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Teachers Can Move Minds

 

Teachers Can Move Minds

My favorite teacher of all time was my English teacher in high school. She was one of the strictest teachers that I ever had. She accepted nothing less than excellence. I have found that if a teacher challenges us, we often rise to the occasion. Mrs. Brenda Neal was the person whom I can thank for my appreciation of the written word. She unveiled literary treasures, inspiring me to take pleasure in reading beautiful works of art. By exposing me to the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Homer, she introduced me to vibrant characters that resided in whimsical, far-off places. She brought the works to life in her classroom. No, they didn't sit in those old dusty books.

Despite the difficult language for high school students, she brought Shakespeare's soothing sonnets into our lives, changing us forever. By exposing us to some of the classic literature from yesterday, she inspired our own creativity. Pip tugged at our hearts. The artful dodger was compared to that idiot of a friend that was always taking the easy way out of every situation. Mrs. Haversham's evil ways would get my blood boiling. I devoured the pages of A Tale of Two Cities, wiping away the tears that ran down my cheeks. She made Odysseus' trek seem so real and yet so magical, instilling a deep love for mythology and history within me.

Through her obvious enthusiasm for prose and poetry, Brenda Neal opened my mind and soul to the classics. In doing so, she also nurtured my creativity. My love for literature, inspired by Mrs. Neal, is what motivated me to become a writer. My life's goal is to learn as much as I can about a wide range of topics. I want to write about everything under the sun and all the while hone my writing skills. Wherever you are today,  Brenda Neal, I thank you!


20 Ways to Cope with Test Anxiety 

by Katherine West

Whether your child is in elementary school, high school, or even college, these tips can help your child ace that big test. There are so many common sense tricks, as well as revolutionary techniques that can help a child score well on his or her next test. Many times, a student just needs to relax, which in turn, increases his or her ability to concentrate. Try to keep in mind that these tips have helped both the learning disabled and average student become top-notch students. These are techniques that anyone can do. You too can learn new ways to help your child score the highest possible grade on that next exam!

Does your child know the material when you quiz them, but he or she isn't able to show it on the exam? Well, this often is because of test anxiety. Many people get very nervous before that big test. Relaxation and breathing techniques prior to the test may help your child cope with the stress that an exam can cause. These are learned strategies that can enable children to help themselves by using a self-relaxation exercise to relax.

Here is a step by step guide on how to relax and exactly what to do right before that big test:

  1. Be well prepared for the test. When we are very sure of the subject matter, we are much more confident.
  2. Get a good night of sleep the night prior to the test. (At least 7-8 hours)
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast that is high in protein.
  4. Before you walk into your class that you are being tested in, take a few very deep breaths. (Arrive at least five minutes prior to test time.) Hold each one for around ten seconds. Count to ten slowly while you tell yourself that you will fare well on the test.
  5. After the deep breathing exercise, walk about the hallway for a minute or so while shaking your hands, while clenching and unclenching your fingers. (This is much like a person shakes his or her hands when they are numb or "asleep".)
  6. Smile!
  7. Think positively.
  8. When the test is handed out, scan the pages, looking for things that you know very well.
  9. Answer the questions that you definitely know first.
  10. Mark the questions that you aren't sure of with a small mark to the left side in the margin. This will hasten your ability to go back to these questions in an efficient manner.

What is the best way to prepare for a test? 

Actually, the best type of study is well-paced study. Students that read the material and take notes in class regularly achieve good grades, but those students that rehearse the info or study daily receive the highest possible grades. Too many students only study an hour or so right before the big exam. Sadly, this rarely works. The student that spends even five or ten minutes studying every few days will consistently obtain much higher grades. This is because studying more often makes the material more familiar to your brain, making the retrieval time for your memory much faster. The optimum study strategy is a person that studies for about fifteen minutes on each subject every day. This added exposure to the topic helps the brain's ability to remember the facts more quickly.

