Do you know what a ‘Learning Gap’ is?

Ever heard of a Learning Gap? Is your student or someone you know falling behind in class? Then maybe you have. A learning gap could be the reason that the student you know is struggling in class, trying to grasp certain concepts and content. Sometimes it slips over students’ heads or sometimes they just don’t get how the perimeter of a shape can be measured. But perhaps there are other times where students are consistently struggling to comprehend what’s going on in the classroom.

Now, what is a learning gap? A learning gap can be explained as something troublesome, that can cause students to fall behind. It’s the difference between what a student is expected to learn at the stage and level of learning they are at, compared to what they have actually consumed and comprehended from the classroom.

Alright, but what causes a learning gap? Learning gaps come to light when students haven’t comprehended the foundation concepts of a subject, but the next concepts are being taught. Students might be trying to wrap their heads around the idea of addition, but in the midst of trying to understand that, the next topic of multiplication is already being taught. New topics are being taught on top of previous ones, not allowing for students to understand the first before the second is being taught.

So, how do we go about closing these learning gaps? Well, our response is one-on-one tuition. A personal tutor is able to adjust and tailor their sessions to the student in front of them. Perhaps, they are even able to identify the learning gaps before anyone else or maybe before it’s even pointed out. Personalised education and instruction are pivotal in addressing these challenges and in enhancing a student’s confidence to combat them. These learning gaps, whether big or small in might, need to be analysed and targeted with a patient approach.

They might be tough to point out, but they’re important to point out. We all know students learn at different stages which is why they can be tough to pick. They might be small or hard to notice at the beginning but ensuring students’ academic gaps are approached with a patient, individualised method can be the recipe for a solution!

Struggling for a career? Ever thought of these?

There are always new ideas popping up all over the place. New inventions, new ideas for businesses and new ways of going about in the workplace. With all the newness going on, students might get confused and forget what opportunities and potentials lie in the face of this newness. So, to make sure their judgements don’t get clouded or the university magazines don’t block out all the opportunities, here are a few career paths we think current students could consider.

In a world where climate change and global warming is a hot topic (get it, hehe), there’s a whole range of jobs dedicated to its cause. Whether or not they are new concepts, they have certainly brought about new possibilities in the workforce. With an ongoing debate, there’s always more research that can be done. Researching and analysing the current world and its inhabitants is an opportunity students may never thought they could do, but now they can! These kinds of jobs allow students to benefit the planet around them as well as educate others of its benefit.

Technology – it’s everywhere. It’s in the car, in the living room and I bet it may even be in your hand right now. It’s right in front of us all the time. These kinds of jobs will never not be needed. We are becoming a society that relies on and works with the opportunities that technology provides. Understanding and furthering these processes are in high demand and are reliable career paths. There are opportunities for programming and coding where students could find themselves being a web designer or developer. Even better, is that most workplaces require an IT guru. So, students might find themselves combining two industries that they love into one career path that they will adore.

We’ll never not need doctors or nurses or physios or anyone that has a say in the health and wellness of our society. I’m sure that if anything, this year and its pandemic has taught us to appreciate and value the services and sacrifices our health practitioners make to benefit the good of others. Not only is it needed, but it’s a very rewarding career choice.

If you’ve enjoyed your journey through education and schooling, why not be part of someone else’s enjoyment? Teaching is another rewarding career choice that can offer benefits to others and yourself. One nice benefit is all those school holidays! Some of which you might be spending marking or creating lesson plans, but none the less, they are holidays! Being a teacher also offers the benefit of being able to travel and teach in different states, towns or even countries. You’ll never be out of a job and you’ll have a chance at creating the fun education and class environment you were able to enjoy.

It’s okay to not know what you want to do. At 17 or 18, there’s a whole chunk of life ahead of you. But at some point in the future, a job might be in the plan. Having an idea of what you are interested and passionate about will assist in making that decision.

How to increase your student’s interpersonal skills

Communication is a solid foundation for any learning student. It’s a founding skill that students must acquire in order to function in society and the future, both in the workforce and the classroom. The classroom environment is a great building block to establish the appropriate skills to be able to communicate and understand social cues and courtesies.

First things first, is to get those skills up and running at home. Encouraging students to express their opinions at home is the first sign for students to communicate. In having open discussion, free from judgement, students can recognise the importance in expressing their mind and thoughts. Translating the emotions and feelings that are swirling in their heads into words is a great skill to bring into the classroom.

Whilst there’s importance in ensuring students are comfortable to express their opinion, it’s just as important to make sure students utilise other methods of communication. Brainstorm with students or let them do the task independently. Let them consider the other techniques and strategies that people can decipher meaning from. Perhaps it’s visual in codes and symbols or other physical cues.

Hobbies and interests are a great way for students to develop communication and interpersonal skills whilst being surrounded by peers and others. Students participating in sport teaches a different kind of communication both on and off the field. Whilst joining a group or academic club, students are also able to find further techniques. Clubs like debating promote critical reasoning and articulating ideas, something all students can benefit from.

