The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
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Many people have the desire to succeed, however sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to the point that you want to be at academically. My main tip to doing your absolute best is being on top of things. If a teacher were to give you a test a week in advance the best thing you could possibly do is study a bit every night until the assessment approaches. Many students will wait until last minute to study and will not perform at their best. This could be applied to any project given as well. As you get into higher grades the work amount will only increase, so if you started bad habits on procrastinating then it might be hard to break out of it. However, you will for sure see benefits when you begin to do your work in advance instead of cramming it the night before it's due.
My second most important tip is to use your class time. Many teachers let you complete work in class, to prevent the amount of homework you will have at home. Many students slack in class and talk to their friends or not pay attention, and that just will increase your stress levels in the future. It is way easier to do the work at school when you are supposed to than leave it to do when you get home in the afternoon. Following these two important tips, it is guaranteed that you will see an improvement in your performance and your stress level will begin to decrease.
Staying on top of work can be hard, especially in High School. Falling behind in work may seem hard to avoid, but there are always ways to stay ahead. When you make the transition from Middle School to High School, you can see the difference between the amount of work you have. I'm in 9th Grade, so it is my first year in High School and it was hard for me to adjust to the amount of work there is in High School. Once I started to realize I was falling behind, I made sure to change that and started doing things that could help me. There are many ways you can stay on top of your work and even though it may take extra time, it is completely worth it because you will be stress free.
My first tip would be to always be paying attention and writing notes. If you are constantly writing notes in your classes you will automatically start to understand concepts more. Once the test or quiz comes around for that class, you won't have to cram the night before because you will already have the basic information. Not only that, but actually going over your notes after school will help you a lot. In past years I would only look over my notes once at home and then never again , and that would lead me to being stressed over the class. Once I started reviewing the concepts from the class and all the notes, I noticed how quickly it helped me. Not only that but challenging yourself and pushing yourself to work. Being in a class that is too easy for you may be less stressful, but actually pushing and challenging yourself to be in a class that is a little bit harder will be helpful, because you will actually be learning new concepts. If you do decide to challenge yourself, you shouldn't push yourself too hard. If you do then it will be hard to progress because you will be struggling to keep up with the concept. Keeping on top of all your work may take up time, but it is worth it in the long run.
High School here at WPS differs greatly from Middle School. There are higher expectations, more emphasis on academic mastery and more hours spent completing homework. But that doesn't mean you should be scared or intimidated about the jump from 8th grade to 9th grade. Here are some tips and advice to prepare you for your first year in high school and the years to come.
Always Be On Top of Everything: It is crucial that you stay organized and know what is coming up in the week. Firstly, always know what your homework is, when it is due and what tests you have to study for. There are multiple ways to do so, such as getting a hard copy planner or using a program on your computer. This way, you can keep track of upcoming assignments and exams and what you have to do that night. Plan out your homework load so you are not procrastinating and working on a lengthy assignment at 11:00 at night. While everyone slips here and there and procrastinates until the last minute because of other homework or after school activities, try your best not to. Another method that is crucial to adapt is organization. Keeping all your papers, worksheets and tests in one place will make it easy for you to study for midterms and finals. Doing the same on your computer is also helpful as well.
Taking Notes and Study Methods: For a lot of students, school comes easy to them and are able to make A's without studying. But as the material becomes harder to understand and the amount of material on exams increases, students find it harder to not study and still make an A. That's why taking good notes and finding the right study method is important. Depending on the teacher, they might teach with a powerpoint, by writing notes on the whiteboard or by just talking out loud. Try your to not tune out the teacher while they are talking and just write what is on the board. While that might be easier to copy down, sometimes the teacher will say or explain material that is not on the board and is important to know. Not everyone does this, but I will tend to use multiple pens such as a black and purple/gold pen so that I can use the colorful pens to underline key concepts and terms so when I am reading through my notes later, those key concepts will stand out to me. When it comes to studying, just reading over your notes might not be enough, especially if the class is rather challenging for you. Students need to find what study method works for them, whether it be explaining concepts out loud or using online flashcards and practice tests such as quizlet. If you figure out what helps you learn early on in your freshman year, high school will be a lot easier for you.
While school can be boring and uninteresting and it is hard to be motivated to do homework, you have to look at it with a positive approach. Choose classes that fit your learning skill (honors, non-honors, AP, etc) and always strive to be the best that you can be. If you stay organized, take good notes and study in a way that benefits you, you should be very successful in high school. I will leave you with two things: Don't sweat every single grade because I am going to tell you now that you will get a 'bad grade' from time to time. Just focus on making corrections to it and doing better next time. Lastly, just remember, if you ever have questions about material in class, ask your teacher. They are there to help you. Best of luck!
As a student of Windermere Prep you are expected to strive for perfection and attain excellence, but this doesn't mean that you must be stressed all the time. With good time management you can be less stressed, get more things done, and even have some free time for other activities that you may enjoy. I used to always be stressed about getting good grades and doing all of the homework that I was assigned. I had to learn how to manage my time in order to get more things done and have free time do the things that I loved. I had tried many time management tactics, such as writing everything down in my planner, or even skipping some after school activities in order to get the best grade possible. This ended up stressing me out even more, I had to find a method that worked for me. I ended up using a time calendar. I know it sounds weird, but I got a white board and marker and would write down what I would be doing every half hour. This helped me to see exactly when I should be working on a certain assignment, or studying for a specific test. I now had seen where I had free time to spend with family and friends, and even go to all of my after school activities. This has helped me manage my time, but it might not help you. Find a system that works for you and stick with that method. Make sure to keep up with the method you choose as well. As long as the system works for you, it doesn't matter how weird it seems.
