Friday, December 31, 2010


We all know what it is, work assigned to be done at home. But what is the purpose? That varies per teacher. Some teachers assign homework because it is the thing to do but never bother to check it. Some may walk around the classroom and mark in their books whether it was completed or not, thus giving the student a grade. Others collect it, check for accuracy, and then provide the student a grade based on correctness.

However, there is little to no research that supports homework as a way to improve academic achievement. In fact, there is research that shows that too much time spent on homework is actually detrimental to learning!

So what is the answer? Do you think your child should have homework? And if so, how much? What should be the purpose of that homework? How should it be graded?

I want to know your feelings about homework as we prepare to launch our own school based on a model of reinforcing and correcting work immediately in the classroom, rather than sending home homework.

We value your feedback! Please share your opinions and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card from Dave and Buster's! This contest is now closed.

Volunteer - What does it mean?

What do you think of when you hear the word volunteer? For me, it is a person who is dedicated to a cause in such a way that they give freely of their time and energy to an organization in helping to sustain it. Volunteers make the world go round, in my opinion, and are in high demand for many organizations, including our public schools.

Just this past fall the local schools found themselves in a budget shortfall that had them out asking for more parent volunteers to help out in a variety of ways from secretarial work to the library and health room, and even as teacher aides. However, to work within the schools as a volunteer, you need to undergo a background check. The district has paid for these up until tomorrow. Starting January 1st, 2011, all volunteers that are required to undergo a background check will have to pay the $20 fee themselves.

But it gets even more interesting because the list of those required to background checks aren't the parents who volunteer to come into the classroom to assist with parties, go on field trips, or even chaperone school dances, having direct access to students. The ones required for background checks are those that have a regular schedule in the schools but may not even have direct contact with the kids. (Don't get me wrong here, I think it is important to check backgrounds and make sure those working around kids don't have a criminal history abusing kids, I am just questioning which ones get the check and who gets a pass.)

If the school needs help that badly, ie volunteers to put library books away and make photocopies in the office, then why can't they cover this one time, very nominal fee for those volunteers? How else do you thank volunteers for all their hard work and the FREE labor they provide? It all comes down to one Boy, BVSD sure has had its share of money issues this year and I have mentioned money quite a few times in my posts. So what is their end game in having volunteers pay for their own background checks? Perhaps it is their way to try to get the voters to approve more taxes for the sake of the schools. Yet, I still come back to the fact that most schools have too many administrators and if they need to cut back, why not do it there. Instead, the parent volunteers, those who are willing to give freely of their time, are now asked to pay a $20 fee to come help out at the school. So how do you feel about paying to volunteer?

Has This Happened to You?

Granted, this was made by some attorneys as an advertisement, as noted by their names said several times at the end of the movie, but I think it is makes a valid point.

Most recently I have been helping a family with a school problem, and actually the doctors now. This has been going on for over 6 months. The school says they can't do anything about the child's potential disability because it would be considered AD/HD which has to be diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor said that the school was doing whatever they could for the student, so they aren't going to give the child the label of AD/HD because it wouldn't really help the child. So in the end....who loses? The child in this case. Now many of you know I don't always advocate labeling, but in this case, I believe it necessary to get the child the help needed to succeed in the school setting.

This is just one of many things I encounter on a regular basis in the local schools in our area, although it was the first time I dealt with a family doctor who was unwilling to help the family out. Without money, it is difficult to get an outside assessment because these can cost anywhere from $700 to $1500 or more. So what is a family to do? Keep on fighting the good fight and make a stand for your child that lets the school know that they are responsible and you are not going away.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Study Tips

As finals will be here in less than 2 weeks, here is some advice for those who need to prepare:
  • Review/ copy your notes. Take 15 minutes each day to review or copy your notes for each class. If you have 4 core classes, it will take you 1 hour each day. If you start today, you will get almost 3 hours of studying per class done before the first exam date, December 13th. This is much better than trying to cram in a study session of 3 hours the night before the exam.
  • Make note of questions. While you are reviewing your notes, write down questions you have about anything that is unclear to you. Try to schedule a time to meet with your teacher before review day in class. If you can't, have those questions ready for review day when the teacher asks if anyone has any questions. If you wait until the night before to study, you may not have a chance to get those questions answered by the teacher.
  • Try different places to study. There have been numerous studies done that show conflicting research on where a student should study. However, just as each student learns differently, I believe we all study differently too. Find the place that you feel works best for each subject area or type of studying you are doing. Keep in mind that this may not be the same place for each class.
  • Limit distractions. Try to limit your distractions while studying. That most likely means turning off the television and the radio. However, some people need auditory stimulation while they study, so choose noise that serves as a background like favorite songs you have heard a million times or something without lyrics. Likewise for visual and tactile stimulation. Gum is a great tactile stimulant, but if you find yourself focusing on the gum rather than your notes, give it up and try something else like a squish ball or a piece of sand paper.
  • Take a break. If you find yourself doing long study sessions, take a break. The average attention span for humans is 45 minutes. Don't get discouraged if you can't study that long in one sitting. Get up, stretch your legs, drink water, or get a healthy snack.
  • Don't study right after dinner! Most parents expect students to do their homework if not before, then right after dinner. But think about this, your brain requires oxygenated blood to think and so does your stomach to digest food. If you are dividing your resources up you could end up with a headache, upset stomach, poor focus, or any other number of issues from the lack of oxygen needed to perform those functions. Just like they used to say about swimming, wait 30 minutes before diving in!

Good luck on your finals and study well!!