All posts by Avery learning lab

About Avery learning lab

I am an educator with a passion for learning and providing an environment of growth and fun for my students. With 11 years of traditional teaching experience, I am excited to branch out to a new adventure in opening my own education business. My first loves are children, music, animals, science, the ocean, reading, and the outdoors. You could also call me an explorer of learning strategies, fun with Math, positive changes, and successful growth. I look forward to bringing the joys of learning to all those my blog, website, and business touch. - Amanda Avery

13Jan/17

It’s All In The Approach

   

     Having helpful strategies and resources to pull out of our back pockets is half the battle when it comes to completing assignments and understanding concepts. The more ways in which a student can complete a problem or assignment, the greater their understanding will end up being. Tutoring sessions can be an excellent way for students to be introduced to a variety of techniques that don’t always come up in conversation in the classroom.

    Students think about topics and concepts in different ways from one another. There doesn’t have to be ‘strictly one way’ to approach a Reading or Math assignment. Sometimes a concept really needs to be broken down in order for a student to fully comprehend it, and this is not something that should be viewed as a failure by either the student or the parent. Throughout lower school and middle school especially, it is essential to not turn away from a student’s proposed strategy. Even if it doesn’t sound as though it fits in with a ‘grade level approach’, allow them (initially, anyway) to improve their confidence with the strategy that is the right direction for them.

     This month, we are focusing our social media tips on how to help kids try out different methods for working through assignments.

Key Things To Remember:

  1. Be flexible.
  2. Push for overall comprehension rather than forcing a specific strategy.
  3. Try everything.
 
30Dec/16
writing journal

Getting Into The Spirit Of Humanities Through Writing

 

Give your child the gift of freedom to write in 2017:

Approaching the new year, it is always a great time to reflect on accomplishments and goals. Regardless of whether you have a child who adores reading and writing or whether you have a child who shies away from both subjects, this is the perfect time to set the tone for moving forward. One of the most practical methods to employ when trying to budget in more reading and writing time, is to gift your child a journal. When students have their own writing space that is just for them, they will be more inclined to sit down and create. For the extremely hesitant writer (since this would be a journal for home and not school), you can give them the option of sharing when they are ready to. Otherwise, weekly check ins and setting goals for what to include in the journal each week would be a reasonable approach.

Allow the student to determine how they want to use the journal:

Do they want to free write about their day, or pick specific prompts to write about? Kids that like to write stories often want to use the journal to create adventures. Others often prefer to write poetry or song lyrics. Some might want to split the journal in half and use part of the journal for writing and part of the journal for thoughts on what they are reading. This is a perfectly marvelous idea. Help them set a goal for how many books they want to read in 2017 or select a reading challenge that is age appropriate. For each book they read, have them write a review on it or select an element of the story that piqued their interest. This will combine literary analysis, grammar, and organizational skills without them having to think too much about it!

How to get started:

With writing, they might need help at first. Either work together to come up with a variety of writing prompts or provide some for your children. Let them know that they are free to write about whatever they choose, but the list of prompts is there for them to utilize if they get writer’s block. It is important that they are writing something at least twice a week. Encourage them to share their writings with you or a tutor and gradually build up to peer editing and grammatical lessons where and when it is necessary. This journal is also an excellent tool to assess where your child is at and what areas they might be struggling with. It can be used as a tool in tutoring sessions, but it’s also important to have your child view it as something that is entirely of their own creation.

For additional help, check out our tutoring services page. Our tutors can help ensure your child gets the extra boost they need for both reading and writing.

For those who are looking for some writing prompts to get kids started, here are just a few:

  1. Write about your favorite/most special holiday moment.
  2. Write about how you would spend your time on a snow day.
  3. What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? Why?
  4. Write about your favorite book or movie.
  5. If you could pick one thing to do in the new year that you haven’t done before what would it be? Why?

From all of us here at Avery Learning Lab we wish you a very Happy New Year!

 
23Dec/16

Meaningfully Engaged This Holiday Season

          As we ease into the holiday weekend, whether we are celebrating Channukah or Christmas, it is a time for reflection and family. Gift giving, relaxation, and enjoyment. We are also rapidly heading toward the new year and thinking about the goals we want to set for ourselves in 2017. But first, it’s time for a much deserved holiday, and there are an assortment of creative crafts you can engage in this holiday weekend.