With the first test done, I am sure there are some 9th graders considering dropping APUSH (AP US History). From my understanding, the grades were not that good. This is not abnormal, for my AP Human Geography class as well as the classes before me the first test is always the hardest and most students don't do well on it. I for one received a C on my first test and I am sure that this is the same situation for the rest of you. Before my first test, I thought Mr. Zoslow was exaggerating about the longevity of his tests. I thought that the essay questions would be one page at max and there would be more than enough time. Boy was I wrong. I was completely blindsided by my first test, and considering the circumstances I was pretty lucky in receiving a C. Like me most of you asked yourself, how on earth am i going to do well in this class?
The first tip I give to you is participating in class discussion. This is what is going to be on the test. 75% of the test is based on the applications of the information on the outlines which Mr. Zoslow talks about every day in class. So taking notes is a great idea. Class discussion reinforces the points that you studied in the outlines as well, so when you participate in class discussion there are one of two outcomes. Either you get it right and you can say that you know the topic or you don't and Mr. Zoslow will explain the correct answer. In the beginning it is extremely nerve racking as Mr. Zoslow is pretty intimidating. As soon as you overcome this fear, you will be one step closer to an A.
On a test, Mr. Zoslow will put all information learned on it. You must use all sources in order to ensure that you are well prepared for each test. Everything in the textbook, on the outlines, in the class discussion, and on the KBAT is fair game for the test. This may sound like a lot of studying but the effort needed for a good grade is high in an AP class. In terms of the distribution between the various resources, Mr. Zoslow expects you to know the facts from the text book, but most of the points earned on the test are the applications talked about during the class discussion, so I highly recommend taking lengthy class notes.
Finally, when testing you should always outline before you write an essay. Take just 30 seconds to organize your thoughts and it will make a big difference. Mr. Zoslow always makes the analogy of an easter egg hunt. In an easter egg hunt, everything is scattered everywhere and there is no form of organization. In your essay it is essential that your essay is well thought out and organized. If you were talking about subsistence agriculture, don't go and talk about commercial agriculture before you finish subsistence agriculture.
Zoslow's class will take some time to adjust to, so don't get discouraged if you don't do well in the beginning. But in the end, everyone will figure out a formula to success and will do well.
Since Reach A Student is all about getting and sharing insight within school communities, I was hoping to meet the new owners of our school - Windermere Preparatory School when I was on vacation this summer in Hong Kong. I honestly did not know what to expect from my visit to the Nord Anglia Education Head Office. Ms. Sarah Doyle had arranged for me to meet and interview the CEO himself, Mr. Andrew Fitzmaurice.
The interview was scheduled for 11am on a Thursday and our hotel was located in the tallest building in Hong Kong on Kowloon and their office was on Hong Kong Island so our taxi went on a short ride through a tunnel that crossed the famous harbor in just a few minutes. The drive only took a quick 15 minutes to reach St. Georges Building where Nord Anglia Education had the entire 12th Floor.
After a quick wait in their reception area, Ms. Doyle came out to greet me and take me to Mr. Fitzmaurice's office. He has a beautiful office with a great view of the harbor and the Hong Kong Eye (which looks a lot like the Orlando Eye). Ms. Doyle and Mr. Fitzmaurice were very kind and Mr. Fitzmaurice shared some nice stories about himself, his family and Nord Anglia Education.
Ms. Doyle was really kind and presented me with some literature about some of their programs as well as a boxed gift, which was very generous of her. They explained some of the opportunities that Windermere Prep students could now benefit from – like Global Classroom and the Julliard partnership. It was an amazing experience and I can't thank Nord Anglia leadership enough for their generosity with their time and for welcoming a student from 1 of their 41-school family.
If you would like to see some of the photos of my visit to the Nord Anglia Headquarters in Hong Kong, please click the main image and scroll to see more.
While I was in Hong Kong this summer, I not only had the opportunity to meet some of the people in the Nord Anglia Education Leadership Team, but I also got to visit one of the Nord Anglia schools in Hong Kong - The Nord Anglia International School (NAIS) located in Lam Tin. Hong Kong is a former British colony and there is a lot of European influence in the city and at NAIS.
The principle of the school, Mr. Brian Cooklin generously gave me a tour of the new school, which just opened this past September (2014). Mr. Cooklin also allowed me to interview him for Reach A Student and share his insight. Besides the school tour and interviewing Mr. Cooklin, I was also able to interview a Year 5 teacher, Mr. Williams, and his student Ava.
This year was the school's first year operating as a new school, and I must say that it was amazing how developed they were for a school still just 9 months old. Prior to becoming the campus of the Nord Anglia International School, the property was previously used as a Catholic Boy's School and when that school moved out, Nord Anglia was awarded the space to use. I learned that there was a lot of construction that needed to be done and everyone worked very hard to get the school ready in just a few months for new students to begin classes last September.
