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School Students Education Teaching

Photo Credit: KasparLunt from Pixabay

To determine if this is an efficient and effective learning process, we first must understand just what it is and how it does or doesn’t work.

What is TPS?

TPS is a collaborative learning strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question. This requires students to:

  • Firstly, students are asked to think through the problem or topic individually. This may include answering a specific question or coming up with an example or prompt.
  • Secondly, students will pair up or join a small group of their peers to discuss their thoughts and work through the problem more in depth.
  • Lastly, each group or pair of students will present or share their findings with the class and/or a larger group.

What is So Special About it?

Idea innovation imagination

Photo Credit: KasparLunt from Pixabay

Recent studies have found that students are able to learn more when they are allowed to discuss ideas and elaborate on them through communication with others. Think, Pair, Share enables those opportunities to talk in an environment that encourages learning and requires participation from all class members and not just those who are typically more outspoken.

This type of learning also helps to build confidence in students that may feel a little uncomfortable talking or presenting to large groups or classes. When they are able to be supported by a partner or several of them, they are much more at ease and willing to share their real thoughts and opinions.

With the use of TPS, students learn to collaborate with others and to value each other’s opinions on a wide variety of topics. They can begin to think of their peers as resources with a wealth of knowledge. Students, as a result, come to respect each other more and can understand ideas and concepts that may be far from the norm given their background or upbringing.

How to Use it?

The process is easy to use in just about any classroom setting and for all ages. PreK through Kindergarten students, for example, can’t be expected to write their thoughts or answers as well as older students. However, they can draw out their ideas and still discuss them with other students and the class.

Some of the most common ways this valuable tool is used is to gauge students’ reactions and thoughts about a certain lesson or material, such a film you just watched or a text that was recently read. You can also use this as an introduction to new materials or assignments. Doing this before a new lesson allows students to tap into any prior knowledge of the topic or to gather ideas and get a game plan together for a new project or assignment.

You can also use this to strengthen your classes listening skills. During the “share” portion, each student can be asked to present their partner’s ideas instead of their own.

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Teach word scrabble letters wooden

Photo Credit: WokandaPix from Pixabay

Just as each child has their own unique personality, so do they have a unique style of learning. However, many teachers due to their lack of education or funding in their school system, cannot facilitate the individual needs of each student. This creates fundamental learning gaps in many children and the need for help later in their education. Best Brains seeks to solve this issue.

Education

Our teachers are board-certified at state and national standards for professionalism and excellence with years of real classroom experience and the knowledge required to be just what your child needs. They have been trained to assess each student on their educational needs and to find the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.

Your child will work with the same teacher each week to ensure that their progress and problem areas are consistently being assessed. We also pride ourselves on our low student to teacher ratio, which helps to ensure that each child gets the attention and care they deserve and need.

Experience

These teachers have experience in creating a learning environment that is interactive and engaging. We don’t use passive teaching, where we simply tell the students about a topic and expect them to learn from it. Instead, we make sure they are actively participating in the learning process.

They are given examples, activities, and work that not only teach them but allow them to learn on their own. Teaching this way gives kids the opportunity to take ownership of their education and to rely on their strengths and not just the teacher’s knowledge.

Methodology for Success

Photo Credit: Geralt from Pixabay

Methodology for Success

Our teaching methodology is non-repetitive and focuses on presenting new skills and concepts each week. And while these lessons are fun-filled, they are also challenging so that the building blocks of their education can be constantly being added to.

Here at Best Brains, our teachers help prepare students for what is ahead by giving them a firm educational foundation and a connection to the material, enabling them to catch on to future lessons quickly and easily.

Variety and Continuation

This isn’t just tutoring like many after-school programs. This is a complete enrichment program with the sole purpose to improve your child’s overall academic success and development. Our teachers make use of real-time classroom instruction in multiple subjects. We don’t just teach English and Math. In fact, we are the only learning center that also structures lessons in Abacus and General Knowledge.

