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If you're concerned about the time your child spends communicating electronically, don't let that concern go! In fact, there is a real negative effect of this mode of communication - if not done with proper grammar - on writing and real social skills. Here is a great article briefly explaining these adverse effects.

For many students, Physics is the first science course that incorporates the necessary skill of basic algebra. This, combined with all the new terms, abbreviations, units, and symbols, can make Physics seem like some kind of complex magic meant only for the elite to comprehend. (It's most troubling when I witness people in the TEACHING profession convey this same attitude.) At the point that (teenage) students assume this opinion, they find it easy to tune out and avoid the subject until their first progress/grade report indicates trouble. The good news is that I've been able to get students back up to speed on the basics that turned them off in the first place. As long as they have a handle on basic math, it's easy to show even the most Physics-averse student that all the terms, symbols, and abbreviations is just a form of shorthand writing. To that point, learning Physics resembles learning a foreign language: not complicated, just unfamiliar. Get past the discomfort of unfamiliarity,... read more

Many students have become dependent on managing their homework and study routine via SchoolLoop, BlackBoard, or other teacher-posted website. The problem with this approach is that it transfers the ownership of the workload to the teacher. Students will comment, "My teacher didn't post anything, so I have no homework in that subject." If students are waiting for an assignment to be posted online, it's a clear indication that they are not very tuned into what is going on in class. The most successful students take it upon themselves to know their assignments by following what's going on in class, and then develop (and therefore own) their own plan to complete the work. The websites are great for allowing parents (and tutors) the visibility of checking up on what is really going on. I recommend that students only use the online assignment boards in instances where they've missed a class or need to verify details every now and then. Almost every school provides each... read more

If you've read my first post on working differently, your next question may be how to go about doing so. In my view, it's all about organization. I contend that a well-organized student is automatically at least a C-student. Just the process of recording and tracking all assignments consistently will facilitate absorption of enough subject material to score 70% or better on tests. Factor in credit for homework and other non-test assignments, and it's easy to see how organization is the key. However, getting organized is often the biggest hurdle for students who never learned how, and it is the area I will target immediately for students who are struggling. Even for B-students, a poorly-defined organizational system and/or routine is often what keeps the A out-of-range. I show students how to manage their life with a planner and how to never miss completing an assignment on time. With consistent parental follow-up, these methods produce surprisingly positive results!

It's very common that we tell our kids they need to work harder when grades are not where they need to be. And it's very possible that they do need to put in more hours and effort. However, too often, the message of "work harder" is received by teenagers as "keep doing what you're doing...but do it better!" It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that doing more of the same things gets more of the same results. The message I advocate, instead, is "work differently." This emphasizes the need to change the overall approach and routine to schoolwork, and is less daunting for students who already feel that they are "doing the best they can." This may seem like a subtle nuance, but I've found it to be effective in my students.

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