The learning environment is really beautiful and the students and teachers I met were all very nice and welcoming. NAIS follows a British curriculum and that might be the biggest difference between the Nord Anglia International School and Windermere Prep. I spent a long time looking at a lot of their students work, much of it on display in the corridors and I can tell you that it is all of very high quality. Mr. Cooklin explained they use Nord Anglia Education's High Performance Learning techniques and I was very impressed by their approach.
Another difference that I really like was how they separate students in the school into 4 houses; Windsor (red), Sandringham (yellow), Caernarfon (green) and Balmoral (blue). These are the names of grand homes and castles in the United Kingdom. When students do something well, they are given a colored token that represents their house which they deposit in clear cylinder at the front of the school. The cylinder with the most chips at the end of the year wins, so there is a lot of team or house spirit. These houses also compete in school competitions against each other throughout the year. I thought this house system was really unique and fun.
All their classrooms were well designed and the school had excellent learning facilities. They had a gymnasium similar to ours at WPS, an Art room, Computer Lab, A full Science Lab, Library, Music Rooms and so much more. I saw students doing drama, playing in their playground where Mrs. Cooklin had painted a beautiful Panda and so many other things you might see at a school in America, only this wasn't America, it was all in Hong Kong – a city on the other side of the world from Windermere Prep. Needless to say, I was beyond impressed and it makes me happy to know that we are now a part of the Nord Anglia family of schools.
If you would like to see some of the photos of my tour of the Nord Anglia International School, please click the main image and scroll to see many more.
Besides Global Classroom, there is also a program that might interest aspiring WPS musicians and it is called Global Orchestra. This past March musicians from all the Nord Anglia schools were invited to audition for the opportunity to be selected to participate in the Global Orchestra summer school in New York from June 24th to July 1st. This year 34 singers and 46 instrumentalists were chosen from Nord Anglia schools around the world and spent their week attending music workshops and participated in practice sessions conducted by music experts. This is another wonderful opportunity for Windermere Prep students because we are part of this large family of schools.
Nord Anglia Education will be providing Windermere Prep student with access to their program known as The Global Classroom. This program offers students the opportunity to connect with other students from the other 40 Nord Anglia schools spread around the world.
Global Classroom will allow our students to experience diverse perspectives, new challenging concepts, topics and ways of learning. They accomplish this by using 3 methods:
An Online Learning Environment
Students can connect with students in other schools, debate with them and learn new concepts and ideas. As Mr. Fitzmaurice described, a student who was studying the effects of pollution on plants in China, could connect with a student at one of the Nord Anglia schools in China and get a perspective that you wouldn't find in a book.
Students are challenged in competitions to find new solutions to current problems that plague our planet.
These events bring Nord Anglia students from across the globe to work on community service projects, develop leadership skills towards instilling a sense of global citizenship.
I feel strong that bringing Global Classroom to WPS will allow us to learn and experience new topics and expand our global view. This year Global Classroom offered an opportunity to students to travel to Tanzania in Africa where they could volunteer to help the people there and have other unique experiences.
As a student, I am really excited to use The Global Classroom this upcoming year.
The Juilliard School which was founded in 1905, is a world leader in performing arts education and it is not surprising that students at our school are really interested in finding out more about the partnership between Nord Anglia Education and The Juilliard School.
I think we will see curriculum changes, which will begin with music but will extend into the other performing art categories. WPS musicians will soon be exposed to a "Juilliard-curated repertoire" of music that represents different genres, styles and cultures. Nord Anglia students are to gain understanding how music functions and how it fits into the human experience.
Windermere Prep teachers and students will benefit from being connected to Juilliard's network of teachers and performers. Also, Juilliard teaching artists will be sharing their insight with the Nord Anglia teaching community. The result of all this is so that students at Nord Anglia schools receive the highest level of performance art teaching available.
Performing arts is something that is really important to students at our school and that is why the partnership between Nord Anglia and The Juilliard School will be a huge benefit for our school. Clearly, this will help to enrich our performing arts curriculum as described above. Students will be able to connect with Julliard's countless performers and teachers. I think that this can only help inspire students to excel in this field.
I would like to think that I am a good writer; that I am good with words. You think it is an art, how I bleed for the world in a verse. But I think it's a way of life, how I let myself speak the words I've never been able to say. Writing is an art. Identical to art, the mystical crux of writing is in the eye of the beholder. Writing, like art can come in various magnitudes, insignias and each have their own eccentric way with words.
I find that words can be like an incorrigible child at times. They run around in your head, popping up at random intervals, giving you headaches and causing a maelstrom. Words are nothing but a jumble of inane letters, but it is your job, as a creator and as a writer, to tame those words running in your head and bend them to coalesce into tangible thoughts.
When I was smaller, writing was not an event that I would happily do, not by a long shot. Never would you find me freely obliging to write a 6-page essay for my friend. The easiest excuse I would use was that "writing is not easy". Everyone has their own struggles, whether it is coming up with strong thesis, plot, characters or even having an idea to start with. When George Plimpton asked Ernest Hemingway what the best training for an aspiring writer would be in a 1954 interview, Hemingway replied, "Let's say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with." This was kind of like Hemmingway's sick, comical take on writing.
