Organized vs. Disorganized, Part VI

Note:  This is the next in a series from the book Organizing the Disorganized Child:  Simple Strategies to Succeed in School by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran…enJOY!  🙂

So…we’ve identified organizational style, chosen and set up supplies, and organizingfollowed the paper trail from school to home and back again…It’s time to charge forward with Super Study Skills!  The most powerful concept at this point to is ASK QUESTIONS.  Learners should always question everything because questioning is the key to effective learning.  There are three parts to consider now:

1.  Effective Reading:  Like all learning, reading starts with actually asking (and answering) several questions.  The reading technique the authors discuss most is called SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review).  This strategy  is based on the active learning process of asking questions.  The learner begins by surveying or previewing the material, then making a mental map of where they want to go by laying out questions to answer.  As they read, section by section, learners ask questions by reading, reciting, and eventually reviewing the answers to the questions.  A quick way to come up with questions is to turn headings into questions so the learner can review all the information at the end once again.

2.  Effective Note-taking:  This also requires asking lots of questions and reviewing information weekly.  Based on the work of Dr. Walter Pauk from Cornell University, the simple system the authors recommend (Cornell Method) provides more than just notes; young learners might actually use it!  This note-taking technique divides a sheet of notebook paper into columns and has the child take notes in the larger, right-hand column.  At home, the child asks what key concepts can serve as hooks/cues for the rest of the information given.  The hooks/cues are written next to the corresponding material in the left column.  At the bottom of the page, the child summarizes the material.  The authors also discuss visual organizers (we use Thinking Maps here at LME), outlines, and flash cards.

3.  Effective Test-taking Techniques:  This section is so important, we will devote the next installment on sharing ideas. 🙂

Once the material is read and effective notes are taken, the learner is now ready to study for the test.  Planning a study schedule, rewriting or reviewing all the materials, using a study buddy, and other ideas abound as the learner prepares to share back the knowledge acquired.  Being able to synthesize the material into as few key concepts as possible is a great learning technique for school and life; besides, when you can teach to someone, you know it well!  🙂

All-Star Volunteers and MVPs

DSC_0009You’ve likely heard the saying:  Kind hearts are the garden; kind thoughts are the roots; kind words are the blossoms; kind deeds are the fruit.  We are abundantly blessed at LME with the BEST Volunteers in the MISD Garden!

We celebrated our All-Star volunteers today DSC_0012with a huge Miller Rally, presentation, and special breakfast.  Under the direction of music teacher, Amber Grant, the Miller Ringers and the Miller Sign Choir performed beautiful selections for all to enJOY.  The entire student body chorally shared a Thanks, Volunteer poem with the assembly crowd.

DSC_0006Our own Mrs. LaRue Miller (our first volunteer) was on hand to personally thank everyone and shake hands with each one!  Everyone enJOYed the scrumptious breakfast provided the LME staff family.

Team Miller was on their top game today.  Special thanks to our Volunteer Committee who orchestrated this big event.  You truly knocked it out of the park!

There is something profoundly majestic in young learners gathering as an entire student body to IMG_0062show their appreciation to our daily volunteers.  THANK YOU seems so small compared to all they do for and with us…we are so grateful for the dedicated time, talents, gifts, and service our All-Star volunteers and MVPs provide each day at LME!

Here’s hoping you find a way to volunteer soon.  In the meantime, enJOY this beautiful spring weekend!  🙂

Volunteers are Vital!

It’s National Volunteer Month and we’re celebrating in a big way here at LME!  Tomorrow is our big Miller Volunteer Rally of Thanks.  Parents, grandparents, and community members are joining us for our usual Friday Miller Rally followed by a special breakfast with entertainment and treats.  It’s our simple way of saying a huge THANKS for all the support, smart work, IMG_0040assistance, and love our volunteers provide daily to our learning community.  Why, just today, we had 29 volunteers in our LME hallways hanging over 3,600 pieces of artwork (several for each child) in anticipation of our big Fine Arts Show and Gallery next week!  WHEW!

Our learners are excited to share their thanks and our staff is blessed and grateful for volunteer assistance everyday!  Here’s hoping you thank a volunteer in your life today because, as one young friend noted, “Volunteers are vital, Mrs. Van!”  🙂

Weeds or Wildflowers?

You probably know the saying:  “May all your weeds be wildflowers.”  IMG_0731Some learners today mentioned this to me as I was passing through during morning walkabout.  They were commenting on activities from the weekend and noticed “several weeds on the ball fields,” in their yards, and even on the highways.  Someone mentioned allergies and “how hard it is to stay healthy right now with everything blooming!”  Another friend talked about sharing “a daffodil from Grammy’s garden with a friend at church yesterday; she sure smiled alot after that!”  One child discussed the need to “help others learn to see the weeds of life as wildflowers everyday.”  🙂  Obviously, this got my attention!

As we talked on, it became obvious these observers were sharing ideas gleaned from recent classroom conversations and discussions about turning challenging situations into opportunities.  This life lesson at a young age can certainly impact the future for these learners.  Looking at things optimistically (the glass is half full) goes a long way in bringing JOY to daily challenges, no matter the situation.  So…here’s hoping you find a batch of wildflowers along your journey today and help others to turn their weeds into wildflowers too!

