On Wise Use of Study Halls…

Just because you do not have an artifact-producing assignment to submit does not mean that there is nothing to do in Study Hall. Final exams are just around the corner, so start your preparation. Put the pedal to the metal, and finish hard. You’ve worked too hard to phone it in now…

And remember, there is always a next level. If you pursue the next level, you will surely experience success down the road.

On keeping one’s thoughts to oneself…

One of the most difficult urges for the adolescent/budding adult is refraining from speaking every though that enters their heads. The taming of the tongue is a skill of the wise. Grandma always said God made me with one mouth and two ears for a reason! 🙂 Being on the mind does not necessitate coming out of the mouth.

Often, if you hold your piece, the professor will answer your question. Imagine your lesson is a movie with a beginning, middle, and end… the plot is unfolding. Don’t ask what happens before the movie has even started. At the end of Act 3, if you have questions, then ask them for sure. But please avoid under-the-breath commentary during a lesson. Number one, the professor hears better than you think (especially in a small classroom). Worse, she may think you impolite.

On Attendance…

Just because you’re missing from class does not mean that nothing happened. It is your responsibility to not only find out what you missed, but to then get the notes from a classmate, visit the professor for a rundown of the lecture, etc. Deciding not to attend lecture does not make missed content unfair game for a quiz or test. That is, a reduction in class attendance (for whatever reason) does not entitle you to a reduction in content assessment.

On Gift Horses…

When you arrive late for after-school detention, and the monitor says, “No problem. Just sign in, sit down, and be quiet,” you should stop talking, sign in, sit down, and silently count your lucky stars. The exact thing not to do is to begin offering excuses for your tardiness. If the monitor says it’s okay, they don’t care… just sit down!

On Extra Credit…

There is no such thing as extra credit. You can’t eat an extra helping of french fries before you finish a regular helping, can you? So why do students ask for extra credit when they haven’t done the regular credit?

Do the regular credit, and you won’t need extra credit. At the very least ask for a do-over on the regular credit. Remember that crosswords, word searches, and other simplistic puzzles do not eliminate skill gaps. Your grade is (or at least should be) a reflection of your achievement against a set of standards. Last I checked, word searches won’t make you better at solving math problems. But doing more math problems always will.

Staying Cool and Being Cool

Tuesday Tip of the Week

As the end of the school gets closer, the temperature gets higher. And when the mercury in the thermometer creeps up, up, up, we all need to remember to stay cool and be cool. The former concerns your health, while the latter concerns behavioral mindfulness.

1. Staying Cool for Your Health

We are in mid-May, and the temperature is already starting to rise — going for 75 degrees today as I write this article. Hydration is immensely more important than parents and educators ever realized a generation ago. We used to just wait until we were thirsty and then get a drink of water. Now experts tell us that if we are thirsty, then we are already on the road to dehydration. Staying hydrated means drinking water throughout the day prior to experiencing thirst. According to the Mayo Clinic, most of us should remain optimally hydrated if we take in about 1.5 liters of water a day.


Staying hydrated means drinking metered amounts of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. I’m sure that rules vary from school-to-school, but most schools allows students to carry a water bottle, or as I like to call them, PHDs (personal hydration devices, a fancy term for simple water bottle, but hey — I’m a math teacher!) Do your best to be considerate of your teachers and classmates by re-filling your water bottle between classes. Asking to hydrate in the middle of a lesson is being a bit of a nuisance. Some schools, like Williamsport, even have refilling stations just for water bottles (see photo at left). These are likely to become ubiquitous, appearing in all schools.

2. Being Cool for Your Reputation

As the temperatures rise — to sometimes in excess of 95 degrees in some of our classrooms — please remember that it’s hot for all of us. Don’t be that incessant chatterbox who chronically whines about how hot it is and how miserable they are are. Doing so will not change the heat or humidity, and frankly people who belly-ache about things they cannot influence are typically viewed as being less than brilliant.

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And believe it or not, your teachers are probably just as antsy as you are about the school year ending and summer vacation starting. Contrary to widespread belief, we’re people, too. We don’t get plugged into a closet down in maintenance or central supply. So on those days when it’s hotter than a black tin roof in the middle of July, beating the heat sometimes just means learning how to be tolerant and making the best of a sticky situation. June 15 will be here soon enough! Don’t wish your life away.

So remember, stay cool by drinking water, and be cool by not complaining about the heat.

Getting the Most out of Academic Enhancement

Three-point Thursday

After 15 years, I have seen a lot of things that work as well as a lot of things that do not work for students during the Academic Enhancement period. Today’s three-point Thursday article highlights my top three pointers. These are the three main habits I have seen from students who seem to be experiencing the most success using this academic period.


Photo Credit: ekvartalo via Compfight cc

1. Dig a Well Before You’re Thirsty.

Some students remember to get a pre-signed pass. (Many students do not.) They waste the first few minutes of 9th period “listening” to announcements, and the next few minutes finding their pass book, digging for a pencil, etc. By the time they get to their destination, there may only be 15 minutes to do what they were intending to do.


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2. Stay Focused.

Once you get to your destination, remaining on task can be a challenge, because many students do not use Academic Enhancement in the manner that policymakers intended. There is a great deal of talking and tomfoolery. Until Tutorial makes a comeback, the behavior of others is something that bona fide students have ben contending with (if not just plain tolerating) for years. Some students look for the most secluded desk in the room. Another tactic is to take the desk that is farthest away from students that are known occupiers.


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3. Make Hay While the Sun is Shining.

Thirty minutes is not much time to do anything substantive, so you must be selective. Cut out any extraneous activity and pleasantries. Also bear in mind what you’re asking. Asking a handful of questions of your math teacher is doable. Recreating a 90 minute bio lab? Not so much.

As always, common sense rules the day. Academic enhancement can be a challenge to navigate, but proper planning and an awareness of your objectives will keep you headed in the right direction.

Share your 9th period tactics. There’s a free homework pass for the best three comments!