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Educators

How to Build an “Anxiety-Free” Environment in Your Classroom

Previously, I wrote about How to Help Your Students Manage Anxiety. If you haven’t read that article yet, I suggest you start with it, here. It explains what causes anxiety, which is key to understanding how to manage it. Today, I want to share some strategies for building an “anxiety-free” environment in your classroom. Obviously,…
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How to Help Students Manage Anxiety

The key to helping students manage anxiety is to understand what’s happening in their brain. “Emotions are the on/off switch to learning,” says Priscilla Vail, author of Smart Kids with School Problems. You and I both know this is true. We know from our own experience that it’s pretty hard to learn geometry theorems when…
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Study Skills Improve Graduation Rates

Study Skills Reduce High School Dropout Rates

I was a freshman in college when study skills radically changed my life. I went from struggling in K-12 to “straight As” in college. About six weeks after my first semester of college success, however, I was suddenly overcome with a deep, visceral ANGER. “Why didn’t someone teach me how to learn before!?” I was mentally…
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The Challenges of “D-I-Y” Study Skills Programs

Trying to Piece Your Own Study Skills Program Together? It’s “back to school” season, which means I’ve been talking to a LOT of educators in the past few months. That’s normal for this time of year. However, something is different this year. I’m hearing something I’ve heard a lot over the past 20 years, but…
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THE Right Way to Teach with Student-Led Software

Teaching with student-led software raises many questions for teachers… Should I introduce the lesson before having the students jump into the software?  Or, should I let them explore the software, and then discuss the content with them? What if students want to progress farther ahead in the software on their own?  Should I let them?…
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SOAR 2.0: Moving Forward After SOAR

One of the most commonly asked questions we get from the teachers who use SOAR is, “what’s next?!”  “Is there a SOAR 2.0?” “Is there more content to teach SOAR for a second year?” “Is there extra content, deeper content, advanced content for SOAR?” “I taught my 7th graders SOAR last year, what do I…
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How to Teach a SOAR Workshop

It was almost-summer of 1998. I was wrapping-up my first year of teaching… at my alma mater. Just five years before, I was sitting in those desks. Now, my desk was at the front of the room. From this new vantage point, I could see that nearly all my 9th & 10th graders struggled with…
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Lead with Joy: A Retiring Educator’s Legacy

Remember the children’s book, Ms. Nelson Is Missing? Ms. Nelson was not appreciated by her students until the stern Ms. Viola Swamp took her place for a while. Suddenly, students had a new appreciation for Ms. Nelson! I recently had a day that reminded me of Ms. Nelson and Ms. Viola Swamp. It involved conversations…
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self abuser teacher

“A ‘Good Teacher is a ‘Self-Abuser’ Teacher!”

“I am convinced that a ‘good’ teacher is a ‘self-abuser’ teacher!!” My grad-school professor said this in class one day. He was lamenting that his wife, a kindergarten teacher, had been on leave for two years to have their two children (they lived in Canada, with generous maternity leave). He specialized in reading development and…
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80/20 in the Classroom: How to Change the Way You Work

There is a universal rule that governs our lives behind the scenes. It works silently, only observed by those aware of its existence. The people who understand its power spend more of their time living happier lives. They use this principle to accomplish more in less time. We can see it at work in our…
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How to Do Online Research & Verify Sources

Your students have more information available to them than ever before. The plus side is they can never say they can’t find information on a topic, or that the book was checked out from the library.  But, as you may know, it is very easy for students to find information that is unreliable. Lots of…
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Why Is Simplicity So Complicated?

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci We are naturally programmed to over-complicate matters. It actually takes effort to recognize simple solutions. In fact, most of the time I spend with clients is on the importance of keeping study and organizational strategies simple. I could tell you hundreds of stories, but one stands out, in particular. A few…
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Standardized Tests- Two Proven Ways to Raise Test Scores

Standardized Tests:
Two Proven Ways to Raise Test Scores

Research consistently confirms there are two critical ways to raise test scores on standardized tests: Build “cognitive flexibility” with metacognitive strategies.1 If students don’t have problem-solving strategies for learning content, well… they won’t learn it! Obviously. Teach the curriculum, not “to the test.” Teaching “to the test” –also known as “item teaching”– actually lowers test scores; it…
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October Is “Shakedown” Month!

October Is the Most Difficult Month… Are things getting a little “intense” in your classroom? Are your kids stressed out at home? Several years ago, my daughter’s 1st grade teacher, Robert, sent an email update: This week was something of a challenge. Tears and arguments cropped up on several occasions. By Thursday, I was fairly exhausted. Then…
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How Does the Brain Really Learn?

One of the biggest problems with education is most educators are not taught how their students actually learn. You’ve probably heard about “left vs right brain” learning, or “visual, auditory and kinesthetic” learning. But, today we are going to peel that all back and go a layer deeper… into something far more universal that applies…
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Why We Can't See Our Own Writing Mistakes

Why We Can’t See Our Own (Writing) Mistakes

Just a few weeks ago, we ordered some new return address labels. See anything wrong?  About 100 went out before we caught the mistake. Oops! And, every so often, we publish an email or blog post with a typo or two. Oops! In our company, we all live and breathe the content we publish. Every single…
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MUST SEE: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

If you don’t yet know what all of the fuss is over, stop what you are doing right now and go see the movie, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The film is not riveting. Yet, it is COMPLETELY riveting. Whether you were a fan of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a child or not, Fred Rogers…
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Build Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills with Google

Building “Critical Thinking” & “Problem-Solving” Skills… with Google

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist; using technologies that don’t yet exist, to solve problems that we don’t know are problems yet!”  – Karl Fisch, educator “Critical thinking” and “problem-solving” skills are cited by employers as their “greatest need” in the workplace. But, national and state curriculum standards are loaded so…
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True Colors: The Personality of Education

By now, you’ve heard me mention Ginelle, SOAR®’s Operations Manager. Ginelle is a certified teacher; she was actually my son’s (favorite) teacher. She is very kind and easily wins respect from her students. But, she holds everyone accountable. I believe she is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet and am…
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executive function brain

The Challenge of Executive Function:
What’s the Antidote?

“Students Greatest Need Is Executive Function!” This year, in the SOAR® Learning Laboratories, we challenged ourselves to discover “What do students in special education need the most?” We interviewed special education educators from across the country, expecting to make a “top ten” list we could narrow down to the “top three things” students need. However, we were stunned when one response came…
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Study Halls: Where They Go Wrong

Study hall… Students hate it…. Teachers hate it more… (Okay, a couple of you like it… but most of you don’t.) Why? Because most study halls don’t work! Recently, we’ve had conversations with several schools about “Study Hall.” All of them expressed frustration over lack of results. From these conversations, two common themes have emerged:…
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How to Solve Our National Motivation Crisis

The United States’ Motivation Crisis is so pervasive; we look right through it. A fish is the last one to know he swims in water. Likewise, the solution is so simple, you might miss its full power. How to Solve the Motivation Crisis We simply need to “change the conversation!” We need to stop focusing on deficiencies…
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Student Motivation Is a National Crisis…
and NO ONE Is Talking About It!

Student motivation is a national crisis! Across every boundary: gender, racial, geographic, academic, and socioeconomic… students simply don’t care. Everyone knows our education system is in turmoil. It’s critically disconnected from the real-world. People attempt to improve education with STEM or STEAM programs. Or, they try to build “critical thinking skills.” But no one is talking about the…
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Expert Advice on Making “Google Classroom” Work

Previously, we published an email we received from a parent member of the SOAR community. This parents laid out all of the troubles she was experiencing with Google Classroom. We asked for your help and advice on how this parent could solve her Google Classroom troubles; we knew your experience could help others navigate this struggle. The first several responses…
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Help Us, Help You with Google Classroom!