Note:  We have our annual Volunteer Appreciation Day this Friday, April 12 @ 7:45 a.m. during our Miller Rally…thanks to our Vital Volunteers everyday!  🙂

5K4Kids and Fun Run

t-5K4Kids-LogoDo you want to go where learning meets the road in Midlothian ISD?  Do you crave a family-friendly event where you can mingle with the community and help MISD at the same time?  Do we have a deal for you!  🙂

Join us at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 27th when the Midlothian Education Foundation once again sponsors their annual 5K and Fun Run.  Our own Miller Rowdy Runners will be present and in force to tackle this challenging 5K course (I know because we did it last year!).  There are some great prizes this year in overall categories and all proceeds from the race benefit the Midlothian Education Foundation’s educational activities in MISD.  To read more about MEF and to register online go to http://www.misdef.org.  Run or walk, but come out and participate in this exciting outdoor family experience this year!

Note:  It’s Report Card Day for Quarter #3 and we’ve successfully wrapped up our first week of state assessment.  Thanks again for your continued support and understanding throughout the process!  EnJOY a wonderful spring weekend!  🙂

Organized vs. Disorganized, Part V

Note:  This is the next installment in a series based on the book, Organizing The Disorganized Child:  Simple Strategies To Succeed In School by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran.

Following the paper trail once you have your child’s supplies and studyorganizing space at home in new order is next on the list.  With the basics in place, all that is really left is the actual work…thus, the paper trail begins!

The paper trail starts with getting the correct assignments and materials or resources home first.  It continues with the child planning and doing the work and ends with the work being returned to school or filed for later.  As with missing socks in my washer and dryer at home, this begs the question:  “Where exactly DO all those papers go that never seem to make it safely from school to home and back again?”

If you’re like me, you’ve tried multiple methods to secure items for travel.  The authors talk about a basic game plan (or what I call the Baker’s 1/2 Dozen) as you follow the mysterious paper trail:

  1. Have your child write down the assignment using a planner, post-it note wallet (clever idea), or electronic device document; this reminds the child what to do and puts the responsibility on her–now she knows what to do.
  2. Have the child double-check the assignment by asking the teacher or a study-buddy peer to check what was written down.  Now he really knows what to do.
  3. The child should place all materials touched that day in the Take-Home section of the folder or binder.  Now the correct materials are ready to be used at home.
  4. Daily, papers from the Take-Home section are filed or put into the day’s work pile.  Now she knows where her papers are, especially if this is done under the watchful parent eye (at least at the beginning and then spot-checked periodically).
  5. Have your child plan out projects on a calendar, marking completion dates for each step of the process.  Doing this visually assists the child in chunking the work into a series of little projects and keeps it from being completely overwhelming!
  6. When work is completed, it goes immediately into the Take-To-School side of the folder with a parent checking this step (at least at first and periodically afterwards).
  7. Weekly, the backpack and binders (known previously as “the black holes”) are purged of papers and items no longer needed at school or home.  This helps keeps backpacks lighter and study notes or papers are filed for any future tests.

There…we just reduced 33 pages of the book concisely into a few sentences!  WHEW!  This is actually a technique the authors share in the next chapter for reducing information to the key concepts of reading, note-taking, and studying methods…but we’ll save this for Part VI next week.  🙂

Note:  We had another smooth day of state assessment testing in our building; thanks for everyone’s continued patience!

STAAR light; STAAR bright…

staar Day One…state assessment…done!  As we continue this week, we encourage you to rest, eat well, and do those calming techniques that allow you to focus, concentrate, and do your personal best no matter what!  Thanks to all our learners (testers and non-testers), all our LME staff members, and especially Mrs. Bass, our campus testing coordinator, for giving your personal BEST everyday!  Day Two is next…  🙂

Keep Calm…

1939 was a dark and difficult year in Europe.  Hitler and the Nazi army had annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia as well as started the Blitzkrieg attack on Poland.  France and Great Britain declared war on Germany and World War II began.  The British government created a motivational poster at that same time:  Keep Calm and Carry On.  Long forgotten, a copy of the original poster surfaced in a used bookstore in England in 2000.  Since then, the poster has become a popular, even iconic, message of resilience in the face of challenging situations.  Its simple, reassuring, and inspiring reminder remains an encouraging sentiment in difficult times.  You didn’t know you were getting a brief history lesson today, huh?!

So, what does this have to do with us at LME anyway?  I was reminded this morning during walkabout how important this is for our learners and their classroom leaders this week!  With STAAR-gazing upon us now, we need these simple, profound reminders that doing our personal best is enough.  It’s natural to feel anxious and uncertain, but we’re not alone.  We just need to filter our thoughts into positive messages and pull from our anxiety management tool kits so we change how we feel and behave during stressful times (like state assessment).  Children are far more resilient than adults, thus, I continuously encourage our staff to measure the barometer by the students.IMG_2596

One 1st grade class shared this clever poster with their 4th grade buddies during their time together.  One learner commented about “keeping your wits about you, especially during your test.”  🙂

I want to thank our classroom leaders, volunteers, tutors, and learners for preparing themselves to their personal best everyday.  Thanks to our learning community who consistently give support to our campus in so many ways!  It’s important to remember this week especially to Keep Calm and Test On!