  1. Help your kids construct a Christmas tree or a menorah. Let them decorate with glitter, glue, crayons, etc. until they are satisfied with the finished product. Then ask them to come up with things they are thankful for or goals they want to set for the new year. You can have them come up with a goal for each branch or for each candle on the menorah. Either way, you’ll have your kids engaging in an activity that requires artistic skills, writing techniques, and care.
  1. It’s never to late to make your own ornament! Allow your kids to add one more decoration to the Christmas tree! Over the holidays, it’s important kids get a bit of a break from school, so allow them to take initiative and create the ornament they want! Set up an arts and craft table where cousins, siblings, or/and friends can create the afternoon away!
  1. Read It and Act! Whether you’re reading The Night Before Christmas or selecting your favorite Channukah story, give the kids a chance to stage a mini play. Even kids who typically shy away from theatrical performances, will be caught up in the fun of staging their own version of these classic holiday stories. As parents, take a step back after making the suggestion, and allow them to think on their own toes! You’ll be amazed with what they end up coming up with.
  1. STEM away in the kitchen. Encourage your kids to get creative in the kitchen and assist with the holiday dinners or breakfasts. Children love being handed responsibilities and being made to feel that their skills are valued. Let them take charge of one dish or one dessert and have a blast working side by side in the kitchen!

Check out our Facebook page and take a glance at our tutoring services if you’re feeling the need to get your child some extra help in the New Year. For now, we wish you the happiest of holidays here at Avery Learning Lab!

 
16Dec/16

Why DIY?

     There are not always enough opportunities to engage with and appreciate how creative our students and children can be. Therefore, any chance you can take at home to allow your children free reign with DIY activities can only yield positive results. It’s essential for children to become better at self advocating for themselves both in and out of the classroom. A great way to encourage growth in this department is for them to take part in DIY activities. Gently direct them toward a more academic geared project- such as one that involves Science, Reading, or Writing. But it is important to allow them to choose which project they’d like to work on.

      Let a goal for winter break be completing two DIY projects- whether it’s for a holiday gift or a present to themselves. There are always fantastic ideas for DIY projects on our ‘facebook page’, but you can also talk to your kids and see if they have their own ideas about project work for the break. You’ll be surprised by some of the ideas they might come up with. Group work is as important as independent work. Students don’t always get the chance to work in a group setting on projects that require teamwork and communication- both are vital for building the types of social skills that will help them in both an academic and social setting moving forward.

Here is one idea for DIY and an explanation as to why it is beneficial.

Be A Journalist!

This works on refining writing and reading comprehension skills. Have your child select a book they would like to read and review over the winter holiday. As they’re reading the book, they should be thinking about what elements make it a good story, whether or not they are able to engage with the character, and whether or not they would recommend it to a friend or family member. Once they finish the book, they can pick out a piece of construction paper and fold it in half. On the cover they can draw a picture representing the book that they read and include the title of the story. Inside the book they’ve created they will paste the review that they either type up or handwrite about the book.

 
09Dec/16

Engaging With The Reading

wonderland

     As teachers and parents, we want our kids to enjoy reading. But that can often feel easier said than done. There is far too much anxiety attached to literacy nowadays, and a decrease in confidence across the board when it comes to reading comprehension. There is a constant struggle between assigning texts to students and walking away with the feeling that they retained nothing because they were incapable of relating to the story……or allowing them to freely choose books and risk them selecting texts below grade level. So how can we ensure growth with literacy? Especially during the holiday season when children want to unwind and make selections themselves.

       Reading “for fun” is both important and necessary- a great deal of the negative stigma attached to reading revolves around the feeling that too many restrictions are being placed on what students read. But what if we could guarantee that children were actively reading whenever they read, regardless of the selection? You can have them focus on a specific idea or concept each week.

     For example, children (particularly elementary and middle school students) struggle to make connections concerning character traits and relationships between characters. During winter break, you can focus one week on having your child identify how one character treats another character. Emphasize that you just want the focus to be on one character. This will often prove very difficult for the reader because children tend to want to focus on multiple things at once. Therefore, to encourage close reading, give them post it notes so that they can mark areas where they detect evidence of how one character is treating another. At the end of the week, ask them to write a paragraph summarizing their findings and then have a conversation with them about it.