Most would say that once a child is up to speed or at the correct grade level in a subject, extra help should be forgotten. However, we disagree. Many students and parents alike have found that continuing the Best Brains program creates some of the best and brightest students around. Not only are these kids understanding and mastering what is being taught in their schools but they quickly rise to the top of their class. The extra help they receive at Best Brains teaches them that can do and achieve anything.

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Lynne Featherstone Interrviewed about youth issues by Hornsey School Girl students

Photo Credit: Lynn Featherstone from Flickr

Oral history is the use of narratives, personal experiences, and storytelling from historical and everyday people to share about certain topics and time periods. These experiences are most often videotaped or audio recorded, but they can also be written down as a result of an interview or conversation. Many museums use this type of instruction to educate their visitors about all sorts of events and topics. It offers people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn from someone else’s point of view just by listening. But how can it be brought to life in the classroom?

Instead of reading about WWII in a book and doing a worksheet about it, oral histories allow students to personally connect with those who experienced it firsthand. They hear the emotion in the voices they listen to, see expressions on their faces, and are, therefore, far more moved. These stories and experiences let them feel as though they are part of the story somehow and, in turn, may put life into a different perspective.

More than just allowing students to hear about these experiences, many teachers have found that getting them to conduct their own oral history research forms a far greater connection to the subject. In the classroom, teachers can give each student a specific topic for which they must conduct research for. This research is gathered in the form of interviews and conversations with members of their family and community, as well as their peers, about experience or point of view based on that topic.

The key is to make the topic something that is interesting to the student, something that is important to them or that they know someone who has an opinion about it. This allows them to become even more interested and learn to care about other’s experiences.

Indian Youth

Photo Credit: David Brewer from Flickr

However, don’t limit this type of instruction to just history class. Oral history can be used in just about any type of classroom and for any age group. For example, in math class, a teacher could ask students to interview members of their family or community about how they use math on a daily basis. This can help those students relate to the subject a bit more, realizing its importance and its use in their lives now and in the future.

Younger children can also learn to participate in such projects, though on a much lesser scale of course. While second and third graders may not be up to the challenge of writing a paper about their oral history research, they can certainly be sent home with the homework to ask their family members or even close neighbors about certain experiences or topics. Even just one question or two could suffice. You would be surprised at how a child’s opinion or connection to learning could be influenced just by participating in oral histories.

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English Letters

Photo Credit: Jason Leung on Unsplash

We all want our children to enjoy their education. Of course, there are also lots of critical life skills we need them to learn, whether they enjoy it or not. However, nothing has to be boring. Children are wired to have fun. By approaching basic skills like reading as an opportunity to explore the world and have fun at the same time, we can invite our children to be excited about learning new things.

At its most basic, reading is just recognizing the words we see and being able to say them out loud. There are opportunities to practice this everywhere we go. A great way to make reading fun and challenge children to learn new words is to incorporate it into their favorite activities. If you think about it, you do lots of reading for your children whenever you are interacting with them. You read for them at the grocery story, when looking at the tv guide, even when picking out their clothing. These are all activities your children would love to be more involved in.

For example, if you take your child to the grocery store, you can let them help you pick out the products you need by reading the labels on the package. This doesn’t have to mean reading complicated ingredient lists. It could be as simple as “Which package of pudding is plain and which is vanilla?” Or you can make a game where your child gets to buy any one snack they want if they can read the words on the package. The idea is to teach your child that being good at reading has rewards.

Another option is to put your young reader in charge of information about her activities. When coaches and teachers send home information about games and field trips, tell your child that she needs to read it to you so that you know what it says. Chances are she will already know what it is about and be excited to share it with you. This is the perfect opportunity to motivate her to sound out words and really make an effort. She knows that when she gets the words right, you’ll sign and she can go on the field trip.

