Road Trip of a Lifetime

This infographic was supplied by Danny Dodd, a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

We know that many of you travel and coordinate that as part of your schooling.  A few things to keep in mind…….

Are you and your family planning the road trip of a life time? As exciting and thrilling as road trips can be they can turn into a real bummer if you are ill prepared. Prior to leaving for your road trip vacay there are some tasks you should check off your to do list. Make sure all regularly scheduled maintenance is completed on your vehicle such as oil changes, tune ups, or changing of brake pads. Be sure tire pressure is at an acceptable level and tires are free of bulges and tears. If your battery has build up on the terminals clean it off. Now that you have completed car maintenance tasks go ahead and pack up the vehicle, do not forget your first aid kit in case of emergencies. Remember delicious snacks and movies for the kids. When routing your route with your GPS check out rest stops you may want to stop at along the way. Once you are on your way practice excellent road manners and your defensive drivingskills to ensure your road trip is a safe one.

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About the Author:  Danny Dodd is a defenstive driving instructor with a passion for helping people become better, safer drivers.  

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Using NLP in a Classroom Setting

Written by Pip Thomas, a Clonlara School guest blogger, (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

Neuro Linguistic Programming, otherwise known as NLP, began life in the 1970s and was created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. NLP aims to help create an understanding of thoughts and behaviour and to teach people powerful tools and skills to enable them to be more in control of their own thoughts, feelings and actions and to make positive changes in their life. The duo claim that NLP can help with a wide range of issues from phobias and bad habits to depression, psychosomatic problems and learning disorders.

There are always new techniques and practices becoming available to teachers as the education system is constantly evolving and NLP is one that is becoming more and more widely used amongst education professionals (for more information see NLP as a skillset for teachers).

We’ve shortlisted the top ways that NLP can be of benefit in a classroom setting…

  1. Improving the effectiveness of the teaching through clear communication and understanding how their language can affect and influence students. Teachers must be able to present clearly and in an easy to understand format for every member of the class. NLP can improve and unlock communication and language skills which can make a huge difference to the classroom environment as if students are being presented to in an understandable and relatable way, they are far more likely to listen and participate encouraging a much more healthy learning environment for all involved. This type of NLP can also be very helpful to students in enabling them to identify the more effective form of study for them, which can be particularly helpful during those stressful exam periods.
  2. NLP can help teachers deal with challenging behaviour from students and relieve any difficult classroom situations they may face. Trying to deal with unruly students can take up an awful lot of precious teaching time and not only damage the education of the badly behaved student, but also disrupt the whole teaching environment for all the students. NLP can ensure teachers are better equipped to deal with these types of situations and gives them the resources and tools to take control during testing times and address and eradicate poor disruptive behaviour.
  3. Finding a learning style that suits the student is a key part of good education. There are many different styles of learning and teachers need to be flexible, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, in order to meet the needs of each individual member of the class. NLP can assist teachers by helping them to identify the best learning styles for their students and understanding how to apply these in the best way.
  4. NLP can be key in helping teachers to learn and understand classroom management tools needed to run a happier and more effective learning environment for their students. This often involves building teachers’ confidence, which can often drop in challenging situations and when they don’t feel in control of the classroom, by building on and growing their leadership and management skills. Part of good classroom management involves being able to engage and build rapport with pupils so as to build a trusting and supportive learning environment, which will help to build students’ confidence and attitude to education.

NLP is a fantastic tool which can be applied to a range of life situations and, as you can see from the above list, can be very helpful in a classroom environment – not just for the teachers in charge of the classroom, but for the students too.

Author Bio:  Pip Thomas is an entrepreneur and award-winning businesswoman who founded Edge NLP in 2009.

The Anatomy of a Special Needs Child

This infographic was supplied by Wendy Turner, a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

When you hear about a child with special needs, you might not really understand what that means. However, for parents who face this challenge in their lives, members of the medical community, and educators, it’s important to have a firm grasp of the issues many children face on a daily basis. Special needs refers to a gamut of issues that include physical, developmental, behavioral/emotional, and sensory impaired problems. Children may deal with major health issues such as severe allergies, diabetes, heart defects, or juvenile diabetes. Hyperactivity, autism, and dyslexia can create many obstacles in a young person’s life. Blindness and deafness pose challenges of their own. A child may be dealing with one area of need or a combination. No matter what type of special needs a child endures, it is important to recognize the problem and get help.

