Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Five Questions That Can Improve a Student’s GPA

One morning during passing period before my third period German class, a student asked me if it was possible to keep taking German if he was sent to Continuation School. I was surprised since that’s where they send students who are behavior problems or who have terrible grades. I told him I didn’t think so, but also asked him why he wanted to know. He explained he was doing terribly in his other classes, mostly D’s and F’s.

I asked why he was having problems. He said he didn’t know, maybe he was just dumb. I knew this couldn’t be true, since he was doing very well in my class. So I asked him what he was doing right in German that was resulting in his having a B+. He didn’t know. Then I asked him five questions:

1.   Do you come to class every day, unless you’re sick?
2.   Do you pay attention in class?
3.   Do you ask questions if you're confused or don’t understand something?
4.   Do you complete all class and homework assignments?
5.   Do you study for the quizzes and tests?

He answered yes to all of them. I asked him to think about his first period class. Did he do all five of these things there too? His answer was no. We went through all of his class periods; he answered no to several questions for each class in which his grade was terrible. I asked him if he had control over these five actions. Could he do each of them, if he wanted to? He thought a minute and said yes.

I told him this was great news. He had control over his grades. It wasn’t a matter of being smart. It was what he was doing, or not doing that resulted in his good and bad grades. I suggested he do each of the five behaviors in every class starting that day, to see what happened. He agreed.

About three weeks later he came to me with his short term results. All of his other teachers had complimented him on the turnaround in his grade in that class. He was no longer failing any class, and the D’s were turning into C’s. His counselor was no longer considering sending him to Continuation School.

The end of the school year is the perfect time to reflect upon a student’s GPA. Why is it as high or low as it is? Which classes have the lowest grades? Is the student doing all five of the positive behaviors listed above in those classes? The answer is probably no. The good news is that improving grades and a student’s GPA is almost entirely in the hands of the student. 

Most often it isn’t what a child is doing, but what he or she is failing to do which results in a low grade. Rarely is it the difficulty level of the subject. When that happens, finding a tutor is the answer. Otherwise, just follow through focusing on the five questions on this list, and watch grades and GPA improve.

To learn more, you'll want my new book, Free College, on Amazon (Click Here to Buy). How to avoid needing college loans; for families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What Happens When You're Too Stubborn to Fail

One of my favorite quotes is from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He said, “Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.”

When I was teaching German, I used foreign travel to encourage students to stay with the program long enough gain acceptance to college and earn scholarships. I didn’t teach in a wealthy area. Most families didn’t have the money for the three week trips, but we sold thousands of candy bars and washed hundreds of cars. This helped, but families still needed to pay some of the costs.

Andrea signed up to go. Other students reminded her that her family didn’t have the money to pay. Her response was classic. “I don’t know how I’m going; I just know that I am.” She continued to attend all the meetings, helped sell chocolate and washed cars. She inspired other students with her grit and positive attitude.

One afternoon, the trip kids came to see to me. They had come without Andrea. “Our families have enough money to pay for us; can we use the last fundraiser to help Andrea instead of all of us?” How could I say no? After the last fundraiser, we were still short. I sent a note to each of her teachers, past and present, asking for help. She was an angel, and they all chipped in, hoping she could go.

While teaching class, one of our school counselors entered my classroom and walked up close to speak to me in private. “How much do you need to cover the rest of Andrea’s trip?” I whispered $150. Then he turned and left my room. A few minutes later, he returned, handed me an envelope and left the room without a word. The envelope contained a personal check for the full amount. He wasn’t even her counselor.

As the day to leave approached, I overheard a student ask Andrea how she was going to pay for her meals while abroad. She told him the trip included two meals a day. “I may be hungry, but I won’t starve.” When she arrived in Austria, the staff at the University of Salzburg where students were studying realized she had no spending money, and gave her a scholarship to cover meals and a few souvenirs. She was committed, and providence moved. Learn from Andrea; apply for enough college scholarships that providence will help you too.

To learn more, you'll want my new book, Free College, on Amazon (Click Here to Buy). How to avoid needing college loans; for families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sleep Routines Create Better Grades, Here's How to Make It Happen

There’s a simple trick to making sure your teenager gets enough sleep to do well in school. Set a designated bedtime. The practice should have been started when your child was much younger. So if you never established a set bedtime for your child, you’re going to have a hard time doing so now. But no one said parenting was easy.

You know what time your child’s school requires him/her to be on campus each morning. You are also aware of how long it takes to get to school, by bus, by car, by bike or walking. The next important period of time is how long it takes your child to get ready for school and eat a nutritious breakfast. Do the math until you know what time your child needs to get up in the morning.

Then look at the chart below. It shows how much sleep the average child requires by age. It’s a range, and your child may be at one end or the other. Don’t let them fool you. They need this sleep to function properly, no matter what they say. Students who go to school sleep deprived are drowsy in class, cannot focus, and don't end up doing as well as they could.

1-2 years = 11-14 hours
3-5 years = 10-13 hours
6-13 years = 9-11 hours
14-17 years = 8-10 hours

Now count backwards from wake up time. That’s bedtime. Not just on school days, however. All studies show the body (and the brain, of course) is healthiest and works best if there’s a set sleep routine which does not vary on weekends or holidays. Besides the health benefits, it’s important to recognize the brain moves information from short term memory to long term memory during sleep. If a child does not receive the necessary amount of sleep, the day’s learning will go into the trash bin and be lost.

But your counting isn’t over. Your teen will protest and say he/she isn’t sleepy. That is, unless you set the stage for sleep. Count back one hour from bedtime. At my house, we called this quiet time. No electronics, (that includes phones), no loud music and no exciting activities were allowed during quiet time. Mostly, we read. Turn off some lights in the house, create twilight inside. This will signal the brain to prepare for sleep.

If your child rebels at your attempt to be a responsible parent, remember you control the money. Many of the activities teenagers enjoy cost money. If your children understand you are just requiring them to do what is going to help them be healthier, do better in school and receive more scholarship money for college, maybe they’ll cooperate without complaint. Good luck with that. It’s far easier to start this when children are in diapers by establishing a bedtime routine in your house. 

For more information, you'll want my new book, Free College, on Amazon (Click here). How to avoid needing college loans; for families of Pre-K through High School students.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Thursday, May 3, 2018

How to Become The Ideal Scholarship and/or Grant Applicant

My new book, Free College identifies the habits, practices and strategies used by successful Full-Ride Scholarship winners. It's a valuable tool for parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone in the lives of Pre-K through High School students. 

You can help students acquire these fundamentals throughout their growing up years, so when they reach their senior year in high school, they may win more free cash for college. The goal is to graduate college debt free and start life with financial freedom.

Free College is available now. To buy, click this link: BUY NOW If interested in making a bulk purchase for a nonprofit group, send an email to Remember, scholarships and grants are far better than loans. 

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Wallace