Google Classroom is now one of the most widely used Learning Management Softwares (LMS). Sure, Google has changed the world we live in today, but that doesn’t mean their LMS is flawless. We’ve heard many complaints recently about the software from parents and teachers. We recently the following email from a parent member of the…
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The “New Initiative” Bandwagon:
The One Fatal Flaw of Every Education Initiative

Why Do You Have to Work So Hard to Make Students Learn? You work harder and harder, but clearly feel a drag. You are tasked with more things to do, document, and correlate every day. Your extended efforts never seem to be enough. Students become more apathetic. Many people are quick to blame technology. But,…
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how to set goals

How Students Should Set Goals

There are three steps to setting goals: deciding, believing, and focusing. Decide. Will you decide to sit down with your class and set goals together? Will you decide to get a pen and a piece of paper and dream? If you don’t decide to fit it in your schedule, think of the repercussions. Think of that…
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Why Students Perform Best When Learning Online

I recently read about a school where graduation rates rose from 73% to 90%. And, their dropout rate fell from 14% to 3%. All in less than five years! If you’re like me, you want to know, “How!?” The Walker County Board of Education in Jasper, Alabama accomplished this through online education.  The school district setup…
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Stop Wasting Time… and Get Motivated!

Last week, I spoke with a SOAR client, Kevin McCarville, who shared some excellent videos. As I write this, we are posting links to all of his recommendations in our Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide. In the meantime, I had to share one of them with you and your students, NOW! I dare you to watch this…
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Pulling It All Together: An Ideal School System

Ideal School System Matrix We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series on education reform; it can seem overwhelming! However, the chart below pulls all of the recommendations from the previous articles together into a coherent plan for building a human-friendly school system… Thanks for joining me on this journey through Education Reform: A Simple…
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SOAR: The Four Principles of Optimal Instruction

Conclusion to Our Series – Education Reform: A Simple Blueprint for Human-Friendly Education The purpose of this series has been to highlight and fix the core problem with education in the United States… our utter disregard of human development. We heavily examined the brain biology of learning. We also examined the work of Dr. Montessori, which…
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Looking Forward: Advice from a Futurist

Discussions about the future can be somewhat scary. What will the world be like with autonomous vehicles and artificially-intelligent robots running everything? However, Futurist Brian David Johnson shows us the undeniable role humans play in creating and designing their own future, and discusses how we can prepare future generations to be ready to create their…
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The Simplest Leverage Points in Reading, Math, & Skills Instruction

In every core domain of learning (reading/math/skills), there is another core element of effective instruction that is so simple, it is often overlooked. However, we ignore these core elements at great expense to our budgets and the eternal frustration of our greatest asset… our students! To be clear, the Success Pyramid still applies. We must…
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Common Core: Why It’s the Worst and BEST Thing to Happen to Education!

Very few things stir more controversy than the mention of Common Core.  There are numerous complains, but most seem to center on a few common themes: “Common Core doesn’t make sense.” “The math is killing our kids.” “Common Core doesn’t teach American History, Civics, or Government; our children will not have an understanding or appreciation…
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Finland: A Political Model of Education Reform

Finland: Worldwide Leader in Education More than 30 years ago, Finland made dramatic changes to the political infrastructure of their school system. A generation later, they emerged at the top of the world in international assessments for managing “real-world” situations. They are one of the leading political models to investigate. Finland has created a system…
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Ideal Instructional Models: Successful Examples of Complete Human Education

Education Reform – Part II: Practical Implementations of Complete Human Education In previous articles, we focused on: the core problems of education in the United States, a simple model for effective learning, and how that model helps us resolve our top problems. We also explored how this model relates to special education. From this point…
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The Vital Role of the First Follower

We have found there is a common trend with our teachers… they feel stuck. Stuck within the constraints of what the education world expects from them, while trying to balance teaching their students what they need to know to be successful in the real world. Don’t you just want to start a movement for change? That…
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Detroit: A Vision for the Worst-Performing School System in the World

Today is the beginning of the largest policy conference in the country, the Mackinac Policy Conference (MPC). Right now, Brian and I are on our way up to Michigan’s magnificent Mackinac Island to participate. The MPC gets it’s name from the conference location, but the focus is primarily on the city of Detroit. The #1 topic…
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Educators: “Without YOU, There Is NO Show!”

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to deliver the following message of inspiration to 5000 educators at ASCD’s Empower 17 Conference. We sponsored a special showing of Disney’s World of Color as a “thank you” to educators… Good evening! As you settle in to enjoy the show, I encourage you to think back to when you…
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ASCD: Join the SOAR Team in Anaheim, CA!

Any chance you’ll be in Anaheim, CA at the ASCD Empower17 Conference, March 25-27?  We’ll be there and we’d love to meet you in person! You can find us at booth #1567.  Just look for the giant “StudySkills.com” banner. Also, join us at Disney’s California Adventure Park on Sunday night for the World of Color…
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Solutions for Core Problem #2 with Education in the United States

  In a previous article, I described Three Core Problems with US Education: Core Problem #1: There is a serious motivation crisis among our students. Core Problem #2: There is a lack of relevance in our curriculum. Core Problem #3: We are using completely irrational and ineffective models for learning. Within each problem, there are simple…
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The Brain Biology of Learning:
Why the Success Pyramid Works

In the previous article, I introduced The Success Pyramid, a simple model showing the three elements of effective and efficient learning. These three levels have a direct link to brain biology. The brain is powered by electricity, just like any electrical appliance. It is made of billions of tiny wires (neurons) that send electrical impulses across various regions of the…
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Three Core Problems with
Education in the United States

As described in the Introduction to this series, our ignorance of human development is THE core problem with education in the United States. However, within this context, there are three specific areas in which to focus: 1—The Motivation Crisis. Our country suffers from a severe lack of motivation and engagement! Across every gender, racial, geographic,…
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Education Reform:
A Simple Blueprint for Human-Friendly Education

Introduction to Our Series on Education Reform Everyone talks about the need for education reform. Data consistently confirms the United States is at the bottom of all industrialized countries.1,2 The need for reform is undeniable. Yet, no one seems to know how to make effective reform happen. (Hint: throwing another assessment at students is not the answer.) This problem was…
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Article Directory for Education Reform: A Simple Blueprint for Human-Friendly Education

Thank you for your dedication to improving education! I welcome your input and feedback. Please share your thoughts here. Sincerely, Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
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Solutions for Core Problem #3 with Education in the United States

In a previous article, I described Three Core Problems with US Education: Core Problem #1: There is a serious motivation crisis among our students. Core Problem #2: There is a lack of relevance in our curriculum. Core Problem #3: We are using completely irrational and ineffective models for learning. Within each problem, there are simple leverage…
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Special Education: How to Solve & Prevent Learning Disabilities

  Welcome to part 2 of our 3-part series on special education. In part I, we explored the brain biology of learning disabilities, which is critical information for making sense of the recommendations below. How Do We Solve & Prevent Learning Disabilities? We start with the Success Pyramid. Since learning disabilities are a biological function of the brain, it…
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The Brain Biology of ADHD & Autism

