Category Archives: High School

Study Strategies

Study Strategies

By Mary Miele

To navigate independent learning and studying, students must have a myriad of strategies so that they can move through the process of learning. Within this process, students must engage with material in multiple ways, within a structure that works for their learning style as well as over time. The goal is for them to gain knowledge, comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. You can see this process in Bloom’s Taxonomy (see picture below).

I met with a middle school student last week who showed me material from her six subjects. She takes English, math, history, science, Latin and Spanish. Most of her classes move at a rapid pace and her teacher does not cover some of what she needs to learn in the classroom setting. Due to the rigor of the curriculum and its fast pace, it is up to her to have organization and study skills so that she can properly digest material once she leaves the classroom.

This student’s experience is consistent with what I see happening to students we work with across New York City. There is an expectation that students take home the work they are exposed to in the classroom, then work with it until they truly master it at the highest possible level.

For a myriad of reasons, it is rare for these kinds of study skills and strategies to be taught explicitly to students in the middle school. Thus, many students are feeling stressed and unsuccessful within the studying continuum. They come home and complete homework, but do not have an approach to master the material they are supposed to learn.

Thus, those of us who support school are tasked with finding ways to support our students through the study process. The following are a few of my favorite study strategies that you can pass along to your student or child today:

Work Within the Evolved Education Study Process

Teach your students to work within a studying continuum.

  1. Gather – collect the information you need to learn
  2. Organize – categorize and simplify what you need to know
  3. Study – engage actively with your material (see below for some ideas)
  4. Self-Test – test yourself to see what you have learned – use Bloom’s taxonomy to help you find some action words to help you (e.g. describe, analyze, compare, criticize ..). Also, know the format of the test and create a practice test to take using that format.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4
  6. Create a one-pager with info you need to study – create a one-pager with the information that is not at 100% just before the test date to review and copy over.

Take Your Time

Study over time. Most students we start working with only work through the first step of the Evolved Education Study Process. They gather up what they need to know, read over it and head into the exam. The problem with this is that they have missed key tasks to ensure they are properly prepared. Anxiety is often formed because these students arrive at the test without being fully prepared. It’s not a great feeling to be unprepared.

When we talk with students about studying, they often tell us they are spending HOURS of time studying. This is often true! However, they are not using that time properly, which is why they are not seeing results.

The key to effective studying is to work through the Evolved Education Study Process routinely well before the test date. In fact, students should be Gathering Information WHILE they are learning and taking classes. They should be Organizing Information EACH weekend. They should begin the studying process a few days before the assessment.

Smart Study Guide Prep

The key to effective studying is to be innovative with how you organize the information you have to learn. I just did a Facebook Live segment on study strategies and you can see me explain a few of these approaches there, too.

Create a two or three column study guide.

The best part about these study guides, which are adapted from the Cornell Notetaking System is that you can take notes as you are learning and then turn those notes into a study guide and experience right away! This can be done on a computer too by typing in notes and then adding a column to the left and/or right of your notes.

Let’s say your child is tasked with learning the information on this page:

Text taken from Eye Wonder Science

Typically, a child will read and take some notes on the important information. To be efficient, just leave a little room on the left-hand side (you can fold the paper to make the line, or add a column in a word or google doc).

 

Students can record notes on the right side of the page and add in questions afterward to aid in studying

The student takes notes and then goes back afterward to write in questions that they will need to be able to answer about the notes. Again, go back to Bloom’s taxonomy and create questions that not only ask the student to comprehend the information, but also analyze it, evaluate it, combine it, etc.

For math, students can divide the page into three columns. The direction for the problem goes on the left. The actual problem goes in the middle and the solution is written on far right side of the page. This approach allows a student to link the directions to the problem and its solution. Often, students are learning language in conjunction with mathematical concepts, so this kind of organization allows students to link the language presented in the directions with the mathematical concepts and skills they are learning.

To study math, students should write directions on the left, problem in the middle, and solution to the right. By folding the page, students can practice following directions and solving problems.

Aside from the column notes, visual vocabulary is becoming more and more helpful for students. Pictures provide students with context for the new language. In addition, see below how we use color to highlight word roots. Email me if you’d like to get more sheets of visual vocabulary.

Students can assign pictures to words they are learning and identify root words within words by using color-coding.

In closing, studying is a process, and part of that process is to review your test taking approaches and feedback from the assessment itself. Please join me on Sunday 12/17 on Facebook Live as I talk about the Aftermath of Testing. I’ll present information about how to rebound from a quiz you could have done better on and how to use feedback to inform your studying process.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions about what you can do to help your child with study skills, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at mary@evolveded.com.

 

 

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

And Why Early Bedtimes Matter

By Mary Miele Learning Specialist and Founder of Evolved Education

I never went to sleepaway camp, but when I was in college, I came home for a summer to work and stay in my childhood home. The transition back home after living away and on my own for the year at school was tremendously challenging. I remember having a hard time communicating with my parents and siblings. I had to account for family member’s routines and needs. I was asked to help around the house and with the care of my sisters. It was hard to live away from home and then come back to live there.

I can only imagine how the transition back home after sleep away camp is for our young students. Camp requires a level of independence and all children will change and grow over the course of time, so who you dropped off at the start of the summer will be different than who you pick up. Adjusting to the changes which happen over 4,  6 or 8 weeks requires some time. The transition won’t happen overnight.  In addition, camp is exhausting. Children tend not to put their guard down and relax completely until they are home. This is normal. A mother I spoke to yesterday let me know that her ten year old son has been sleeping and playing video games ever since he got back. He seems “out of it”.  Sleep and rest seem really necessary all of a sudden.

When I write these kinds of blogs I consider what our clients are struggling with and try to offer some perspective and expertise to help. So, if your child is transitioning into school again (and yes, that transition starts a few weeks BEFORE school begins), here are some nuggets of advice that could help you navigate the transition with your child:

  • Get into the routine of school again. My pediatrician and I were speaking yesterday about my son’s sleep. He’s 10 and can’t seem to get enough of it. I had been letting him sleep in, but she let me know that “sleeping in” is terrible sleep. The better way to get better sleep is to get to bed early. I proposed an early bed time to my son this week – he was shockingly fine with it! So, at 7:45, we are all settling in. He can read, he can relax, but he’s in his bed, with no electronics and no TV. It’s complete down time. He has to be up at 7 for his activities during these weeks, and that is still a little tough for him, but the early bed time ensures that he’s getting enough sleep to function, and I just started this with him–I know through experience that it’s important to give new routines at least two weeks to make a difference. So my advice to you is to stick with the changes over time until you make a judgment call that they are working or not.

