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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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If you have ever heard of APUSH (AP US History), you probably heard that it is one of the toughest classes at Windermere Prep. Compared to other schools, WPS offers this course at 9th grade, while other schools offer it at 11th and 12th. I am just going to flat out say that if you aren't willing to work hard and put in the time, then this class is definitely not for you, as the work never stops. Now as a former survivor of APUSH, I know a few things about how this class works, and what it takes to succeed.
The first part of this course is outlines. Every night, you basically summarize a part of a textbook chapter in a specific format, which Mr. Zoslow then checks the next day. Every outline is a total of 3 points, so as long as you complete it, you should get full credit. Of course it depends on how many pages your reading is for that night, but my outlines were around 10 pages, give or take a few pages. You might be stressing out during your first outline, and it might take you a long time, but just know that they get easier as you continue on throughout the year. My advice to you is to use every minute of the day for outlines. Even 5 minutes at the end of another class can get you a few paragraphs outlined. Don't worry about making everything perfect, because honestly Mr. Zoslow just scrolls through it, and doesn't actually read everything word for word.
KBATS are just a bunch of vocab words that you think are necessary to study for the unit exam. The catch is that Mr. Zoslow doesn't give you a vocab list, but you have to come up with the words yourself and then write definitions for them. My suggestion is to either underline or highlight your KBATS while you are outlining so you can go back and know which words you thought were important. Some won't agree with me, but I found it easy to complete my KBATS while I was outlining so that way I didn't have to worry about them later. You will just have to determine what works best for you. Make sure you are only doing definitions for words that are necessary, or you will end up with a couple hundred words for each chapter. Lastly, DO NOT procrastinate these. I guarantee the last thing you want is to have to complete a couple hundred vocab words in one night.
EDQs (essential daily questions) are a necessity in this class if you want to succeed. You get a specific question based off of your reading from the night before, and you have to answer it in the form of an essay. When you come to class the next day, there are usually 3-4 readers depending on time, and you get 10 points for reading your EDQ, even if it is completely wrong. It definitely takes a lot of courage to read in front of your classmates, but just know that your classmates really don't listen to the EDQs. Even though you may think that Mr. Zoslow isn't paying attention, he definitely is, so don't try to slide in some wrong information or information from a different topic. There are three main components that you have to include by the end of the year; thesis, contextualization, and synthesis. You will gradually need to do all three, but the first quarter is just composing a thesis. After you read your EDQ, Mr. Zoslow will ask you to repeat your thesis. Don't worry about not knowing how to write one in the beginning, but just make sure you know what you are talking about. Don't try to make up information that isn't true or accurate, because Mr. Zoslow will ask you about it. You want to make sure that you get your readings done as soon as possible. When you get to the end of the quarter, everyone is in the same boat as you, and then there are too many people and too few days for everyone to read and get their points. At the end of the year for me, there was a huge waiting list everyday for reading your EDQs, and some people emailed 2-3 weeks in advance for a spot to read. You want to complete them every night and not procrastinate doing them, because you will eventually have to turn in an EDQ packet at the end with all of your essays. It is definitely harder to write an essay and remember the information from a month ago, rather than just writing it the night you learned the material.
I'm not gonna lie; the unit exams you will take for APUSH will SEEM very impossible, but they aren't. After your first few tests, you learn what Mr. Zoslow is looking for, and what it takes to get a good grade. When studying for these exams, don't focus too much about the minor details, but make sure you know the overall picture. You have the whole class period to complete the test, so right when you walk in the door, make sure you already have your pens and highlighters in hand. Trust me: every minute counts. There are 55 multiple choice questions, and there is no possible way that you could get all of them right. I would recommend to spend about 10 minutes on the multiple choice because the essay is where you get the most points. When you get to the essay, make sure you do a little 2-3 min outline of what you are going to write, because that alone can get you 5 points. You get a point for everything you get right, but a point off for something wrong, or even more points if it is a really dumb answer, so just right everything that you know. However, if you are unsure of a date or a specific detail, don't write it, because you may get a point taken off for it. Make sure you frame the narrative, and for every person that you introduce, make sure that you describe him/her and not just simply write their name. If you are given documents, you MUST use all documents or else you will get points taken off. Keep reminding yourself that you are in APUSH, so make sure you don't find yourself focusing too much on other countries. Lastly, sleep is the most important thing. If you don't get enough sleep, your brain can't properly function, and you won't be able to remember any of the information.