Welcome to part 3 of our 3-part series on special education. In part 1, we explored the brain biology of learning disabilities. In part II, we explored How to Solve and Prevent Learning Disabilities. The brain biology of ADHD & autism is very similar to the brain biology of learning disabilities, as explained in the previous article. Just like learning disabilities,…
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The Success Pyramid:
A Model of Efficient & Effective Learning

The Success Pyramid identifies three essential elements required for successful learning in school and throughout life: Level 1: Confidence The core foundation of learning requires “confidence.” Every teacher knows, when students do not believe in their own abilities, they make no progress. Confidence is not optional; it’s critical! Priscilla Vail, author of Smart Kids with School Problems said it best,…
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Study Skills: The Missing Link

College is hard. I will be going into my third year at a university and I can honestly say these past two years have kicked my butt! Many of my friends called me a “nerd” in high school because I really cared about my grades and wanted to do well! The teasing was worth it…
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Quiet Classroom: Techniques For Teachers to Tend to the “Talkers”

Ever have a hard time quieting or controlling a loud classroom? I recall from my grade school days the frustration and agony teachers would have when the class would just Not. Stop. Talking!!!!! But… have no fear! We came across an article that gives some super awesome and creative tips on how to quiet down…
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“School-Success” Skills vs “Employability” Skills

Are we aiming to have our students “college-ready” OR “career-ready?” OR both? If both, do we get them “college-ready” first, then “career-ready?” The “soft skills” that are in such hot demand from employers, are the same skills that empower students to be successful… from middle school to college! These are many of the questions that…
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SOAR Internal – Article Directory for Education Reform: A Simple Blueprint for Human-Friendly Education Copy

Thank you for your dedication to improving education! I welcome your input and feedback. Please share your thoughts here. Sincerely, Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
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Parent Involvement: Creating Success With Study Skills

We know that teaching any type of skill takes practice, monitoring, and feedback (see our prior article “Teaching a Skill”, click HERE.).  We also know that this type of “coaching” takes time and attention and this can be a challenge for teachers. How can you possibly give students the type of individual attention I’m suggesting?…
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Teaching a Skill: The Importance of Practice, Monitoring, and Feedback

In the waning minutes of the Michigan State Quarter-Finals soccer match, down by one goal, my team needed to score quickly… or our season would come to an abrupt end. Desperation was in the air.  Every second that ticked off the clock was one second closer to our demise. It was my senior year and…
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Special Education: It Doesn’t Have to Be So Difficult

Do students have learning disabilities? Or, does our system have a teaching disability? Maria Montessori taught children labeled as “uneducable” and “idiots” to surpass their normal peers on standardized tests. My own son was diagnosed with “severe dyslexia” as a first-grader. We moved him to a Montessori school; within nine months, he was reading “on…
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Solutions for Core Problem #1 with Education in the United States

  In a previous article, I described Three Core Problems with US Education: Core Problem #1: There is a serious motivation crisis among our students. Core Problem #2: There is a lack of relevance in our curriculum. Core Problem #3: We are using completely irrational and ineffective models for learning. Within each problem, there are simple…
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Teaching Students How To Learn: Why Do We Expect Students To Learn When We Don’t Teach Them How?

Have you ever assembled furniture from IKEA? Many of us have had that pleasure (using the term loosely).  Even with the easy-to-read, illustration-only instructions, this process can be frustrating. But, imagine… if the next time you purchased a couch from IKEA, no instructions were provided. Could you assemble it? How hard could it be?!  You’ve probably got…
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Importance of Practice & Feedback in Education

When you were a child, how did you learn how to ride a bike? Did your dad or mom (or whomever taught you) sit you down, grab a piece of paper and write down the steps of what you should do? Did they draw a diagram with equations of how fast to move your legs?…
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Happy Teacher Appreciation Day:
Celebrate Your Imperfection!

I’ve been out of the classroom for 12 years now. But, just two weeks ago, I had a moment every teacher lives for. A moment that defines the very reason we choose this vocation. It was a return on an investment I made 15 years ago. Luke, a former third-grade student, messaged me on Facebook.…
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The One Piece Needed to Complete the ESSA Puzzle

As of December 2015, education is changing again. The United States has passed the bipartisan, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in hopes of it improving education. The White House sums up this bill by saying, “The bill rejects the overuse of standardized test and one-size-fits-all mandates on our schools, ensures that our education system will…
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Strategies For Lazy Students

What’s the difference between being lazy and being plain-old “human?” Lazy means you know what needs to be done to accomplish the objective, but consciously choose not to do it. Being “human” means you have the will to accomplish the objective, but something inexplicably has gone wrong. Here’s the problem… To the casual observer, there…
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Our Hands Are an Extension of Our Brain

My Last Visit with Aunt Esther: A Powerful Story About Our Hands Powering the Brain… and the Heart Aunt Esther is 94 years old. She’s my dad’s mom’s sister. (Follow that?) Grandma died just before I turned 16. (Perhaps you recall the real-life Halloween Tale of Grandma’s Eternal Departure.) Ever since, Aunt Esther has been a surrogate grandmother. There’s…
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How Students Can Avoid 80% of Language Errors

What “language” skills do people really need in college and the workplace? There’s an overwhelming amount of language rules. They create tons of places for students (and even adults) to go wrong. The problem with teaching and learning language is that there is so much to cover. So, how do you teach this successfully without…
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Grading: The Most Motivating Solution…EVER!

Last week we introduced our mini-series on student motivation and engagement. I recently found a great article on grading; How one teacher saw motivation and engagement soar for her entire class with a simple shift of her grading policy. Her results were astonishing! Frankly, this is the best idea I have ever seen about grading… How I…
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Student Motivation: “Only 25% of My Students Are Motivated!”

“Only 25% of my students are motivated! The rest don’t care about anything. They don’t respond to anything.” Vivian -a veteran teacher- shared this concern in a recent consulting call. Vivian teaches students with a very low socio-economic background. But, her concern is echoed by teachers and parents all over the country. Student motivation is…
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How to Engage & Motivate Boys

A few simple tweaks in the classroom can have a major impact in helping boys (and girls) discover their potential! The education of boys is in crisis! From birth, boys are wired with higher energy levels, untiring curiosity, and a natural born spirit to compete and win. Although they have great potential, it’s no surprise…
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Motivation & Engagement: How Working with Partners Gets Better Results

We’re continuing our series on motivation and engagement.  Today, the focus is on doing “more with less.” We’ve talked about how paired collaboration works in our business.  It can also work great in the classroom! (See our article “Working in Pairs; the Most Powerful Productivity Tool Ever!”) More examples about the power of pairing are…
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2 Questions to Unlock Motivation & Change Mindsets

It was my last semester of college. “Senioritis” had fully kicked-in.  I was ready to graduate. It was also the first day of EAD 315, “Student Leadership Training.” Waiting for class to start, I was focused on the friends I was meeting after class. The instructor began. He asked us to move our desks into…
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CTE – Career and Technical Education: Four Steps to Navigate from K-12 to the “The Rest of Your Life”

“What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” Do you remember the first time you were asked this question? My grandfather asked me at age four. With sincere conviction, I answered, “I want to work at Arby’s.” He laughed out loud and patted me on the head. I got the message that my…
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Why 90% Of Students Can’t Read without Eyelighters / Subheading : About Visual Stress Syndrome or Irlen Syndrome

When I was in middle school, I began to notice problems with my reading.  I was having trouble seeing the text in my textbooks. When I looked at a page, I saw a glare of  light slithering between the text and reflecting back at me. It was distracting and painful…like seeing a camera flash in the…
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study skills for private school

Is Your Focus On Private Schools Response

Two weeks ago, we got an angry response from a subscriber after publishing our newsletter titled, “Is Your Focus on Private Schools?” In that newsletter, we described several pressures facing private school teachers. In the interest of providing clarity and remaining fully transparent, I’d like to address her concerns. Her letter is in italics. My…
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Soft Skills May Have Prevented The Rise Of Darth Vader…

When our team realized this week’s newsletter would go out on Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!) we got a little punchy! Then we discovered a very powerful insight… “You underestimate the power of the Dark Side!” – Darth Vader   Darth Vader is one of the most well-recognized villains in movie…
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Higher Grades in Half the Time: This Week in America With Ric Bratton

  Ric Bratton, host of This Week in America, interviewed Susan Kruger when SOAR® was just starting to grow to the thriving resource it is today. In this 17 minute long interview, Susan discusses how students can achieve higher grades in half the time. Susan has taught study skills since 1993 and authored the best selling study skills book on Amazon.…
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Writing vs Thinking Your Goals … Which Makes You More Successful?