     Whether they’re reading Harry Potter, Diary of  Wimpy Kid, or A to Z Mysteries they will be able to engage with the text and improve upon a key concept….while still feeling like they’re reading for fun! For more tips, check out our Facebook Page.

 
02Dec/16

Creatively Given

notebook

     For the reluctant writer, a formal writing prompt can be incredibly daunting. It is also nearly impossible for them to not view writing as an intimidating and unwelcome chore. But the holiday season presents the opportunity to open up the door of creativity for them, because they can create a piece of writing that they’re interested. It is amazing how often a child who excels at reading will struggle to articulate themselves on paper. This is partially because the avid reader is incredibly familiar with ideas and worlds being created for them, while not having much exposure to having to create their own universes within the world of stories. While it is important to pay attention to the process of writing, all of this is taken care of during the school day. And while tutoring sessions are meant to be geared more toward hands on/student driven activities, the student can still feel that they are not being afforded any liberties.

    Sometimes, you have to come at it from the angle of absolute freedom. There is a time and place for simply allowing the child to produce. We place far too much credence on the quality of the finished product, and don’t focus enough on acknowledging the effort put into a particular project or writing piece. This is where the holidays can often times open up a door that otherwise remains closed. As we mentioned last week, a handmade gift can prove far more valuable than the most expensive present. Encourage your children to create some handmade gifts in the forms of stories or poems. They could even write a letter to a sibling or parent expressing their gratitude. Maybe your child enjoys television shows and could be encouraged to create their own comic strips.

    Allowing your children to take part in the creative process can be incredibly beneficial. If they ask for guidance, then you could sit down and offer them a series of prompts (maybe even something pulled off our Facebook page). But if they are giving you the impression that they want to be completely independent, this is a scenario where it’s perfectly acceptable to take a few steps back. Let them take charge of their own project and be proud of whatever they come up with. Whether they’re presenting a short story, haiku, or comic collection, they’re going to be immensely proud of their accomplishment. The wonderful component is that they’ll be improving their writing skills throughout the entire process. This holiday season, regardless of what holiday you celebrate, encourage your child to give the gift of creativity

 
25Nov/16

Create & Inspire

hot-coco       In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we’d like to start off this post by saying that we hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. This is the week that the holiday season begins for many families. December tends to whirl by us at lightening speed and we all get caught up in the various wintry holidays that come our way in December and January. Take the next several weeks as an opportunity to release the creative being in your children.

      Throughout the entire month of December, we are going to be posting ideas onto our social media and writing blog posts about the significance of DIY crafts. Additionally, there will be prompts for the reluctant writers and books for the hesitant readers. If you already have bookworms and word geniuses in your family, these posts will be extra ideas for you to slip into your back pockets.

     In the age of technology, arts and crafts has become more important than ever. We can bring back the beauty of homemade gifts this holiday season, while also opening back up that creative door that is too frequently shut by the world of video games and readily handy television programs. Writing and reading have been proven to open up the analytical parts of our children’s brains and also draw them closer to nature, as they are encouraged to think about the world around them from various unique angles.

This holiday season, you can look forward to many arts and humanities related ideas on  our facebook page. Our tutors also have a plethora of ideas up their sleeves. Even if you don’t have time to meet with a tutor face to face on a weekly basis, our tutors are typically capable of working around your busy holiday schedules. Take a look at our services page for more options. 

 
18Nov/16

The Holiday Breather

    

tgiving

     Thanksgiving is almost here, which means that a lot of us are thinking about our grocery lists and travel plans. While it’s certainly important to make sure our students continue to engage with academics during school breaks, there is a flip side. Taking mental breathers and pausing to enjoy personal pleasures is equally necessary to producing an inquisitive mind. Sometimes it is okay to put the brakes on school work and tutoring for the sake of a mini holiday.

      There is a lot of pressure placed on students in 2016 to be overachievers. But, at the end of the day, they are still kids under the age of 18 who require some time to simply have fun. There are activities that you can encourage your child to take part in that will automatically ensure their brains are staying active. And that traditional outdoor football game a lot of families engage in will take care of getting some physical activity in.

