Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DC CAS Testing

Hello Parents! This week is DC CAS Testing for grades 2-5 at Lafayette. The week started with a testing assembly on Monday, followed by the first day of testing on Tuesday, April 23rd. Testing will continue throughout the next few days, ending this week for 2nd and 3rd graders and next week for 4th and 5th graders. During the opening assembly, students were reminded to not stress about the tests and simply do their best! Each child was given a card with the following tips:

1. Do your best, but DON'T STRESS
2. Relax your body: Take 3 belly breaths, close your eyes and focus on breaths 
3.  Positive self-talk: “I can do this!” or “It’s ok if I don’t know every answer” 
4. Imagination: Imagine that the test is over and you are in a relaxed, calm place

If your child is experiencing test anxiety, please reference our previous Parent Pick-Up Group topic Test Anxiety and School Worries about helping your child deal with these issues.

Have any thoughts, ideas, or questions about how to reduce stress and anxiety and help your child succeed with testing? Please feel free to share them in our comments section!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Organization Strategies for Your Child

Parent Pick-Up Group Topic: 4/18/13

The topic for this group was organization strategies for your child, including strategies for children with ADHD. We included information from a presentation given by the Special Education department entitled "Taking the 'Dis' Out of Disorganized." Below you will find an outline of the information including a variety of organizational strategies that you could implement with your child:

Learning Styles: 
  • Information enters the brain through sight, hearing, and touch. 
  • Your learning style is the one you rely on most. Ex. Visual learners learn by sight, auditory learners learn by hearing, and tactile or kinesthetic learners learn by touch
  • Visual Learners:
    • Prefer to see information such as pictures, cartoons, demonstrations
    • Picture words and concepts they hear as images
    • Can be easily distracted in class without visual aids
    • Overwhelmed by intense visuals
    • Benefit from charts, maps, notes, and flash cards
  • Auditory Learners:
    • Prefer to hear information spoken
    • Can absorb a lecture with little effort
    • May not need careful notes to learn
    • May avoid eye contact in order to concentrate
    • May read aloud to themselves
    • Like background music when they study 
  • Kinesthetic Learners:
    • Benefit from direct experiences
    • Prefer to participate in activities and performing skills such as writing
    • Prefer touch for taking in information
    • Can write out important facts to remember them 
    • Create study sheets connected to vivid examples
    • Role playing can also be an effective strategy
Executive Functioning:
  • "Conductor" of cognitive processes involved in learning
  • Set of processes having to do with managing one's self in order to achieve a goal
  • Neurologically based skills involving mental control and self-regulation
  • Executive Skills:
    • Sustained Attention- ability to maintain attention despite boredom, distractability, or fatigue
    • Task Initiation- ability to begin projects without procrastination
    • Planning/Prioritization- ability to create a road map to reach a goal or complete a task, making decisions about what is important to focus on
    • Organization- ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information and materials
    • Time Management- capacity to determine how much time one has, allocate it, and stay within time limits
    • Flexibility- ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information, or mistakes
    • Goal-directed Persistence- capacity to have a goal, follow through, and not be distracted
    • Metacognition- ability to stand back and take a birds's eye view of oneself in a situation, observe how you perform, and self monitor and evaluate
  • Executive tasks at the elementary level:
    • Completing chores including daily responsibilities and tasks (ex. brushing teeth, making bed, feeding pets) 
    • Using a system to organize school work (ex. planner, notebook)
    • Following complex school schedule
    • Planning time (ex. school activities, homework, family responsibilities)
    • Inhibiting rule breaking in absence of visible authority
  • To teach executive skills:
    • Directly address skills
    • Consider child's level of development
    • Make changes in environment, task, or interaction with your child
    • Modify tasks to match your child's capacity 
    • Use incentives to support instruction
      • Praise, rewards
    • Provide just enough support for the child to be successful
    • Keep support and supervision until child has mastered the task
    • Fade support, supervision, and incentives gradually