Parents Need to Begin with Answers Many parents may see that there is a problem, that something isn’t happening as planned for their child, such as developmental milestones or behaviors that are exhibited at home. They not even be aware of any issues until children go to school and problems arise due to learning disabilities or difficulties in a group setting. A proper diagnosis is key in assisting children with special needs. Whether the family physician begins the chain of action or it begins with the Committee for Special Education at the public school, parents need to get to the bottom of any special needs for their child. From that point, schools must make accommodations and modifications for a classified child.

Understanding the Rights of a Child with Special Needs Federal legislation is in place to protect the rights of any children that have been classified with special needs. The Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act all entitle children with special needs to an educational plan that will suit their situation. Parents can request that their child be placed in a classroom that is designed for children with similar needs or ask that their child be in the regular classroom to promote their child’s well-being.

Source: Masters in Special Education

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Special Ed Goes High Tech

This infographic was supplied by Wendy Turner, a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

Students with special needs face challenges that may not be apparent to the rest of the world. They work hard to improve certain skills so that they can act as members of society, and it is important to give them the tools that they need to succeed. Unfortunately, the federal government only provides a total of 15 percent of the cost associated with caring for a child with special needs. Parents are left trying to cover the expensive costs of tutoring services or technology programs that can assist in the educational development of a special needs child.  Students can have a wide range of special needs for which they require supportive educational services and technology programs. Some students suffer from speech impediments, while other students may suffer from emotional disorders. Some students may have hearing or visual impairment. A student may be mentally retarded or have learning disabilities that make it difficult for him or her to adapt to a school environment. Those who have had a traumatic brain injury may also be considered special needs children.  It is important for school communities to embrace those who have disabilities. Students should feel like they are members of the community and should feel accepted. They should feel a sense of joy in attending school and not view their specific classes as punishments for a disability. Students who have disabilities have certain rights that are codified into law, and it is vital that school systems recognize these rights. Even if a school budget must expand to meet the costs of schooling special needs children, this should not be a major concern of school boards. School boards should be ready and willing to meet the expenses that are associated with educating a child who has special needs.  Students who have special needs should also have access to the latest technology in the classroom. They should have access to laptops and net-books that can enhance their educational experience. Digital textbooks can also make learning more enjoyable and fun for those who have disabilities. School districts should seriously consider making these investments in technology to meet the needs of disabled children.  Source: http://www.special-education-degree.net/technology

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Top Ten Tips for Going Back to School

Written by a representative from Tutor House, a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

The end of the summer holidays and the beginning of a new school year is an equally stressful and exciting time for many parents and students alike.

London-based private tutoring agency Tutor House has come up with its top ten tips for going back to school, aimed to help students and parents prepare for the new school term.

1.    Morning Organization – Get Back into the Routine

Create a routine for the mornings to ensure that everyone is out of the house at the right time.

Ensure that everything needed for school is prepared the night before the first day back to avoid the unwanted stressful manic rush in the morning.

2.    Prepare the Calendar – Highlight Key Dates

Having a family calendar is a great idea and solution for effectively preparing for key term dates, as the whole house can always be kept up to date with what everyone has planned.

Mark key term dates and the days kids are doing after school activities.

3.    Lunch and Breakfast Supplies

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s worth having the fridge and cupboards filled up with a range of healthy breakfast items.

If lunch boxes are required then ensure that you have plenty of lunch box fillers available so in the morning it is quick and easy to rustle something up.

4.    Reading List – Get Ahead of the Class

If the school has issued a reading list for a particular subject before the term starts, get these books as soon as possible.

Summer holiday reading or a 20-minute session before bed is the ideal solution to avoid last minute cramming as students will learn more effectively.

5.    Holiday Work – Slow and Steady

A continuing theme here is to ensure that nothing is left to the last minute. Holiday work is often left to the eleventh hour, causing stress and ineffective learning.

By steadily completing holiday work earlier on in the holidays ensures that students will keep their minds energised, avoiding that horrendous last minute dash to finish off 10 pieces of homework the night before the first day of school.

6.    Labelling – Get the Sewing Kit out, Mum!

Labelling all the uniform and sports kit is a sensible idea as it helps avoid having to keep buying new uniform to replace potential items of lost property throughout the school year.