Identifying and practising empathy and relevant emotions is a vital lesson in developing interpersonal skills. Being empathetic allows for students to recognise what social cues to employ and when to employ them. This is an important aspect for students to advance their interpersonal skills.

Communicating with empathy and free of expression develops a confident and articulate student. This student is able to be concise and clear in the classroom and, down the track, in the workplace.

Technology, is it taking over your child?

Are you worried your child is spending too much time on their iPad, phone, laptop or the list of other devices that control our lives today? Are they dependent on the little blue light monsters? It’s never a bad idea to take a break. Refresh from a life of tapping on a screen and unplug. Here are some ways we suggest to do so.

Visit a library. The concept of a library might be a little foreign for those tech-hungry kids but enlighten them. There’s something about walking through a room full of books that can’t be beaten. The smell of the books, the architecture of the buildings and the buzz of literature in the air will be a whole new experience. Letting kids freely explore around the halls and weaving in and out of the shelves may be more fun than what they thought. With the added task of a library card and time-based responsibilities, students can learn some new discipline skills at the same time.

Ever heard the phrase ‘the book was better’ when you’re referencing a movie? Why not get your child to read it? Perhaps their favourite movie is Harry Potter, in which case, they’ve got a lot of pages to flick through. The length and depth that a novel goes into about the characters or the story just can’t be appreciated in a 120-minute film. Students might even find a passion for reading along the way.

Why don’t you take part in the unplugging yourself? Step away from the screen as a family. Create a phone stack or play a game and hide each other’s phones (remembering where you put them of course…). Stepping away as a whole can give some quality time for the family, allowing students to reset and refocus. In setting an example for your students, students can recognise technology as an accompanying tool, something that can enhance their lives, but something that is not a necessity.

Experience all that the outdoors has to offer. In not relying on technology, students can open their eyes to what surrounds them. Perhaps a mountain climb might be on the agenda. Alternatively, students can organise a day at the beach with friends. Activities away from technology allow for students to see the possibilities and potential that can be found without a device attached to their hands.

Whilst the internet and its platforms can enhance lives, it’s a good idea to promote students and users to use it as a building block or foundation. Research things, then apply them in the real world without the need for technology to execute the task. Stepping away and letting students discover what is beyond the blue light of their device can create new motivations and passions that can be brought into their learning.

Year 10 to Year 11: Ready, Set, Go.

It’s go time. This is what your students have been training for. The countless hours of study, the excessive stationery hauls and the occasional stress-manic meltdown have led to now – Year 11. It’s the year that lays the groundwork for the big year that’s yet to come. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, that’s next year and we don’t want to freak them out … too much.

Straight off the bat, let’s remind students to adjust their mindset. While they might think that staying in the back annoying the class with old mate Sam is going to cut it, break it to them now; it won’t. No longer are they Year 9 students doing fun experiments to pass the time. Whilst they still might get the chance for fun science experiments, the next two years are about all things studious.

Staying positive will help out everyone. Whether it’s a stressful week or not, promote positivity. When it does come to a stressful week, and unfortunately for senior students that’s inevitable, keep up the positive and affirming ideas. Ring in the support when needed to get them across the deadline and pull back when students need to understand their independence and expectation as a senior student. Whilst their peers are a great support network, this year not every one of their peers will be doing the same subjects. So, being a constant source of support at home and promoting positivity will make for a balanced study routine.

Make a game plan and follow through with it. Having a plan in mind, complete with the steps and strategies outlined that will ensure its success, makes for a solid boost in motivation. Perhaps your student wants to construct it on their own by putting in appropriate goals and their smaller objectives that are needed to be accomplished to achieve the bigger one. Alternatively, offer your services. Sit down together to both suggest and listen to their academic desires to map it out. Throw in some non-academic aspirations too. Having something that’s not assignment or exam focused but still something to strive towards, will give an outlet for when students need an escape from the books.

Accept this new way of learning. Students are never going to progress if they’re still stuck in last year’s mindset. Accept the new curriculum, the new standard of learning and study and possibly the new upgrade to a fancy senior uniform. Embracing this standard of study can also foster a better attitude that may instigate a more applied student. It’s no use thinking that high school continues on the same as it was before. There’s a reason that at some point it finishes. Students now find themselves in their senior years of schooling, their attitude and efforts should reflect this.

It’s a privilege for students to even have the opportunity to study, so make sure they use it and make sure they enjoy it! It may be harder, it may require more effort than before and it may even be a little bit more stressful but there are only two more years to tally off…and they’ll be over before you or your student knows it!

Year 9 to Year 10: Reaching the Halfway Point

There are 30 minutes left on the clock; students have reached their halfway point. So now that students have reached half time, it’s time to crack out the oranges, or in this case, the bigger books and focus on the final half. As a coach, it’s time to pull out the motivational efforts and words of encouragement to take the W (win) or for students, it’s an A, B or C … or D, but let’s not keep that last one as an option.

