Saturday, December 31, 2011

High School Science For Homeschoolers

I recently had an interesting conversation with a few homeschool parents of middle school age children who are in the process of making plans for high school. In the process, they raised quite a few questions that I think many other parents also wonder about.

Since these parents know me as their children's science teacher, our conversation naturally centered on science education. Fundamentally, we were discussing two things. First, what does a good, high school science education consist of? And second, what do colleges want to see?

Science is such a broad topic that it isn't at all obvious what subjects high school students should study. Of course, a year each of biology, chemistry, and physics is traditional, but why? Why isn't Earth science, which deals with some of the most important issues of our day, such as climate, part of that core curriculum? Is it ok to substitute more specialized classes such as astronomy, botany, or forensics for the more traditional classes? Should students study only the branches of science that they most enjoy?

There is no clear answer to these questions; the conclusions that people come to will have as much to do with opinions and preferences as they will with facts. Personally, I think that while biology, chemistry, and physics are all great, Earth science is just as good and ought to be in the spotlight more than it is. I suspect it gets short shrift because of the far-reaching influence of medical schools, which all require applicants to take biology, chemistry, and physics, but not Earth science. In my opinion, relatively broad survey courses should make up the greater portion of high school science, but adding in one or two specialized classes can be wonderful, particularly if they are in addition to the more general classes. If specialized classes replace too many broad survey classes, my concern is that students will not get enough background information to formulate an accurate picture of the way the world works.

Even though it is undoubtedly possible for students to get a great high school science education in very non-traditional ways, that strategy is risky. Some colleges, especially small liberal arts colleges, would undoubtedly look on unusual courses of study kindly, but most colleges will want to see SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams. In New York State, Regents exams may also be important. Notably, many of the schools most likely to de-emphasize standardized tests are very expensive, so unless money is not an issue, it makes a lot of sense to work hard to get some strong test scores. This is especially important for homeschoolers, who probably need to take at least 5 SAT Subject tests if they plan to apply to selective colleges. Therefore, it is necessary to include, and probably emphasize, classes that will let students shine on these tests. The only three SAT Subject tests in science are biology, chemistry, and physics. Doing well on AP exams is also a reliable way to impress colleges, so these tests should be taken into account as well. There are AP exams in biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science. Regents, which can be important in New York State (and especially for SUNY and CUNY schools), offer tests in biology (called Living Environment), chemistry, physics, and Earth science.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What Makes Science File Folder Games Incredible Learning Aids for Children?

The quest for knowledge is not as simple as just reading books or looking at visual aids. It follows intrinsic methods of skill building that is ideally provided by learning centers. In the course of fostering the children's learning ability, it covers everything from the very simple kindergarten educational games, to the more thorough science file folder games, up to the advanced and sophisticated learning bible of the much older children. The learning phases follow a rigid training program, which are ably aided by school supplies assigned to match anyone's learning ability.

The Learning Aid's Backgrounder

While our forefathers managed to learn the tricks using grassroots teaching aids, our modern children are much luckier because of the advances in technology. Colored and stunning visual aid is a rare treat in the past, which is now ably provided by the computer, the printer, and projectors. Science file folder games that already existed way back, used to be supplied only by big name publishing companies and are so expensive that one copy has to be shared around. Kindergarten educational games have also developed by leaps and bounds, from the crude types of yesteryears to school supplies today picked eagerly at educational outlets.

Why are science file folder games important in the skills training program of a child?

Children explore everything or anything that crosses their path: from things earth bound, to space, and even life science. This desire is supplemented with low-level games that can be enjoyed independently. This form of exercises started with the extra attractive kindergarten educational games, which was devised to keep school training at ease and to relieve boredom. Luckily, for the modern child, learning aids are no longer confined to school supplies but also through the Internet and the printer - these have added depth to the choice since more websites are now attuned to meet the need.

What topics are normally included in the creation of science file folder games for the children?

As the study encompasses almost everything, expect the subject matters to touch on the characteristics of living things, the properties of matter, the diverse effects of weather and climate, and some explore the truth about the solar system. The topics are so many that the previous list has not even dealt with food groups, anatomy of the human body, parts of the plant, living and non-living things and many more.