 

  • Involve your child in the transition plan. Yes, I did say “plan”. It’s important for children to learn how to plan ahead and parents in this day and age do not typically give their children enough opportunities to be in the driver’s seat to make these plans. I’m guilty too – it’s so much easier just to take the reigns myself. I’m great at planning. I’ll make some playdates and go to the library. School will be here in no time. This approach is not the best for any child, though. It short circuits their opportunity to activate neurons in their brain. Instead, sit your child(ren) down and ask them what they need to do to transition back to school. Mention the idea from the pediatrician about an earlier bedtime. Talk about what options the children have for activities during their daytimes. Show them a calendar so they can see how much time they have until school begins. Involve your child in creating a list of action items everyone will do to prepare for the transition. Parents with teenagers may need to involve a professional to run interference to help with the planning. I find that most teenagers resist the advice of their parents and outsourcing the creation of these plans to a mentor, tutor or education professional can be extremely helpful. One student of ours was just set up with this kind of support — she was procrastinating doing her summer work. Her mother was getting very stressed about it and called us for support. We sent over an Evolved Education ELA teacher who worked with her child on getting the assignment started and mapping out a plan. Since we are a whole child company, the teacher also talked with the student about her overall transition plan — when she would get supplies, what clothes she needed to get for the start of school, what her am routine would be like (she’s starting high school in the fall), what her feelings were about the start of a new school and grade 9!! The ELA teacher partnered with our student’s mother to bridge communication and help with ways to effectively support her daughter.  The ELA teacher Skyped with the student over the course of last week and will do so this week to check in and to provide accountability to be sure the work is getting done. This sort of support allowed the student to become prepared and her mother to relax and focus on enjoying some time with her daughter instead of fighting over the summer work assignment. For some teenagers, there are preferred ways to receive support from parents, and our teachers have an understanding of how to help parents understand how teenagers need to be supported. The transition to middle, high school and college are transitions for parents as well – in many ways parents are all undergoing great changes as school begins.

 

  • Trouble shoot challenges and get support before they snowball. A client of ours called in to discuss a common challenge for our middle, high school and college age students and that is to complete summer work. Most students have to leave this work to the last few weeks of August because of camp and travel. Students get overwhelmed when they look at a 300 page book that has been mandated to read. Starting is hard and keeping the stamina going to really read something with great focus and attention to detail is tiring — if you don’t believe me, try it along with your student. It’s a great exercise to do. Help your child by doing some paired work (you work while they work). Read the book aloud to your child and be sure they take great notes — this causes them to be very prepared for the start of school. The more prepared a student is for the start of school, the happier they are to be there!

 

  • Know that transitioning is a process. This process will begin now, but it will not end when school begins. Often students are on a high during the first week of schoool– there is excitement in seeing friends and teachers again, in getting the supplies and starting a new grade. About a week or so into school, children can experience some anxiety, sadness, or stress. This is usually very normal and it is also where early bedtimes, strong support systems, and plenty of parent-child face time can be helpful.

If you have an issue that you are concerned about, email me to book a call at mary@evolveded.com.  When you plan and work in a supportive way through the back to school transition, it can be a magical time!

2017-2018 SHSAT

 There is a new SHSAT 

As you may have heard, the NYC Department of Education has been planning some changes in the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admission Test), which some 30,000 NYC eighth graders take every fall in hopes of admission to one of the city’s eight specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science.

The key takeaways are these:
  • No more scrambled paragraphs or logical reasoning
  • Grammar, syntax and editing questions will replace the removed content on the verbal side of the test
  • The test will be longer
  • The test will include “experimental” questions that are not counted toward scores
  • The math test will include some student-produced “grid-in” questions
  • 4 answer choices instead of 5

These changes are being implemented in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire to increase the enrollment in specialized high schools of historically underrepresented demographic groups. The number of African-American and Latino students at the schools has been falling in recent years, a development that has generated much public criticism. Whether these changes will move the needle on diversity is an open question that remains to be answered. In terms of test prep, it is possible that the new content on the test will necessitate more tutoring and teaching.

We have attached a DOE memo summarizing the changes to the test as of Fall 2017. These include:

  • Standard testing time is increasing from 150 minutes to 180 minutes.
  • The verbal section is being renamed the English Language Arts (ELA) section.
  • The ELA section will no longer include scrambled paragraphs and logical reasoning questions.
  • The ELA section will now include questions that address revising/editing skills, in addition to continuing to have reading comprehension passages and questions; all ELA questions will be multiple choice questions.
  • The math section will now include five “grid-in” questions, in which students must solve a computational question and provide the correct numerical answer, rather than selecting the answer from various multiple choice options; the math section will also continue to have multiple choice word problems and computational questions.
  • All multiple choice questions will now have 4 answer choices instead of the previous design with 5 answer choices.
  • Each section (ELA and math) will include 57 items: 47 items in each section will be scored, with each question worth 1 raw score point, and the remaining 10 items in each section will be field test items that are not used in determining a student’s score. Scoring and the process for using test results to determine admission to the Specialized High Schools is not changing. See further below for details.

Click here to access the DOE site where you can find information about the SHSAT.

Reprinted from our friends at Noodle Pros

Top Tips for High School Juniors and Seniors

EEC Top Tips for High School Juniors and Seniors

With the holidays right around the corner, December is a busy month! The college process is gearing up for juniors and seniors who are eagerly awaiting the results from their applications. Early Decision and Early Action decisions are being mailed this month and a lot can be done in preparation of the New Year.

Here are suggestions for juniors and seniors from EEC’s College Counselor, Molly Kahan.

JUNIORS

Make your first New Year’s Resolution! Juniors should get a jump start on the college process, because starting early will make it manageable, stress-free and fun.

  • Write a description of your “ideal” college and think about what you would like in a college or university in terms of size, location, academic majors, extracurricular activities, sports teams, distance from home, etc.
  • Visit local colleges to get a “feel” for different types of campuses.
  • Create an account with the College Board (collegeboard.org).
  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT in February, March, and/or April.
  • Register for the SAT Subject Exams for June, if applicable.
  • Prepare for the SAT and/or ACT: ask us about EEC’s Test Preparation Program.
  • Schedule college visits over February and Spring breaks.
  • Get involved! Find volunteer opportunities, clubs and extracurricular activities that interest you.
  • Research and apply to summer internship opportunities.
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss course selections for senior year.
  • Schedule a college consultation session with EEC’s college counselor, Molly Kahan, LMSW to create an individualized college timeline. You can reach her at college@evolveded.com.