How can you guarantee your students will be more successful than their peers? How can you guarantee this with a 10-minute activity? The answer is simple. You can start this year off right by doing one simple activity. Writing down goals. Yes, the old fashioned way. Get out a pen and a piece of paper…
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Are You Broken? New York Educator Admits to Her Students, “I Didn’t Feel Like I Mattered.”

I’m sure you have heard the story of Principal Lopez from Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, NY. If you haven’t, check out the quick clip from The Ellen Show below: Ellen speaks with Principal Lopez and Vidal Principal Lopez was broken. She was ready to put in her resignation and stated how many educators…
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The Simplest Approach to Learning Study Skills

In medicine, doctors will prescribe the minimum effective dose. Meaning, you want to cure the illness but minimize the side effects. Learning is no different. When learning new materials, we want to use the strategies that are most effective, with the least amount of side effects, (time, energy, stress/anxiety). Graphic organizers can be good tools…
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What Students and Employers Both Need

Kevin and I are both college seniors at Michigan State University. Every year there are two giant career fairs, with over 200 companies. The crazy part is, every year the companies are the same. Year after year, big companies such as Ford, Chrysler, BP, and PepsiCo come to MSU—and every other university— hiring hundreds of…
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Simplicity Creates the Best Soft Skills

Have you ever wondered what we do with the regular feedback that we get about our program? Well, sometimes, we determine we just can’t use it!
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The iPad Simplified the Computer. This Will Simplify Education…

Last week Susan and I attended an 80/20 seminar put on by Richard Koch and Perry Marshall. Richard Koch is the modern day expert on the 80/20 principle (for more info on 80/20 principle click HERE). There we learned more about the power of 80/20 and the power of simplification. In the 1960s some of…
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Simple Tips for Students, Teachers, Administrators, and Parents to Start the School Year!

It is finally that time of year again. The time when parents, students, and teachers are all excited for the year that is about to come. Everyone is getting a fresh start. This school year could be when you or your student excels! The first day of school can be a stressful one. Students have…
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Making the Shift from “Teacher” to “Coach” Pays Huge Dividends in the Classroom

When you decided to become a teacher, what visions did you have for your future? Was it an inspirational tale of you awakening minds? “Ah-hah” moments from students spread throughout each day? Perhaps you were inspired by a movie, like: Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, or Freedom Writers. Perhaps you instantly connected with those visions…
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The ‘How To’ Guide To Improving Education: From Anchor Standards To Grit To ADHD and Everything In Between

In the world of engineering, the best solution to a problem is the “simplest.” Why? Because the more complex a solution is, the more ways it can fail. The same is true in education. Time and time again, new (and often complicated) initiatives are introduced in education. But they fail because they are too complex…
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Malcolm Gladwell’s Gift to Detroit: A Language for Success!

The Power of Language Two nights ago, my ten year-old son, Mark, was getting very upset over simple things. After the second meltdown, I knew something was up. Me: “Sit down. Tell me what’s really going on?” Mark: “I spilled my drink!” Me: “I know that’s upsetting. But you’re having a ‘ten-mile reaction’ to a ‘two-inch…
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The City of Detroit Is Rapidly Improving; It’s Time for Education to Do the Same.

“We are ALL from the City of Detroit…” Well, you might not actually BE from Detroit, but if you work in the field of education, you can probably relate to many of the challenges that Detroit has faced. Good News (and you won’t find this covered by the press, because good news doesn’t sell newspapers)….…
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The Mackinac Bridge Was Once Considered Impossible. Times Changed. So Can Education.

Today is the first day of one of the nation’s largest policy conferences, the Mackinac (pronounced “Mack-i-naw”) Conference. It’s the most important event of the year for the political, business, and non-profit organizations of Michigan. I’m writing this on the 5-hour road trip to Mackinac; where the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan almost meet.…
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How to Grow Grit and Growth Mindsets

In her landmark book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D., shares her scientific research on motivation. She concluded that teaching students how to learn, in conjunction with brain biology, is the best way to boost motivation and develop a “growth mindset.” In two scientific studies, she confirmed that this combination works; motivation and grades skyrocketed among adolescents!…
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SOAR® Covers 100% Common Core Anchor Standards!

You can now get a free digital review copy of the 2nd Edition of SOAR®! SOAR® Study Skills-2nd edition is now SOAR® Soft Skills for College & Career Readiness. SOAR® now covers 100% of the Common Core Anchor Standards! This 2nd edition has all of the same great content you loved before plus three new…
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The Plight of Teachers in 2014

Last fall, Microsoft asked me to share some thoughts about changes in education. Naturally, about technology. But, as I explained below, the cascading effect of technology on students will have an impact on teachers…. For the better! Like many educators, Susan Kruger was inspired to help students through her own school experience. Kruger struggled to…
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The Matrix of Study Skills; What if Neo Chose the Blue One?

In the movie, The Matrix, there’s a famous scene where Morpheus offers Neo a choice… Red Pill or Blue Pill. If Neo takes the blue pill, it would allow him to remain in his made-up reality of the Matrix and continue living in ignorance. If Neo takes the red pill, he escapes the Matrix and…
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Educators: “We Are All from Detroit”

I was born and raised in Detroit. I’ve long been used to the negative impressions about my hometown when I travel. But last summer, the reaction went visceral. Two weeks after Detroit filed for bankruptcy, I was at a conference on the East Coast. Naturally, I was asked the standard opening question, “Where are you…
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Why Didn’t Someone Teach Me How to Learn Earlier!?

