Friday, October 25, 2013

Homework Help, Getting Kids to Start Their Homework

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"What do I do first?"

This may sound very simple.  In fact, the answer should be obvious to everyone.

Except we know that the set of skills known as the executive function skills don't actually finish developing until about the age of 25.  Which means what's obvious to adults isn't so obvious to students.

Even bright older children (yes, especially those in high school) put off getting homework started just because they aren't sure what to do first.  And often they don't really understand why they are procrastinating!
Homework Solution:
Getting the Homework Started -
A Quick 4 Step Plan
Use these 4 steps to get started and keep homework organized all the way through the process.
  1. Help your child look at all of the homework he has.  Together decide about how much time is needed for each assignment.
  2. Prioritize the assignments in order from hardest to easiest
  3. As assignments are completed, teach your child to check them off.  Seeing one's own progress (checking off the assignment) is very motivating.
  4. Help your child develop a habit of putting their completed assignments in an appropriate place in their folder and backpack.  Habits don't develop without practice, so lots of monitoring and praise is needed here.
While this is pretty obvious organizational "stuff," it actually involves a lot of skills that kids won't develop until later on in life.  Getting started now will give them a procedure they can use for the rest of their lives.

Homework Help, Missing Materials

I receive homework tips through email from Stowell Learning Center. You can visit their website and sign-up for emails too.
"It happens far too often. Math book, spelling words, science notebook, reading folder, vocabulary worksheet; at least one of these necessary things fail to make it home after school with your child so that homework can be completed. It can be soooooooo frustrating! You sit down to help with homework only to find the book, the paper, the chart, or some other vitally key element is not even's still at school. Grrrrrrrr! And then the scrambling starts. Do we race back to school on the chance that the teacher is still in her classroom? Do we call a friend? Or should I just send my child to school tomorrow knowing that he'll get another incomplete homework assignment? Homework Solution: Binder Reminder Most teachers are more than happy to help with this solution as long as you make it easy for them. Here's what to do: Make a list of any and all of the materials your child may need to take home from school and write them on an index card. Next, laminate the card or wrap it in clear packing tape. Then, ask your child's teacher to attach the card to the upper corner of your child's desk and help to implement a simple routine. When homework is assigned throughout the day, ask the teacher to use a dry erase marker to circle the item your child will need for that assignment. When it is time to pack up at the end of the day, your child should erase the circles for each item ONLY after he places it in his backpack. This will not only help your child to develop independence, but save you from any more after school scavenger hunts! Make SURE you reward the teacher with a personal thank you note (an email does NOT count!)."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vacoule Demo/Experiment

Cells can be hard to teach, but I do have a simple vacuole demo that may help students see how a vacuole works any why it is important. Materials Lettuce -2 pieces (I prefer to get them from a head of lettuce) 1 Cup Water Procedure Day 1 Discuss the purpose of a vacuole. Place 1 piece of lettuce in a cup of water (control group) and keep one piece of lettuce out. For each class I show both pieces of lettuce. Then I ask students to predict or hypothesize what the lettuce piece kept out of water will look like tomorrow when the lettuce is kept out of water. Day 2 Show students both pieces of lettuce. Students will see that the lettuce piece kept out of water is limp and starting to brown. Review the function of a vacuole. Then ask students to predict/hypothesize what will happen when the limp lettuce is placed back in water. Day 3 Show students both lettuces so they can see how the lettuce left out of water has regained it's shape and firmness. (The other lettuce is a control and so students can see you did not replace the piece.)Review the function of a vacuole and apply this concept to "real life application." Take it a step further Have students draw or explain what happened, record their hypothesis, and/or explain how it applies to real life. Days 3 days Time 5-10 minutes each day to explain and show Real Life Application Why do supermarkets water the vegetables? How can you prolong the life of your vegetables?