SENIORS

If you have been accepted into an Early Decision school, withdraw all remaining submitted applications.

If you have been accepted into multiple Early Action schools, make your decisions and/or start to compare the financial aid packages.

Complete and submit Regular Decision applications.

  • If you have been deferred from an Early Decision or Early Action school, finalize your college list and submit those applications for the Regular Decision deadlines.
  • Remember to have a well-balanced list of “reach”, “target”, and “likely” schools. Do not get discouraged; you will find a school that is a “good fit” even if it was not your original “dream” school.
  • Send your SAT and/or ACT scores to Regular Decision schools.
  • File the FAFSA and CSS Profile for financial aid if you have not already done so.
  • Research and apply for additional scholarships through the institution or outside organizations.
  • Once all of your applications have been submitted, write thank-you notes to anyone who wrote a letter of recommendation.

After the New Year

Look at important dates and attend an “Accepted Student Day” if you still have not made your final decision.
Visit any schools to which you were accepted and have not yet toured.

Five Ways to Celebrate Your Whole Child During Parent Teacher Conferences

Five Ways to Celebrate Your Whole Child During Parent Teacher Conferences

by: Mary Miele
Parent Teacher Conferences are our favorite times of the school year! These meetings provide important opportunities for parents and educators to form partnerships which benefit the social, emotional, physical and academic development of a child. The following are five ways to celebrate your whole child during parent teacher conferences. 
Before you arrive
1) Think about your child in terms of the whole child:
  • What is his or her academic history and experience? What has and is going well? What are some challenges you notice your child having? What books does your child love to read?
  • What is his or her learning style and skills?
  • Reflect on how the school experience is going for your child. What do you hear is going well and what do you hear has been difficult?
  • Review how learning is being supported at home. What do you feel is working and what advice do you need from your child’s educator?
  • Take your child’s social-emotional-physical-academic quotient and determine areas of strength and areas of challenge. Be ready to share these with your child’s teacher. *The SEPAQ is an inventory you can use to identify strengths and areas of challenge within a child’s social, emotional and physical development. 
During the conference
2) Listen to your child’s teacher’s report. Jot down notes within each category of your whole child.
  • Academics
  • Learning Style and Skills
  • School Environment
  • Family Environment
  • Social-Emotional-Physical Development
3) Share the information you have gathered and ask important questions.
Does the information I share with you help you to improve his/her learning experience in school/in your class?
What can I do at home to support my child?
Does my child seem happy at school? Has she/he made friends?
Does my child participate in whole group activities as well as small group work?
After the conference
4) Write up a summary of the conference and share it with your child’s teacher. 
You may organize this using the list provided above in step 2, or just type up your notes from the conference along with next steps.
5) Partner with your child’s educator to create a plan for how to use areas of strength to improve areas of concern. 
Each educator will want to approach this differently. It’s important for parents to ask educators how they’d like to proceed with the plan, as they might prefer to take the lead on the instructional needs.
For more resources on developing parent and educator partnerships, which support the development of the whole child, please read Supporting School: A Guidebook for Parents and Educators by Mary Miele and Deanna Hyslop.

NYC High School Admissions

HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS

Our Talk with NYC Admissions Solutions

By: Mary E. Miele, founder The Evolved Education Company

It’s that time of year again — NYC High School Admissions time and on Saturday, September 17th we join Maurice Frumkin from NYC Admissions Solutions to give information to families about the High School Admissions Process at Wagner Middle School.

Here are a few key resources for every family to have on hand during the high school process.

Specialized High School Handbook

Specialized High School News and Dates for Testing and Auditions

Citywide High School Directory

Manhattan High School Directory

Mock Testing is a fantastic way to prepare for a standardized test. EEC offers all tests, even with accommodations to students this fall. We hold them at Marymount Manhattan College on Saturday mornings in the fall. Email Mary at mary@evolveded.com to book your test. Mock testing costs $150/sitting and includes the test and a graded report within 48 hours of test.

Saturday 9/17 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 9/24 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/1 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/8 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/15 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/22 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/29 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 11/5 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 11/12 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 11/19 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 12/3 9:00-1:00pm
Screened High Schools rank students based on certain criteria including final report card grades, ELA and math standardized test scores, and attendance and punctuality from the prior school year. They may also require an interview, essay, on-site exam, or demonstrated interest in the school (such as attendance at an Open House or other school visit).
To prepare for essays, interviews and all-around excellence in school, call us for a free 15 minute consultation. You may also enjoy our tips as follows:
  • Have your child write practice essays on topics such as “What was your favorite book and why?” “What was  a challenging experience you have overcome and why?” Have someone other than the child’s parent edit and provide feedback on the essay.
  • Practice interviews authentically. Have someone your child does not know perform a mock interview with your child.
  • Prepare and organize your child’s audition and/or portfolio.
  • Be aware of the education standards your child needs to work towards. Work with whole child educators to help your child and your family to thrive within today’s education process.
  • Understand your child’s full academic profile using The Evolved Education Paradigm. Visit us here to learn more.
  • Use your child’s strengths to instill strong study strategies, planning and organization techniques, and academic goal setting into your child’s education experience in middle school. These practices best prepare your child for success in high school.

Above all, during the high school process it is important to remind your child of his or her strengths, talents and passions as well as the qualities you love about him or her. Change and competition are challenging positions for anyone, but especially teenagers. Help your child to thrive throughout the high school process by being organized, by having support, and by enjoying the privilege of having school choice in one of the most amazing cities to raise our young people.

 

Summertime Equals Preparationtime

Summertime Equals Preparationtime

An Article for Parents of High School Students: Preparing for the College Transition

By Molly Lieberman, EEC College Counselor

Graduating from high school and starting college will be one of the biggest transitions an adolescent will experience.

How can a parent best support this transition? One word: PREPARATION. Junior and senior year of high school is the time to start talking about the transition and the time to equip your child with the tools and skills needed for becoming more independent in college. With the increase of responsibilities and the decrease of support structures in college, students often feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. By speaking candidly about some of these changes and by empowering your child with knowledge, the transition can be a less scary thing.