At the end of this week, the 2nd edition of SOAR® is going to press. As I did eight years ago with the original I’ve put my heart and soul into this new edition to save students from the struggles I did not need to face. The following letter to students is included in the…
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Letter to My Younger Self

Today is a very special day for me. It’s my 10th anniversary as a parent! Yes, today is my son’s 10th birthday. In honor of my (er, uh… his) special day, I wanted to share a letter written to “my younger self,” just days before my son was born. Last October, I had the privilege…
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How the 80/20 Principle Simplifies Common Core

Last week, I wrote about the universal law of nature that can make all of us far more productive, the 80/20 Principle. There are many different ways to leverage 80/20 in education. The Anchor Standards are the most valuable 20% of Common Core that will make 80% of the impact on your students. You may…
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Free Webinar: The Recruitment Power of Study Skills! Interview with a Top-Ranked, Nationally Recognized Private School

If you are from a private, charter, or magnet school and have to recruit students, this is the time of year that the pressure cooker heats up!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could easily differentiate yourself from your competition with a simple approach that improves student performance and makes families really happy, while reducing…
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An Appeal for Support from Susan Kruger’s Husband

I am Susan Kruger’s husband. Today I’m asking you to support my wife with three simple clicks of your mouse button. (Nothing more; no email sign-ups, no annoying marketing, just mouse-clicked votes). Are you a fast-track, quick-start? If so, Click here. Why Support Susan? Susan has been recognized for her contributions by her local community.…
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6th-Grade Boy Describes the Impact of Study Skills

Happy post-holiday season! Or, for those of us in the midwest and northeast, it’s the holiday season that won’t end! Schools have been called off in our town, just north of Detroit, for six consecutive days due to weather. But, I want to share something that stretches a-l-l-l-l-l-l the way back to the eve of…
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Vocabulary and Differentiation: Larry Says, “Just Deal with It…”

Two weeks ago, we published an article about learning vocabulary words (available here). It was my answer to a question from Jean, a concerned parent whose son was struggling with an on-going vocabulary testing situation. Immediately after we published that article, we received a response from Larry M. Here’s what Larry had to say: Hi…
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Understanding the Needs of the 21st Century Learner

In anticipation of the upcoming Microsoft’s Partners in Learning webinar on October 23, 2013, I was interviewed by Microsoft to get my take on the state of education in our country. Read on to see the interview. What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you? I went to a…
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Tips from an Award-Winning Teacher

I was happy to have the opportunity to talk with Elisa Collins, an excellent (and now award-winning) study skills teacher at Oasis Middle School in Cape Coral, Florida. It was an exciting chance to talk study skills and pick up some new teaching tips. In 2012, Elisa was one of four teachers to win the…
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Michigan’s Teacher of the Year Cracks the Code on the Secret to Success in Education

After reading an article in our local Detroit Free Press, my husband, Brian, was inspired to write the following. Enjoy! – Susan ——– Identifying the Problem “We have to be in a growth mind-set,” said Michigan Teacher of the Year Garry Abud. “This is not a fixed world. It’s about moving forward.” Gary Abud’s words…
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The SOAR® Manifesto: A Near-Disastrous Moment at Age 17 Is Now the Foundation of SOAR®

When I was 17, my mom (a physician), invited me to be her guest at an invitation-only “cocktail party” for a new physical therapy (PT) center.  In reality, it was an open house for doctors and other health care professionals who might refer patients to the new center for PT. Mom’s invitation was like a…
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The #1 Enemy of Learning

Last week, someone blasted me for posting a specific review on Amazon, calling it “self-serving.” This person (whose review name, S. Richardson, leaves the person generally anonymous) spent most of his/her words attacking my integrity. However, buried in the message was one point of constructive criticism that warranted clarification on my part. As I fleshed…
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What’s Missing From Our Education System?

Year after year, the American Education System proposes new ideas on how to cram more content into less time. However, we’re missing the most essential component! It’s like trying to bake bread without yeast. We can add more flour, less salt, etc., but without the yeast, the bread will never rise. So what is the…
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It’s SO Easy, Why Aren’t YOU Using It?!

If you could raise your students’ GPA by 1 full point and increase their standardized test scores significantly for a small, per student fee of $30, would you do it? Sound too good to be true?! Student Proficiency We’ve been trained all our lives to avoid opportunities that sound too good to be true. We…
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Make Your Job Easier by Harnessing Positive Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is incredibly powerful, and that’s not always a bad thing. A substance abuse counselor once told me, “If I am having trouble reaching an adolescent in a one-on-one therapy session, I will send them to group therapy. There is no greater influence in an adolescent’s life than their peers, and group therapy is…
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SOAR® Raises Test Scores Five Standard Points, GPAs by 1 Full Point!

We just received some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G data!  It came to us from Maeser Academy, home of SOAR®’s 2013 Teacher of the Year. According to the school’s administrator, Robyn Ellis: – “GPAs are up at least a full point every month this year…” – “Test scores are five points above the national average and five standard points…
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Curriculum Contest Winner

I am very pleased to announce the winner of the SOAR® Curriculum Contest; congratulations to Kristin Bourgeois of Cedar Park, Texas! Kristin Bourgeois will receive a classroom set of SOAR® books and a license for our Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide. We asked for compelling stories. And, we got them! It was difficult to select a winner.…
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Why VAK (Visual Auditory Kinesthetic) Is Overrated

To VAK or Not to VAK? A lot of people have heard about VAK (Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic) learning strategies.  So, I get a lot of questions about how to use different study strategies for visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. My short answer is: Don’t. There are a lot of VAK-oriented study tips around, but…
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Does Your School Have the Right Equipment to Stay Secure?

Like many parents, the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy prompted me to wonder about the safety of my children’s school.  Are the students and staff prepared for an intruder?  Do they have a lockdown procedure?  Have they done lockdown drills? However, one thing that never crossed my mind was, “Do they have the right locks?” I…
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What Are We NOT Teaching Our Students?

Last week, my 3.5 year-old daughter, Maddie, came home from school very upset! She climbed on my lap and held her head down low. In a quiet and meek voice she explained, “Mama, I don’t wike school. I don’t wike gym…Miss H. yewwed at me. She say I can’t touch the liar farm.” Me: “You mean the…
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Tired of Being Tired? Epiphany on a Ski Lift!

Last winter, I had a life-changing epiphany on a ski lift.  I was alone.  Had nothing to do or think about.  My short legs forced me into a slight slump as gravity tugged on my heavy, dangling, ski-strapped feet. Swinging like a frozen marshmallow, high in the cold winds off Lake Michigan, I wondered, “Why…
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Six Steps to Conquer the Chaos: How to Organize and Motivate Students for Success!

Over the years, I’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations with parents and educators. Two specific questions consistently emerge as the most significant points of pain and frustration… “How do I motivate my child (or students)?” –and– “How can I help my child get organized?” I have found myself repeating the same answers so…
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Why Good Grades Are NOT the Key to Success

We all have this notion that if our students and children do “well” in school, they will do “well” in life. Well…that’s simply not true. Research from the Stanford Research Institute and Carnegie Mellon Foundation confirm that “good grades” are only 25% of the “success equation.” The other 75% of this formula is almost completely…
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22 Year-Old Tutor… With a Waiting List

When I was 22, fresh out of college, and beginning my first year of teaching, I moonlighted as a tutor. I had so many tutoring clients, I had a waiting list! How did I manage that? For one reason and one reason only. I was a study skills tutor. Not just a tutor…a Study-Skills-Tutor. It…
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“I Teach Study Skills and Won a Teaching Award!!”

The title of this post greeted us in our email inbox on Friday. Elisa Collins, a middle school teacher in Cape Coral, FL, wrote us with exciting news! She went on to say: “…and Karl Fisch contacted me and congratulated me!! I have used the SOAR® curriculum for 3 years now and it has made…
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Today Is My Redemption Day!

March 29, 2012 One year ago today, I was called in to meet with my son’s principal… and accused of “Educational Neglect!” In the eyes of the court, “Educational Neglect” is full-fledged child abuse. How on earth could this happen to me? You may know bits and pieces of this story from the past year.…
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Brain Biology = Hope for Reading Disabilities – Part I

Last weekend, I was visiting a ski area in northern Michigan for a few days and met Cori. She was working the front desk and checked me in as I arrived. We were chatting as the paperwork was processing and Cori asked what I do for a living. I told her about my work with…
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The Learning Circuit™

“Study skills” are a specific group of skills that help students learn and manage school more efficiently. For most students, this will be the first time they have ever discovered that STRATEGY can apply to learning. They are used to using strategies in sports and video games…even to “manipulate” their parents and teachers when they…
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How Do Study Skills Improve Standardized Test Scores?