Trust me, writing doesn't have to end in "hanging". It does not have to seem hard. Really, it can be quite enjoyable. But unlike common belief, writing is not easy. Not in the least bit. It is not just a scratch on top of a piece of paper or the result of a single keystroke. No, it is the process of creating a breathing life form that is birthed from your very own mind. If you do it just right, if will feel like you are putting part of your soul down on the surface. It is not like a jar waiting to be filled, more like a castle waiting to be built. Nonetheless, writing, for anyone, is not an easy feat. However, it one of the most purest forms of art you can ever make. You are painting with the most potent "aether" of your own heart.
If you are an 8th Grader like me, you probably have a lot of questions about course selection for next year. One of the most difficult decisions I think I will be facing as I enter high school, is whether or not I should challenge myself and take Mr. Zoslow's AP Human Geography class. Over the past week, Reach A Student mentors have been receiving a lot of questions about this class and some students suggested we interview Mr. Zoslow. He has been kind enough to share some of his thoughts and if there is a question you would like him to answer, please email them to me at email@example.com and I will be happy to forward them to Mr. Zoslow for review. I will keep updating this blog post, so be sure to check back often for the latest Q & A.
When you spoke to the 8th graders about your class a few weeks ago, you said that there would be 90 minutes of homework required every day, even on weekends! Students have pointed out that the workload for the same class in other schools in Central Florida, is not as rigorous, do you think this is true and if so, why is there a difference?
I cannot speak for other schools, but these students at WPS in 8th grade can ask former AP students at WPS with regard to whether the rigor prepared them not only for their exam in May but also better prepared them to step into IB.The rigor of AP Human Geography should not be seen only within the context of this one class but also within the context of creating a competitive academic edge for pursuing the most challenging course work through the WPS IB programs.
Another question asked by a student was how were they expected to do 2 hours of extracurricular activities, plus your class homework as well as homework from other rigorous classes?
Each student should choose a level of challenge that is most appropriate for them to pursue, some course selections are less rigorous and should be selected by those who place a higher value on extra curricular activities. WPS provides a curriculum to suit everyone's desired level of rigor. Students highly involved in athletics, robotics, theatre and so on have moved through AP Human Geography with great success because of their desire for rigor both within and outside of the classroom, as well as aided by a strong sense of discipline, organization and commitment. Please reach out to students who have completed AP Human Geography in order to get a peer perspective on the course.
How can 8th graders prepare themselves for your class next year, maybe something over the summer?
Please see letter below.
Is the summer reading the same book that you will be using for your class or is it just a supplementary resource?
Please see same letter below. However, should any student enrolled for AP Human Geography wish to have a text for preview over the Summer they are more than welcome.
Besides the summer reading, do you have any other suggestions that might help students perform better in your class or to be more efficient in their homework?
Read this website's blog for insight from one of the current AP Human Geography students. Discipline, organization, commitment, and a high work rate are beneficial qualities that ease the transition into AP Human Geography. Making the jump from Middle School academics to college level academics is difficult.
How important is note taking in your class and if so, what are some good note taking tips that you can give to your students?
It depends on the student...some students require significant note taking whereas others are better suited to focus on listening and mental processing skills. Also, participating in class discussion is critical to higher level thinking and for students to better integrate themselves with the materials on a richer and more meaningful level.
What are some good ways for students to study for your exams?
Use the course study tools, Textbook, Outlines, Essential Daily Questions, Vocabulary, and after school study sessions, and using these study tools daily to build up the maximum possible knowledge over time for the exams.
Why do you think students should take your class?
This course is not about what I think but about what students think and value...if academic rigor on a college level as a freshman in high school is a valued challenge then wonderful, if not, then that is wonderful as well. "Know thyself..."
To go along with my previous question, what do you think is the core message of your class and what do you stress most for your students?
Again, this class is not about me but teaching to an international standard that will be tested on a Global scale in May...AP Human Geography is about everything there is to know about the world today, to even attempt mastering this takes significant risk taking, hard work, and humility -the understanding that there is much to learn in less than 10 months. These qualities also happen to be or are similar to the IB Learner profile qualities.
Is there anything else you would like students to know?
My door is always open, for those in AP Human Geography, and for those who pursue other paths, every answer will always lead to another question and to that end it will be my pleasure to answer in person any questions concerning any element of the high school experience.
Dear AP Human Geography Students,
I look forward to working with you at WPS as your AP Human Geography teacher. Your suggested Summer Reading to best prepare you for the course is as follows:
Barron's AP Human Geography, 5th Edition (paperback)
Authors: Meredith Marsh, Ph. D., and Peter S. Alogona, Ph. D.
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1-4380-0282-8 (unique identification number for text)
This text and edition provides you with an initial diagnostic exam, as well as dividing the course into sections with exams to test your understanding and retention of material. Additionally, it breaks down material into simplified units for increased comprehension.
This text cannot guarantee results. However, by reading through the materials your understanding of the course information will be richer, and the transition into your AP Human Geography course will be made more seamless.
Should you or your parent(s) have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail me. I will have only sporadic access to e-mail over the Summer, and e-mail will be the best manner to communicate with me. My best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy Summer!