Should I cram before that big final?

Contrary to popular belief, cramming for a test doesn't help you to achieve higher scores. Many college students are known for pulling "all-nighters". This is also a very bad decision. Rest is much more important to your success than any amount of studying the night prior to a test. Yes, the student that stays up all night may do a mediocre job of learning and may also score a decent grade, but with a good night's sleep he or she will achieve a much higher grade on the test. You just may be surprised what can help you much, much more- rest. That's right. Psychological studies have determined that rest is a very important factor. Get a good night's sleep before that big exam and your brain will function better. People that have at least seven hours prior to a test are reported to have higher levels of achievement. A good diet is another important factor. Eat a good breakfast before any test, but keep in mind that a very large meal immediately before a test may not be a good idea. A high carbohydrate meal may make you tired and less able to concentrate. A high-protein meal is a much better choice before an exam.

Should I study at school?

Where you study doesn't really matter, as long as it is the same place most of the time. The best plan for any student is to have a very specific place that they do all of their studying. The familiarity of a study spot helps the brain and the body work together to relax you and it also cues you that it is now time to learn.

Should my study space be quiet?

This place should be a quiet one that is well lit and comfortable. The area should also have a positive atmosphere. This can differ depending on your preferences. Of course, some psychological studies have shown that soothing, classical music like Beethoven or the sounds of nature- a brook babbling or birds' chirping- can help students to achieve even higher grades. There is a positive correlation between this type of music and higher grades. Some top students listen to relaxing music, others listen to rock, and even some have been known to have the TV droning in the background. It just depends on what works for you.

What will help my ability to concentrate while reading?

Yes, many students have trouble concentrating on sometimes very boring material. What helps many people succeed in retaining the reading material is making the information apply to them. Make it important to you. For instance, if you are learning about famous mathematicians, try to make their lives take on a more personal meaning. Think about what your life would be like if the calculator were never invented. If you are reading about inventors, imagine what the world would be like without television or computers. If you are learning about blunders in history, try to see how this information will help you learn from the world's mistakes. Use the knowledge!

Another good tip is to ask yourself mental questions about what you are reading. Stop every ten minutes or so and think about what you've read. By doing this, you are instilling a curiosity- a thirst for knowledge.

You see, the brain can not read for more than about fifteen minutes straight without getting rather numbed by the rote, droning process. Get up and walk around. Grab a snack or a drink. Walk the dog or check your email and then go back to studying

I get so nervous before a test and forget things that I know! What can I do?

The night before the test, tell yourself that you will be calm and self-assured before your test. Program your mind to quickly give you the answers. Tell yourself that tests are fun and challenging. Repeat these thoughts several times just before falling off to sleep. This is a psychological technique that can be employed to help anyone be more productive, relaxed, and confident in almost any situation. This is a sort of self-programming. There are some very revolutionary studies being conducted on this technique currently. Programming yourself in this manner can be used to help "program" your brain almost as if it were a computer. Use this method for almost any obstacle that may block your path.

Other tricks and tips for higher scores:

  1. Be sure to ask specific questions of your instructor about the material that will be covered on the test.
  2. Read all of the material at least once and then re-read for clarity.
  3. Take detailed notes in class.
  4. Use a highlighter to mark important facts both in your notes and in your text if this is allowed.
  5. If you are a college student, it is much better to mark directly in your book. (Most college bookstores still buy books back that have highlighted passages.)
  6. Use flashcards to quiz yourself.
  7. Have a friend, parent, or spouse test you on the material.
  8. Create a sample test for you to "practice" taking the exam.
  9. Use various mnemonic techniques. (To learn more about this, you can either check your local library or does an Internet search for learning tips and mnemonic methods.) Some of these are rhymes or acronyms. "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November..." is one example of a mnemonic.
  10. Think of tests as fun and challenging ways to get feedback about how well you have mastered the material. Make it a sort of contest!