Educators are under enormous pressure to have students perform well on standardized tests. Since standardized tests assess students’ mastery of state benchmarks, it is well known that the best way to improve scores is to provide clear instruction of those benchmarks. As a result, teachers and administrators are spending vast amounts of time “mapping” their…
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Can Phonics Improve Student Motivation? Tips for 6-12 Interventions

Two-thirds of students entering high school are not proficient readers! This is a crisis, but there is a simple piece of the puzzle to fix this problem. It would dramatically improve student performance! However, most of us don’t know anything about it. The problem is that we do not teach a COMPLETE set of English…
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Is There a Link Between Study Skills and Motivation?

Last week, a friend was telling me about her work with a community initiative to help “at-risk” youth get better grades in school. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “Oooh…they need study skills!” She responded, “Well, we are focusing more on motivation,” and quickly continued with her story. I shouldn’t have interrupted her…
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Negative Attitudes from Parents and Teachers

Last week, I shared suggestions to improve students’ attitudes towards study skills. But, students are not the only ones with poor attitudes. I recently received an email from Jean*. Jean is a teacher who is battling a few roadblocks while teaching study skills during her “Study Skills” class. Yes, that is right. Jean is responsible…
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The Cost of NOT Teaching Study Skills

As school budgets are rapidly shrinking, administrators have to carefully consider how to allocate their budget; they need to get the most “bang for their buck.” Managing a school budget is an art form involving hundreds of decisions and balancing dozens of demands. “How Can We Make the Greatest Impact?” This question is usually the…
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McDonald’s, Gillette, and Study Skills

Twenty-five years before Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s store, he was a struggling “paper cup” salesman in Chicago. It was 1930; the country was in the midst of the prohibition era and soda fountains were rapidly expanding as an alternative to bars. Walgreen’s was leading the way, opening new stores and soda fountains at…
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Tutoring: A 5-Billion Dollar Business!

This week’s article is for you if you are a tutor or have thought about becoming one. It is estimated that parents in the United States spend $5-8 billion a year on private tutoring! Tutors can charge anywhere from $30-$90 an hour, depending on their location and specialty. If you haven’t thought of becoming a…
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Why Do Students Love Certain Teachers? Even the “Gumpy” Ones.

If you read my article “How I Was Accused of Child Neglect,” you know we have had some big changes in our household with our first-grader starting a new school this week. So far, we are off to a good start! Last week, I only described one element of our challenges with the previous school. I…
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My Worst Year of Teaching!

 I recently spoke with a young teacher from Minnesota; she said something that resonated deeply within me. This young woman had signed up for an “Ask the Author” session over a product question. However, as we spoke, she made a striking comment. “I am trying my best, but many parents want to blame everything on me!” Her voice cracked…
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Keeping Education Current – With the World’s Oldest Strategy

How DO We Make Learning More Relevant? One way to bridge this gap is to illustrate the connections between what our students are learning and how that information will help them in “the real world.” As you explain these connections, stories will emerge and students love stories! Watch the body language of students change as…
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Video: The Most Fundamental Learning Strategy

In a previous article, I discussed the #1, most fundamental learning strategy of making connections and described a strategy for learning vocabulary words. It is very simple, yet such a powerful strategy, I decided to make a video of it. Take a look:
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The Marshmallow Effect

Today, I want to share a resource that became the topic of one of the “rants” Susan mentioned yesterday. We were discussing how important it is for student to learn how to “delay gratification” in order to be successful… in school or in life. So, I shared this video with her. This Marshmallow Experiment was…
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What Is the Greatest Predictor of Success in School?

Today’s article begins with a quiz: What cognitive process is the greatest predictor of success in school? a) Verbal working memory (auditory processing while conducting other tasks such as note-taking) b) Ability to identify main ideas c) Transcription fluency (ability to write/form letters) d) Ability to spell accurately e) Ability to solve problems Did you…
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The Most Prevalent Problem in Our Schools… That is Totally Ignored!

My mother is a family physician with a specialty in substance abuse (certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine). Over the years, we have many relatives who have battled addictions in one way, shape, or form, and Mom specifically pursed the additional certification to help them. Her interest in the issue is truly a…
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Highlighting & Talking: Suggestions for Sierra Leone

I know that everyone has their minds on “turkey,” but I only received one response to Creative Ideas Needed for Orphans in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The idea comes from Laura H. (not to be confused with the Laura who is working with the orphanage in Sierra Leone): Highlighting “Not sure how helpful this may…
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Creative Ideas Needed for Orphans in Sierra Leone, West Africa

I had to make a “last-minute” road-trip to meet my new niece today; I am now an “aunt” for the first time! Baby Katelyn is adorable and a truly wonderful Thanksgiving gift! As I held that beautiful newborn this morning, I thought about the blessings she already has in life, including her two loving parents…
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Why Teachers Feel So Ineffective!

“A good teacher is a self-abuser!” One of my grad-school professors said this in class years ago. I was still teaching full-time and his words pierced right through me! “Yes!” I thought, “that is so right!” I came home every day, frustrated that I didn’t get to something I wanted to cover that day or…
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What to Do When Students Are Not Motivated!

Motivation! Ah…if I had the magic pill that would light a fire under students and children, I would certainly bottle it instead of writing these articles in the wee hours of the morning and night. This is a hot topic and the root of several questions I have received since announcing this project a couple…
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The Fundamental Learning Strategy: Are You Exploiting It for All of Its Potential?

I would like to share another perspective about how the brain works. This one, in my opinion, is FUNDAMENTAL. It applies universally to everything you learn. If you really understand this, you can find unlimited applications to improve your learning (and teaching). You are undoubtedly aware of it to some extent, but are you exploiting…
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What Happens When You Outlaw Standardized Tests?

One country is leading the world in educational achievements. They have created a system that nurtures problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They have developed classrooms where teachers rarely lecture for full class periods, but instead, allows students to determine their own weekly goals and chose the tasks they will work on… at their own pace.…
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Are You Spending TOO MUCH Time Learning? (Or,Teaching?)

“Small-chunk” learning is the most undervalued concept in education! We have all been raised with this notion that effective learning and good grades can only come from a massive investment of time of energy. That notion is not only wrong, it’s harmful! It turns a lot of eager, willing, and smart people off to learning.…
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Everything I Need to Know About My Phone Company, I Learned From a Multiple-Choice Test. (Kinda.)

I received the following email from a subscriber: An issue that prevails for many students, including my own daughter, is that testing is conducted through only one format; multiple-choice; end of course/grade, SAT, HSAP, etc are only formatted as multiple-choice assessments. There are a significant number of students who would benefit from various other testing…
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Parents
Overlooked Back-to-School Item

The Most Overlooked Back-to-School Item

Folders, pens, backpacks, pencil cases, paper, planners, binders… You’ve stocked up on nearly every back-to-school item you and your child can think of.  But, you’re probably still missing the most important tool. Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. With all of the back-to-school ads from the big-box office supply stores, we’re led to believe that…
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21 Days to Back-to-School Bliss

Tips for getting your school-year off to a relaxed and productive start. Gearing up for back-to-school can be a bit overwhelming; there is a lot to do, a lot of transitions to navigate, and often a sense of blues as the realization that summer has, once again, gone by too fast. However, you can easily…
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summer vacation tips

Conquer Summer Brain Drain: Let Go of the Guilt!

