even the typically objective wikipedia cynically describes parent teacher conferences as: Meetings generally led by teachers who take a more active role in information sharing, with parents relegated mostly to the role of listeners. It’s not that schools don’t want to fix the system. It’s just logistically challenging. See the side bar for a quick read on one… Read More

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The Coach Approach for Kids with ADHD (and other Complex Kids)

October 27, 2017

This is the second in our two part series for ADHD Awareness Month. Last we wrote about why identifying ADHD is so important. This week our guest blog is from Elaine Taylor-Klaus, co-founder of ImpactADHD and past board member of CHADD, who discusses the importance of parent coaching. The best way to help our kids is often to help ourselves, the adults in their lives who are there to love and support them on a daily basis. by Elaine Taylor-Klaus Do you frequently ask yourself, “why can’t this child just,” or otherwise at a loss for how best to help a child who is struggling daily? You probably parent or teach a complex child. Ranging from 4 to 24, complex kids may be quirky or odd, sensitive or angry, isolated or lonely,… Read More

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