Here are some ways to tap into your child’s mind from the angle of relaxation and personal interests:

  1. If your child loves to cook, give them the option of making one side dish (or more) to be served at the Thanksgiving table. Or let them assist you in the kitchen. You’d be amazed by how much cooking taps into the scientific and engineering part of our minds.
  2. For the bookworm in the family, take them to the bookstore or library and let them pick out a book to read for fun. A book they can read….just because. They will automatically engage in analysis and comprehension.
  3. If you have a history buff in the family, let them watch some TV in the form of the History channel. Then ask questions about what they watched at the dinner table.
  4. For the families who have Mathematicians, encourage them to conduct several Thanksgiving polls. They could, for example, poll people on favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Your child will be doing statistics, making comparisons and contrasts without even knowing it!

The holidays are meant to be spent engaging with your family. Every once in awhile it’s necessary for our kids to take a bit of a break.

 
11Nov/16

Applying The Real World

books       As the holidays rapidly approach, it can be easy to get caught up in the spirit of things and let academic activities fall to the wayside. Who wants their child to be sitting in the other room working through a pile of worksheets while the rest of the family relaxes over food? While the desire to give your child a break from school is a perfectly reasonable one, Thanksgiving break is followed closely by a rather long winter break and it can be easier than you think for concepts to dissipate due to underuse. There are ways to ensure that your child is able to engage with academics and still have a relaxing and fun break.

     This holiday season, get a family project going with family and friends! Have your children work with cousins and friends to create their own business. It can be a friendship bracelet business, a bookstore, or a knitting shop (to name a few!). Help them work through coming up with their own business plans where they’ll have to think about: what their product is, who their target customer is, how much they want to put into advertising, and what is going to make their product unique. Present them with certain stipulations, such as a set fee of rent that will be charged for their shops and also start them off with a preliminary pile of earnings. For example, create a business backstory with them that is based off the company forming off a lump sum due to inheritance or a fundraiser. With this set starting pool of money, they will have to think up ways to create a successful business.

     Allow the group to come up with jobs for each person, based on their talents and strengths. You can have a VP of Finance, a VP of Marketing, a VP of Sales, a VP of Designs, and a CEO. Take a backseat and watch them have to work together to come up with the best possible business model. They can use ipads or cameras, for example, to shoot commercials or they can design fancy packaging for their products. There are so many different opportunities in a project like this that will enable them to be thinking about the real world. Additionally, this project will require math, analysis, and creativity. They’ll be so wrapped up in the excitement of creating their own business that they won’t even realize they’re engaging with Math, Economics, English, and Arts & Crafts! At the end of the project, allow them to turn a room in your house into their store and have family and friends come over to ‘purchase’ things.

     Want more hands on learning ideas? Keep checking out our weekly blog and don’t forget to come to all of our fantastic events at Hux Family Farm.

 
04Nov/16

All About The Process

    

process

     Often, the focus is placed on the answer to a problem, question, or experiment. But the answer, at the end of the day, should actually be irrelevant. The steps that the student took to reach the answer (regardless of whether the answer is correct or incorrect) is where our focus should be. One of the best ways to ensure that confidence is being boosted and that the concepts are being properly grasped, is to allow the student to take ownership. There is a level of excitement when they walk adults through their thought process, partially because it is important to the students to prove how well they worked through the challenge. When a student explains their process, it can help them identify if there was a step in the process they could have done better. Also, when the emphasis is placed on the process, that is the adult’s way of showing that we care more about how the student got there as opposed to whether it was right or wrong.

     This is one of the things that hands on learning strives to do, particularly in a STEM type environment. When students are allowed to be self advocates and are encouraged to use their hands and minds to present multiple strategies, the result is often a positive outcome. Hands on learning is also an excellent way of allowing the adult to take a step back and simply observe. We can gain greater insight into what potential comprehension problems are occurring based on how they are able to work through a challenging project or problem. Are they willing or able to express when they need some help with their brainstorming process? Can they provide detailed explanations as to why they come up with a particular hypothesis or answer to a math equation?

     Not enough schools push a visual learning based curriculum, which is why it is so vital that work is done at home or through tutoring programs to ensure the student has the most well rounded experience possible. Check out our daily science experiment tips this month on our Facebook page, come and join us for our Hux Family Farm Festival, and do all you can to take advantage of STEM based activities as we wind down fall and start the countdown to winter!