As a Year 10 student, students begin to transition into their senior years of schooling, i.e. the ones that really “count”. Unfortunately, those late nights spent working on the Year 8 English oral presentation or the Year 9 science diorama don’t actually impact on their final score, but it is excellent training for the end game. Experience is now on your side, and if they haven’t already, for the next 3 years of schooling, students should begin to (the keyword being “should”) knuckle down.

Getting focused and prepared before the first day of Year 10 isn’t a bad thing. As students are entering a new phase of their learning, one that may require more effort and focus, getting into the mindset that goes with this new-found effort is always a plus. Encouraging students to prepare for their studies will make the transition a little less painful. Possibly looking to the subjects or curriculum that’s going to be taught and followed this year can bring about the much-needed reality for students before opening up the books on the first day.

Starting and staying organised is a key part of transitioning into the senior years of school. To keep on top of everything, whether it’s school-related or social or sport-related, let’s get a diary sorted. In some cases, schools provide their students with a diary, in which case Year 10 might be the year it looks a little bigger. Why, your students may ask? Well, you can tell them, that this time and for the next few years, it’s expected that they actually use it to log what needs to completed that day or week and to know when things are due … shocking I know. Adding in the extra activities like Mum’s birthday lunch or soccer training can help to show what needs to be completed and when.

Define their study strategy. Now that your student is in the big leagues, of study that is, it’s time to really make sure their study works for them. Perhaps your student is a visual learner. They need to see the example mapped out to understand how it works and operates. Maybe your student finds it easier to absorb information through aural strategies where simply listening to the teacher is enough to retain information. Alternatively, your student could identify as what is deemed a kinaesthetic learner and learn via doing things of a more practical nature. So, an aural learner shouldn’t waste their time drawing and annotating just the same as a kinaesthetic learner isn’t going to learn by listening to someone speak about a topic.  Helping your student to really define what type of learner they are will assist when it comes time to study.

Urge your student to talk to their peers and teachers. At the end of the school day, both are there to help and support students from a lost hat all the way to an assignment meltdown.

Year 8 to Year 9: Getting into the Swing of Things

We may have said it before, but students should well and truly have a handle on this whole high school thing by now. With two years on the belt, students should understand the expectations both as a student and academic wise. They say that Year 9 can sometimes be the worst of them all. Changes are happening, friendships may be adjusting, and overall, students may be unfocused.

Senior school hasn’t started yet so for some the clock starts to slow down and academics are put on the back burner. Whilst the grades earnt in Grade 9 might not affect the result in Grade 12, the work ethic fostered will. If switching off and not applying themselves to their studies is what students associate Year 9 with, then we’re here to tell you to tell them, that it’s not.

Time to focus and prepare. Students have the opportunity (and the responsibility) to knuckle down and do the hard yards now for the benefit it will provide their Year 12 self. Ignoring an assignment because Becky has a birthday party on the weekend is not focusing nor keeping on top of their studies. Students need to discover the balance and sweet spot between work and play. To ensure that they can cash in their invitation to Becky’s party, indicate to students that that assignment needs to be done or, better yet, that assignment and last week’s homework should be completed before it’s party time.

Whilst it can be a confusing time, Year 9 is also a great opportunity to explore the subjects students maybe haven’t thought of before. Experiment with subjects and encourage students to find out what they like. It’s no good for students to go through high school without trying their luck in woodwork or visual art. The benefit is, that if they find something they like that is maybe not considered a mainstream subject, a newfound focus or confidence may be introduced.

With finding passions, comes finding strengths and weaknesses. You might be able to notice it yourself at home in the little time it takes to read the book for English then it does to complete the maths homework. Helping students to see their strengths and weaknesses within their academics can encourage them to work harder in those they find difficulty with and to challenge themselves further with those they consider to be a strength.

After having spent two years at school, students will have learnt a thing or two about achievements and failure. Celebrating the achievements and assessing the failures will create a critical thinking student. Learning that a lower grade than expected is not the end of the world at an earlier stage will make life easier in the long run. Just in the same way that learning that achieving in one subject doesn’t always mean that will carry over into the later years of high school is as important.

Exploring and finding passions will make Year 9 extra engaging for students. Help where you can and encourage where you can’t.

Year 7 to Year 8: One Down, Five to Go

Put a tally on the board because one year of high school is done and dusted. I’m sure there was the required number of tears and tantrums. Nevertheless, the joy that is navigating the first year of high school for you as parents and your student is over (cue small dance party). Now comes the fun part, because they’re not done yet. With 5 years left of their high school education ready to be checked off, there’s still more to learn, more to embrace and more to stress over… kidding… but not really.

Last year was all about learning the ins and outs of high school. Getting the routine down pat and figuring out that building B is over there and not actually back there. But this time, as returnees and newly crowned veterans of high school, Year 8 students are free to tackle the next step. Embracing new opportunities is the first slice of wisdom we’d like to offer. If students come home from school talking about a new musical or sports team or debating opportunity, say yes! Throwing themselves into the school community by joining a club or trying out for the sports teams will show that school is not always just about the books.