A high school student, with or without a learning disability, is provided with a plethora of support and resources including: parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, and tutors. Once they enter college they must advocate for themselves and make sure their academic and emotional needs are being met. Those needs must be identified and discussed openly so that the student feels empowered to ask for help when necessary. They must be aware of their learning styles, whether or not they have a learning disability, and know where, from whom, and how to ask for help. Parents should start having these conversations early on in their high school careers and allow for their child to practice advocating for themselves when appropriate.

Parents can begin to help prepare their child for the independence college provides. Freshman year of college is a major transition for students, for many it is their first time away from home and having to take care of themselves. College classes are structured much differently than in high school. Classes don’t meet everyday and there is a larger focus on long-term assignments (midterm and final) rather than smaller assignments throughout the semester. Students must take responsibility and keep up with all of their work in order not to cram before a test. They will have to get themselves up and be prepared for class. Does your child have a plan in place on how to structure this newfound free time? How will they be able to organize themselves and make sure they are prepared for class?

Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Year

An essential tool for students is an academic planner, which should be used throughout high school. A planner is a tool utilized to plan out assignments, projects, papers, and nightly homework. In addition, after school activities and other commitments should be recorded in order to visualize and organize “free time”. By having the student take ownership of their planner in high school, which parents can monitor, it will help prepare them on how to prioritize responsibilities once they arrive at college. Breaking down each assignment into small manageable pieces can help alleviate some stress and anxiety. A planner will help to create a realistic study schedule. This practice can then be replicated once students are in college without their parents monitoring them as closely.

Junior and Senior Year

Other ways to prepare a student would be for each one to know how to do their laundry, make food when necessary, budget money, and regulate their emotions when things do not go according to plan. Discomfort is a natural part of life and growing. Although parents want to mediate and manage everything for their child, sometimes a child will have to regulate their emotions when something does not go exactly as they planned it to occur. Additionally, students need to know how to ask for help, early and often. They should be comfortable with asking for help, and that practice can begin in high school. If they are taking medication, do they know where and when to get it refilled? Knowing what is offered in terms of Office of Disability, Writing Center, Health Center, and the Counseling Center will be immeasurable for their toolkit when making the transition to college. Recognizing their strengths and weaknesses will help them to thrive in this new environment.

College brings forth new experiences, but if a young adult is not well equipped to handle these changes, the adjustment period will be more difficult to manage. The key is to practice, practice, practice while still in high school when their support systems are intact, but still give them more responsibilities in order to prepare for college.

Make a plan for your transition into college or into the college admission process by contacting Molly at college@evolveded.com.

You Have Gotten a Spot in a NYC Public School

Congratulations! Now What?

An EEC Primer for Parents of Children Transitioning to a NYC Public School by Gina Rotundo at The Evolved Education Company

Transitioning to a public school as a new student or a transfer student will mean an adjustment period for you and your children. It is an exciting time! If you’re armed with lots of information, you can ensure a smooth transition for you and your children. You will not be handed a guide on the first day of school explaining who is who and whom does what. Then one day, you will receive communication from a member of the school staff and you will ask yourself, “Who is this person and what is this person’s role?” The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is the largest school district in the United States, serving 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. This link will bring you to an organizational chart explaining the DOE Leadership.  The purpose of this primer is to help you and your children experience a smooth transition to a NYC public school, to know who is who and what is what, and to learn some at-home strategies you can use to help facilitate a seamless transition.

Who’s Who in a NYC Public School?

*These roles are not listed in hierarchal order, nor order of importance. 

School Secretary: The school secretary is often the first person you will encounter at your new school. He or she takes care of administrative duties, attendance, enrollment, immunization records, etc. At some schools, he or she is the person you will see to arrange to meet with the principal or the assistant principal. Large schools may have several secretaries, each one with different duties and some with crossover duties in the lunchroom and/or at recess. If you have an inquiry, be very specific about what you are asking and make a note of which secretary handles which duties. Be advised: school secretaries are the busiest at the beginning and end of the year and at the beginning and end of each day.

Classroom Teacher: You may get notice over the summer of your child’s teacher’s name and classroom, but you will not meet teachers until the first day of school at drop-off. This time of the morning is hectic for all and your teacher is tasked with lining the student up and getting them settled in. Some schools will allow students to be accompanied to the classroom for the first few days, but this is often not the case. Take time over the summer to prepare your child for this transition. Teachers use many of the books on this list to help kids on the first day of school.  Click here for suggestions. Be sure to find at least one that suits your child’s reading tastes.

Your child’s teacher(s) will be able to answer questions about academics and grades as well as behavioral, social, and emotional growth. Once enrolled, the teacher should be your first and primary point of contact. You should feel comfortable checking in regularly to help ensure your child’s success at school. Each school has it’s own way of handling communication (email, written notes, phone calls or a combination of all).

Parent Coordinator: Most schools have a parent coordinator who provides families with information about the school services and programs. He or she helps answer families’ questions and concerns and can arrange translations services. Some parent coordinators will send out weekly or monthly newsletters and coordinate workshops for families. If you are unable to resolve a concern with your child’s teacher, speak with your Parent Coordinator.

Assistant Principal: The assistant principal helps oversee the school programs, academics, student support, and discipline. Larger schools may have multiple assistant principals. If you are unable to resolve an issue with the Parent Coordinator, contact the Assistant Principal.

Principal: The school Principal leads and oversees all the school staff and students. If you have concerns that cannot be resolved through your child’s teachers, parent coordinator, or assistant principal, speak to the principal.

District or Borough Family Advocate: District Family Advocates support families with students in grades Pre-K-8 while Borough Advocates support families of high schoolers. If you have an issue you cannot solve at the school, contact your advocate. Find yours through this link.

Superintendents: District superintendents support families with students in Pre-K -8 and Borough Superintendents supports families with high schoolers. Find yours here.

School Social Worker: The school social worker helps parents, students, and school employees identify and address issues that interfere with students’ learning and work. He or she works with both general education and special education students to resolve social, emotional and behavioral issues.

School Psychologist: The role of school psychologist ranges from consultation to assessment to intervention. One of the primary responsibilities of the school psychologist is assessment. He or she assess students suspected of having a disability as part of the process of determining if the student needs services and what the services are to be. School psychologists are also trained to consult with teachers so as to help struggling students.

Guidance Counselor: Elementary, Middle, and High Schools will have at least one guidance counselor. Speak with the guidance counselor about your child’s academic schedule and classes as well as middle, high school and college and career planning.

