Saturday, December 11, 2010

Managing ADHD Without Medication

If you are a parent with a child who has ADD or ADHD, I'm sure you've thought about (or at least been approached about) putting them on medication at least since the initial diagnosis.   If so, I'd also like you to think strongly about viable alternatives.  Read more here, where AOL Health explores seven med-free strategies that might help kids with ADHD gain focus and control.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What do The Washington Post and SpongeBob Have in Common?

SAT words!  In my never-ending quest to find vocabulary words in everyday life, I did another little experiment: I read one article of The Washington Post and watched one episode of SpongeBob Squarepants to see how many "SAT" words I could find in each.  Here are the results (in order of appearance):

The Washington Post
Article: "How Adrian Fenty Lost His Reelection Bid for DC Mayor"
by Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman (9/15/10)
  1. oblivious
  2. constituent(s)
  3. remorse
  4. unrelenting
  5. hone(d)
  6. incumbent
  7. aloof
  8. catapult(ed)
  9. confidant
  10. electorate

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Time Magazine & The Case Against Summer Vacation

This month, Time Magazine argues the case against summer vacation, given the detrimental effects a lack of summer learning can have on students, particularly in low-income households. Read the entire article here: The Case Against Summer Vacation.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Three Fun Summer Learning Activities

This following ideas were featured in a newsletter I receive from BrainWare/Learning Enhancement Corporation and I thought I'd share them with all of our summer savvy parents.  The author is Betsy Hill and the full article is accessible here.  

Happy learning, everyone!

1.  The “Think and Listen" – A parent and child agree to “think out loud” about a topic of mutual interest:  the menu, the weather, world peace, etc.  Each person agrees to speak for the same length of time, the listener never interrupting.  The “Think and Listen” gives the thinker good practice identifying thoughts and articulating them.  Just a few "Think and Listens" can make children more articulate and confident. They are more likely to do well in class discussions and to express ideas that are important to them.

2.  The “Restaurant Review” – Give summer vacations more “mental meat” by writing restaurant reviews with your children after dining out. This is a good way to work cognitive skills such as memory, sustained attention, creativity and prioritizing of values. Those skills will come in handy next fall, when it comes to reviewing for an exam.  

3.   The “Visual Scavenger Hunt” – When planning a summer trip, develop a list of things you might see along the road – the kids can help with the research – and give each child a list to check off as they find the items. Include a mixture of common objects, like a stop sign or a gas station, and rarer objects … like a jewelry store, a cemetery, a cactus, a purple flower, a black squirrel …. The mixture of objects will help sustain interest and balance the difficulty of finding one with the feeling of discovering a treasure when something rare is spotted.  This simple game strengthens focus, visual discrimination and memory skills.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Favorite Season is Finally Here!

Summer is my favorite time at IST! More than two months to help students have fun learning outside of the traditional school learning environment AND make significant gains, no matter where they start! On average, students can lose 2 months of reading and 2.6 months of math over the summer when they're not engaged in any academic activity.  The phenomenon is known as "Summer Brain Drain."  Over the years, we've discovered thousands of innovative ways to "plug" the drain through our BrainGain series of courses and summer bridge tutoring.  How can you not have fun learning when your classes have such cool names as "From My Street to Wall Street," "Books-to-Movie Critics," "Courting the Law," and "Innovator Incubator"?!

Unlike the school year, we don't have to mirror what the teacher is doing in the regular classroom.  Instead, we help students review the prior year's concepts (and in some cases, go over what should  have been taught) and give a personalized preview of the concepts they are likely to see in the fall.  This freedom allows our tutors to move at a pace that is appropriate for each student's individual strengths and weaknesses.  We can go back, then skip, leap and jump ahead once the student "gets" it.  Often, by the end of the summer, many students are semester or more ahead of the rest of their class by the time they return to to school in the fall.  Now, take THAT, Summer Brain Drain!  To learn more, visit Summer at IST 2010.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

S/T Students: Over-Achievers or Are Some Just Easily Misled?

"Students in the Science and Technology Program [at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County, MD] experience the year-long tension as they endure the stress of numerous AP classes. Long nights, short time for rest, and ridiculous deadlines. The pressure is on."

Read the entire article (written by a savvy student reporter) here, including a quote from Riche:-).