So, by now, I’m sure students have figured out that with school comes homework and assignments…at least you’d hope they’ve sussed that out! Now is the time for students to apply themselves to their studies. They now know what is expected and how to execute certain tasks and study requirements of high school. Removing the 7 and replacing it with an 8 is not just an excuse to complete the year that’s already been. Students need to continue the routine they’ve learnt and now try to get themselves into the rhythm of homework, then assignments and applying themselves to their learning.

Last year the goal may have been just to get through the year. But with a new school year comes a new goal! Help students to get focused on a new sight to set their eyes on. With something to strive towards, students can start the year with extra oomph in their stride. Type it out, put it on the fridge, above their bed or better yet, behind the toilet door next to the times tables charts… don’t lie, we’ve all seen it. As the year goes on, students can be reminded of what they’re hoping to have achieved by the time the Year 8 badge comes off.

Having good time management is and has always been vital for students, but amid everything that happened and was learnt in year 7, other things can take the focus. This new year is a great opportunity to get a hold of students and their idea of time management. Get a diary or utilise the one provided by the school. Ensure they are organising their schedules to factor in schoolwork, after-school commitments and their social lives.

With one year down, it will only fuel the fire within students to work hard and continue to tally off the years.

From Year 6 to Year 7: Welcome to High School

Long live the days of one teacher, one classroom and the one class of peers. That was primary school. But now your students are moving up in the world. They’re getting ready to embrace a new school uniform, possibly a new campus and a new way of learning. But with that comes the transition from a primary school student to a big high school student.

Enjoy those holidays. School life is about to change for students and you as parents and guardians. The little student walking out of primary school is now a big grown-up student approaching the first day of their final years of schooling. Embrace the free time and innocence that the school holidays encourage. Take that trip or let them see that friend because soon enough there will be this sport on and that after-school commitment on and that family event. The holidays are also a time for students to refocus and reenergize for the year ahead, which for them, this time, is a big one… Year 7.

First things first, let’s get them organised. Whether or not your student is raring to make the transition or your student is happy to stay at the top of the food chain, they need to be ready to face their new reality. Getting the uniform sorted is at the top of the list. Hot tip, if you’re one to save and hunt down a bargain, start with second-hand. Sometimes the uniforms can be on the pricey side and let’s face it, you probably don’t want to send your student to their first day of high school wearing nothing… it might not be the best start. Maybe a friend of a friend or a neighbour has some in the wardrobe they’d be happy to pass down. So, wherever you’re sourcing it from, ensure your student is looking schmick in all their school-uniform itchiness. Moral of this tip, get your student organised.

Why not visit their new stomping grounds? ‘I’m never going to find my class’ or ‘What if I get lost?’ are just some of the common thoughts swirling around students’ heads. If it’s close by, take a trip to the place they’ll soon call home… for 5 days a week, don’t worry they’re not leaving just yet. Walking around and familiarising themselves with the buildings, where the facilities are and a possible new lunch spot will ease those anxious minds. Look at the school’s website or ask around the community to see what a school day’s structure is like! 2 subjects in the morning, 3 after lunch and 2 more later on may be their new schedule. In visualising or familiarising themselves with their new routine, the first day might not seem so daunting.

Fortunately for your student, they’re not doing it alone. There will be other uniform-swallowed first-year high-schoolers on the block. Connecting with those who are to attend their school could also ease both yours and your student’s minds. In having a few familiar faces to stumble around and get lost with, it creates an environment that’s a little less intimidating. Maybe some peers and friends from their primary school are coming along for the ride or they’re the only lucky one coming from a different school, try to reach out. Chances to do so are on open days or the induction days.  Try to encourage students to engage and connect with their newfound friends, because after all they better get used to them… 6 years is a long time.

For students, it’s an exciting stage to be one step closer to finishing their education. For you, maybe it’s a little saddening to see them navigate what’s a little more grown-up. But most importantly, it is a time to be open and excited. Embrace the challenge but the opportunity at the same time.

My Child Hates School… What Now?

It’s normal for kids to grunt and moan when they dislike things. But when it comes to disliking school, it’s nothing to joke about. We all know some students are more studious or more willing to walk out the door than others, but it’s important to look out for the signs that maybe something more is going on.

Maybe they’ve made a comment about hating school or they’re not willing to get up in the morning to get ready. All of these signs are indicative of the possibility that they’re struggling.

Find out what’s going on. Either in a casual conversation in the car or a formal sit down at the table; have a chat with your student. Ask questions and listen to their response, whatever it may be. Don’t assume that their ignorance or moaning is a by-product of laziness or unproductivity. The core of their concerns may be directly within the classroom. Suss out what it is in the classroom that is promoting these unusual or reckless behaviours. Once you have figured out what may be the cause, you can then take the necessary steps to find a solution.

Assess the situation outside of the classroom. Whilst the classroom may instigate many things and your child’s discomfort or unwillingness to go to school may be one of them, it also might not. Perhaps it’s social? School at any age comes with its challenges from friends and the fun that is trying to master the art of fitting in. Again, here is where further conversations can be had. Set up a situation that has the comfort of not feeling like an interrogation, but an environment where you’re still sure your questions are being answered.