Paraprofessional: The paraprofessional often referred to as a “para,” is the person who works alongside educators or therapists to provide students with IEPs and Section 504 Plans education services and accommodations that support learning. You might see paras working inside classrooms or assigned to just one student.

School Nurse: The school’s nurse responds to and cares for students’ medical needs at school. Speak with the nurse if your child requires medication or treatment during the school day.

Safety Agent: The school’s safety agent(s) is often the first adult you see upon entering the building. It is his or her job to ensure the safety of students and staff and to monitor and sign in visitors. They are members of the NYPD, but are not police officers and are not armed.

What’s What in NYC Public Schools?

*These events are not in order of sequence nor importance.

What our children are learning in school: While each school is unique, all schools will follow chosen programs through which they deliver the Common Core Standards to our children. In addition to a plethora of useful information like the DOE school calendar, the link below brings you to a guide that provides details about expectations for each grade. You can check the DOE website often or opt to sign up to receive email alerts so that you will have the most updated version of this guide as well as other important announcements.

What our children are not learning in school: While there is some variation, most NYC public elementary schools are not teaching handwriting, typing, foreign languages or computer skills. If learning these skills are important to your family, you may want to research your school in advance to see what “specials” your school offers and determine where you may want to supplement at home or outsource to a tutoring company.

Parent Teacher Conferences: Conferences are held between two and four times a year. These meetings give you a chance to sit down with your child’s teachers and ask questions about how he or she is doing at school. It is critical you attend and if you are unable to meet at the pre-determined time, schedule the meeting for another time. Teachers are mandated to have about 40 minutes each week to be available to meet with parents. Write down your questions ahead of time as most conferences are timed. Be sure to meet with ALL of your child’s teachers so as to have a complete picture of how he/she is doing in school and how he/she spends her day. It is important to support your child in ALL subjects, including physical education and the arts.

This DOE guide can be useful to help you prepare.

Supplies: The DOE has a limited budget. In most cases, the DOE provides a school with a building, all the administration, staff and teachers. The parent body compensates for discrepancies in what is provided and what is needed. Mostly, monies are collected through fundraisers throughout the year. As for classroom supplies, your school will either post a list on the school website during the summer, you will be given a list on the first day of school, or your school will ask for a contribution toward bulk purchasing. If your school distributes supply lists, you may want to purchase supplies over the summer, when you can find items on sale and avoid the back-to-school rush.

Fire Drills, Lock-Downs, Evacuations and Shelter-Ins: Directly from the DOE Website:

A vital component of emergency readiness within the DOE is the School Safety Plan (SSP). As part of the Safety Plan, schools/campuses must identify individual staff members to become BRT members.  In campus settings, each school must have one representative on the BRT.  The BRT members are hand selected by the Principal(s) to manage all school-related emergencies until the first responders arrive.  In addition, all schools implement General Response Protocols (GRP), which outlines the initial actions to be taken if an incident results in an Evacuation, Shelter-In, or a Lockdown. These actions are based on the use of common language to initiate the measures all school communities will take in a variety of incidents.

All staff, and students receive training in the GRP and drills are conducted at various times throughout the school year. Lessons have been designed for different grade levels so that the information is delivered to students without causing unnecessary alarm.

Information on the GRP should be sent home to parents help guide conversations with their children about emergency readiness in schools. Click here for a summary of the General Response Protocol for staff and students.

Summer Checklist for Parents

  • Purchase books about transitioning to Pre-K or Kindergarten.
  • Make a note of your school’s schedule.
  • Become familiar with your school’s website.
  • Make sure your enrollment is complete.
  • Create a contact list of all the major players at your school and in your district.
  • Print and browse all of the DOE guides.
  • Print the School Calendar and sync it with your family calendar. Working parents beware: there are many ½ days and holidays for which you will need to make childcare arrangements.
  • Be prepared before school starts: create a schedule and practice your commute to school. Read Evolved Education’s Back to School Seven Part Back to School Blog Series.

First Week of School

  • While most schools will email communication, paper copies are still the norm. Be prepared for an enormous amount of paperwork to come home through your child’s backpack during the first two weeks of school.
  • Your individual school’s calendar will also come home during the first week of school with important dates for you to sync with your family calendar.
  • Create a system for papers to come in and go out. As children are usually expected to transport papers through their backpacks and then submit them to their teachers, you can help your child with this important skill by teaching him or her to unpack his or her backpack at home and where to place important papers.

Do You More Questions? Feel free to email me, Gina Rotundo, at gina@evolveded.com.  Happy Transitioning!

 

 

The College Process: A Grade by Grade Guide

The College Process: A Grade by Grade Guide

by Molly Lieberman, College Counselor, from the The Evolved Education Company

The college process can be overwhelming and daunting, albeit if started before senior year of high school, it can be a manageable process. With deadlines, college visits, standardized testing, and course selection at the forefront of everyone’s minds, breaking down the process throughout the four years of high school can help ease the anxiety and stress that often permeates throughout a household.

Here is a timeline of sorts to help aid in the college process. By breaking down each academic year in this way, it makes the process more manageable and organized.

Freshman Year

  • Make sure the courses selected are the most challenging in which the student can still perform well in; the rigor of academic course-load is highly scrutinized by college admissions
  • Create an account with the College Board
  • If eligible for extended time, apply through the College Board to ensure approval before junior year
  • Get involved in extracurricular and leadership activities in school as well as outside of school (i.e. sports teams, student government, community service, clubs)

Sophomore Year

  • Take the PSAT in October as a baseline; familiarity with a test accounts for a potential increase in points when taken again
  • If taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, consider taking the SAT Subject Test in June; some selective colleges require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests
  • Begin to visit colleges and universities with varying characteristics; large vs. small, urban vs. rural, private vs. public
  • Explore potential career interests
  • Attend local College Fairs
  • Consider getting a summer job or internship

Junior Year

  • Take the PSAT a second time in October
  • Decide which standardized test(s) (SAT or ACT) to take, register for test(s), and begin to prepare for the test(s)
  • Create an activities resume; quality is more important than quantity for extracurriculars
  • Continue to visit colleges and universities
  • Research different programs and academics at a variety of colleges and universities
  • Make an initial list of colleges and universities of interest
  • Choose and ask two teachers to write recommendations for the fall of senior year
  • If taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, consider taking the SAT Subject Test in June; some selective colleges require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests
  • During the summer between junior and senior year, create a Common Application account
  • During the summer between junior and senior year, write a draft of the personal statement
  • Consider getting a summer job or internship

Senior Year

  • Continue to take challenging courses; senior year grades count!
  • Finalize a well-balanced list of 5-8 schools that you want to apply to
  • Register and prepare for SAT or ACT if retaking the exam
  • Create a schedule with all needed materials (recommendations, transcript, etc.) and deadlines (rolling admissions, early decision, early action, etc.)
  • Look at different admission requirements for each school
  • Meet with a school counselor to discuss their recommendation
  • Request for the transcript be sent to schools
  • Complete and send the applications
  • File the FASFA form for financial aid and apply for private merit based scholarships

To learn more, contact Molly at EEC.