Justin Lee Zoslow
Social Studies Faculty Residential Dean
I come from an educational system that does not put as much emphasis on grades at such a young age as they do in the USA, at least not until the child is older. What I would like to say to all of the students at WPS is not to worry about the grade but to think instead, 'What have I learned?', and what is the next step. School should be a voyage of learning, and if someone becomes obsessed with a letter grade, rather than what they are actually learning, I think that is a shame. You are more than a letter scrawled onto a page. If you got a good grade, then great, but what does it ACTUALLY mean? Do you reflect on why you got a good grade, and what you took away from that period of learning? Do you think to yourself, what else could I learn about this? How could I extend my learning? Was this fascinating to me, or something that I only tolerate because I have to? Likewise, when you get a bad grade, do you ask why? What does this mean for me? Do you find out what exactly you didn't do well or understand so that you can fix it for next time? The WHY is more important than the grade. Why am I studying this? Why is it important? What does it mean to me? Don't reduce your brainpower to a letter grade. You are so much more than that. You are creativity and problem solving. You are design and debate. Don't do things for a grade, do them because they matter to you and you know the reason why!
Sometimes as a child I would describe myself like an egg. On the outside a hard shell, smooth and flawless in appearance but on the inside a mushy soft, runny liquid.
I was put ahead a grade in 1st grade basically because I knew my ABC's and could read while our Pre-K students now a days can recite their ABC's and read in usually more than one language:) With a late spring birthday this made me very young for the class which was like a neon sign saying come pick on me. I was lucky academically where I liked school and the subjects came easier than normal to me, again a flashing neon sign. I was painfully shy and didn't have a lot of friends, this time the flashing neon sign is playing a tune here, you follow me?:) Grades 1-5 were uneventful, no one noticed me so I went about business without any problems. By 6th grade though, that was another story. My middle school years were tough. I was picked on and ridiculed. I wasn't physically bullied, it was all verbal which to me is worse. I would've much rather been hit once and been able to walk away with an external bruise, instead I had to be the egg, hard on the outside but a pile of mushy liquid inside.
Unfortunately, I have no words of advice on how to deal with a similar situation at the time of occurrence I put my head down and prayed my way through but I can tell you now that those crucial years most definitely made me the person I am today. I have tolerance, I have compassion, and I have empathy. Strangely enough I'm an eternal optimist, I see the good in everyone and everything. I am a parent who will not tolerate my child treating their friends and peers with anything but respect and courtesy. I will not partake in gossip or hearsay and I only surround myself with positive people. Sounds like I got it all together right, not in the least! I don't talk about my middle school years often but I will divulge them to a crying student who thinks no one could possibly know what they are going through at the moment. I hope to give them some hope, some reassurance and some optimism. Because everything you do in life shapes what kind of person you can become.
In my IB HL Biology class, we recently began an extremely interesting section on Neurobiology and Behavior. This Option (an additional lesson elected by the teacher as part of the IB course) forces us to question whyand how we learn. Between class discussions on the ethics of Skinner's pigeon experiments and the biological genius that is the withdrawal reflex, we were asked to define "learning". According to the IBO, learned behavior is characterized by experience. This clicked. The way we truly learn is not by meaningless rote memorization. Rather, we learn by immersing ourselves completely in what we do and by making an experience out of it.
In my earlier blog post ("IB, Honors, or AP – Oh My!"), I briefly mentioned the importance of selecting classes that you are interested in. Although this may seem obvious, I think it is a fact that some people overlook. Rather than enroll in a class they are passionate about, too many students opt for the more challenging (and less interesting) class because they feel the need to prove themselves. By doing so, students forget the true purpose of school: to grow toward your future with purpose. Although you may not know what purpose that is, taking classes that do not resonate well with what you enjoy will only serve to alienate you further from your future.
When I study I enjoy making an experience out of what I am learning. Sometimes that means I get to spend time on YouTube researching the material or watching videos from other IB or AP teachers. I highly recommend watching Crash Course videos for your Science and History classes. Other times I prepare a bowl of grapes for my study session! When I reach a certain page number or outline a certain amount I will eat a grape as a sort of healthy reward. My Neurobiology and Behavior class would classify this under positive reinforcement. I feel good and I am incentivized to keep working. Studying in a different location, reciting what you know to a family member, or even making a catchy jingle to relate to a lesson are all different ways to make an experience out of your studying.
The hardest part of studying or doing schoolwork is getting started. However, I have found that once I start my work it is a lot easier for me to just finish it. An analogy I use is "A Valentina in study mode, stays in study mode until she is stopped by an object of equal or greater force". Minimize the equal or greater forces that can snap you out of "the zone". Turn off/turn down your phone and place it in the opposite corner of your room. Do not have too many webpages open on your laptop. At the same time, remember to take breaks. Do not force yourself to study one subject for an hour straight; you won't remember what you learned. Take a break every 15 minutes by walking around, talking to your family, or grabbing a healthy snack. I have also found that taking a nap after a good study session will help retain the information better.
Imbue yourself with the knowledge your teachers provide in class. Embrace the experience of learning, but at the same time go out and live real experiences. You will become a truly rich Laker, human being, and global citizen.
When I was in high school, I was in a special math and science program that pushed students to go as far ahead as they could. I'd already been a year or two ahead of most of my class thanks to my middle school math classes, but my Sophomore year of high school, I was pushed even farther.
A special independent study program was created for about 6 of us to finish Calculus by the end of the summer and begin Calculus 2 in our Junior year, then going to the local junior college our Senior year to take more advanced math classes. Being someone who thought I'd be majoring in math, I said yes and began the program. The problem became when the work got hard, and the independent study teacher didn't have time to explain it, and I started becoming interested in journalism. I realized my Sophomore year that there was more to high school than just math. I'd joined a sports team and was interested in joining the newspaper. With so much else on my plate, I walked in on the last day of school and turned in my Calculus book that I'd barely been understanding as an independent study class and told my teacher I'd just take it again the next year.