Remember that the study of science will be best supplemented by visual teaching aids, starting with the kindergarten educational games to the more demanding file folder games that are available as school supplies or can be taken out from the Internet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Five Tips To Successful Children's Education

Being a modern day parent is so much different and more difficult than the past. Don't you agree? While working hard in the day and spending whatever time left with your kid, parents go through so much hardship for one of the most important reasons: to give their children a proper education which would open up avenues of success for them in the future. In a fast paced society where time is of the essence, we tend to assume that children will absorb and understand whatever we throw at them and make sure they learn as much as possible because we believe that it will be beneficial.

It is said that the brain of a child is like a sponge and it'll absorb anything, everything and this is why they tend to ask endless amount of questions and if we want our children to be well mannered and learn the right stuff, must we cater something different just for their curious minds? I believe we do.

I'm not a parent nor a child educator myself but I've been a kid once, well, in fact everyone was a kid once but as we age and mature, we lost touch with our kiddy behavior and mentality because it is not acceptable in the society and when we communicate or teach our young, we often lose our patience resulting in undesirable outcomes. Now, the below 5 tips are what I've observed, read, studied and gathered from child educators and I personally believe that if you teach yourself to have these qualities while educating your young, it will definitely lessen your burden and at the same time bring a whole lot of fun and joy to you and your kids! I understand that you're all grown up and mature now but let's all hear what the younger generation has to say, shall we?

Tip 1 - Always assess the ability of the child before proceeding to teach something new. It is important to understand the learning capabilities of the child (i.e. strengths, needs) before you begin to educate them. As every child is different and possesses different IQ levels, it is essential to find out what their pace of learning is especially for children with intellectual disabilities. Children with such disabilities will take a longer time to learn or pick up new skills as compared to a normal child. Therefore, it is very important to teach the child things that suit their cognitive level.

Tip 2 - Conducive learning areas. To enable a child to learn effectively, a child is best placed in an environment that allows them to fully concentrate on whatever they are supposed to learn. Set up areas for play and learning separately, this is also useful in letting them know that there is a different time for studying and playing.

Tip 3 - Create a safe environment for progressive learning. For instance, you can encourage inquisitiveness and allow them to make mistakes in order to learn. Allowing your children to learn from their mistakes is more effective than spoon-feeding them. Progressive learning also helps in building a solid foundation for the child and not giving too much information at one time which can result in them losing interest.

Tip 4 - Be consistent in setting your expectations. You have to expect that the child is able to learn and each time, set an expectation slightly above the child's ability so as to push them to achieve greater heights. However, this will only be effective by doing it consistently.

Tip 5 - Have care and patience towards the child. You have to be genuine in wanting the child to learn. Teach the child for the sake of his/her learning and not for the sake of teaching. One way will be to care for the child constantly, and this will gradually help you in building a bond with them, thus enable the child to respond effectively and readily to you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12 Surefire Ways to Teach Successfully!

Have you ever watched cheerleaders at a football game doing stunts? They often have a flyer, the person up in the air, and two or three bases, the cheerleaders supporting or catching the flyer. For the flyer to perform to the best of her ability, she needs her bases working together to support her and keep her safe.

Now, imagine that the flyer is your student and that you and your co-teacher are the bases. Just as it is critical for the bases in a cheering squad to work together, it is critical for co-teachers to collaborate. It's not easy working with another teacher, yet it is important for your students to have the sturdiest support possible.

So to help you out, here are 12 surefire ways to co-teach successfully! We hope that these ideas come in handy and that you have an excellent rest of the year!

12 Surefire Ways to Co-Teach Successfully!

1. Introduce each other's roles in the classroom as equal but different. For example, the general education teacher is introduced as the content area specialist and the special education teacher is introduced as the learning strategies specialist. Other co-teaching teams choose to not identify role differences and simply introduce themselves as "the teachers" of the class.

2. Gain an understanding of personality styles. This knowledge can change your life as well as improve all your collaborative relationships. Co-teaching is like an arranged marriage. How you deal with your colleague's personality can make or break the relationship.

3. Plan daily lessons, activities, tests, assignments, etc. in collaboration with each other.

4. As much as possible, make sure the entire team is working together, including the teacher, co-teacher, paraprofessional, parents, and students.

5. Work with each other to effectively implement adaptations, modifications, and accommodations required by the IEP without reducing content.

6. Collaborate with each other to develop a discipline policy and determine the roles you will play when discipline is necessary.

7. Make sure both teacher and co-teacher work with all students on an individual and group basis.

8. Teach, and re-teach, specific learning skills to students that need them. Reinforce alternative learning techniques.

9. Prep time is minimal and precious, and is not always the same for both co-teachers. Therefore, share as much information beforehand as possible through your school's teacher mailboxes or email so your planning time can be used with maximum benefit.