But maybe the issues aren’t stemming from inside the classroom nor the friendship department. Perhaps, it’s internal. For the modern-day student, there are extra aspects of school than ‘back in your day’ (cue eye roll). There is the added pressure of social media and its unrealistic social norms conveyed to students. Students have the opportunity and access to an unlimited array of content to scroll. With these norms and standards posted to Facebook and its competitors, students can often create issues of their own, taking with them these issues into school. Encourage interaction with friends and family when they find free time. Spending less time scrolling might decrease the sometimes nasty impacts social media and technology can impart upon on our students.

Another reason for the dislike may be the result of anxious thoughts. Anxiety around schoolwork, what’s going on in the playground or how they’re getting home that afternoon may build up for students. The best part is that you can help with this one, right here at home. Go through the situations that your child relates to anxiety and break it down. Breaking situations down into tasks or smaller pieces may make it easier to grapple with. Taking the anxious thoughts of ‘I’m going to fail’ into affirmations such as ‘I can handle this’ will create the confidence to deal with the anxieties.

So next time your student moans or groans on the way to school, have a chat and see where you can help.

 

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

I’m sure we can all admit we’ve felt small or nervous when seeking help. It’s the fear of seeming weak for not knowing how to approach a situation or being unaware of the answer. We don’t want to project a perception that we are needy by seeking clarification or admitting we don’t understand. But it’s nothing to be afraid of. In most cases, those individuals or superiors who we seek the clarification from are willing and ready to assist with whatever the query.

This fear of seeking assistance translates to the classroom and all the way to the workforce. For this reason, it’s important that our current students are validated for their concerns and questions of comprehension in the classroom, at home and throughout their tuition sessions.

Unfortunately, all and any students can be reluctant to approach teachers or individuals of authority or knowledge for help. The teacher may be polite and approachable, yet students put off the conversation or effort to consolidate their question.

Talking about the services that are available to help could assist in encouraging the student to speak up next time. By detailing all the options students can access, it takes the stigma away. Emphasising that the services are designed for that purpose is also a great way to eradicate the fears of seeking assistance.

Seeking assistance is important and in most cases, the teacher has the answer. Students often spend the time needed to complete the task worrying that they don’t know the criteria or what is being asked of them. Simple comments that validate the importance and need of asking for help will ensure students are comfortable to approach someone for assistance.

The classroom, whilst full of energy, can come with its own pressures. Competition amongst peers in the classroom can often increase those anxious thoughts of asking questions in a class surrounded by onlooking peers. Classroom environments that promote collaboration over competition encourage questioning amongst peers and consequently questioning with teachers.

But sometimes the classroom environment or onlooking peers are still too much. For those students, asking questions and seeking clarification in a more private one-on-one environment might suit their learning style best. Our tutors and their approach might be just the right environment for students to feel comfortable seeking assistance. Tutors can clarify and go over concepts, answer any impending or follow up questions and eradicate student’s fears of being needy or seeming incompetent.

Always remember it’s okay to stand up and ask for help, especially when it’s your own education and benefit on the line.

What’s the time Mr Wolf?

As a child, asking Mr Wolf the time was often a suspenseful yet exhilarating feeling knowing you had to run to the finish line. Yet, combine it with the tasks of student life, running to the finish line or asking how much time is left doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel.

Instead, there’s the late-night anxiety of rushing to get the assignment in on time or the stress of finishing before “Time’s up” strikes the room. No doubt, we’ve all done it, left something to the last minute or crammed before a test. Let’s be real, it’s just a destined rite of passage for all students. But what we don’t want is to make it a habit.

In order to strike out the cramming tendencies, encourage students to implement the following tips:

  1. Buy a planner. Whether it’s small and mighty or large and in charge, get a planner. Simple as that. Maybe it’s on the fridge for everyone to see and help keep students accountable. Or possibly tethered to their 3rd hand – their smart phones. Whatever device, utensil or technology chosen to plan out the student’s schedule, use it.
  2. Set out targets or goals as markers. Anything broken up into small pieces feels smaller right? So instead of treating assignments or exam study as one big chunk, break it down. Have chapters or paragraphs that must be completed at certain times or days to keep students accountable.
  3. Allow for extra time. Whether you like to cut it fine or not, our advice is, don’t. If the assignment is due on Friday, structure your planning and targets to be finished before 11:59pm on Friday night. This sneaky trick allows students to edit or go over the task to ensure it meets criteria and is at a standard that students are proud to submit.
  4. Take a break. The aim is to use time wisely to work efficiently and effectively. In order to execute this work ethic and effort, students need to take breaks. Allowing for breaks will reenergize the students and allow for more productive bursts of work.
  5. Seek assistance and support. If a question is not making sense or if students are unaware of what is expected, encourage students to seek assistance. It could be from a peer or a teacher or someone at home. Asking for help could be the difference between staring at a desk for 50 minutes hoping the answer comes and 50 minutes of productive work.