[Source: The Raider (Eleanor Roosevelt High School)/]

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ideas to Encourage Summer Reading

Summer reading is an important part of being ready for school in the fall. Try these ideas to get your kids into reading during their summer vacation.  Read the entire article (including a quote from Riche:-) here.

[SOURCE: School]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Morehouse Whiz Kid is Causing a Stir: 13-Year-Old Dominates College

"At thirteen years of age, Stephen Stafford is causing quite a stir at Morehouse College. Stafford has a triple major in pre-med, math and computer science. Though he loves playing video games and playing his drum set, he is no typical teenager."  Read entire article here.

[SOURCE: BV Black Spin]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Children's board games help reinforce lessons learned in the classroom

"Disconnect the Xbox, uninstall the computer game software and close the laptop.  You want your child to have fun but learn at the same time, at a fraction of the cost? Play a board game, experts say."  Read the entire article here.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The ABCs of Standardized Tests

With so many standardized tests and acronyms to remember, sometimes it can be difficult to keep up.  We've created this handy reference guide just in case you need a little help! For additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact IST.

ACT (originally "American College Testing," but now is simply known as "ACT"):
Category: College Admission
Summary:  Typically grades 11-12.  Subject-based exam designed to test student's knowledge of content in English, mathematics, reading and science.  Learn more here.

CTP 4/ERBs ("Comprehensive Test Program"; often referred to as "ERBs" after the company that produces it, the "Educational Records Bureau"):
Category:  Achievement
Summary:  Grades 1-10.  Battery of assessments designed to provide instructionally useful information about student performance in reading, listening, vocabulary, writing, mathematics, and verbal and quantitative reasoning.  Learn more here.

ECAA ("Early Childhood Admissions Assessment"):
Category:  Private School Admission
Summary:  Grades PreK-5.  Designed to assess student's current level of development, but not intended to predict long range success.  Learn more here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tips for Successful Math Students

Organization and good note-taking are both important to being a successful math student.  As an IST tutor and a math teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, I have noticed a few simple things that help students improve their performance.

The better students have a very organized binder or notebook dedicated only to math. I have seen sub-sections dedicated to warm-up, classwork, homework, tests & quizzes.

Successful students also take diligent notes during class and make comments and note of errors or misconceptions in the margins (i.e. "watch out for negatives," "when you raise a power to a power you multiply the exponents" etc).

It is also good to see students write down the question, steps and answer for any math problem (especially if the homework is from a textbook).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Etymology is Everywhere!

et⋅y⋅mol⋅o⋅gy  [et-uh-mol-uh-jee]

1. the derivation of a word.
2. an account of the history of a particular word or element of a word.
3. the study of historical linguistic change, esp. as manifested in individual words.

Parents often ask me what is the best way to teach their children new vocabulary before they come to IST. I am convinced now, after only a few short hours of a completely non-scientific experiment, that the first step in effectively learning new words is to simply open your ears and eyes throughout the day.

Tonight, I was sitting in church when I heard a man next to me repeat one of the words the pastor said, as if to ask, "What does that mean?" The word was "chasm." It was then that I realized that I had been subconsciously creating a list of the SAT-type words that I heard during the past two sermons.

Later, after I got home, I watched two hours of prime time TV (this is a lot for me!) to see how many more SAT words I could add to the list.  Click the link below to see the results...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Teaching Through Relevant Examples

What do Wile E. Coyote, E.T., and John Legend in common?  To everyone except me, the answer is "nothing."  But to me, the common thread is that I used each of these as teaching examples in my verbal test prep sessions this week.  Each example is a true testament to how well you can facilitate student understanding just by making relevant connections to things that students already know and/or are interested in.

Wile E. Coyote
In the first session, the SSAT question asked my student to select a synonym for the word "wily"  from a list of five words.  He had no idea what it meant, that is until I asked him if he ever watched the show, "Bugs Bunny."  When he told me that he had, I asked him to name all of the characters.  When he got to the coyote, I asked him to give me his full name:  "Wile E. Coyote."  For those of you who don't remember, Wile E.'s main activities involved devising wild (and always unsuccessful) schemes to catch the Road Runner.  After thinking about Wile E.  and looking again at the answer choices, the student immediately chose the word "crafty."  Guess what?  He was correct!  "Wily" is an adjective that means "crafty or cunning." How many of us knew this when we watched the cartoon years ago?!