Grading the Unit Exams
All of the APUSH tests are curved, which means that points are added on to your raw score. Your raw score is the actual grade that Mr. Zoslow got from your exam, but the curve is made based on how everyone else does. If everyone did really good on the test, then the curve is going to be lower, but if everyone did bad, the curve might be higher. There is what is called a floor, which is the lowest possible score someone could get. If you get lower than the floor, then the floor score is the one that shows up in the gradebook. For example, if someone got a raw score of 20, the curve was 40, and the floor was a 65, then they would get a 65 in their grade book. If someone got a raw score of 80, and the curve was 40, then they would get a 99 because that is the highest grade you could get. Just know that your first probably won't be the score that you wanted, but it will get better from there.
Use your friends for resources, because they are going through the same struggles that you are. Collaboration is key in this class, because there is so much information that you can't possibly remember all of it. Use your prep book, and watched jocz production videos. Before tests, look up practice essay questions and write out a brief outline just to practice to ensure you know the information. Take notes during class so that you make sure you are paying attention and can later use them for a review resource.
The AP Exam
At the end of the year, you will take the nationwide APUSH exam. It includes a DBQ, a long essay, multiple choice, and short answer questions. Your grade is given on a scale from 1-5, but don't expect that you are going to get a 5. Remember that you are going against juniors and seniors, and a 5 is really hard to get. I would definitely study a lot for this exam because you want to get at least the passing grade of a 3. Also, at the end of the year there is a US history subject test that is required for some colleges, so I would recommend taking it so that way you don't have to worry about it when you are a junior or senior.
One thing to know about this class is that it never stops, not even during breaks or on weekends. Even when you finish an outline, you always have one for the next day or another assignment you should be doing to get ahead. Despite all of the work that you have to do, it is really hard to do badly in this class, as long as you complete all of the necessary work. Even if you get the floor on every test but complete all of your EDQs, KBATS, and outlines, then you might end up with a B. This class is very independent, and it teaches you how you best learn and how to manage your time better. One thing to steer away from is comparing yourself to other people. Don't panic if someone already had their outline done for tomorrow when you haven't even started. Everybody works at their own pace and in their own way. By the end of the year, you will be thinking and working 10 times faster than you were in the beginning of the year. Just know that at the end of the year, you will finally be able to say, "I survived APUSH", and trust me, it's a great feeling.
If you've ever found yourself floundering to maintain your grades, barely getting by the first week of school, follow these tips and strategies I have cultivated over my past two years as a high school student at Windermere Prep.
Time management and Organization
When school, sports, and other extracurriculars get crazy, time management is key to maintain a good learning experience. As a high school student, or a student of any grade, you need to recognize what needs to be done urgently and what can wait. The best way to do this is by finding a system of organization. Whether it be a planner, Google doc, or a notebook, find a place where you can organize everything that needs to be done into categories: mandatory work, extra work, questions you might have, due dates, reminders, notes, etc…This will let you know exactly what you have to do, when, and what's coming up.
Talk to your Teachers
As much as you don't want to believe it, your teachers are here to help you! Don't hesitate to ask them for help after school or during SRT. A key piece of information worth remembering is that when you actively invest in your education, your teachers will notice this and think of you more often, finding ways to help you and always keeping in mind what you might need. They will come to you with more detailed suggestions and resources.
Review, Review, Review!
The best way to lighten up on studying for a final, midterm, or even a test or quiz, is to constantly review. Create a system where you review your classes, whether it be 15 minutes daily for each class, or a couple hours on the weekend. Doing this keeps the knowledge fresh, which will ultimately help you study effectively for big cumulative tests or exams. This will also keep you from cramming, giving more time to process the information. When you do this, studying is truly just review, not relearning!
Prepare for Classes
Another great way to stay on top of classes, especially challenging ones, is to introduce the next topic to yourself with some light textbook (or whatever resource is best for the class) pre-reading. This sets up the unit for you and puts you at an advantage. Don't worry if you don't understand at first, when you begin learning with your teacher and other students, your questions will be gone! This gives you more time to understand and process the concept.
Make use of your Resources
This might be obvious, but don't overlook any resources your teachers give you! These resources are an opportunity, use them wisely! The most accessible and best ones are those added by your teacher on Canvas. One of the best and most useful resources I have found is the canvas calendar. With all your future assignments and tests listed, you can see the exact workload for the upcoming weeks and plan accordingly. If you still find yourself struggling with the class, ask your teacher for more practice or good websites. You can also do your own research and find websites and books to help.