KEEPING TRACK OF GRADES AND TEACHER FEEDBACK

Get Ready for Back-to-School

A seven part series for parents of school-aged children
Part Five: Keeping Track of Grades and Teacher Feedback

By: Mary E. Miele, founder The Evolved Education, veteran learning specialist and mother of three children

This is a wonderful article for parents of upper elementary, middle and high school students, students who typically acquire grades and a good deal of feedback from teachers.

It is important to be able to learn from our efforts in life–understanding what was done well as well as what could be improved is a key component of being a successful student (and a successful adult, I would argue). When a mistake is made, it is not only important to practically move forward in a different way, but it is also important to develop resilience and the ability to deal with disappointment.

Parents can help students as young as kindergarten to pay attention to feedback by simply pointing it out. “Look at how well your teacher said you colored within the lines.” or “Your teacher asked that you not talk so much with your friends during rug time.”

Later, feedback becomes more complicated and following it can mean the difference between an A and a lower grade. Whenever a test, quiz, paper or project is returned, a student should get into the habit of making corrections and paying attention to feedback. It is helpful for parents to teach children how to keep track of feedback and here are four easy steps to do so:

1) Create a record template for feedback.

  • Create a google doc spreadsheet that you share with your child. On this spreadsheet, for each course, have a column for assignments given, date assigned, date due, date returned, grade, feedback given.  If you’d like a spreadsheet like the one below emailed to you, email me and I’ll send it to you!

Feedback Spreadsheet

  • Use a notebook and use a page for each course. Record assignments given, dates assigned, date due, date returned, grade, feedback given.

2) Work closely with your child for as long as he or she needs to in order to properly record feedback.

  • Some students work through this process quickly and with ease, other students need a hand to hold. 
  • Some students need to have accountability for turning in assignments and for noting feedback–this process will provide that.

3) Have periodic meetings (usually once a month is sufficient) to discuss feedback.

  • The goal is to be sure that your child understands the feedback and how to improve.
  • Allow your child to explain the feedback to you; he or she should do the lion’s share of the speaking.
  • Try not to focus on the grade, but rather, focus on the feedback and what will be done to move forward differently next time.
  • Making one or two mistakes is not the same as making the same mistake over and over again.
  • Mistakes are an important component of learning, if your child is making them, that is appropriate. I often tell my children that mistakes happen–it’s what you do about them that matters!

4) Teach your child how to use feedback.

  • Look at the feedback before going in to take a test or a quiz or before writing a paper, so that mistakes are not repeated.
  • Schedule meetings with teachers for clarification or extra help.
  • Work closely with teachers and tutors to devise plans for improving areas that are challenging.

As always, if you have any specific questions about this article or need any resources to help you to help your child, email me at mary@evolveded.com.

Stay tuned for Part Six: Managing Extra Curricular Activities

 

Redesigned SAT: What does my child need to know?

­

Redesigned SAT: What Does My Child Need to Know?

The College Board has redesigned the SAT— but why?

Greater focus, relevance, and transparency

The College Board feels they need to do more to help all students not only be ready for college but also succeed in life after high school, namely through the redesign of the SAT. They determined that the SAT needed to be more clearly and transparently focused on the knowledge, skills, and understandings that research evidence indicates are essential for college and career readiness and success.

For students and parents, the Redesigned SAT (rSAT) offers a more effective vehicle to showcase students’ academic strengths and readiness for college and careers. Because it is closely aligned to both high school instruction and post-high school requirements, it serves as evidence of the hard work students have performed in high school.

How can I help my student prepare?

This document serves as a basic blueprint of the skills your child needs to know for the new test. Additionally, Evolved Education Company offers veteran test preparation teachers who intricately understand the rSAT. Between carefully planned homework assignments, to pacing strategies, to help with test anxiety, our teachers can help your student with everything he or she needs to excel on the rSAT.

MAJOR FEATURES OF THE CURRENT VS. rSAT

CATEGORY CURRENT SAT REDESIGNED SAT
Total Testing Time 3 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours (Plus 50 minutes for the option Essay)
Components a)     Critical Readingb)     Writingc)     Math

d)    Essay

a)     Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
– Reading Test
– Writing & Language Testb)     Mathc)     Essay (optional)
Important Features –        Emphasis on general reasoning skills-        Emphasis on vocab in limited contexts-        Complex scoring: a point for a correct answer, deduction for incorrect answer, no penalty for blank responses –        Continued emphasis on reasoning alongside a clearer, stronger focus on the skills most important for college-        Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, & impact
Essay –        Required-        25 min. to write-        Students take a position on a presented issue –        Optional, given at the end; colleges determine whether they will require the essay for admission-        50 min. to write-        Students produce a written analysis of a provided source text
Score Reporting –        Scale ranging from 600 to 2400 –        Scale ranging from 400 to 1600

  

READING

65 minutes, 52 multiple-choice questions

OVERVIEW:

Students must read and comprehend a broad range of high-quality, appropriately challenging literary and informational texts in the content areas of U.S. and world literature, history/social studies, and science.