The 6 Virtues Only School Can Teach you

School. Students either love it or they hate it. Regardless of whether your student is slumping or skipping into school, there is no doubt that it’s teaching them. For 6 hours a day, 40 + weeks of the year, students can be found inside the classroom being educated and advancing on their learning journey. So, we all know school is an institution designed to educate and expand the developing minds of the upcoming generation, but what else can it do?

  1. Creativity – Whether it’s in the art studio or the science lab, school encourages students to embrace their creative instincts. Often by having free rein on decisions, such as what their art project will be or what science experiment they will conduct, students are practising the common way that many communicate their passions.
  2. Problem Solving – No doubt one of the biggest lessons each student can take away from their time at school is the ability to problem-solve. In real-life situations, problem-solving can take place on a day to day basis. Both having and practising the skills to problem solve is vital to tackle the issues faced in their workplace or at home.
  3. Critical thinking – How are our up and coming students going to change the world without critical thinking? Looking towards the future and behind at the past as a way of critical thinking is vital to both the world and any individual looking to make a mark in it.
  4. Leadership – Not everyone was born to wear a badge or stand in front of a crowd, but that doesn’t mean students won’t take away a sense of leadership when they graduate school. Merely taking point on a group assignment or having the initiative to organise are acts of responsibility. Students don’t need a badge to know they’re leaders or what leadership looks like.
  5. Communication – In an essay, a class discussion or an oral presentation, students must participate in some form of communication. Possessing the ability to concisely and strategically express the main points of an argument is something students can take into any future endeavour.
  6. Respect – Being in an environment with lots of students and staff can often test emotions. Yet, when being taught to listen to the teacher when they are speaking or not judging a student’s opinion, students themselves can recognise simple acts of respect. Faced with these signs each day, students then carry these acts into their outer lives at home, in the workplace or even in the local park with friends.

The Need for New Study Habits for Senior School In QLD

With a new system on the horizon, students should begin implementing new study habits to help with the change sooner rather than later. Encouraging study and a new routine to approach the new assessments ahead will further their learning and confidence.

As a foundation to study, the environment and surroundings impact upon the value of study performed. A loud noisy room with lots of people fidgeting and circling the perimeter is not the ideal space to absorb and process content. However, a quiet, well-lit minimal space will promote engagement. Another contributing factor to the study environment is technology and the nagging of social media. Either removing the phone from the situation altogether or limiting the time spent on it will also have a great positive impact on the quality of study performed.

Constant revision is a key habit that will contribute to a successful overall result. With more content covered in external assessments, reinforcing the day’s work is now even more prevalent. Additionally, with more content then too comes the importance for solid and legible notes. Clear, distinct and now due to an adjustment in assessment, additional notes, will help in ensuring the student is prepared and full of knowledge.

Each student learns differently and cannot be expected to study as much or in the same way as a sibling or friend. Different approaches or measures may have to be taken to ensure that the student is utilising their study sessions to the fullest. For some, writing hand notes may trigger thoughts and instigate memory. Whilst for others, simply revising and looking over a past exam or PowerPoint of notes is enough. Assisting in determining what works best for your child is something that will contribute to better studying patterns and habits.

With consistency across the state now, communicating and connecting with other students is also a study habit that could be employed within student’s routines. Social media, despite its distracting efforts in a studying environment, can allow for students to share notes and learn together with students outside their own classroom. Different explanations and additional resources are something that can be attained and built upon through these connections.

Considering the new curriculum, an extremely helpful tool is getting in the habit of revising and completing past exam and sample papers. Sample papers allow students to not only revise the content but prepare them for the conditions of the exam. Students will learn how particular questions are set out, learning from there how to approach them.

The curriculum may have changed, however, the importance of studying and revision has not. Keeping up a routine in a positive and distraction-free environment with the help of enough sleep is a habit all senior QLD students can demonstrate.

The Pen vs Keyboard

As technology slowly creeps into every facet of our daily lives, with it goes the traditional and conventional ways of society. Texting and social media bring about a new era for communication, leaving handwritten letters and notepads out to dry. With predictive text and spell check, typing on a smartphone or computer brings about both benefits and disadvantages to students. So, the question that forms is whether classic pen-to-paper note taking affects the way we learn? Or is it just the same taking the notes down via a clang of the keyboard?

Handwriting involves motor movement; making letters and then telling the hand to scribble the curves and edge. Such movement employs the trusty skills of the brain.  But while it can take some time for students to get the hang of it (and even then, some of it can still be atrocious), it allows students to progress and master the skill. When editing an assignment or a simple paragraph, the red scribbles and big crosses show the process. One major draw card to strapping student’s hands to a pen, is in remembering and recognising. For the little ones, writing down and following letters on a page helps to pick out a b in a sign. By writing it all down, it triggers body memory. Taking down notes in class via pen and paper may help in remembering content in associating movement with concepts.

How to type on a keyboard; it’s simple. If you want an ‘A’, all students must do is locate the ‘A’ on a keyboard and press it. In that way, it’s a much quicker process.  Having to write out the sentence from the board on a notepad, letter by letter can be time consuming. However, running fingers across a keyboard in time with the presentation gets all the information done in a jiffy. In not having to think about the letter or the way it’s supposed to look, students have extra time to consume the knowledge. Letting the topic sink in can allow for students to think and expand further in the moment. The chunk of time taken to edit is also cut down, with the red squiggly lines and blue symbols even helping to point out the errors.