Take Good Notes and be an Active Student
Arguably the most important of these tips is to be an active member of your class. If you have questions, ask them! They are most likely legitimate questions that everyone else also has. They also might bring up a good argument or sub topic that needs to be addressed to avoid confusion later. You might just be doing everyone a favor when you ask questions. You should also try to make connections and share ideas to the class, as this could facilitate a well-rounded discussion with your peers. Lastly, take. good. notes. Find what works best for you and stick with it. This could be hand written notes, flashcards, typed notes…anything! Good notes does not necessarily mean copy every word down. Good notes are ones that summarize main ideas and include key details. You might also want to analyze the information you have and apply it in different ways to test your understanding.
Learn, do not Just Study
Make sure your priorities and reasons for studying are well-intentioned. Do not just study to attain the "perfect grade". Understand the information given to you, and be able to apply it. This is how you truly make use of what you learn in school.
Recognize the Importance of your Education
As much as we think the things we learn in school are useless, and while we might not remember them or use them later, that doesn't mean we shouldn't learn them! The benefit of learning something "useless" is not in its content, but in the skills developed and used. These classes teach us to think critically, analyze the information, and apply it. Attaining knowledge at our level is an opportunity, so seize every minute of it, whether you think it minuscule or not. And perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you, do it for yourself. Do it for your self-improvement, for your enrichment, and for your enjoyment. Find what makes you love learning and pursue it, no matter if it isn't the safest bet. Be a reasonable risk-taker. No matter what you pursue, if you do it whole-heartedly, you will find your way to success. Enjoy what you learn and do it to become the best version of you, to become a well-rounded and worldly citizen. And remember, grades are not the final and only measurement of intelligence. As long as you are trying, improving, and working hard, your grades will reflect that. If they don't, there might other aspects of an education that you are stronger in, and those are just as important!
Having effective study habits can reduce time and stress that comes with schoolwork. Here are some way that can make your life easier:
#1- Learn the Way You Learn
Everyone is individual with the way that they learn. Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic are the three different ways of learning. Knowing what type of learner you are lets you study the information in a better way. You will find better results when you personalize the way that you study.
#2- Deadlines and More
After receiving an assignment, creating a schedule including deadlines and extracurriculars will help you prioritize tasks. With less procrastination more sleep and less stress will come. Having everything in the same place, like planner or calendar will make life much easier.
Learning how to talk to your teachers can be very beneficial. Most teachers are more than happy to provide extra help. Not only will this help you on your further assignments and tests, it also shows that you care about your academics. Some grades are given though work ethic so talking with your teachers can also a major grade booster.
#4- Studying for the Test
When studying try not to think of everything thing that has ever been said in class, this will add even more stress. When you start to study, focus on the most important topics. Once you have those topics and are confident with them, if there's still time before the test, you can then move on to the smaller details.
#5- Distractions Vs. the Quiet
When studying it is easy to turn on the T.V or your phone and get off topic quickly. Doing this however breaks your concentration and makes it harder to focus. With less distractions, more studying can be done and the amount of time it takes to study is cut down. If there is no place that you can study quietly, consider studying at the library. Distractions also come from getting up and getting things that you need to continue studying. Once you sit down to study, make sure you have everything you need.
#6-Night Before a Test
It is tempting to hold off studying until the night before. You might tell yourself that it is easier to learn more closer to the test in order to remember more. Create a schedule for a couple days before the test. Take some time review your notes and re-read important things in the textbooks. It might seem that that is a lot to do, but that lets the information sink into your brain in a way more natural way. Sleep is also very, very important. If you are tempted to pull an all-nighter you will only be hurting your chances of getting an A. With a proper amount of sleep, your brain will be in good shape on test day.
#7- Stay Positive!
Positive reinforcement is a very important and powerful thing. After finishing something for school, reward yourself. Whether that be taking a break from studying to get some food, or watching some Netflix, rewards are important. Breaks also can help improve studying, your brain can only take so much hard work at a time. It will keep your stress levels down and the information will also have a chance to sink in. With this new mindset implemented, procrastination can be cut down!
Many students dedicate a lot of their time to extracurriculars, sports, volunteer work, jobs, etc. I myself have dedicated my entire life to gymnastics, where I spend every afternoon of every week practicing for just a few moments of glory every year. Spending all of this time involved in something like this makes you realize how important time is, especially when you're involved in the IB program. After all of these years, I have picked up a few tips and tricks on time management and how balancing your social life, extracurriculars, and school work can be done effectively. I've finally learned that balancing my time would help me in the long run and would relieve a lot of unnecessary stress as well.
