Windermere Prep Community Blog

Do You Even Organize?

Added on January 17, 2015 by Alex.S

Do You Even Organize?

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.

 

2.            Prioritize

         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.

 

3.            Focus

         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.

 

 

Embracing the Now

Added on January 8, 2015 by Valentina.G

Embracing the Now

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!  

 

A Teacher Reflects Back

Added on January 7, 2015 by Anonymous

A Teacher Reflects Back

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.  

  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions/make mistakes.  Nervous that the teacher will think you are weird for asking a question? Afraid of taking a more difficult class because you might not get an A? Shy because of what you are going to look like in front of your secret crush? Your education is yours and you have every right to ask questions, challenge yourself and make mistakes; whoever makes fun of you for this or criticizes you is not on the true path to learning.  
  2. Read!Read as much as you can about whatever topic you are interested in. I know you have heard this before but the truth is that so much of our productive time is wasted on doing unproductive tasks. Instead of reading a magazine, a book for school/pleasure, or researching world events, we watch TV, surf the Internet for meaningless things or worry about superficial nonsense. Get off of Facebook, don't worry who is dating who, don't worry about whatever reality TV show's next episode may bring, or if someone has a nicer car than you. All of that time can instead be used for discovering something new and bettering yourself. So get out there and read!  
  3. Push yourself to read outside of your interests. If you love science, try reading something about art. If you love theater, try reading something about history. You never know just what you might stumble upon and how it can benefit and change you. I believe we should all strive to be comprehensive learners and learn many topics from the whole gamut.  
  4. Gain discipline Not only should you push yourself to read and to read other topics, but push yourself to learn and see the value of other subjects. Don't think that just because something is boring, or not 'your thing' that you can't learn from it. Be open and give it a chance. This requires discipline and patience. Too often I see students who lose interest, motivation and respect for a topic because it does not offer instant gratification like an IPAD or a play station would. Learning can be fun but its not all entertainment. And yes let me point that out…you are not in school to be entertained.  Learning requires discipline to be able to appreciate these moments of diversion. 
  5. Think of the bigger world.  You must start to realize that the more you learn about the bubble outside of yourself, your school, your neighborhood, your state, your country, and even the earth, the more you will discover your own place and purpose. There are people just like you in other parts of the world…learn about them! This world and universe is a neat place so take interest in it all.  

From a WPS teacher

 

Transitioning to High School

Added on January 6, 2015 by Sajan.S

Transitioning to High School

During my time in middle school, everything seemed easy. Now there were a couple exceptions like TAP, but for the most part it was a breeze. I could go home do my homework in an hour and then watch TV or do something else. I had a lot of free time on my hands. At the beginning of the 9th grade year, I didn't think that 9th grade could be much harder than 8th grade. You would not believe how wrong I was. Now, most of the hard work came from my AP Human Geography class (which required at least 2 hours a night) and I was forced to learn how to manage my time well so I could have time to do some of my extracurricular activities, and other homework. The most efficient way to clear up time is to make use of your weekends. This may seem hard at first because your weekends are your only time off from school, but to manage an AP class with other activities you must utilize it. Utilizing the weekend can reduce the workload. You must stay organized during your 9th grade year or you will fall behind on your assignments. There are a few different apps that I recommend to get organized as they have helped me in the past. Using technology was a big help in knowing what is due and when. 

  1. iCalendar
  2. Wunderlist
  3. Todoist
  4. Things
  5. Outlook Calendar
Another big difference between school and high school is that you go from the top of the food chain, to the bottom. In 8th grade you were the "big man on campus", the apex predator, you had gotten pretty used to the campus and the teachers knew you very well. In 9th grade you flip sides, you become the "little man on campus" and are put into a totally different environment. With all the different teachers and classes, high school can look overwhelming. But know that by the end of the first semester, you will be used to it. Another big fear most 9th graders have are the seniors. They are expected to be big and bad, but they are actually friendlier than you think. They will assist you in pretty much anything, whether it is directions or advice for a certain class.

The final difference between 8th and 9th grade is the immense pressure put on by college. When entering high school, you will have a moment of realization that now everything matters. Each test, each project, each choice that you make in high school will affect college. So in May, when you are looking at your course selection actually look at what classes you choose because those decisions can come back and haunt you. Make sure to pick classes right for you, not too hard or too easy but just right. You must put all your effort into each an every assignment because every grade matters and one grade can affect your quarterly grade in a positive way or negative way.    

 

Poem: We All Like To Think

Added on January 5, 2015 by Afreen.A

Poem: We All Like To Think
I'd like to think that I'm perfect.
Without flaws
Not bruised and unscarred
 
But I can't paint pretty pictures
Of all my spontaneous thoughts.
For they seem too scattered at times.
I cannot paint striking pictures for you,
These thoughts of mine cannot be translated.
 
But I will tell you this,
I am not what I seem.
 
I can't sing in a falsetto tone.
Beautiful
Haunting
Melancholic
And a little bit sweet.
It has an uncanny habit of falling out of tune,
you see.
 
Nor can I play for you,
For my fingers seem to fumble and shake.
Nor can I bake a perfect cake
Or bend my body in a different million ways.
 
I will never be her…..
Or them
Or even like you.
 
But that's alright,
I'm proud to be me
 
-Afreen Ashraf

 

Outstanding Dancer Shares Her Tips

Added on January 4, 2015 by Bella.K

Outstanding Dancer Shares Her Tips

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.

 

 

Alumni Corner: Managing Time

Added on January 3, 2015 by Rajan

Alumni Corner:  Managing Time

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.


 

Come Blog With Us At Reach A Student

Added on December 31, 2014 by Sarina

Come Blog With Us At Reach A Student

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 sarina@reachastudent.com

 

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