It’s a battle between old and new. The trusty ballpoint pen or the quick, simple slap of a keyboard. Both take notes and both allow students to absorb the information in different ways and with different advantages. Some students may opt for the traditional, while others can take the modern route. Either way, the most important thing is that students are taking notes, absorbing content and continuing the learning process.

The Spellchecker

This blog is a very courageous undertaking on my behalf because, while you may dismiss my opinions as those of a raving nutcase, my attack on the ability to, or not to spell opens the door on my own vulnerability.

As I wander around shopping centres, I am constantly bombarded with creative spelling innovations, so much so that after a while I begin to doubt my own interpretation of correct spelling for some words.

Does no-one in that place know how to spell or are they just careless, although this is not the first time I’ve found their billboard wanting a letter or a re-arrangement of letters? Imagine if they were this careless, haphazard or just lacking in skill in their practice.

I used to watch a show on the ABC called Can We Help? There was an interesting segment by Professor Kate Burridge (Chair of Linguistics, Monash University) in which she would explain the origin of words and phrases as requested by her audience.  She would show how over time spelling, usage and meaning would gradually change. Perhaps this is happening before my eyes and I just can’t accept it. Maybe modern technology with its spell check, texting, predictive text and myriad of abbreviation alternatives has transcended the need to spell at all. Or, horror of horrors, do we just not care?

I’m reminded of a research project that concluded:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

It seems that research suggests that understanding is paramount, and that spelling is only a tool to reach that goal.  Apparently if the tool is not sharp it doesn’t matter as often with today’s society “near enough is good enough”. Dare I ask that for your next assignment you hand in a creative version or does that happen already?

Ponder for a while on all the rules and instructions we daily follow. There are traffic rules, rules of etiquette and operating manuals to mention just a few. These are necessary to stop us from descending into societal chaos and it is for this reason also that correct spelling is essential in today’s society.

How to Assist Students with Dyslexia

Learning, in general, can sometimes be difficult. But for some students, learning is always difficult. These students deal with dyslexia. It’s common, meaning there might be one in the classroom or even in your household. Either way, dyslexia is nothing to fear or be ashamed of; it’s just a simple bump in the road, that makes the journey just a little bit slower and a little more difficult.

In anyone’s learning journey, reading aloud is a small step in understanding and processing content. But for students with dyslexia, reading aloud can prompt anxiety. Words don’t process as quickly or read the same as the rest in the classroom for dyslexic students. So being asked to read aloud, focusing on the words in front of them but fearing they will skip or misread words is not the highlight of their day. This same anxiety occurs when writing. Dyslexic students struggle to convert the brilliant thoughts swirling in their mind to grammatical sentences. Instead, dyslexic students thrive on verbal expression. Incorporating verbal communication and discussion rather than putting pen to paper will also give a boost of confidence.

A set-out plan of the lesson or objectives for the lesson will also help in the learning journey. Printing out a copy of a worksheet and placing numbered steps on what needs to be completed will assist in the process. With a clearly defined outline of the session, students can keep focus and know what to complete next when one task is fulfilled. This conveniently leaves little room for students to procrastinate, which I’m sure we can all agree is never a good idea. These numbered steps also help in the long run. When a new worksheet is presented, students won’t need the little numbers, they’ll have it all down pat.

With any learning difficulty, comes different and usually more fun ways of learning. The stock standard ways of taking down notes from a whiteboard aren’t going to help. Visualising ideas or approaching content with a new creative perspective may be the recipe for students to remember new ideas. One fun way to combine all those things is through a fancy-sounding technique known as multi-sensory learning. If you’re as confused as I was when I first heard it, essentially, it’s the combination of senses like touch added with sight or movement and hearing, that helps students absorb information. An innocent example might be having students play hopscotch landing on words or letters while pronouncing them.

Dyslexic students are still students and intelligent ones at that. Sometimes it’s just that the new equation in Maths might take a few more lessons to understand than the student sitting beside them. It’s just like ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, slow and steady wins the race.

Confidence is key

Acting confident and trusting your instincts is a key in life that won’t go astray. For students, it just might be the biggest key of all. Standing in front of classmates, confident and sure of their impending oral presentation will fool them all. Their palms may be sweaty, and their knees may be shaking, but if students look and act confident, no one will question them. But for some students, it’s just not that easy.

It could be that oral presentations strike feelings of terror, standing in front of classmates and projecting their voice or the simple act of putting a hand up to answer a question, might give students the nervous wobbles. In other cases, some students are naturally introverted and prefer to listen or are too shy to pipe up. Either way, getting the most out of education and propelling along the plane that is school is made much easier with a touch of confidence.

It’s important to start building the blocks to a more confident student at home. Students look up to parents and their tutors as idols and models of how to act in certain situations. Creating a good example of being excited to give a presentation to the board members at work or something that you can relate to as parents can show your students, you’re confident and up for the challenge. And remember, even if you’re knees are shaking too, act confident!