10. Partner with colleges and universities to have students who are studying to be teachers present activities, provide demonstrations, review with games, and help with test prep to free up time for co-teachers to plan. Teachers will need to plan in the room because of liability issues; however it's a viable option when planning time is scarce.

11. Use email and Microsoft Word's "Insert Comments" and "Track Changes" (under "Tools") features to collaborate on accommodations and adaptations.

12. Be flexible, identify and focus on each co-teacher's strengths, adopt a "They are ALL my students" attitude, and consider the impact of personality, gender, and culture differences on your relationship with your co-teacher.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why Bother With Bulletin Board Displays

Teachers all over the world use bulletin boards day in and day out to liven up their classroom while also complementing what is going on in class. If you are unaware of the benefits, now may be the time for you to change your ways. No matter the educational level that you teach, elementary students or at the high school level, there are many benefits of using them. Even if you don't use them on a regular basis, you will find out soon enough that there are times when they will come in handy.

Here are several benefits of using bulletin board displays:

1. They can bring your classroom to life. Let's be honest: most students do not enjoy sitting in the same classroom, day in and day out. If there is a way that you can add some spice, you should think about doing so. This is where sprucing up your bulletin board comes into play. With the right display, your classroom will feel more like home. In turn, students will find it easier to learn.

2. You can change them on a regular basis. You may want to use one type of display today, but another tomorrow. It is up to you to decide how often you change the look and feel. That being said, there is nothing better than knowing that you have the ability to make regular changes should you desire.

3. There are bulletin board displays for all seasons. Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter you should be able to find a display that suits you well. Not only will you be able to find one display, but there are probably many that will fit in nicely with your classroom decor and the type of students that you have.

4. Don't forget the holidays. Most teachers and students look forward to the holidays in their classroom because it means they get to decorate. A bulletin board is a great place to start the decorations. It does not matter what holiday is taking place, you should be able to find a display that you and your students will enjoy.

5. You can use them to get students more involved. As you know, some students get bored very easily. If your bulletin board and classroom decorations change, you can help to avoid this trouble. Not only do such changes bring excitement to the classroom, but you can also let students get directly involved. For example, you can let them design posters or other items for hanging on the bulletin board.

Are you interested in buying supplies for your classroom decoration project? If so, you do not have to look further than the internet. When you buy online you will be able to find all the supplies you need to make your bulletin board display the best in your school.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teaching British Abroad

There is something important to consider when Teaching English Abroad...

Do you like to save or do you like to spend money?

The standard of living you can attain in the country you plan to teach in and the value of that currency is relative to the question of...

Do you like to save or do you like to spend money?

If you usually spend all of your income, you may spend even more if your income is doubled. You may want to travel, eat at fancy restaurants and enjoy your teaching English abroad experience fully or if you can live on a tight budget and save, you will do that anywhere you live.

How do you know if you're being offered a good income or not?

Your standard of living teaching English abroad in comparison to the rest of the population in a country is a major factor. Check into other jobs on the internet to see what is being offered in that particular country, be sure to talk to people who've taught in that country before. That will help you to establish if you've been offered a fair salary to teach in that country.

Can you afford to work there?

That question can be tricky. If you're being paid 4500RMB ($650 US) per month to teach English abroad in China, it may scare you at first because well...let's face it, the cost of living in the US can get expensive, however in China, you can rent a furnished apartment for 230 RMB and feed yourself for under 150RMB a month. You will have money to "play" with an you will be able to explore China and enjoy a good local standard of living. If you have financial responsibilities back at home, you may have trouble exploring China to the fullest.

How can I make money teaching in an English-speaking country?

It's not easy to make a good living in an English-speaking country these days. Most of the jobs are temporary and very casual. TEFL teachers are usually paid a small hourly rate and teachers move between jobs and may be working 2 or 3 jobs at a time. Student numbers vary and TEFL instructors are sometimes asked to move on.

Locking in a full-time position brings in a regular income and permanent position can be difficult to obtain as many teachers are in search of these types of jobs.

Can You Make Money Teaching English Abroad?

