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Academic Coaching
Helping Students Achieve in School with Less Stress
Making A Difference

Academic coaching has helped reduced the stress in our home.  My daughter is already doing so much better in school.  She now regularly uses a planner and rarely if ever forgets an assignment.  She also uses timers to keep herself on task, and studies ahead for exams.

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10th Grade Parent

I think most of the kids in my classes would do better in school if they knew the things you teach me.

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8th Grade Student

My ten-year-old daughter was in a difficult place with her violin practices, something she had once enjoyed. Asking her to practice resulted in crying and screaming, which resulted in growing tension during her lessons. Using DIY Homework took some of the stress out of our relationship. She received her instructions on her tablet and was responsible for reporting back on the tablet. After a week of practicing this way, she had shed her bad habit of screaming and crying about violin practice, and we were able to get back into an easier routine

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5th Grade Parent

Recent Blog Posts

Honing Notes: Brain Science

When we learn and remember information we build new neuropathways in our brains. These pathways are strengthened when we chunk and clump information. In other words when we can see how the parts are interconnected and how they are different. Honing notes is a great way for our brains to process the information we are given in a new way. When we take notes in class or read a textbook the information is presented in a particular order. This is…

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Deep Dive: honed notes

The main purpose of honing notes is to refine them and make them your own. There are many ways to hone your in class notes. Sometimes honing your notes makes them longer, sometimes it makes them shorter. They should NOT be a neater recopied version of the in-class notes. The key is to learn how you want to sharpen your notes in a variety of classes because not all classes are the same. Building intuition around in class and honed…

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Taking Notes: paper vs computer

There is a lot of debate about the best way to take notes. There are some studies that show that paper note taking is better for long term retention than computer-based notes. I do not think that the conclusions of these studies are not as clear as suggested. But they do highlight some important points to consider when picking a note taking strategy. 1- Paper can be easier to draw on that most software. This is very helpful for classes…

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Deep Dive: Get it Down Notes

You can check out an overview of the two steps note-taking process here.  This post is a deeper dive into what lecture notes are and why they are valuable. First, I call them “get it down notes” because that is the main goal of taking notes in class.  The main goal of these notes is to “get down” the main points of the lecture.  This allows us to add context to the material that we need to master for class,…

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Textbook Notes

Textbooks are often overlooked in discussions about note-taking. When students take notes from their textbooks they can practice extracting and summarizing key information before class. Taking notes while reading a textbook will add a few minutes to the reading time, but it also helps students retain information and allow them to make quizzable study tools without repeating work. As with lecture notes, students should summarize and not try to recopy the textbook. I teach students that when taking notes and…

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Introduction: How to use Notes More Effectively

For the next few weeks, I will be covering note-taking strategies and tips.  Taking notes in class and from textbooks is a skill. And like most study skills, it is rarely modeled. This is unfortunate because notes are an invaluable resource for students, especially in college.  Notes support the whole learning cycle, they can use for encoding and can be converted into quizzable study tool. Taking notes in class has historically helped students stay focused and attentive.  As we move away from…

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The Relationship Between Motivation and Tools

When trying to make positive grade and habits changes there is a dependent relationship between motivation and building a study skills toolbox. Because most schools only teach students a handful of study tools, it is very common for even very motivated students to get stuck. Often the prevailing wisdom is that we should wait for students to get motivated before introducing study skills.  But I have found that students often become more motivated after learning a handful of powerful study tools and techniques. …

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The Secret to Success: Tools, Teams, and Routines

We all need three things to get things done effectively. We need the correct tools, helpful teams, and robust routines.  When all three of these are in place we can accomplish a lot more with less stress. Tools The more tools students have in their toolbox the faster and more effectively they can study. Students who have access to a large number of study tools can be strategic.  They can match the tool and their approach to the type of quiz,…

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Filling Gaps: Overcoming a Poorly Taught Class

Teaching is a very challenging profession, but we need to realize that some classes do not work for some students.  The cause of these gaps can be stylistic, lack of access to resources, unclear lectures, or a combination of many interconnected issues.   The solution is to figure out how to learn the material in the class independently.  This is often hard for students because of the expectation in middle and high school is that learning will be directed by an…

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Filling Gaps: Learning Levels

Sometimes students miss points on an exam because they do not understand what level of learning the teacher is expecting. Often students assume that teachers want a regurgitation of facts when they actually want a higher level of thinking.  This video explains how understanding the correct level of learning can students study with less stress. Like 0

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Filling Gaps: Finding Resources

This video provides more details about how students and parents can start filling gaps. Sometimes filling these gaps can be tricky because resources are no longer contained in a single textbook. Because students may not have textbooks their learning materials can consist of websites, handouts, homework sheets, group discussions, and a myriad of other resources. Because students get so many materials they do not know what is important to keep and this can make studying for tests challenging. Like 0

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Learning Levels and Test Prep

Check out the learning levels introduction video before watching this video. Understanding learning levels can help us prepare for exams.  Because we do not teach study skills most students assume that most tests about remembering facts.  While students do need to know basic facts their tests are often asking them to master the material at a higher level.  Watch the video to see how understanding learning levels can help increase your tests scores. Like 0

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Learning Levels: An Introduction

Do you ever feel frustrated that you can’t understand how to get better grades in class and on your assignments? This is very frustrating.  I often have students who conclude that they “are just not smart enough” to understand.  This problem does not have to do with a student’s intelligence it often comes from underestimating what learning level the teacher is using to assess the class.  Classes often level up without students being aware of the shift. Watch this video to see…

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How do you know you are done studying?

Do you know when you are ready to take a test? When I ask my students this question most of them look at me like I am crazy. This is a complex question because it requires us to think about our own thinking. This type of thinking is called “metacognition” and it is an important skill.  Individuals who can assess their own thinking have a strategic advantage in school and life. Watch the video to see how being able to…

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Filling your Basket of Knowledge and Skills

Have you ever studied for a test and then there was more information on the test? It is very frustrating when we study for exams, but we do not study the right information. Knowing what is on your test by collecting all your resources is the foundational step in the learning cycle. It is often overshadowed by the explanation of getting information in and out of our brains. Watch this short video about filling your basket of knowledge and skills. Like…

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