Finally, keep an open mind about the kinds of things your child enjoys reading in the beginning. Children don’t start out reading whole books. It may be street signs or cereal boxes that they get excited to sound out. Keep an eye out for what they gravitate to and encourage this behavior. When you know what piques their interest, you can provide additional opportunities for them to challenge themselves.

The key is to remember that reading doesn’t have to be a grind. Children will be excited to learn new things. If you encourage that excitement by providing fun opportunities to practice, you can raise children who see reading as a passport to new and expanding adventures, rather than a chore.

For more information on encouraging good reading habits, or for support with reading instruction, contact Best Brains at (847) 485-000 or visit www.bestbranis.com

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Girl Studying a Book

Photo Credit: The Benefits of Literacy Circles

Few classroom instructions are as impactful as a literacy circle. These small groups of students reading together and discussing their text offer experiences for children that are not only educational but extremely beneficial to emotional development and their overall success. The main reason for this success is that literacy circles get kids to talk. Let’s see how this is done.

Student Choice

Choice is often something few students have when it comes to their education. However, in literacy circles, students are typically given the choice of what books they read as well as what other students are in their group. While these choices may seem small, giving children just a little bit of say in their education makes them connect to it more. They suddenly seem to have more intrinsic motivation and a deeper engagement with what they are learning. They are more willing to get involved with conversation as a result.

Teaches Cooperative Learning

As kids sit in a group of their peers and discuss characters, plots, and the meaning of their texts, students learn to hear other opinions and to make sense of them. Lit circles teach students to help each other figure it out and be taught by one another. They learn to value this help from their peers and see others as resources of knowledge, all while making independent choices.

Fun and Social

Boy Student Studying a book

Photo Credit: Fun and Social

Most of a child’s day is spent listening to instruction or completing projects and assignments where they are expected to remain, for the most part, quiet. Literacy circles, on the other hand, require each student to speak their mind, to voice their opinions, and to even argue those ideas. They allow students to be social and talk a lot, bringing their own experiences with the text to life and making reading fun.

This in turn, helps them feel more connected, not only to their peers, but to the school itself. They begin to associate school and reading with joy and fun. This has a huge impact on the drop out rates in most schools. Kids tend to disengage when they don’t feel connected, whether it’s with the people, place, or their education. Lit circles allow all three to be touched in a positive way and reinforce a personal connection.

Opportunities for Struggling Readers

Because they are fun experiences that allow for cooperative learning and students to make choices, these circles often provide the most opportunities for those who may be a little more reluctant when it comes to reading. This type of instruction allows for children to be grouped at different levels and then to choose reading selections based on that level, instead of having to read the same book as the rest of the class and not always being able to understand it.

Students should also be allowed to choose from a wide variety of genres and topics. Not all books need to be fiction. In fact, many struggling readers prefer to read non-fiction, as it often can be related to real life more.

For more ways to involve your students in reading click here.

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Kid Reading a book

Photo Credit: Monica H. on Flickr

If your young reader shows signs of struggling, it can be difficult to know if there is a real problem or if they are simply lagging behind a bit. Many parents notice little things about their reader that suggest there may be an issue in developing reading skills. However, rather than getting it checked out or seeking out some help immediately, they wait. But how long should you wait, if at all?

Research shows that there is a rather small window in which children develop reading skills best. This is typically between kindergarten and the end of first grade. After this, it becomes much harder for them to grasp the foundations of reading and phonemics.

In fact, over 90 percent of children who show signs of reading difficulties are brought up to grade level standards if they receive help by the first grade. For those who are age nine or above and have not received such help, studies show that about 75% will continue to struggle with reading until they graduate. This means that by grade four if they haven’t been provided reading assistance when it was needed in late kindergarten, it will take them four times as long to improve their skills and be at the correct reading levels. These facts make it imperative that help is received by struggling readers as soon as possible.

