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Latest Posts


Summer Maintenance - Math

 Summer is upon us, albeit rainy, and I embrace the break much as every student. However, I must reiterate that learning has to be reinforced over the summer. Without some type of conscious effort to practice and maintain skills, students lose on average 20% of what they learned during the school year. I don’t recommend hours and hours a day. I do recommend something.

Ask Me In October

My school year has ended: the high school wrapped up June 5th and the college ended June 11th. Typically, these early weeks of summer are spent shredding or filing stacks of papers, pulling weeds, meeting friends for lunch, and reflecting: What did I do well? What can I do better? What can I do differently? But this summer is different. I’ve already begun working on next year!

Consistency is a Gift

As I’ve written before, most of my students at the college are adults working at least one job and raising at least 2 children. So in their writing class I asked them to tell me what it takes to be a good parent.

The Students Teach the Teacher -- Again

One of the nice things about being a teacher is that you are always learning. Last quarter I had two deaf students in my math and reading classes. They were amazing men with lots of interesting stories in their lives. They also had a wonderful attitude and huge motivation.

The Students Teach the Teacher -- Again

One of the nice things about being a teacher is that you are always learning. Last quarter I had two deaf students in my math and reading classes. They were amazing men with lots of interesting stories in their lives. They also had a wonderful attitude and huge motivation.At some point in the quarter, we were discussing the differences between their, there, and they’re, and their interpreter pointed out that if you’re deaf, those words aren’t a problem because they each have their own sign. I had never thought about ...

Teaching Accountability

When the research came out a few years ago showing that the adolescent brain is still under development into their early 20s, most high school teachers weren’t surprised. Many of us were relieved, as it helped us understand some of the strange behaviors and choices we would witness in many of our students. It’s actually biological: their sense of right and wrong, their understanding of appropriate boundaries, their sense of how to determine if a situation is safe or unsafe – these are all skills that are not yet honed ...

Good Parenting Defined

Last night I assigned my adult writing students the following topic: What does it take to be a good parent? My students range in age from 20 to 65. Most, but not all, are parents, so I anticipated that some of them would balk at the question. I also suspected that there would be a wide range of opinions. Once again, I was wrong in my assumptions.

Surviving the School Year

This is the time of year when students are stricken with spring fever and teachers are experiencing the pressures of the end of the year. High stakes testing is imminent, and everyone’s pushing to meet goals and complete the curriculum. So how do we all survive? How do we make sure grades don’t drop, graduation requirements are met, students keep up?

Scheduling the SAT or ACT

Scheduling the SAT or ACT is another important decision that you need to make with some intention. I suggest that students take these tests in the spring, when their math courses are nearly complete. The content of the math has gotten a little more difficult, so it’s important to have as much of the content complete before taking high stakes tests. The spring presents its own challenges, however, as students are tired, prom is almost always the same day as the SAT, and motivation may be at a low. Seniors ...

SAT vs ACT: What's the Difference

The introduction of college entrance testing generated some great questions from our readers, so I will continue this discussion for the next couple of weeks.

More About Helping in the Schools

Last week’s column elicited many positive and helpful comments, particularly from a local teacher who did not want me to share her name. She did say it was okay to share some additional ideas for how parents can be involved in the school. Here are some great ideas.

Staying Involved

In a recent conversation with the headmaster of a local school, he mentioned his frustration that as kids progress through the grades, he sees less of the parents. So I thought it time to revisit one of my most important tips: if your student is in middle school or high school, you should be more involved than you were in elementary.

Test Success

It’s testing “season” again, so I thought it might be helpful to review what’s expected and how you can help your student be most successful.

Giving Back

Recently I joined the Adult Basic Education team at Wenatchee Valley College teaching reading, writing, and math. I was a little nervous at first because I was facing a room full of students ranging in age from 20 to 67 and skills from 1st grade to college. Fortunately, 40+ years of teaching prepared me for the challenge of individualizing lessons, teaching, and approaches. What I wasn’t prepared for was the commitment, enthusiasm, motivation, and respect these students displayed.

Hard Work Is the Key to Academic Success

I write a lot about problems: challenging students, challenging relationships, challenging situations. I hope these articles help and welcome specific questions. But this week I’d like to focus on a couple of students who have challenged themselves to be the best that they can be. Names, grade, gender have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

Breaking Bad News

I have a student whose father is seriously ill and hospitalized as a result. My student whom I shall name Fred, has been visibly shaken by this. Fred still manages to attend school and keep up with his work. But it’s taking a toll. Every time his classmates ask about his dad or express concern or consolation, Fred visibly winces, but answers and appreciates all concerns.

The Rest of the Story

This week I met with a mom who was concerned that her son was failing freshman English because he didn’t complete a required book report. The book was too difficult, but when her son tried to change books, he was told there were no other choices. Then he went to several of his teachers seeking help. They couldn’t help, her son explained, because the book was too difficult, even for them. So he didn’t turn in a report and now is failing the class. Is anyone feeling the breeze from ...