You won't become rich teaching English abroad, but you can make a pretty good living and you will have a chance to see the world. You will make friends from all parts of the world and that can be a huge plus when looking for accommodations for a few days. Teaching English abroad isn't done necessarily for the money but you just may find it to be a rewarding career!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Teaching Students How To Gain Greater Success In Formal Examinations

I grew up in the years when the scholarship examination was still an important step in the education process. Each Friday morning, the scholarship classes, the final year in primary school had a two hour test examination on English, Mathematics or Social Studies. At high school, there were many 2 and 3 hour exams at the end of each term leading to the formal external Junior and Senior examinations. Most of my first degree assessments at University of Queensland were 3 hour exams. As an evening student, it was essential to develop good exam technique. This article reflects these experiences.


Up to 50% (sometimes more) of the test instruments used in Schools are the traditional pen on paper examination held under strict examination conditions. For many students this can be a stressful situation where they do not perform at their best. Apart from a good study program, the best preparation is to teach the student how to best do the actual examination/Test. Below are the steps I teach my students from Term 1, Year 8. I repeat it prior to every examination/test right through to the end of Year 12. This procedure can be used in all year levels and subjects successfully. In primary school, teachers might introduce these ideas slowly and actually go through a practice exam explaining to the class how to do these steps. I have even done this with my secondary classes. Remember it is an on-going process.

As well, I remind them of these issues:

(1) Get a good night's sleep. 
(2) Have a good breakfast/lunch, etc. 
(3) Drink plenty of water. 
(4) Don't study "madly" during the last 30 minutes before the test.

All these ideas are to ensure the student is in the best physical condition possible to do the exam.

STEP 1 Read the examination/test paper at least twice.

Decide which questions are easy are harder. Mark them hard or easy.

Decide on the order that you will do them.

Do the easy questions FIRST.

Why? - They take less time; therefore you gain extra time for the more difficult questions.

- Success creates confidence. 
- You don't miss out on marks you can get. 
- You give the impression to your marker you know your subject.

Write out a short plan of how you are going to answer the question.

STEP 2 Work out a time/mark allocation. This give you a rough estimate of the time required per question. Use the first few minutes to plan; the last few to check over and edit where necessary.

Allow time at the beginning of the exam for reading and at the end for checking.

If you are doing a more difficult question; DON'T spend all of your time on it if you are not succeeding.

Go on to others. When you return; read the question afresh and what you have done before you continue.

Continue to try all unfinished questions to the end of the exam/test time.

STEP 3 Checking is a compulsory part of every test. There are several ways to check:

1. Check you have copied down all the correct data for the question. 
2. Check that your answer (its size, etc.) fits in a practical sense into the scenario of the question. 
3. Check, in fact, that you have actually answered the question fully. 
4. Towards the end of the exam time, check you have done or tried every question and every part of each question. 
5. In Maths questions or questions involving calculations, check every step as you do it.

STEP 4 Make sure you have been:

- Neat 
- Tidy 
- Organised 
- Logical 
- Clear 
- Concise

Friday, December 2, 2011

Young Teacher's Guide to Problem Solving in Mathematics

The key to teaching Problem Solving in unfamiliar contexts in Maths is to begin as early as possible with all students. Give your students as much experience as possible as often as possible. This experience does not need to be for extended periods but should contain many short, sharp exercises in a great variety of contexts.

What we need to do is to build up our students' confidence by giving them lots of opportunities, rewarding them, not so much for a correct answer but for being involved in 'having a go'.

It is important that you, the teacher, must become a problem solver if you are to be an effective teacher of problem solving.

Here are themes/ideas that I use to develop this confidence:

• Adopt the premise that problems are 'easy'. Teach your students to start by looking for a simple approach.

• The word 'problem' has a negative connotation. Perhaps the word 'challenges' is a better way to speak about our 'problems' in unfamiliar situations.

• Mistakes are to be welcomed. They are learning experiences.

• Finding a dead end in an exercise should be regarded as a success not a failure. You have just proved you cannot do it that way.

• The seeds of the solution are always in the problem but often students overlook the obvious. So teach students how to interpret questions.

• I would often model verbally and on the board how I approach a problem and work towards a solution.

• I encourage my students to find and share different ways to solve the problems.

• Persistence is an important habit to develop. Include in your work, occasionally, long problems to solve. They don't need to be difficult but just have many steps.

• We need to give students greater opportunities to follow through with a problem. Give hints rather than solutions initially. Solutions should be given when all else has failed. Allow successful students to explain the solution to the class or group.

• Charles Lovitt, a well-known Australian researcher into Mathematics teaching, has a thesis that goes like this: "It's not the question that is important BUT how you ask the question." Mental Arithmetic in Middle and Junior High School is a great way to ask the same question in a variety of ways. I use it often.