But being confident as a parent will only get your student so far. Staying up to date with your student’s homework or maybe even assisting in further research will inspire students to put their hand up to answer the question.  With your help and the bible that is Google, students can now add to the discussion in class with a few handy facts up their sleeve.

Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen it and thought it was a great idea, but I bet most of you haven’t implemented it in the home – it’s the trusty timetables on the back of the toilet door. It might seem like a silly choice or a novelty but reinforcing the basics into everyday life and activities will also boost confidence. And why not, when the next time you or your child decides to play ‘I Spy’, try getting students to spell the words once they’ve guessed it? It’s just like when you hide their greens and vegetables on the plate, the students won’t even know they’re learning!

Encouraging students at home, in the classroom or on the sporting field will also develop a confident student. A simple “you’re on the right track” at the homework table will create a more assured student who’ll be jumping at the chance to put their hand up, answer the question or even make a speech.

How to Write an Essay

Now I love an essay, but I’m sure some of you reading this have stronger opinions for the other camp. Essays are a vital task in many humanities subjects. We have to remember that not everyone is a writer, just like not everyone is a mathematician. So, to help those who are not and maybe to further those who are, why not test out a few of our suggestions.

Look at the question. But don’t just look at it. Analyse it, study it, highlight it. The key to a good essay is the way it answers the question. Picking key words and running off on a tangent about something slightly similar yet not applicable may work for you, but it won’t for the question. Ensure that all details of the question have been fleshed out and that you totally understand the question before sentences and paragraphs take the page’s stage.

Research what you don’t know. It may be a question you were not hoping for or a question you don’t know a lot about and that’s okay. What you can’t do, good old Google can. Find some different opinions or facts and use this to your advantage. Build upon your own ideas with the help and experience of others that you have found. The best essays are also those that are well informed with perspectives and information that is both accurate and engaging.

Devise a plan. No sports player ever entered the field without a game plan and no writer is any different. Maybe it’s a structure you’d like to follow or a list of things you need to include. An outline gives writers the opportunity to check things off the list as they go whilst providing guidance for the flow of the prose and argument.

Use the time given. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you guessed it, neither will your essay be! Write a paragraph then leave it. Write two more and then leave it. If you find yourself on a flow of words, keep going. If you find yourself with a bit of writers’ block, take a break and come back. You might find on your break that ideas come back to you and ignite a bigger sense of motivation than you had before.

Bring it home. The conclusion, whilst to some might seem like an unnecessary string of sentences at the end, is really saving the best for last. I mean that’s why they call it dessert right? Because who doesn’t love dessert! Well, today and in the classroom, the conclusion is the dessert. It sums up the whole meal. Whether or not the entre (introduction) was a bit off, you can always bring it home with a good dessert. Use the last few sentences to sum it all up. Don’t bring in any new flavours or ideas, but instead enhance them and link them with your main argument that’s flowed throughout the course.

Feedback is your friend. Ask around to get ideas from others. Constructive criticism is welcomed too. Having the opinions and fresh eyes of others allow for your essay to appeal to an outsider’s perspective and may give you a fresh insight to further your work.

4 P’s to Look for in a Tutor

We all know that everyone learns differently. Some students thrive sitting in front of a whiteboard, while others struggle. The dynamics of school and the classroom can often bring obstacles for these students who do not succeed so easily in their academic endeavours.

BUT…whether students strive or struggle, seeking further help will always benefit students. Tutors act as a mentor or figure committed to enabling academic success and growth in confidence for students, both in and out of the classroom. Many qualities are beneficial in a tutor, but we think a tutor should always have the 4 P’s: Patience, Perseverance, Perspective and Praise.

Patience: Just like how we acknowledge that all students learn differently, it’s true too that students learn at different paces. Some students find clarity with a few minutes of comprehension; however, the student beside them may need extra hours to grapple with the concept. For a tutor to accept whatever pace a student must complete their tasks at is vital in student’s confidence and approach to learning.

Perseverance: It’s no help if after the student doesn’t understand or comprehend topics, tutors just give up. If the way they first approached their teaching strategy fails and tutors decide they are no longer of assistance, it’s not beneficial to the student nor their confidence. Tutors must too put in the equal effort their student does in attempting to learn the topic in attempting to teach the topic. Tutors should be committed to both the student’s learning and their overall improvement. In this way, tutors will be a constant example and representation of perseverance to their students.

Perspective: Tutors are afforded the opportunity to entice their students, so why not use it? In a classroom, teachers are restricted to the curriculum or 20 plus other students in the room who also demand their attention. But with a tutor, tutors can find and incorporate fun and engaging resources that may not be accessible in the classroom. Tutors can translate and communicate ideas in a way that’s new or different from what they are used to in the classroom and traditional dynamic of school.

Praise: Students need praise. They need encouragement and the confirmation of improvement to continue their studies with the same momentum and effort than what the studies were first approached with. In having a tutor that practices praise, students can gain a sense of confidence and improve upon it as they progress with their studies and their tutor.