Category Archives: High School

A student discovers that she actually can learn the quadratic formula! (with a little help from the A+ Club)

Cartoon1_Panel2_bA student’s mom is upset about her grades and that she’s not doing her homework. But the student thinks her mom is being too pushy. Like high school teens & parents everywhere, they’re both a little right — and also a little wrong.

The student’s mom is right to be concerned. And the student is naturally feeling stressed over doing something she is genuinely having trouble accomplishing. And that’s where the emotions get in the way.

This scenario plays out every day with high school teens and their parents.  Sometimes students just don’t know how to do their school work. Worse, sometimes they don’t know how to go about studying. That’s where we can help.

Quadratic Formulas & Other Troubles

Our student is stuck on the Quadratic formula. She gets it when her teacher shows it in class, but when she has to do it on her own, she gets stuck. And then everything else becomes a problem, too. Continue reading

A Successful Assessment pt 3: how to take a test (or, reading instructions & not running out of time)

Test Prep help from the A+ ClubWhen a parent of a middle or high school teen worries that “my student doesn’t test” well, what’s missing is a combination of goal setting, preparation and execution.

As discussed in the previous posts on “Successful Assessments,” testing success consists of:

  • Identifying teacher/ test expectations (“no surprises”)
  • Preparing effectively (learning v. cramming)
  • Executing on test day (test taking strategies)

Test prep above all else

“Easy” tests are those students have or are effectively prepared for: if the student knows what to expect and prepares for it, the results will be strong.

That said, there are still a few things a student can do to better results on the test day.

A couple do-nots on test day include: Continue reading

A Successful Assessment pt 2: how to prepare for a test (or learning all along not just cramming)

Successful Test Prep from the A+ ClubParents concerned about their teen’s middle and high school exam and test prep might consider that studying isn’t just a matter of reviewing notes and study guides. Successful testing requires ongoing learning.

Here are some strategies for parents to empower their student’s exam prep and overall academic success.

In our series on  Successful Assessment: how to prepare for a test (or why doesn’t my child test well?), we are reviewing the essential parts of successful testing:

  1. No Surprises (identified teacher expectations)
  2. Student Prepared (successful learning)
  3. Student had time to finish (successful test execution)

This post regards student preparation. It’s one thing to know what will be on a test (see Part 1: Identifying Expectations) and also to understand it . But can you perform it yourself? Continue reading

A Successful Assessment pt 1: how to know what will be on the test (or identifying teacher expectations)

Successful Testing from the A+ ClubFor successful testing, students need to know what will be on the test. Sounds obvious, but parents don’t want to hear from their teens that there were “surprises” on a test or that they studied for the wrong thing.

This edition of the Successful Assessment will review how to help your teenage student identify what will be on a test.

As outlined in the introductory post, How to approach a test (or why doesn’t my child test well?), at the A+ Club, we help middle, high school and college students succeed on formal assessments, what we usually call “quizzes” and “tests.”  Our quick measure of a successful assessment means:

  1. No Surprises (identified teacher expectations)
  2. Student Prepared (successful learning)
  3. Student had time to finish (successful test execution)

No surprises!

“No Surprises” on a test means the student knew what to expect, knew what to study, and was familiar with every part or aspect of the test. Continue reading

A Successful Assessment: how to approach a test (or why doesn’t my child test well?)

We often hear from parents that “my child doesn’t test well.”

Teens have lots of excuses for their grades, and blaming it on the test is one that parents fall for all the time.

In the A+ Club, we measure middle, high school and college student success on a test or major assessment in terms of 1) identifying teacher expectations; 2) student preparation;  and 3) successful execution on the test day. Continue reading

A Student & Her Mom Don’t See Eye-to-Eye on Her School Work

Brenda & Her MomMeet a student & her mom.

They both know that parenting a teen through middle and high school isn’t always easy. And being a teen isn’t always easy, either.

At the A+ Club, we provide academic coaching, mentoring & tutoring in order to help parents of middle & high school and college students track their work, get tutoring and homework help when needed, and engage in the positive processes of goal setting, problem solving, and academic self-advocacy. Continue reading

Beating back procrastination part 2: smoothing out your workflow

Start Now Finish LaterOne of the most effective strategies to defeat procrastination that we have used with students in our A+ Club academic program is what the procrastination experts call “just getting started.”

As posted in “Beating back procrastination pt 1,” the benefits of “getting started” include:

  1. Breaking down / overcoming barriers to work
  2. Identifying needs & concerns
  3. Identifying time required for task completion
  4. Makes getting started next time easier

“Getting started” can be so hard. We know that we should get to work on something, but our emotions get in the way because it can seem so big, and so far away, and, well, it’s easier — and makes us feel better for now — to put it off until later. Continue reading

Beating back procrastination part 1: start now and finish later

time_watch_msclipartFight the need to finish now!

Getting started on studying, homework and large assignments means just that: start a little now — and don’t worry about finishing until later.

Cramming is a difficult habit to break. The best technique for breaking the cramming cycle is to “smooth out your workflow” by just “getting started,” whether or not you’ll finish it now.

Yet getting started on homework, studying and tests can be so hard, especially when we pressure ourselves to get it done all at once.

Students who have trouble starting an assignment or project often put it aside for later because they feel they need to finish it once they start. Knowing they can’t possibly finish, they don’t bother to start. Here’s the logic: Continue reading

Teaching or learning: teachers, which would you prefer? If you want it, sell it!

I hate my teacher!

Teachers, I can’t tell you how much I hear from kids that they’re ready to learn, but their teacher keeps getting in the way.

Yep, we hear it all the time, “I hate my teacher!” But if we listen behind the angry words, what kids are really saying is that they’d rather like than hate their teachers. Continue reading

Next time your kids says, “summer’s so boring…” remind them why they actually enjoy school

“I’m so bored.”

Heard that one before over the summer holiday?

Write it down when they say it, record the date and time, and remind them of it when they complain about school in three weeks.

It always amazes me to hear from kids how summer can be “so boring.” Sure, some kids have extraordinary summers, but those experience are fun and memorable for the same reasons that other kids miss school: kids like success.

It is a good reminder for adults that kids do enjoy being in school. The primary thing kids miss is each other, of course, but they also miss the challenges, the excitement of stuff going on, and all the activity which makes their lives in school a speedway.

And what they really like most is success.

Kids enjoy what they do well, so it’s our job as adults to ensure that they stay on the path of accomplishment, that they stay excited and positive about school. When they do, it all seems easy and great.

When they don’t do well, and start wishing for the next summer — all the while forgetting how boring it was last summer — that’s when we really need to double down on positive.

When grades hit the bumps, when work piles up or gets difficult, we want to be reminding them of their successes. Find something that is going right — there’s always something going right — and reinforce it, support it, and repeat it. That little success will get bigger and bigger.

Here are some ways to keep kids on track and from missing summertime:

  • Speak accomplishments not problems
  • Relate short-term obstacles to long-term goals
  • Stay positive even in the face of obstacles or poor outcomes
  • Focus on solutions to process rather than reprimands over outcomes
  • Be consistent in your support

Reinforcing the positives won’t make the difficulties disappear, but it will make them seem less overwhelming. Improvement doesn’t come from reprimand, it comes from correction, and by staying positive we create a healthier attitude of improvement instead of resignation to failure.

It works only if it’s applied constantly and continually. Just as a diet won’t work if followed once a month, neither will academic support if it comes just now and then.

I wish you and your child an enjoyable and positive school year, even if it is full of challenges and difficulties. When your child meets them, school will actually be rewarding and maybe even fun.

– Michael