What followed were meetings with the teacher and guidance counselor and my parents. In the end, I kept playing sports, ended up being editor of the high school newspaper, and still finished two years of Calculus before graduation. The writing knowledge and practice I got on the newspaper helped in writing my $36,000 college essay (as I called it because of the scholarship money it awarded). The diversified program I ended up working out did far better for me than just a plain math education. It even led me to double major in college in both Mathematics and Elementary Education.
Don't just let yourself be led through your school life by people telling you to do stuff just because you can or just because it's offered. Take control of your education and branch out. You never know what you're going to end up doing, so experience as many things as possible now! It's OK to say NO to some classes, experiences, clubs, etc. Especially when it allows you to say YES to others!
Mr. Matt Masem
5th Grade Math Teacher
Deciding which classes or program to take is certainly a big decision to make when students move from middle school to high school and from underclassmen to upperclassmen. As a senior, I have seen it all: IB, Honors, Standard, AP. Although the information is definitely available for everyone to research, I have found that after sitting for 4+ years as a New Student Ambassador that sometimes the best way to explain the options is to hear about them from someone with personal experience. So, without further ado, here are some tips and points to note for each option.
The majority of electives at Windermere Prep are classified as Standard classes, however some Core classes are also Standard. They are weighted on a 4.0 scale. One of my favorite classes that I have ever taken at WPS was Creative Writing my freshman year. PE is also Standard. Use Standard classes to explore topics that you would not normally expect yourself to study in high school. Sports Medicine, Yearbook, Life Management Skills, Class Piano… the list goes on and on. These classes are extremely enriching and the more you can take, the more you will get out of your high school experience. Test your limits and step outside of your comfort zone. You never know if the Standard class you take during your freshman or sophomore year will turn into a passion of yours later on.
There is a wide array of Honors classes in the high school (most of which are concentrated for 9th and 10th graders as part of the normal course load). These classes are a little more challenging than your Standard options and encompass many Core class options as well. Your freshman and sophomore year nearly ever class has the option of being Standard. It should be noted that Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is weighted as a Standard class even though it is a requirement for the IB Diploma. This will be discussed below.
Although Windermere Prep is known for offering IB classes, its AP program is extremely strong as well. AP classes are on a 5.0 scale. You can sign up for these classes are early as your freshman year, but do not overload yourself with challenging classes as you transition from middle school to high school. I took these classes sophomore year on. From what I recall, we offer AP European History, AP Human Geography, and AP Environmental Science. However, students can take additional AP classes on Florida Virtual School. If you are interested in pursuing additional AP classes, speak to your guidance counselor and see if this is possible. The AP program is definitely a time commitment. There is a good amount of work associated with these classes. This applies to all course options, but make sure you take classes you really love and are interested in. Explore your horizons but make sure that you are doing something you are interested in. This will make your work more enriching and easier to tackle.
The IB Certificate is an option for juniors and seniors in high school. You can either take IB Standard Level (SL) or IB Higher Level (HL) classes. Some IB classes that are offered are Mathematics, English, Spanish, Latin, French, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Film, Art, Music, History, Psychology, and Economics. For foreign languages (Spanish, French, Latin), there is the option to take Ab Initio (from the beginning) courses. This means that during your junior year you can begin to learn a foreign language from the very beginning and complete this class your senior year. IB Certificate students do not have to take all IB classes, but can take Honors, Non-Honors, or AP classes in addition to the Certificates they wish to pursue. This track is still challenging. Many athletes or people who are extremely busy outside of school opt to take Certificate classes.
I am an IB Diploma candidate. The IB Diploma has a series of requirements that are more comprehensive and immersive than the Certificate. Students must take 3 SL classes and 3 HL classes within the IB, take Theory of Knowledge, write and Extended Essay (EE), and complete 150 Community, Action, Service (CAS) hours. Make sure to sign up for IB Diploma classes you are thoroughly interested in and would likely enjoy pursuing in college. This program, along with Certificate classes, is two years long and the classes you choose junior year have to be completed in your senior year.
Although 3 SL and 3 HL classes are offered, I take 2 SL and 4 HL classes. This is very challenging, and I suggest you speak with a guidance counselor before pursuing this option. I am enrolled in IB SL Economics, SLMathematics, HL Chemistry, HL Biology, HL English, and HL Spanish. In the future I hope to attend Medical School with a focus on global health and humanitarian initiatives in developing countries. For this reason, I took two HL science classes, Economics (the Developmental portion of the syllabus is fascinating), Spanish (both for cultural enrichment and because I love Spanish literature), and English. Normally students take one social science, science, math, English, and foreign language with the IB Diploma, and they have the option to take an Art class or double up in one of the pre-requisite disciplines.
The Theory of Knowledge class is an extremely enriching facet of the Diploma. This class asks students to question what they learn and become more engaged in their academic and personal pursuits. I firmly believe that this class was the tipping point for me to truly be able to call myself a scholar. If you take the Diploma, this class will change your life. It also comes with the requirement to write a TOK essay and give a presentation. Organization and open-mindedness is key.