Firstly, realizing where your time is going helps you understand how you could be using your time better and create a more efficient schedule that lets you control where your time is being spent and how it could be spent better. Setting priorities helps you focus on activities that are most important and allows you to categorize the most important to least important things you need to get done. The best way to manage your time is to stay organized. I recommend using a calendar or planner and daily to-do list, to check off items as you complete them. I also recommend doing tough tasks first while you're fresh and alert and breaking large projects down into smaller chunks to complete these projects more efficiently. I know my main drawback when it comes to time management is procrastination. I've learned that the best ways to avoid procrastination is to set daily priorities, try focusing for short amounts of time instead of hours at a time, and attempting difficult tasks at your high-energy time since your concentration will be easier then. Don't allow interruptions, like a loud room to study or your friend's bothering you, get in your way or else juggling your work may seem much more difficult than it actually is and you'll just become more discouraged. These few tips and tricks may just save you from a sleepless night of studying in the future.
Sports are exciting extracurricular activities that keep you happy, fit, and engaged. But, there's a variety to choose from, each fitting different personalities and abilities. It's great to have an insight on multiple different sports so that you understand the commitment and qualities used in each one. Many sports seem like barely any work when watching, but you'd be surprised at how much practice and effort they put in. I totally recommend playing a sport and trying new ones, but make sure that don't just do it to play a sport. You want to find one that you'll enjoy and will be a great addition to your daily routine.
I've put together a list of commitments required for two fall sports (swimming and volleyball) since they're both very popular and fun to try! It also includes what it's like to play it. I've gotten volleyball information from experience, and interviewed a friend to learn about the WPS swimming program.
Before games, players eat team meals together and then either start warming up, or take a van to the game (if it is away). Each game is best out of 3 sets for JV, and best out of 5 for varsity. If it goes into the last set, that will go to 15 points, while all the other sets go to 25 points. Varsity must watch half of JV's game, and JV must watch half of varsity's.
It's an exciting sport to play with friends and there are many positions for people with different skills. There are different actions done throughout each game such as hitting, blocking, setting, serving, and passing. People in the back row pass (and occasionally hit), while people in the front row, besides the setter (who sets) hit and block with an occasional pass. That way, if you dislike one activity, but enjoy the other, you can specialize in your favorite aspect of the game.
Swimming(Information provided by a brief interview with swimmer, Sophia Hill):
Q: How long are practices?
SH: Practices for JV are usually an hour and a half, and practices for varsity are typically two hours long.
Q: What exercises are usually done during practices?
SH: Practices involve a variety of exercises such as breathing exercises, relays, arm and leg movements, and diving practice.
Q: How long and how often are meets?
SH: Meets during the season are typically once a week, or twice if one is on a Saturday.
Q: What are some positives of doing swimming?
Swimming has multiple benefits, such as getting into shape, becoming stronger, breathing better, plus the overall spirit of the team is very uplifting.
As you can see, they both have many commitments, but also many benefits that come with them. I hope this helped you get a thorough insight on these sports and motivated you to consider trying one!
Lack of sleep always wins. Don't make the mistake of underestimating it.
As you get farther into high school, the amount of homework you have and the number of activities you are involved in will keep increasing, and your time for doing anything else (including eating, sleeping, and breathing) will steadily decrease.
But don't make the mistake that I did.
As a sophomore, I'm currently taking some of the toughest classes offered at WPS, including AP European History and the first year of IB HL Math. I'm also on the swim team (which has practice for two hours every day), I lead the school's Astronomy Club, and I am on my grade's SGA. When I started staying up till 1:00 am almost every day starting from the second week of school, I knew something was wrong. I began to feel nauseous from lack of sleep, and my constant tiredness only caused me to stay up even later some nights.
After an already exhausting week, four tests on one day near the end of the 1st Quarter was my breaking point. By the time I got to my 7th period math test, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. I could tell that the questions on the test weren't that difficult, but I just couldn't remember how to solve them.
That test tanked my math grade to the point where I barely scraped an A for the quarter. That time I didn't have to pay for my lack of sleep with my GPA, but that doesn't mean that it can't happen.
Don't cheat yourself out of a good grade. Make sure that you try your very best to go to sleep by midnight every night. Even if you feel like you'll do better on a test if you just study for just one more hour, that one hour of sleep will cost you much more than you will gain with one hour of extra studying.