An arduous task for many, but dedicate an evening or two to spend with the sewing kit – it’ll be worth evading the potentially expensive mid-term uniform replacements!

7.    Regulate Sleeping Habits – No More Late Nights

Traditionally the summer holidays can bring change to a child’s sleeping habits, especially teenagers.

Try to regulate sleeping patterns a week or so before term starts to avoid a shock to the system on the first day back at school.

8.    Brush up in Key Areas – Private Tuition?

Make a flying start to the new term by brushing up in a few key areas. Whether it’s an important exam year or a new start, hiring a private tutor for a few hours before term starts can really make a difference.

9.    RELAX!

Putting all the excitement and stress of starting a new term aside for a second, it’s actually correspondingly important to keep calm and have a positive attitude.

These schooling years are so precious, and won’t last forever so enjoy them as much as benefitting from them.

10. Avoid the Uniform Rush – don’t leave it all last minute

By shopping for school uniform well before the end of summer rush parents can benefit from avoiding manic shopping trips and can often pick up very good deals.

Currently Debenhams are offering 70% off Kids school uniform and other retailers are offering deals such as; 2 for 1 and 3 for 3 on school uniforms.

Author Bio – Tutor House is a private tutoring agency based in Fulham, London and offers private tuition for children aged 11 – 18 years old in Common Entrance, GCSEs and A-Levels. Tutor House also offers special education support, careers advice, gap year advice and University guidance.

For more information on private tutors in London and Fulham contact Tutor House on 020 7381 6253 or visit http://www.tutorhouse.co.uk

Back to School Resources and Activities

Written by Ellen Mady, a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***) and has been reposted with permission and can be found on E for Educate.

Many students and teachers I know, including myself, face the first day of school with mixed feelings – partly excited for a new year with new experiences and accomplishments, and partly bummed that summer vacation is over and all the work and exhaustion associated with the school year is back. An exciting and engaging first day can go far in helping students begin the school year on the right foot.

These are some ideas I have used in the past, to help students get to know each other and get excited for the new year on their first day back to school.

1.Goal setting. On the first day of school, give all your students a slip of paper and a few minutes to think of one or two goals they want to accomplish during the coming school year. After students have written their goals down, collect them and either display them on a classroom bulletin board where the students can regularly see them, or store them somewhere easily accessible to the students during the year. At the end of the year, give students time to revisit those goals to see if they have accomplished them.

2.Student survey. I had a lot of fun with this a few years ago with an 8th grade and 11th grade class. Make a survey of random questions – eye color, height, birthday, number of siblings, favorite color, favorite movie/book, etc. Tell students to fill out the survey anonymously, without putting their name anywhere on the sheet of paper. Collect all the surveys shuffle them, and then begin reading the answers written on the first survey. The students need to guess which classmate completed the survey based on the answers given. Once the class has correctly guessed the student that completed the survey, move on the next, and so forth. This helps both old and new students get to know more about each other.

3.Summer Memories. Encourage students to share fun and meaningful experiences from their summer vacation. This helps them bond as a class and enables them to learn from each other’s experiences. You could have students write a brief paper about their summer and share their writing, or have each student give a 1 minute oral presentation.

*When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve also given the students a specific focus, such as sharing summer experiences that taught them about friendship, responsibility, or other values that will be beneficial for the school year as well…

4.Skittle Activity. This is another simple game that helps students share about each other and bond as a class. In advance, the teacher needs to create questions to correspond to the different Skittle colors. Then, in class, pass a bag of Skittles around. When a student receives the bag, he has to pick a Skittle without looking and answer the question that corresponds with the color he picked.  SAMPLE QUESTIONS: Red = What are you most looking forward to this school year? Green = What is one thing you want to contribute to your class community and one thing you want to receive from your community. Yellow = If you could pick one country in the world to visit, where would you go and why? Purple = Tell us about your favorite book. Orange = What is something you want to learn this year?

5.Welcome gift. Make your students feel welcome with a surprise gift on the first day. Something simple waiting on their desks – maybe a pencil with a special eraser, or a cupcake, or a notebook, or a bag with a few pieces of wrapped candy…

Links to other resources and activities:
1.Here is a set of free printables for a “teacher binder”. It includes calendar pages for 2013-2014, as well as other dividers pertinent to organizing a class…
2. Scholastic provides a free printable called “First Day Challenge”. Students need to come up with objects or names that fit different categories given on the sheet and begin with the letters of “First Day”.
3.Click here for more “get to know you” activities, also from Scholastic.
4.Click here for Back to School bulletin board ideas.
5.Free printable back to school cupcake toppers – click here for pink and here for blue.