CONTENT:

A series of passages with multiple-choice questions

–        Students must refer to what the passages say explicitly and use careful reasoning to draw supportable inferences from the passages

SKILLS DOMAIN

Information and Ideas

  • Reading closely

o   Determining explicit meanings: identify information/ideas explicitly stated in text

o   Determining implicit meanings: draw reasonable inferences and logical conclusions from text

o   Using analogical reasoning: apply information/ideas in a text to a new, analogous situation

  • Citing textual evidence: cite textual evidence that best supports a given claim or point
  • Determining central ideas and themes: identify explicitly stated central ideas or themes in text and determine implicit central ideas or themes from text

Summarizing

  • Understanding relationships: identify explicitly stated relationships or determine implicit relationships between and among individuals, events, or ideas (e.g., cause-effect, comparison-contrast)
  • Interpreting words and phrases in context: determine the meaning of words and phrases in context

Rhetoric

  • Analyzing word choice: determine how the selection of specific words/phrases or the use of patterns of words/phrases shapes meaning and tone
  • Analyzing text structure

o   Analyzing overall text structure

o   Analyzing part-whole relationships: analyze the relationship between a particular part of a text (e.g., a sentence) and the whole text

  • Analyzing point of view: determine the point of view or perspective from which a text is related or the influence this point of view has on content and style
  • Analyzing purpose: determine the main purpose of a text or particular part of a text
  • Analyzing arguments

o   Analyzing claims and counterclaims: (both explicit and implicit)

o   Assessing reasoning: assess an author’s reasoning for soundness

o   Analyzing evidence: assess how an author uses or fails to use evidence to support a claim

Synthesis

  • Analyzing multiple texts: synthesize information and ideas from paired texts.
    (Note: All of the skills listed above may be tested with either single or paired passages.)
  • Analyzing quantitative information: analyze information presented quantitatively in such forms as graphs, tables, and charts

KEY FEATURES:

» Emphasis on words in context

» Emphasis on command of evidence

» Inclusion of informational graphics

WRITING

35 minutes, 44 multiple-choice questions

OVERVIEW:
Students edit a wide range of texts for development, organization, and effective language use and for conformity to the conventions of standard written English grammar, usage, and punctuation.

CONTENT:
A series of high-quality multi-paragraph passages and associated multiple-choice questions

  • Passages written specifically with errors (various rhetorical or mechanical problems) for students to recognize and correct
  • Most common question format: Students choose the best of 3 alternatives to an indicated part of the passage (often underlined) or determine that the version already in the passage is the best option.

SKILLS DOMAIN

Expression of Ideas:

Development

  • Proposition: add, revise, or retain central ideas, main claims, counterclaims, and topic sentences to structure text and convey arguments and information clearly and effectively
  • Support: add, revise, or retain information/ideas (e.g., details, facts, statistics) to support claims in text
  • Focus: add, revise, retain, or delete information/ideas for the sake of relevance to topic and purpose
  • Quantitative information: information presented quantitatively in such forms as graphs, charts, and tables as it relates to information in the text

Organization

  • Logical sequence: information presented in the most logical order
  • Introductions, conclusions, and transitions: transition words or sentences at beginning or ending of a text or paragraph to effectively connect ideas

Effective language use

  • Precision: exactness or content appropriateness of word choice
  • Concision: economy of word choice (i.e., to eliminate wordiness and redundancy)
  • Style and tone: consistency of style and tone within a text; match of style and tone to purpose
  • Syntax: use of various sentence structures to accomplish needed rhetorical purposes

Standard English Conventions:

Sentence structure

  • Sentence formation

o   Sentence boundaries: correct grammatically incomplete or run-on sentences

o   Parallel structure: correct grammatically unequal lists/comparisons

o   Modifier placement (e.g., misplaced or dangling modifiers)

  • Inappropriate shifts in construction

o   Verb tense, mood, and voice

o   Pronoun person and number

Conventions of Standard English Usage

  • Pronoun clarity: correct pronouns with ambiguous antecedents (words pronouns refer to)
  • Possessive determiners: possessive determiners (its, your, their) vs. contractions (it’s, you’re, they’re) vs. adverbs (there)
  • Agreement
  • Pronoun-antecedent agreement, Subject-verb agreement, & Noun agreement
  • Frequently confused words (e.g., accept/except, allusion/illusion)
  • Logical comparison: correct when unlike terms are compared
  • Conventional expression: correct when an expression is inconsistent with written English

Conventions of Punctuation

  • End-of-sentence punctuation
  • Within-sentence punctuation: colons, semicolons, and dashes to indicate sharp breaks in thought within sentences
  • Possessive nouns and pronouns
  • Items in a series: punctuation (commas, sometimes semicolons) to separate series items
  • Nonrestrictive and parenthetical elements: punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical sentence elements
  • Unnecessary punctuation

KEY FEATURES:

»  Emphasis on words in context

»  Emphasis on command of evidence

»  Inclusion of informational graphics

MATH

80 minutes = Calculator Section (37 questions, 55 minutes) + No-Calculator Section (20 questions, 25 minutes)

CALCULATOR SECTION

# OF QUESTIONS % OF TEST POINTS
Total Questions 37 100%
     Multiple Choice 30 75
     Student-Produced Response (grid-in) 6 15
     Extended Thinking (grid-in) 1 10
Content Categories
     Heart of Algebra 13 32
     Problem Solving & Data Analysis 14 42
     Passport to Advanced Math 7 18
     Additional Topics in Math 3 18

 

NO-CALCULATOR SECTION

# OF QUESTIONS % OF TEST POINTS
Total Questions 20 100%
    Multiple Choice 15 75
     Student-Produced Response (grid-in) 5 25
Content Categories
     Heart of Algebra 8 40
     Passport to Advanced Math 9 45
     Additional Topics in Math 3 15

 

SKILLS DOMAINS BREAKDOWN

Heart of Algebra (35% of overall points)

–        Equations and systems of equations

–        Expressions, equations, and inequalities

–        Formulas

Problem Solving and Data Analysis (28%)

–        Ratios, proportions, percentages, and units

–        Qualitative and quantitative (e.g. graphs) data

Passport to Advanced Math (27%)

–        Rewriting expressions

–        Quadratic and higher-order equations

–        Polynomials

Additional Topics in Math (10%)

–        Area and volume

–        Line, angle, triangle, and circle theorems

–        Trigonometric functions

1. HEART OF ALGEBRA DOMAIN
This section will assess students’ ability to analyze, fluently solve, and create linear equations and inequalities, along with using multiple techniques to solve equations and systems of equations.

Application

  1. Linear equations in one variable: simplify the expression, simplify the equation, or solve for the variable in the equation
  2. Linear inequalities in one variable
  3. Linear functions that models a linear relationship between two quantities
  4. Systems of linear inequalities in two variables: steps may be required to create the inequality or system of inequalities or to determine whether a given point is in the solution set
  5. Systems of two linear equations in two variables

Fluency

  1. Solving linear equations in one variable
  2. Solving systems of two linear equations in two variables

Conceptual Understanding

  1. Interpret the variables and constants in expressions for linear functions within the context presented
  2. Understand connections between algebraic and graphical representations

2. PROBLEM SOLVING AND DATA ANALYSIS DOMAIN
Problems in this category require significant quantitative reasoning about ratios, rates, and proportional relationships and will place a premium on understanding and applying unit rate.