The Extended Essay is essentially a Senior Thesis for IB Diploma students. You can write an EE in any of your IB classes and it is due right after your first semester of senior year. It is a capstone for the IB and truly the time to explore research and immerse yourself in one of your favorite classes. I'll quickly add on here that CAS hours are basically community service hours with the added component that you have to create a project that includes Community, Action, and Service components.
Please feel free to email/message/comment/stop me in the hallway if you have any questions about the information above. Speak to your guidance counselor and teachers to decide which route is best for you. Do what you love and you will completely fall in love with what you do.
It's been said that to be successful, you have to be organized. Well, whoever came up with that probably didn't have to deal with three tests, an essay and a project all due the next day after they got home from practice or rehearsal at 7pm. Welcome to High School.
Sometimes, you just get swamped with so much work that you really don't know where to start and, consequently, you don't end up doing any of it. This is where organization can calm you down and prevent you from, say, stress-eating. So how do you get organized? Confusingly, you must first organize your organizational process. Let me explain.
1. Establish a Home Base
A home base is essentially where you'll log all of your tasks. This can be a giant whiteboard in your room, a planner, or your hand (though that is not advised). Most often, your home base will be an app on your computer or phone. Having an app on all your electronic devices that syncs your tasks is extremely helpful, though if you're a more hands-on person a physical home base will work fine as well.
I personally use the application Things, which is available on Mac and iOS. It's not cheap, but it works really well and syncs promptly across its various platforms. I have a master list of tasks on my computer that also appears on my phone, and I can add and edit tasks from both devices. Other notable apps are iProcrastinate, Wunderlist, and Clear, which are all decidedly less expensive. Of course, there's always good ol' iCal if you like the calendar feel. Whichever platform you choose for your home base, make sure it's something that you'll always have with you.
Once you have a home base, start adding your tasks to it. Order your list of tasks by priority. For me, tests come first, projects second, quizzes third, homework fourth, extracurriculars fifth. If you have multiple tests, quizzes, homework assignments, etc, order them by class. So it should work out something like this: a test in your hardest class (or class that requires the most studying) will be the first thing on your task list, while a set of questions for your easiest class will come last. You should also save the fun stuff (yes- amazingly enough, there are enjoyable projects and assignments in High School) for last, that way you have something to look forward to after all the hard and boring stuff.
Another tip (and you're not going to like me for this): start your assignments EARLY. I know how excruciating it can be to sacrifice your free time for something that's not even due tomorrow, but trust me; when you finish an assignment three days early and stuff starts piling up as the week progresses, you'll have one less thing to do on Thursday night. And once you start doing stuff early, it gets easier and easier every time you do it. Proactivity, my friends. Proactivity.
When it's time to actually start doing your work (yes, this will inevitably happen), make sure you're as focused as possible. That way, you'll get more stuff done in less time. Tip number one: spend as little of your time on the computer as possible- the temptation to check Instagram or Facebook or play online games might be too great to resist, and that squashes your productivity. Of course most assignments have to be typed and/or researched online, so it's not always possible to avoid the machine.
If you have to be on a computer, take advantage of the numerous programs and applications available to keep you focused. If you're writing a paper, try a distraction-free writing program like iA Writer or OmmWriter for a full-screen page without any app icons or formatting buttons. If you're doing anything else online, I recommend using FocusAtWill. It's a free online music service with songs selected specifically for getting work done (with genres like classical, acoustic, and new age), and I find that it actually helps me focus.
Your environment can also help you focus. Always pick a spot to do work where you don't feel distracted by anything (for most people this is somewhere quiet, like a library or their bedroom). It's rarely a good idea to do homework on your bed, especially if your assignment is particularly boring and it's 9:30 at night- you might just fall asleep, and that's totally not what we're going for here.
That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Just have a singular place where you write down everything you have to get accomplished, arrange all your tasks by difficulty and importance level and create an environment conducive to focusing, and you'll be ready to own all your work. Of course if you have any questions about organization or good study habits, feel free to ask me a question.
Too often, as students fall back into the swing of a new semester, a certain degree of monotony begins to seep each week. We are familiar with our own patterns: wake up, put on a permutation of our school uniform, drive to school, class-to-class lessons with quick hallway chats in between, after school activities, homework, sleep. Rinse and repeat. However school does not have to be a re-run of Saved by The Bell (or for our younger readers, Ned's Declassified). I am writing about two true and tested ways to help you embrace the now and love every day (even Mondays).
1) Be a human being, not a human doing.We have all had rough days. Those days when you get home and when your parents ask how your day went you flippantly respond, "it was ok". Perhaps you were preoccupied with friend problems, a test that didn't go very well, and/or copious amounts of homework. We may not realize it, but it shows. Last year I was having one of those days, my feet dragged a little more than usual between my classes and I wasn't smiling and greeting everyone that walked by as normal. One of my best friends, Manny, lightly grabbed my arm and what he said completely turned around my day (and has still clearly stuck with me now). "Valentina, why are you sad? Look around you: life is so beautiful!" From then on I have made a conscious effort to realize just how much I have, how blessed I am, and how beautiful life is. Things that seem life shattering in middle school and high school are so trivial in the long run. We should all look around us and realize this.
2) Live with your eyes open.
