How to Help a Student from Home


Usually this is a pretty easy class. Class averages run in the mid 80's, with a large number  of students with a 90 or better (high median). While both of our hands are tied when a student doesn't want help, there are a few things that can help when a student is at least trying. 

Attendance. If there is one thing that causes more challenges than anything else it is attendance. As a class, I usually pace the projects based on how the entire class is doing. We generally do not move on to the next project until almost everybody is done. If a person falls behind, it is important to help them get to the available make up time. Lab time is available here in the class room as well in the main computer lab. See Lab Time for a schedule. Although nothing can make up for lost instructional time of a LIVE presentation,. I am working on putting as much of the class on-line to specifically assist those who are absent. But they still have to make the effort to get caught up. As a general rule, I request students to view the Focus page the DAY they are absent, so they see what they missed, including any daily reminders so they can be up-to-date when they return. And, the exact presentation I present in class is available here: Web Share Presentation Folder. See the Presentation page for more info and/or alternatives. Finally, if at all possible, please schedule any appointments for after school hours.

Parent Self Serve - I have seen a dramatic improvement with the immediate information possible with PSS. With PSS, you will know the DAY your student receives a Zero in a class, not in the 4th week with an antiquated Progress Report System still in use by some parents. 

Home computer. Having a home computer is very important for many of the classes that our students take today. BISD has a very elaborate network allowing a student to log into any computer in the school and access their personal documents. But it is not always convenient for a student to access a computer at school. When a student has a computer at home, they can transfer documents back and forth from school to home (as long as their teacher allows it...and I do). Unfortunately, a TABLET (iPad, etc.) is NOT a substitute for a workstation type computer. A tablet can be useful for content, like research, although it is not as efficient, and when it comes time to create documents, presentations, etc., it is still easier to work on a full computer.

Internet access at home. There a tremendous value to having Internet access, even if it is just to use If a student has been grounded form the computer, if there is anyway to allow them to still use the Internet to at least access the school related material, it would be helpful. Fortunately, for this class, all class materials/lessons are posted onto the website. If a student is absent from class, they can actually find out EXACTLY what went on in class for that...or any day. Notes from videos are posted, as well as examples that were shown in class.

Study time. Generally, students should be studying 10-15 minutes per class each night even if they do not have any homework. It is too easy for a student to claim they do not have any homework. They may not have anything due when the walk into class the next day, but there is always something to review the day, etc. Tutorial Schedule for West Brook:

Get organized. One of the biggest things I see hurting students is when they try to carry all of their classes in one binder. It is important to have each class in a separate folder. Please work with the student to stay organized as the weeks start piling up. Many students are just just simply disorganized. They should spend a few minutes each day sorting the handouts and materials they have gotten during the course of the day.

Take note! One of the EASIEST and least expensive ways to help a student is to get them a small notepad to fit in their pocket. And then check to make sure they write something down from every class. This is particularly important for the guys who do not have the benefit of a purse. A small pocket pad can help them tremendously to track the little bits of information they receive each class, such as what is due when the walk into class. Or to remember to ask their parents about something. With the proliferation of smart devices, it may be prudent to teach your student about using a Task Manager. I spend some class time addressing the usefulness of special apps dedicated to managing a schedule, but you may want to spend some with specifically learning how to download an app for managing class work. Here is a page just for ToDo task management on a smart device.

Get focused! Another really inexpensive way to help students test better is to get them to wear earplugs. It is VERY difficult for MANY students to test in a public environment. Wearing ear plugs is proven to improve retention while studying...and improve recall while testing. Formal testing centers like Sylvan Learning Center place ear plug and headphones at the test site to help their patrons have a quiet environment in which to test. I keep it quiet in the room, but many students would benefit from the extra quietness they will get with earplugs.

Keep up. One of the most important things you as a parent can do from home is keep up with what your student is doing every day. Each class day, I update their daily focus. Not only will you see what they see, you will be able to ask them questions about what they thought about a topic...or quiz them on the words they were supposed to define, etc. See their daily Focus here.

Test tips. Testing in HS can be very difficult because a student may not only have more than one test in a day, but they have other activities going making it difficult to properly review for one or more test. Please review this Testing Tips page for some ideas to help raise test scores.

Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do.


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Additional Resources: PTA, PTA Article