Application

  1. Ratios, rates, proportional relationships, and scale drawings
  2. Percentages
  3. Measurement quantities, units, and unit conversion
  4. Given a scatterplot, using linear, quadratic, or exponential models to describe how the variables are related
  5. Relationships between two variables to investigate key features of a graph
  6. Linear growth compared to exponential growth
  7. Using categorical data and relative frequencies to calculate conditional probability
  8. Inferring about population parameters based on sample data
  9. Using statistics to investigate measures of center of data and analyze shape, center, and spread
  10. Evaluating reports to make inferences, justify conclusions, and determine appropriateness of data collection methods

3. PASSPORT TO ADVANCED MATH DOMAIN

These questions test the understanding of the structure of expressions and the ability to analyze, manipulate, and rewrite these expressions. This includes an understanding of the key parts of expressions (e.g. terms, factors, and coefficients). Additionally, this category requires the ability to interpret and build functions.

Application

  1. Quadratic and exponential functions
  2. Determining the most suitable form of an expression or equation to reveal a particular trait

Procedural Skill and Fluency

  1. Equivalent expressions involving radicals and rational exponents
  2. Equivalent forms of expressions using structure
  3. Quadratic equations
  4. Arithmetic operations on polynomials
  5. Radical and rational equations in one variable, including examples where there are extraneous solutions
  6. System of equations consisting of one linear and one quadratic equation in two variables
  7. Rewrite simple rational expressions.

Conceptual Understanding

  1. Nonlinear expressions
  2. The relationship between zeros and factors of polynomials (i.e. using it to sketch graphs)
  3. Nonlinear relationships between two variables via connections between their algebraic and graphical representations
  4. Function notation
  5. Isolating a single variable or a quantity of interest

4. ADDITIONAL TOPICS IN MATH DOMAIN

While the overwhelming majority of problems on the redesigned
SAT’s Math Test fall into the first three domains, the test also addresses additional topics in high school math. These include essential geometric and trigonometric concepts and the Pythagorean Theorem.

Application

  1. Volume formulas
  2. Trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean Theorem, applied to problems involving right triangles

Procedural Skill and Fluency

  1. Arithmetic operations on complex numbers
  2. Converting between degrees and radians and using radians to determine arc lengths; trigonometric functions of radian measure
  3. Circle theorems to find arc lengths, angle measures, chord lengths, and areas of sectors

Conceptual Understanding

  1. Congruence and similarity theorems to solve problems about lines, angles, and triangles
  2. Relationships between similarity, right triangles, and trigonometric ratios; relationships between sine and cosine of complementary angles
  3. Equations in two variables to solve problems about circles in coordinate planes

DISTINCTIVE rSAT MATH FEATURES:

»  Emphasis on mathematical reasoning over reasoning questions disconnected from the math curriculum

»  Strong emphasis on both fluency and understanding

»  Richer applications, emphasizing career, science, and social studies applications

»  Item sets that allow for more than one question about a given scenario

»  No-calculator section

Document prepared by EEC Test Preparation Specialist: Anna Marr

To download a pdf version of this text click here: rSAT Skills to Know.

For more information: contact www.evolveded.com

 

Report Card Review

Ah the report cards are here!  Lots of great information about how our children are performing in school–What should we do with report cards and how do we review them with out children? 

First, take the report card and have a good read. Allow your partner to do the same.  Notice what your child is doing exceptionally well. Maybe you want to write that down.  Then, take note of the areas that are going fairly well; usually these are the items in the B range or Satisfactory.  Lastly, take note of anything that is emerging or in the C or below range.  I suggest writing all of this down.

Next, talk to your partner about the report card. Swap notes-how did you perceive your child’s strengths, areas of weakness?  What did you notice that was positive or negative?  Get on the same page about what you feel you should work on and what you will communicate to your child.

Then, sit down in a quiet place and talk with your child. Here are some things to think about when you talk to your child:

1) Positive feedback should absolutely be given. Bs are still grades to be proud of as are satisfactory marks.  Students should be praised for class participation marks and/or getting homework in on time.  Every action that resulted in a high mark or a praiseworthy comment should be noticed.  It is always ok to write down these items as you discuss them with your child.

2) Talk to your child about the purpose of feedback. Tell him or her about how at work you may get a review and be told about some aspects of your job that are positive and some that you need to improve upon.  If you have a concrete example of this process, share it.

3) Then, get into the tougher stuff; Write it down along with actionable strategies to overcome areas of weakness or underperformance. 

  • Preface the discussion about the areas of weakness with a caring opening and get right to it; talk to your child about how you notice there are some areas that his/her teacher would like to improve.  Tell the student what these comments are (I really am against guessing games here–I have seen some parents ask their child what they think they have done badly on in school…and usually this opening just serves to make the student feel badly–its better to just tell them what the teacher has said-be straightforward).
  • Then, ask the student to write these areas down and together come up with some strategies (action items) for how to move forward with a better plan.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to write these down!  If you can post them somewhere out of the eyes of friends who come over (to avoid embarrassment), that is helpful too.

Here are some examples of teacher’s comments and then strategies or action items to help improve:

Teacher’s comment: Sarah needs to improve her editing when she writes.

Strategy:  Let’s come up with an editing checklist and use it every time you write.  When you get feedback from your teacher after you write, you can add that to the editing checklist along the way.

Teacher comment: Rafael needs to improve his class participation in science.

Strategy: Let’s review what you are learning in science each Sunday and come up with 3 questions or comments that you could share in class. Also, you could always think about ways to respond to the teacher while you are in class by contributing what you know about the lesson or asking a relevant question–let’s talk about how you tried this each Sunday too!

Teacher comment: Tara needs to improve her test grades in French.

Strategy: Let’s be sure that you not only complete homework, but that you also study each night. We can use Sundays to come up with a weekly study plan for you and I can help you to study for each test or your tutor can too!

By helping your child to actively address each area of challenge, your child will feel more confident AND he or she will learn an important life skill–which is to address feedback in a proactive nature.

4) After the report card conversation, give your child a big hug and let them know that you are proud of him or her for all of the work that he/she is doing in school.  Our children have big jobs as students with many different activities and subjects to master–let them know that education is important and that there will always be work to do, as a great life is one full of learning!