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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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Whild Writing

Photo Credit: Kurt_Niemans from Pixabay

If you have a child in first, second, or even third and fourth grade, you may notice homework or graded papers coming home with multiple spelling errors that are not counted. You may have also questioned this. After all, they are supposed to be learning about spelling, aren’t they? So, why would a teacher ignore such mistakes? Do they not teach spelling anymore?

The Early Years

Beginning in the first grade, students must begin writing complete ideas and even paragraphs. This requires the child to first master letters and then put them together into words. Next, they must figure out how to put those words together in a way that makes sense both to them and to others. It takes a lot of effort for someone so young. In response, teachers may choose to ignore spelling mistakes in younger grades as a way to allow the student to focus more on the process of writing itself.

It’s a method called inventive or temporary spelling. Children simply spell out the words to the best of their ability or by the way it sounds. This way the children think solely on what they want to write and how to put pieces of sentences or paragraphs together. And recent studies back up this method, saying that it allows children to write more fluently, quickly, and use a richer vocabulary than students who had the check their spelling along the way.

Older Grades

Correcting Papers

Photo Credit: 3844328 from Pixabay

Even in older grades, spelling is not always given top priority, at least not at first. This again goes back to the writing process. Most educators agree that there is a certain process that goes into writing pretty much anything. First, there is the gathering and grouping of ideas, then ordering those into sentences and paragraphs, and then reorganizing everything so that it has a single cohesive goal. When the piece has been completely shaped, only then do teachers suggest editing, the final and last step of writing. This is when they check for the minor details, such as correct spelling, usage, and punctuation.

When constant criticism on their spelling happens, no matter how small, it tends to get in the way of the natural writing process. If the child has to stop and figure out how to spell words correctly before they go on, it slows the whole process down considerably, often making them lose focus or their ideas. This also makes the child focus on their mistakes and can make them feel rather negative about the whole process. Some children get so discouraged they learn to not enjoy writing or the process at all.

So the next time your child comes home with graded work and you notice spelling errors, don’t assume the teacher doesn’t care or that she isn’t teaching it. Instead, entertain the possibility that spelling may not be the number one priority on that assignment. Spelling is important but it can be learned later if need be.

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Thank You Card

Photo Credit: Rawpixel on Unsplash

January 23rd is National Handwriting Day. The birthday of John Hancock was chosen to mark the celebration of handwriting because he was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence, and has one of the most famous signatures in American history. Today, our signatures are the one place that most of our handwriting is still visible. With all of our digital communications, a day to celebrate paper and pen provides a special opportunity to share something meaningful with someone we care for.

For adults, this can mean sending a hand-written letter to a friend. How many of your friends would recognize your handwriting if they saw it? A nice note can be a warm and welcome surprise in a week filled with texts and emails. For children, National Handwriting Day provides the perfect opportunity to practice and develop an appreciation for the skills they’ll use throughout their education.

If your children are just learning to write, they will not have developed their own sense of handwriting yet. And they are probably spending most of their writing practice trying to repeat the letters they see on their worksheets. This is important practice. But handwriting is also personal and creative. Show your children some examples of creative and unique handwriting. You can even show them your own. Lots of children practice copying their parents’ handwriting while they’re learning.

Take the opportunity to practice the everyday acts of handwriting that your children will perform in their daily lives. They can fill out a calendar by hand, write a Thank You note to a neighbor, make a card for a grandparent, or simply write their names freeform in whatever style they’d like. Show them your signature and let them imagine what their own might look like.

Allow them to experiment and break the rules they normally have to follow. You can show young children examples of cursive writing and calligraphy to pique their interest. If they normally practice in pencil, let children write with pens and colorful markers. Encourage them to personalize their handwriting with flourishes and special embellishments. Let them dot their I’s with smiley faces or draw illustrations as part of their letters.

All of these things are a healthy and productive way to show children the creative possibilities in practicing their own handwriting. Once they’ve mastered the formal rules, their writing can be anything they want it to be. And no matter how far technology advances, there will always be a place for a thoughtfully written letter. Building an appreciation for old-fashioned pen and paper is something you can do with your children now that will pay dividends for the rest of their lives.

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Girl Writing photo

Photo Credit : pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

When a student comes home with poor grades, it can be an especially stressful challenge for parents. We all have high expectations for our children’s education, and we want to see them perform well. This is even more true when a student who previously performed well starts to struggle academically. While it can be easy to panic or overreact, there are many simple reasons that a child may struggle academically. By identifying the cause and responding appropriately, you can help your child get back on track to academic success.

Learning New Material

One of the simplest reasons a child may suddenly get lower marks is that they’re encountering new material. When students learn complex concepts for the first time, they may struggle to keep up with their peers or their teacher’s expectations. Many times, this just means that a student needs more practice. For instance, if your child was good at elementary math, but struggles to learn algebra, don’t panic. Complex math involves new forms of reasoning that can take a while to learn. The important thing is to provide opportunities for students to work on the skills they need to improve. You should ask about extra practice work that the teacher may be able to provide. Also take advantage of any after-school tutoring opportunities that may exist. Another great option is to seek outside help that can be personalized for your student’s particular needs. A good tutor can identify and address your child’s challenges and design a program to get them back on track.