Cross-country promised not to be an easy sport, but that was why I joined it. Dr. Williams coached our team and each practice was an extremeworkout. I remember one particular practice in which consisted of a 2-mile ladder following an intense warm-up. After the first mile, I will admit, I wanted to give up. I paced around the track with my hands on my hips and looked up, rather than solely in. My teammates were all surely thinking the same thing: their eyes were glazed over with a mixture of tears and sweat. But when Dr. Williams blew her whistle for us to get back on the starting line, we all did without hesitation. Sometimes when school and personal activities seem overwhelming we shut out those around us. We do not take the time to notice that others are struggling too. Furthermore we do not look up to see our own personal Dr. Williams, standing with a whistle and tacit support for us to keep moving forward. Keep your eyes open and realize you aren't the only person standing at the starting line of your second mile.
As always talk to your family, friends, and teachers when life feels overwhelming or repetitive. Fill each day with what you love. Embrace the now and I wish you all the best of luck for this last semester!
Dear WPS Students:
If I had the chance to go back to middle school and high school there would be some things I would do differently. Although I am a teacher- and teachers love learning- we all didn't start off perfectly and I am certainly one of those. Here are some pieces of advice that I think will help you capitalize on your chances of making the most of your education and the time and resources in front of you all.
From a WPS teacher
Hi my name is Bella and I am an 8th grade student at Windermere Prep. One of my greatest passions in life is dance. I find myself dancing almost everywhere I go. It is something that I could not live without. Each week I dance for about 10+ hours. I also attend certain dance competitions every few months, which means a lot of extra rehearsals. Sometimes I find it a little tricky to maintain a 4.0 GPA as well as attend all of my dance classes and rehearsals. However I seem to always find a way to make it work.
One tip I would give others who are struggling to juggle all of their extra curricular activities along with school is to stay organized. I would suggest keeping a planner to write all of your assignments down on. As well as keeping a few folders to organize any papers you receive from teachers. This way you do not lose any time due to searching for a lost paper or assignment. Another tip would be to get lots of sleep and eat healthy as well. Being tired or getting sick would only lead to more schoolwork piling up, which will make it much harder to balance school and your extracurricular activities.
My last tip is to get some of your schoolwork done over the weekend. If you wait until the week everything is due it will be extremely hard to complete everything on time and attend your extracurricular activities. Even spending an hour on your work over the weekend can make a huge difference. I know that all of these tips have definitely made it a lot easier for me to keep up with my schoolwork as well as dance, which is very important to me.
I truly do not know what I would do without dance. It has provided me with so many great opportunities that I am so thankful for. Through dance I can express myself and teach others. I have even gotten to work with an incredible nonprofit organization known as Dance Out Bullying and got to educate others about bullying through dance. I hope to one-day dance on Broadway as well as eventually own my own dance studio and teach others. I hope to have a positive impact on someone's life through dance. I also hope that all of my tips will help you maintain your busy schedule and allow you to follow your dreams and achieve your aspirations and goals.
During my time at Windermere Prep, my biggest challenge was definitely time management. Seeing that we are all surrounded by technology, it is easy to get carried away, and I am certain that others struggled with this issue as well. On the other hand, many of us become preoccupied with other extracurricular activities that take up more time than expected, and it seems now often forgotten that perhaps we have spent too much time with extracurriculars that it becomes near impossible to even cope with school work. However, with the right planning one can successfully manage their time between multiple activities and not have to stress out about school.
The greatest challenge may be allowing your extracurriculars cut into precious time that could be used studying. So create a schedule that revolves around how long these activities will take. Plan out a schedule of each subject. Assess how much time they will take to complete. Then prioritize. It would be useless to spend most of your time in a subject that you are already very familiar with, so I suggest quick reviews of the easy content (just enough to get you by for the time being, don't put it off so much to the point you fall behind). Then spend most of your time looking at the content that troubles you. Try to understand it. If you don't understand, be prepared to ask your teacher for help. Your teacher is your friend and will always be willing to help you out, so long as you make it clear to them that you need help.
Of course, too much studying can overwhelm one, so make time just to relax. Don't give yourself too much time, because then you will eventually come to regret it. Just give yourself the right amount to de-stress and do whatever pleases you. However, once it comes time to work, then work. Don't stop until your next planned break. And should a big test or exam be right around the corner, and then you must not take any breaks. You will need all the studying time, and doing anything other than studying will do you no good. You will have plenty of time after the exam to do whatever you want; until then, work!
If you utilize your time and these methods properly, then you will be successful. I will not pretend that it will be easy; it will not be easy, but this will help you tremendously.
I hope everyone has an amazing New Year! I would like to thank Valentina G., a 12th grade student mentor on our site, for suggesting blogging which will add a unique aspect to Reach A Student. This already proves the importantance of peer to peer help and support.
Our goal at Reach a Student is to help the students at Windermere as much as possible by providing tips and help from a student's perspective. Answering questions is a great way for students to connect and share with one another, however, the knowledge shared is limited by the questions asked. Blogging allows students to share their thoughts more freely and anyone can provide their peers with whatever information they think would be beneficial.
Since I believe that every student has some kind of insight that could be useful to others at WPS, anyone can contribute their own personal entries to the blog. I can even make your entry anonymous if you choose to. I also believe that the WPS teachers have valuable experience from when they were students (for example, how they faced and overcame an obstacle that a student might be facing today), so I reach out to all WPS faculty and hope you will contribute to our blog.
If you would like to submit a blog entry, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.