About the Author:  Ellen Mady is a wife, mother and educator currently living and working in Northern Iraq. Ellen began teaching fulltime in the United States six years ago. Since then, she has taught or participated in school leadership teams in a variety of schools inside and outside the United States. Ellen’s experienced has centered around Middle School and High School education, using the International Baccalaureate Programme. Ellen currently works as Head of Curriculum Development and Authorization at Mar Qardakh School in Iraq.

Project-Based Learning In Today’s Classroom

Written by a guest blogger from Launch Education Group (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

“When are we ever going to use this?”- Many teachers have been stopped mid-lecture by a student asking this simple question.  And you probably have experienced days in the classroom where you have wondered the same thing: How will memorizing the phases of mitosis benefit my life, especially when I will forget everything right after I finish the test?

Successful school drop-outs like Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook; Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple; and Alex Banyan, the world’s youngest venture capitalist, are making the world rethink how education should be done. These men succeeded not because of the information they crammed for a test but rather because they were able to critically think, problem solve, and collaborate with others. As schools begin to recognize the importance of these skills, the lecture-and-test style that bored so many of us is being replaced with a new style called Project-Based Learning.

Not the Projects of Old:
Before you start thinking “I did projects in school and they were useless,” you should know that Project-Based Learning (PBL) is not the same as the family tree you had to create. Where projects are done after the learning is finished and by following the teacher’s instructions, PBL is done as a way of learning the information by using investigation, problem solving, and collaboration. In an article on PBL, Launch Education describes Project-Based Learning as a way of establishing skills that will continue to benefit them as they grow older.

Project Based Learning begins when the teacher and students contemplate a question like “Should our school cafeteria use a compost system?” After discussing the question as a class and identifying many areas that need to be considered, students work as teams to provide an answer. In order to find the answer, students will need to research many areas like how is composting done, what are its benefits, how costly is it to implement, and how would our school use it. Through PBL, students not only learn about the process of compost; they also see the relevancy of the information. Additionally, the process demands the skills employers are looking for: critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration as the students work together as a team. Launch Education explains that it is a method that “allows children to explore their own talents and ways of thinking.”

No More Daydreaming at your Desk
Students complain frequently that school is so boring, and frequently, they are right. Sitting at a desk and listening as a teacher drones on is not something that many of us enjoyed. This is one more traditional classroom set-up that PBL is changing. Project Based Learning rejects the concept of a passive learner. Students are not vessels for stuffing information. Instead, PBL makes students active learners, placing them at the central role of the process where they are directly engaging in the concepts and their implications. By getting students active in their learning, PBL takes the focus of the classroom off the teachers and places it on the students. Teachers become guides who assist students in their learning process.

This departure from traditional education is becoming especially popular in the political world. With the falling test scores, increasing drop-outs, and failing schools, the educational world is becoming an increasingly heated issue, and education reform is on every politician’s radar.  Politicians like mayoral candidate for NYC Jack Hidary are using Project Based Learning as one of their methods for reforming the school. He suggests that PBL will be more effective for, “… Preparing students for the kinds of jobs we have now in our economy.”  As more politicians adopt PBL as part of their educational platform, this style of learning may gain more ground in the classroom.

One Method Among Many
While PBL is beginning to gain popularity, it is important to remember that it is not meant to be the only method of learning used in the classroom. The National Academy Foundation recommends using Project Based Learning for learning goals that include “applied learning and demonstration of deep core understanding,” but not for things like spelling or addition.  With effective preparation and placement, PBL is an effective strategy for preparing our students with relevant skills; without preparation and proper usage, it can be just as ineffective as a lecture.

Doing What’s Best for Our Students
In the end, Project-Based Learning is all about engaging students in real-world scenarios and forcing them to use real-life skills to solve them. When we consider that school is a method of preparing students to be successful, thoughtful members of our society, we see that PBL is a very beneficial tool. By starting students young and engaging them in this kind of thinking and learning, we are creating the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders for our world.