And besides a lack of sleep hurting your grades, it also hurts your overall health. A 4.0 GPA isn't going to help you if you ruin your health by not sleeping enough. Sleep is more important than perfecting your English essay or doing every single math problem in the textbook. You can't always be a perfectionist, which is something that I never really understood until this year.
So all you perfectionists and overachievers out there, please get some sleep. You know you need it.
1. Don't write down any reminders or set any alarms about when the assignment is due.
Does a recently received assignment seem too difficult or tedious? Simply don't put any measure in place to remind yourself about it. Out of sight, out of mind! This is an important first step to procrastination, as it allows you to remove the assignment from your present conscious and reduce the current amount of stress in your life.
2. Take frequent and lengthy breaks from your work.
Once you've settled in to your desk or other preferred workspace after school, feel free to play a few rounds of 2048, browse the internet, or check social media. After all, if you never took breaks, you would quickly become overworked and your work quality would suffer. Take breaks whenever you don't feel motivated to work: you need them!
3. Don't set aside time dedicated solely to working.
It would truly be a shame if your work was regimented in constricting blocks of time. Your workflow is arrhythmic, and trying to 'plan' motivation would make you even less motivated than you already were. Therefore, don't make any schedules or timetables. In this way, you'll never have to work on an assignment until you truly want too. The inspiration will strike you when you're ready!
4. Do less challenging assignments (and complete other obligations) first.
If you don't want to start that 4-page essay, you can easily put it out of your mind by doing simpler work first. Complete small assignments and do chores so that you aren't forced to cope with the difficulty of writing the essay, At least you're doing something productive, right? The essay can wait until tomorrow while you do this work.
5. Fulfill every requirement for you to work optimally.
If you find that the assignment you're working on is becoming dull and your quality of work is suffering, it's most likely because something is preventing you from working well. Perhaps it's because your room is unclean—the aura simply isn't right. To put yourself back in the right frame of mind, clean your room for now and work on the assignment later. While you're up from your desk, be sure to make your bed, eat a snack, watch some TV, and play a few games of table tennis. Once you've gotten all of that out of your system, you'll certainly be able to work much more efficiently on your assignment.
6. The assignment is due 8:00AM tomorrow and it's 10:00PM? Take an all-nighter.
Plenty of people, from mathematicians to musicians, write out their most influential proof or greatest opus in one long, uninterrupted, feverish session. What separates you from them? You need to get this assignment done somehow, even if it costs a few hours of sleep. Why not work through the night and ensure the assignment gets done.
Turn in the assignment late—or don't turn it in at all!
If you're truly opposed to doing this assignment, you don't have to finish it before the deadline—or at all! For the former, it's easy to postpone working on an assignment if a teacher only takes off 2% for each day late, or better yet, doesn't deduct points at all if you turn it in shortly after the deadline. For the latter, there's no easier way to procrastinate an assignment than if you never actually do it. So omit summative work that's difficult yet takes up a small percentage of your grade, and omit formative work entirely.
As you may have guessed while reading through the above list, I don't actually advocate that anyone procrastinate. Procrastinating is an unhealthy and unsatisfactory habit, but it's one that is remarkably easy to slip into. Because of this, everyone procrastinates to some extent. In fact, I procrastinated writing this very blog post. Since many people procrastinate, it's important to note some of the factors and justifications that contribute to procrastination. As such, the "How to Procrastinate" list is an exercise in looking at some negative actions we take so that we may see what not to do. Instead of tackling the difficult assignment, which requires effort and focus, many of us would rather resort to doing something from the list. However, it's critical that you recognize the true stress that procrastinating generates, and avoid the items on this list as you see fit. I find that in general, it's beneficial to take the opposite actions of those on this list, and the quality of your work will increase while the amount of work-related stress will decrease. Take all of this with a grain of salt though, as something that works for me may not work you, and vice versa. But no matter how you conquer procrastination, doing so is certainly advantageous
Time management is a key skill in high school, but also in your life afterwards. Having time management allows for you to be less stressed because you have spaced out your work and also allows for you to revise your work to make it better. Playing a sport forces you to have good time management skills. Being a student athlete takes a lot of prioritizing, responsibility, and motivation to be successful in the classroom. Having good time management skills makes you create a balance of work time and down time. People with these skills know how to organize their lives so they accomplish everything they have planned for that day whether it's in school, in your sport, or with your friends.
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.
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.
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!
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.