Summer vacation is coming—for some of us it’s already here—and that means it’s time to tackle Summer Brain Drain again. How do we keep our kids’ brains active for the three months that they’re out of school? How can we make the gap between school years an advantage, and not just dead space? Most parents…
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How a Simple Studying Technique Led to the Only 100% Test Grade Out of 250 Students

Preparing for an exam where the average score is 65% had me a little concerned. I usually got good grades, but had never been particularly good at taking exams. And the fact that my extremely smart roommate‘s grade was only a 45% last term, really gave me anxiety. Checking my teacher’s reviews online was not helpful…
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A Mother’s Day Tribute

As Mother’s Day approaches and “spring fever” is settling in, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the significant roles that mothers (and fathers) play in homework. As a young student, I had my share of homework arguments with my mom. As an adult, I have become more and more appreciative of the…
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Boys and Their Shortcuts: A Lesson from Henry Ford

I hear one complaint often; it usually comes from moms and female teachers who are frustrated over how much “effort” boys will put into written assignments. It goes something like this: “He knows so much about the material, but he will only write a couple of things… he always wants to take the shortcut!” I often ask,…
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legal homework rights

Legal Homework Rights: What’s the Limit on Homework?

Hi, I just read your article Titled “Can You ‘Opt Out’ of Homework?” (Click HERE for the original article.) I enjoyed the article but I guess I need a more concrete answer to the question of my legal homework rights: CAN I LEGALLY OPT OUT OF HOMEWORK FOR MY CHILD? – Dawn, SOAR® Parent The answer is…
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test anxiety

How to Help Your Child’s Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is very common.  However, I’ve come to realize that the more we, as parents, try to help our children alleviate that anxiety, we often add to it… accidentally, of course. Jim, a parent using SOAR, recently contacted us with a great question about how he can best help his child. I thought our conversation…
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Study Skills Camp Scholarship

So far, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to the SOAR Virtual Summer Camp! However, I was deeply saddened by a couple emails I received expressing great interest, but declining participation because the camp was cost-prohibitive. Excellent education should not be “cost-prohibitive.” So, I jumped into action and reached out to some local businesses to secure…
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Maria Montessori

How to Transcend ALL Barriers to Education: Poverty, Learning Disabilities, Apathy, & More

In 1896, in the slums of Rome, a young woman was put in charge of a group of children labeled “impossible to educate.” As the first female physician in Italy, she had fought great resistance to get her own education; “no one wanted a female doctor.” Her assignment to care for these children was considered…
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Report Cards: Dealing with Poor Grades

If you’re like the millions of parents who open report cards and sigh, this article is for you. Upon opening a report card, you experience a flood of emotions.  Almost like going through the 5 stages of grief: Denial:  “No, this can’t be right.  I made him sit at the kitchen table every night and…
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Why Is Homeschooling the Fastest Growing Segment In Education?

“The number of parents choosing to homeschool their kids is growing 7 times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.” (as reported by Education News, click HERE for the full article.) Do you wonder why that is? Education is free in the United States and many parents enjoy the fruits of…
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Simple Family Organization: Easily Organize School Papers

Organize School Papers at Home Solves the problem of… how to manage and organize the daily flood of papers from school! How the “School Papers” System Works Our system for organizing school papers at home is pretty simple and straightforward. The kids clean out their backpacks every day, after school. (It’s one of their “after-school” magnets, from our Morning Magnet routine.) Trash goes…
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Simple Family Organization:
A Kitchen Command Center That Works

Command Center for Organizing Mail, School Papers, & Junk Solves the problem of… having mail, papers, and junk flood my kitchen counters and get lost.   How the Command Center Works My Command Center may not look as pretty as the fancy ones you’ll find Pinterest, but it is unique in three ways: It requires almost…
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Simple Family Meal Organization:
Easy Lunch and Dinner Menu Board

The Menu Board for Simple Family Meal Organization Solves the problem of… having to figure out what to buy and prepare for lunches and dinner every day. Additional benefits… the Menu Board also improves meal-time cooperation from the kids… and has them making their own lunches, with minimal fuss. It’s a fabulous tool for achieving…
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Simple Family Organization:
Cure “Last-Minute Syndrome”

Get Everyone on the Same Page with the Sunday Meeting Solves the problem of last-minute syndrome! During this brief meeting, we: review schedules for the next two weeks, review school papers we missed during the week, select lunches and dinners on the menu board, and do Payday for our allowance system. A short, 5-10 minute routine can transform…
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Simple Family Organization:
Make Mornings Easy With Morning Organization Magnets!

Resolve Chaos with “Morning Organization Magnets!” Solves the problem of: chaotic, rushed mornings with lots of nagging and yelling! Added benefit(s): The “morning organization magnets” were so effective for morning organization, we also added “after school” and “bedtime” magnets to manage recurring, daily tasks. For better or worse, my best ideas always come when I’m fed up! Ticked off! Had…
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Simple Family Organization:
An Allowance System that Works!

Our Allowance System Solves the problem of… the kids not caring about: getting to school on time, turning off the lights, listening to directions, etc. Additional benefits… the allowance system also builds: their sense of ownership and responsibility around the house, their value for money and other belongings, and their ability to discern how to…
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Simple Family Organization: Life-Saving, Multi-Purpose Organizer

Life-Saving Multi-Purpose Organizer Solves the problem of… how to keep my house reasonably tidy without going insane. How the Life-Saving Multi-Purpose Organizer Works I have six of these beauties in my home, mostly as a holding place for clutter: In my kitchen, as pictured in the Command Center (see photo below). Each bin is labeled for a…
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Book Review: A Mom’s Guide to Life After Divorce
(P.S. Dads, too!)

I certainly hope you don’t ever need this book. But, the reality is that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. And the journey is very lonely. Even though thousands of people are going through the process at any given time, the experience is L-O-N-E-L-Y. The grief about the past. The worries about the…
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The Pursuit of Perfection Creates Stress for Students

I am typically not one to watch intellectual competitions in my spare time, especially any more intense than Family Feud. However, flipping through the channels, one caught my attention. The show was called Child Genius. I saw young children answering questions about crazy subjects and spelling words that I didn’t even know existed, and I…
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Inside Out: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Tears. Shouting. Pouting. Kicking. Screaming. More tears.  This perfectly describes the temper-tantrums I see in my 5-year old daughter, Madison. I know my child isn’t the only who has temper-tantrums.  But, I still wonder, “What is going on with you, child?!” I would patiently try to get to the root of the problems. I would…
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A Tale of 2 Parents: Which One Are You?

After teaching in a high school for more than a decade, I met thousands of parents at parent-teacher conferences. As I think back, two particular meetings with parents really stood out to me. Megan was a student that struggled to turn assignments in on time, but she had a very nice presence in class. Going…
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25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘How Was School?’ Without Asking ‘So How Was School?’

“It was fine.” “It was good.” “It was okay.” If you are a parent, you usually hear one of these 3 answers everyday when you ask your child how school was. The answer always leaves you wanting more. In order to get the answers and details about their school life, you have to get creative.…
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Dealing With Report Card Stress

Report card stress is an all to common occurrence this time of year. You flip through the pile of bills, advertisements, and magazines and there it is…the dreaded report card. Reluctantly, you open the envelope. Your heart sinks. You had a feeling that things weren’t going well this quarter, but you weren’t prepared for this.…
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How to Control Computer Distractions

While computers and the internet are amazing resources for students, they are full of potential distractions. Today’s students spend hours per day on the computer for learning tasks both in and out of school. However, social media sites, online games, and other “addictive” websites are everywhere, and many students have a hard time staying on…
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Do We Prepare the World for a Child -or- a Child for the World?