An organized student needs: STRUCTURE, ROUTINE, PREDICTABILITY 

  • Planner
    • Check nightly if needed
    • Color code for homework and tests/quizzes
    • Include a list of materials needed each night
    • Record phone numbers of two classmates
  • Monthly Calendars
    • Use for long term projects, essays, research papers, speeches
    • Separate task into parts
    • Complete process 2-3 days before due date
    • Check with teacher as each section is completed
  • Homework Priority List
    • List all homework as follows:
      • #1- Longest, most difficult assignment due tomorrow
      • #2- List in decreasing order according to difficulty, length, aversion
      • End of list- work on long term assignments per schedule
    • Help your child learn to estimate time needed for a given assignment
      • Discuss and decide on amount of time for each assignment
      • Set timer as student begins
      • Upon completion, note actual time needed
      • No racing allowed
      • Important to keep record of study times for tests and corresponding grades
  • Homework Schedule
    • Post near working space or on refrigerator
    • Consider attention span
    • Build in breaks (10 minutes or less)
    • Extraneous technology OUT
    • Plan ahead for days with extracurricular activities, etc. 
    • Consider time of desired activity after homework is completed (reward, motivator)
    • More efficient use of school time = less homework!
    • Always prepare backpack, lunchbox, clothing, etc. at night
  • Binders
    • Depending on the class-
      • pencil case
      • one large or two smaller 3 ring
      • double sided pocket divider for each subject
      • regular dividers per class need 
        • ex. English- notes, grammar, lit, writing, vocabulary, homework, tests
    • During school day, put homework and papers in front pocket of each subject
    • Every night before homework, empty pocket and organize each section
    • Place completed homework into appropriate pocket
    • Use back pocket for ongoing work, study materials, etc. 
  • Studying: Reading a Textbook Chapter
    • BEFORE reading the chapter-
      • Read the introduction
      • Read the chapter summary at the end
      • Highlight all titles, subtitles, and headings
    • BEFORE reading each section-
      • Write each vocab word on an index card
      • Prepare all section questions by turning each into a statement, leave room for answer
    • As you read each section-
      • Define each vocab word in your own words
      • Complete all section questions by filling in answers
      • Highlight vocabulary and definitions and other important information 
    • After finishing- 
      • Test yourself with review questions at the end of the chapter
      • Use the cards, review questions, and highlighted information to study for the test as well as class notes, review materials, etc. 
      • Short, frequent study sessions over several days are more effective than one long session the night before the test! 
    • After the test-
      • Make corrections
      • Analyze mistakes (ex. kind of questions missed, information missed)
      • Check if there was enough study time beforehand
      • Make study guides out of tests with highlighter
Additional Advice:
  • In addition to homework priority list, keep another post-it next to work space:
    • List any extraneous thoughts that interrupt focus (ex. need to wash gym clothes, need to bring $5 for the party, etc.) and keep working
    • Allow student to "empty his or her mind" of random thoughts that interrupt work flow
  • Review that day's notes nightly
  • Highlight after, not while reading
  • Cramming intensifies test anxiety! 
Final Thoughts:
  • Talk about learning styles with your child
  • Engage in discussion about executive skills and strengths and weaknesses
  • Work on strategies as early as possible
  • Use small steps. reinforce efforts, gradually fade coaching
  • Point them toward resources
  • When challenges occur, offer understanding and help them get back on track
  • Encourage effort, praise success, and let them know you love them
  • Talk to school personnel if:
    • You think your child needs additional support at school
    • You think there might be learning or attention problems requiring more specific intervention
Presentation adapted from: Julie Landis, Ph.D. and Karen Buchine, M.A., Teaching and Learning Center of Texas 

Thanks for reading! If you have any reactions, thoughts, or suggestions, please feel free to voice them in our comments section. 

Character Word for April: Courage


Facing your fears, and 
having the strength to do what is right

COURAGE is our character word for the month of April! Several students have already been caught in the Character Spotlight for acting courageous. One student showed tremendous courage by stopping bullying behavior!

In the Character Education lessons this month, Ms. Diesner and intern Ms. Moore have been talking to Pre-K through 1st grade classes about showing courage. We read the book, "There's a Big, Beautiful World Out There" by Nancy Carlson which talks about common fears that many kids have and emphasizes facing fears and discovering all of the wonderful things in the world. During our discussions, students have shared some of their fears, and talked about times that they acted courageously and overcame them. Our younger students were asked to draw a picture of a time that they showed courage and create a courage badge and had the opportunity to share these pictures with their classmates. 

Encourage your child to continue to face his or her fears and show courage both in and out of school. He or she could be caught in the Character Spotlight!