Distractions

When young people are at school, there are lots of forces competing for their attention. They have friends who want to talk to them and hang out with them. They have sports teams and other activities they have to plan and practice for. And they have dozens of relationships with teachers, staff, and other students to manage throughout the day. Sometimes this gets to be too much, and a student’s attention to their schoolwork can suffer. If you notice your child’s grades are falling a bit, spend some time assessing their schedule. How much time do they have to devote to schoolwork? Are they getting enough sleep? Ask them about the atmosphere in their classes. Do they feel like it’s easy to learn there? Once a distraction is identified, you can work to address or remove it.

Social Issues

A school environment is a dynamic learning space where lots of different personalities have to work together to make learning possible. Sometimes, if these social and professional relationships break down, students can suffer. This can happen where there are tensions between students in a classroom. For instance, a student may suddenly be uncomfortable speaking up or participating in front of other students. In other cases, poor relationships between student and teachers can negatively impact the learning environment. Have a talk with your child about their teachers. Ask them if they’re comfortable in their classes. Do they like their teachers’ styles? Are there any teachers they have a hard time learning from? If a student is uncomfortable working with a particular teacher, consider scheduling a parent-teacher conference to address any issues. If you need help preparing for such a meeting, have a look at some of our tips for successful conferences.

Ultimately, your student’s success depends on managing a number of complex factors. By asking the right questions, you can identify any problems that may be negatively affecting their performance, and get them back on the path to an effective education.

If you are interested in speaking to someone about educational support services for your child, you can contact Best Brains at (847) 485-0000 to speak with a representative.

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Homemade Gifts for Teachers

Many children want to give their teacher a gift for the holidays. While this is a great idea and one that should be encouraged, a “World’s Best Teacher” mug or glass is not always the best choice. Just about every teacher will tell you that they already have several of these. So, what should you give them to show your appreciation for all their hard work? The options may be a little closer to the heart for most.

Gift cards

Starbucks Gift Card

It's hard to go wrong with a gift card. These can be purchased at local grocery stores for just about dollar amount imaginable. And getting one from their favorite stores, coffee shops, or teacher supply outlets will go a long way to show that you care.

Homemade gifts and cards

We have found that many teachers love to receive anything homemade or crafted by their students. Your child’s artwork, a handwritten card, or a crafted Christmas ornament with your child’s name and the year on it are items that teachers can keep year after year to remember their students and all the lives they have touched along the way.

School supplies for all

Another great idea is to get them much-needed school supplies. Many teachers pay for classroom materials like lined paper, pencils, sticky notes, pens, erasers, and much more themselves. So, gifts of this nature are often much needed and will always be appreciated. If you don’t know what to get exactly a gift card to bookstores and teacher supply stores is a great place to start.

Donations in their name

For schools or teachers who aren’t in need of such items for their classrooms, they often suggest giving donations in their name instead. Find out what causes your teacher supports or cares about and donate either time, money, or specific items to that cause using your teacher’s name. This will show your teacher that you care and are willing to help others who may be less fortunate and also gives that teacher an opportunity to be a part of that giving.

Thank you letters or notes

Sometimes the simplest of gifts can be the most precious. The job of a teacher can often be a thankless one that is taken for granted. Writing a letter or short note can be just the thing to brighten their day and make all their hard work this year worth it. A heartfelt “thank you” can say much more even the most expensive gift.

Ask just about any experienced teacher what their favorite gifts over the years have been and they will tell you about ones that came from the heart. The ones that really mean something are ones that were well thought out, painstakingly constructed by little hands, and given out of honor and a heart of appreciation, not from obligation. This year, instead of another coffee mug, give your teacher something that matters a little more.

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Christmas card day

Sending festive Christmas cards of season’s greeting is an age-old tradition amongst millions of families worldwide. We make a list and check it twice, ensuring that no one is forgotten or left out. Whether it’s the classic jingles of Christmas past or modern electronically sent messages, we want to make sure they receive it before Christmas Day.

History of Christmas Card Day

However, this unofficial holiday is not celebrated on this day just make sure you get your cards out to the mailbox on time. On December 9, 1843, Sir Henry Cole of England designed the first commercial Christmas Card. It showed a family raising a toast together. It was produced by J. C. Horsley, who went on to produce many more of Cole and other’s holiday cards. From there, a lithograph firm, Prang and Mayer, started creating and selling Christmas cards by the masses. By 1880, they were producing over five million cards a year.

Many of those first cards are now collector’s items and are sold for thousands of dollars at auctions. The British Museum houses Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection of them. Today, Christmas cards are made in millions of designs and themes. Some are more traditional and include the popular “Merry Christmas” messages with an image of jolly old Saint Nicolas. While others may steer in a more religious direction, quoting bible verses or blessings with wise men standing around a holy child in a manger. Still others, for those who may not celebrate Christmas, are sent wishing season’s greetings and best wishes for a new year.

How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day

Happy Holiday Card

Whatever your preference, today is the day to remember your Christmas card list and work on getting them out to your loved ones. It's always nice to be able to make handmade cards if you have the time. Grab your glue stick, markers, and glitter and get to creating. This can be an amazingly fun activity for your children as well. Maybe start a family tradition of making cards.

If you aren’t that crafty or don’t feel you have the time, there are always pre-made cards to send and even e-cards. These are sent electronically and take hardly any time at all. Plus, you don’t have to worry about missing the mailman or not making it to its recipient on time. However, nothing beats the real thing and this day is the perfect time to get those cards ready and in the mail before the last day of mail service arrives.

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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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