Monday, October 6, 2014

Goodbye NNAT, Hello CogAT!

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about HISD requirements to qualify your child for gifted and talented programs...
...they change the tests!

The CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) will now replace the NNAT (Naglieri) and later this spring, the IOWA will replace the Stanford. No need to panic, however! Raising the Bar has you covered! Want to know more? Read on. . .

Goodbye NNAT, Hello CogAT

SAT, STAAR, AP, IB, PTO. . . the world of education is filled with some fairly familiar acronyms. One acronym, however, may not be so familiar: CogAT. It stands for Cognitive Abilities Test, a test that might play an important role in your student's academic life, especially if your child attends an HISD school. Let us help break down the basics of the CogAT.

In a nutshell, what is the CogAT?

The CogAT is a test commonly used for identification of students for Gifted and Talented programs and is a grade-level specific assessment of verbal, quantitative, and spatial reasoning and problem-solving ability.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Organizational Tutoring: A Sound Investment in Your Student's Future by Mikey Smith, M.Ed

Organizational Tutoring:
A Sound Investment in Your Student's Future
by Mikey Smith, M.Ed

"So, how was school today?" Remember when your student was younger, and he or she would respond to this question with breathless excitement, regaling you with every detail of every day, from who got in trouble (never your child, of course!) to what was for lunch? Even if your student skipped important details like spelling tests or field trip forms, you more than likely had a backup - the weekly homework folder and/or the trusty planner. Early elementary teachers spend great amounts of time writing copious notes in students' planners, stuffing homework folders, and making sure students remember assignments and events.

Ask the parents of an older student about what sort of response they typically get when asking their child about their school day, and you most likely will get an answer along the lines of, "I have no idea - they don't ever tell me anything about it!" Couple this with the shift in responsibility for remembering homework and assignments and copying information into a student planner from teacher to student, and you might have a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks

Old Tricks for New Dogs?
Teaching 21st Century Students 20th, 19th, and 18th Century Skills

by Mikey Smith, M.Ed

A major catchphrase in education today is the term "Twenty-First Century Skills." These abilities include skills that will better prepare our students to take on challenges the future holds and include concepts like problem-solving, working collaboratively, integrating technology and media literacy. While no one is saying that these skills are not important and vital to our childrens' futures, what about the skills that are getting left behind? Classes like shop, home economics, keyboarding and the like are nowhere to be found on many school curriculum maps. But just because these skills are no longer being taught in schools does not mean that our students don't need to know them for the future. Here are a few 18th, 19th and 20th century skills that would probably be a good idea for your child to learn.

Budgeting & Banking Basics
Americans are in more debt now than ever, and much of that debt belongs to young people. As a matter of fact, a 2013 Ohio State University study found that young adults are racking up credit card debt at a more rapid rate than other age groups, and that they're slower at paying it off. It is even predicted that many new college graduates and other young adults will NEVER pay off their debts. Many kids and even young adults have no concept of the value of a dollar or how finances work. Why not give your kid insight into how to create a budget, how to save money and how to determine whether or not to make a purchase? Some lessons in fiscal responsibility today might help your child become a wiser consumer and avoid debt later.

Cooking Basics
Many parents cringe at the idea of giving their children sharp objects like knives or access to potentially dangerous appliances like an oven or stove. But there is no reason to think that most kids can't manage to make some basic meals that do not come out of a can or the microwave.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Literacy by Mikey Smith

Summer Literacy
Creative Ways to Keep ALL Kids
Intellectually Engaged this Summer
by Mikey Smith, M.Ed
We have all read the articles and seen the research about so-called "Summer Slide." The message is clear: kids whose brains remain engaged over the summer fare better academically once the new school year rolls around.  Many schools have jumped on board the anti-brain drain bandwagon, sending home packets and packets of worksheets to keep kids busy during summer months. While schools should be applauded for addressing the issue of Summer Slide, not every kid is thrilled to crack open a novel and answer questions or write essays about what they did over the summer.

So what are some fresh ways to keep kids engaged and reading and writing during the summer months? For starters, mother of two Lorien Martinez has a simple but effective suggestion. "My kids have to read 30 minutes a day BEFORE any electronics," she says. Middle school teacher Summer Magee offers a twist on this idea of reading regularly during the summer: having kids take on trilogies and series books with - here's the twist - their parents!