Books in a Rack

Photo Credit: my_southborough on Flickr

To help identify these reading issues, it is suggested that schools and/or teachers screen children in kindergarten through second grade several times a year. And many schools agree that once those screening results are in, the lowest scoring 20 percent of children should begin receiving extra reading help immediately. This typically happens in groups of three or fewer and is instructed by an effective and well-trained educator.

Many would say their child is simply a little too immature to handle the reading level of their grade. However, when a child cannot distinguish rhymes, confuses letters, and/or associates the wrong sound with a letter it rarely has anything to do with maturity levels.

If your child displays some of these traits, don’t automatically assume the worst. It may just mean that she was not given the proper instruction during preschool. Once she begins receiving experience with letters, sounds, and reading foundations, she will usually pick it up rather quickly. If, however, they have received proper instruction for some time and still struggle, there may be something larger going on.

In either case, it is important to get your child the help he might need as soon as possible. It is far better to be a bit over prepared than to make a child suffer in silence if there is a developmental or learning issue. Don’t be one of the many parents who find themselves regretting not getting that extra instruction for their child and causing more harm than good.

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Holiday Books for Children

Photo Credit : Annie Spratt via Unsplash

The holidays are great. There’s time spent with family, and for many people, time away from work. For school-age children, there’s lots and lots of time away from school. It can be a challenge to fill all those free hours with productive activities. One of the ways you can use this time is to reinforce your children’s reading habits with books that are fun and relevant for the holidays. Here are a few that offer some great lessons for this time of year.

My Two Holidays: A Hanukkah and Christmas Story

During any time of year, it can be difficult for children who have different backgrounds and traditions than their friends. But especially during the holidays, it’s sometimes hard for children to explain and understand why their family’s traditions may be different than everyone else’s. In this book, a little boy learns to appreciate having a family that participates in multiple traditions. Over the course of the book he finds a way to help his friends appreciate this, too.

My First Kwanzaa

This is a book for beginning readers to learn about celebration of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that falls during the Christmas season in the United States. It uses Swahili principles to celebrate family and community during a seven-day period each year. This year, Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st. The book explains all of the principles of family and community that comprise the seven days of Kwanzaa. It tells the story of how one little girl’s family recognizes the holiday and spends time together during their favorite time of year.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This is a classic Christmas story that parents and children can enjoy together. It tells the story of the Grinch, a cranky character who lives outside the tiny town of Whoville. The people of Whoville just adore their Christmas celebrations and go all out every year decorating and singing songs. When the Grinch decides to steal their Christmas joy, he sets off on an adventure that leads him to learn a warm lesson about the spirit of the holidays.

Construction Site on Christmas Night

This one is a straightforward feel-good story that connects with children’s imaginations to tell a story about friendship. Sherry Dusky Rinker has added this holiday story to her best-selling Construction Site collection to teach an important message about helping others during the holidays. Parents and children can both enjoy this wonderfully illustrated and rhythmically narrated book about forklifts helping their firetruck friends during the most wonderful time of the year.

There are a number of books that children can enjoy during the holidays. And many are written so that young readers can handle them on their own. Whether you’re picking a book to challenge a beginning reader, or selecting something to read together, a trip to your local bookstore can be a great way to keep curious minds occupied during the winter holidays.

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Rubik's Cube Gift

Photo Credit : NeONBRAND via Unsplash

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the joy of giving gifts to friends and loved ones. For kids, this often means lots of new toys. But there are other gifts that kids can enjoy and that can also teach valuable skills. By gifting thoughtfully this holiday season, you can offer the children on your gift list valuable lessons along with hours of fun. Here are some ideas.

Puzzle books

Much like building blocks, puzzle books provide lots of options for fun and games in a small inexpensive package. You can find collections of puzzles that range from Sudoku to mazes to brain teasers of all kinds. And they come in different levels for kids and adults of all ages. You can give simple connect-the-dots books to very young children, or more challenging puzzles and logic problems to older children. The beauty of these books is that one book can contain dozens of different puzzles to occupy a curious mind.

3-D Puzzles

Everyone loves a good jigsaw puzzle. But if you want to provide a more interesting challenge, 3-D puzzles are a great chance to practice spatial reasoning skills in a fun and exciting way. The classic example of a 3-D puzzle is the Rubic’s Cube. Though most of us will never quite master this old-school puzzle, there are lots of new spins on the concept that offer varying levels of difficulty. You can buy 3-D puzzles with just a few pieces, or more complex ones that have to be completely disassembled and put back together. Either way, these new-age puzzles are a stimulating and challenging upgrade on the beloved classic.

Music lessons

This one is a little less conventional, but very versatile. Is there an instrument your child would like to learn to play? If you have a son who wants to play guitar, or a daughter who’d like to play drums, music lessons are an excellent investment. Learning to play an instrument has all sorts of benefits for brain development and reasoning skills. And learning a new skill can open up all sorts of future opportunities. If someday your son or daughter wants to join the school band or even start of band of their own, they’ll be well on their way to mastering the skills they need.

Book series

A great way to encourage reading is to introduce your children to a book series that they can get invested in and follow for a long time. Whether it’s young adult drama, science fiction, fantasy, or mystery, a good series holds a reader’s attention for years at a time. This ensures that your young reader will always have something they’re looking forward to reading. Then, as they wait for the next installment of their favorite series, you can introduce them to similar options to keep them occupied. This is how finding a good series can pay off with a love of reading that lasts for years.

Of course, there are lots of other educational gifts that you can give the children in your life. If you know a child who’s interested in science, microscopes and telescopes make great gifts. Perhaps you know a young person who loves to dance and would appreciate dance lessons. The possibilities are endless. The trick is to think beyond the usual list of toys and gadgets to give something that will genuinely enhance the lives of a child in the months and years to come.

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How To Teach Persistence

At some point, every student finds a subject, an activity, or a situation that they no longer want to continue. It could be the new book they have been assigned in class or maybe the algebra problems they were sent home with. Maybe it’s a sport or musical activity. But we can’t let them simply quit. This is their education and it's too important. A little persistence can go a long way, but how you can get your middle or high school student to understand that and put it to good use?

Don’t Rush to the Rescue

As parents, it is difficult to see our children struggling, no matter what it is. And often times we find it tempting to come to their rescue and make it all better. However, that doesn’t teach them persistence. We all learn by trial and error. That means we have to give them a chance to fail and succeed on their own.

So instead of doing it for them, work through it together and ask them to do the thinking. If they never learn to do it on their own, they will never be able to solve their own problems. Life, in general, isn’t always fair or easy. Letting them work through these situations will teach them to persevere even if life isn’t being gentle.

Don’t Rush to the Rescue

Talk About it

Sometimes the best way to help them understand is to just talk about it with them. Hearing about the importance of persistence often can greatly benefit your child. If they are constantly hearing phrases such as, “I can do it,” “I won’t quit,” or “It’s always hardest the first time,” it’s much easier for them face problems with your positive voice in their heads. You might think of a family persistence mantra to say often, such as “Mistakes won’t get us down.”

Give them a Gentle Nudge

Pushing your child can be difficult for both parents and children, but it can make a world of difference. As creatures of habit, many of us, including our students, tend to stay in our comfort zone without straying too far. However, you can help your child by pushing them to try just a little harder, practice a little longer, and make it a little more challenging.

The key is to not push too hard or make expectations too great. A child will easily get discouraged and the lesson will be lost to them if are never able to reach your goals. A simple kitchen timer can work wonders here. For example, instead of only practicing their band instrument for 10 minutes, add another five minutes. And when they complain or grumble about it, remind them of their past achievements and give them encouragement.

When your child is feeling defeated and begins to say he can’t, make sure to remind him of all the times that he has. Use your family persistence mantra and give her a little nudge in the right direction. Your child needs to hear this from you and will benefit greatly from these persistence lessons that will last a lifetime.

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