There are some forces in our society—some obvious, others completely hidden—that pull us toward trying to fix the world to accommodate our children.  We get the vague sense that we should constantly arrange our children’s world around them. Sometimes these pressures are obvious and easy to resist, but sometimes they’re as subtle as our own…
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When College Gets in the Way: An Alternate Approach

In about six hours, my family will grow by one. “It’s a boy!” As I write this, my husband, Brian, is driving home to Detroit, from North Carolina, with the newest member of our family…my 20 year-old cousin, Kevin. Kevin will be doing an internship with SOAR® and getting a heavy-duty course in study skills. …
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Student Motivation: Are You Accidentally Sabotaging It with the Wrong Mindset?

Did you know that praising your students and children for good grades is the worst thing you can do for them? It sounds counter-intuitive, but Carol Dweck, Ph.D. has discovered, unequivocally, that it is true. Praising results sabotages effort! In her fascinating book, Mindset, Dr. Dweck explains all motivational challenges, wonderments, and mysteries according to…
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How to Motivate Students… With Love

As we enter Thanksgiving week, I’ve got several things on my mind… In the last ten days, I attended two different conferences where dozens of parents and teachers talked about how challenging it is to motivate their children and students. Meanwhile, at home, my family is grieving the loss of my husband’s grandmother. We have…
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Response to Opting-Out of Homework

Last week, I passed along a blog post by Heather Shumaker, a mom who has chosen to opt her children out of homework until age 11. In response, I received a thoughtful letter from a well-respected colleague. Martin Kirkwood is the director of guidance and college counseling for St. Theodore Guerin High School near Indianapolis,…
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Shifting Out of Low-Gear Learning

“My son doesn’t remember what he reads in a textbook.” “My daughter doesn’t pay attention well in class.” “She doesn’t take good notes.” “He doesn’t know how to study for tests.” All of these situations are problems with learning…learning in a conventional school setting, at least. Most students find each of these tasks boring and…
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Can You “Opt Out” of Homework?

We get a lot of phone calls from parents of elementary students, complaining about the volume of homework their child gets from school. We specialize in study skills and homework management, so it’s natural that parents would call us. We can help parents of these youngsters facilitate more peaceful homework sessions. We can also help…
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A Secret Ingredient to Peaceful, Happy Mornings!

Being Convinced of What We “Know” I always knew that exercise was good for my brain, the same way I knew that flossing was good for my teeth. But it wasn’t until I was 33 and saw an x-ray of my teeth that I saw exactly why my dentist kept nagging me about flossing; all…
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The Mackinac Bridge: A Back-to-School Adventure

Much of the country has been “back to school” for a few weeks now. In Michigan, however, today is the official First Day of School. My family decided to beat the back-to-school blues that creep in over Labor Day weekend and went on a very special Michigan adventure! We walked across the magnificent, five-mile long,…
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Motivation: A Simple Lesson from Dumbo

We recently took a family trip to Walt Disney World. My seven-year-old son loved Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and having his picture taken with Darth Vader & Storm Troopers from Star Wars! Despite these –and many other- magical attractions, do you know what ONE thing my son loved more than anything else? The one…
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Homework Is Sabotaging My Family!

For the last few months, my son has been drowning in homework! He’s in second-grade. As you may know, he has dyslexia and ADHD. But, his “disabilities” are not the problem. As a matter of fact, our targeted interventions and his hard work have put him very close to “grade-level.” He hates writing (the process…
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My Greatest Productivity Breakthrough in Years!

I imagine your life is a lot like mine…too many things to do and not enough time to do them! This seems to be the curse of our technological age. We have great tools for improving efficiency, but we are also expected to be infinitely more productive. As you know, most of the time, I…
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How to Improve Students’ Attitudes Towards Study Skills

Study skills have earned a bad “rap” over the years for many reasons: Students think they are “boring” because many boring things are lumped together with study skills. Students think they mean a lot of extra work because many of the “free” study skills online are very labor-intensive and time-intensive. Students think they must be…
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My Radio Interview – How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

How do you avoid the “brain drain” over the summer? This is the question I was asked to explore recently on the internet radio show, “What Really Matters.” You can access the full podcast from here: http://www.vickyandjen.com/podcast_221.html The show hosts, Vicky and Jen, are women after my own heart because they focus on REAL and…
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Study Skills for Adults

This week, I am tackling the topic of “Study Skills for Adults.” After attending a long and intense seminar this weekend, I put together a video summary of the best study skills I used to make the most of my weekend. The principles of efficient learning apply to ALL ages! View the video below: I…
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Something Is Desperately Wrong In America!

Have you seen the following statistics? 30% = number of students dropping out of high school in the US. 40% = number of college students who have to take at least one remedial course in college. 50% = number of college students who never complete a degree. 66% = number of high school honor students…
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We Are Currently Preparing Students for Jobs that Don’t Yet Exist…

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, Using technologies that haven’t been invented, In order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” – Karl Fisch, Did You Know When we grew up, the employment rate was fairly stable and our greatest concern was being able to perform just…
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How Do We Educate Our Children to Take Their Place in the Economies of the 21st Century?

…Given that we can’t anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week? As a parent, I am growing increasingly worried that school will sabotage my first-grade son’s overflowing creativity and problem-solving skills. I value those traits in him more than anything else! With his “out-of-the-box” thinking, he may someday discover…
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My Mom’s Advice: “Get Some Dumb Friends!”

Last week, I received an email from a 30-in-30 subscriber: Her son is a junior in high school who struggles academically. He refuses extra help from a tutor or teacher, insisting he can do it on his own. He has an older brother who does well in school with relatively little effort, so the young…
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Hot Button: HOMEWORK!

I’ve been watching a curious pattern during this project. There has not been a lot of activity on the blog and I get email responses from less than 0. 5% of the subscribers on this list. However, the number of people subscribing to this list has been steadily growing, so it appears people are reading,…
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A Real-Life Happy Ending… in Progress!

We hear a lot of negative stories in the world and fight a lot of negativity in our daily lives. I believe a “good story” is always welcome. Today, I would like to tell you a bit more about my former student, Carl. I had Carl as a third-grader, ten years ago. He had a…
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Homework Guidelines Video

Today, I want to share a video from the Today Show that aired in August 2009. I thought it was fairly succinct and provided good points (with two minor exceptions). The video is here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/32595340#32595340 It is only 4:15 long, so I hope you will take the time to watch it, but if not, here…
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Homework: The Great Homewrecker!

One of the top three questions I hear from parents is, “How much homework is a reasonable amount?” Many parents are exasperated over homework battles and find that their entire family’s well-being is held captive by the volumes of homework assigned to one child. I am just entering into this Battle Zone as a parent,…
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Letter to a Young-Adult Child of an Alcoholic

My mom is a physician with a specialist certification in chemical-dependency. Lately, she and my father have spent a lot of time trying to help a relative who, apparently, has been battling alcoholism for several years. You would never know it to know her. She is a dynamic woman; very smart, hard-working, and a dedicated…
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A State-Championship, A Dragon, and Noah Webster

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! There are a few lose ends to tie up from last week. THE DRAGONS WON! On Friday, I mentioned we were gearing up to see our hometown football team play in the state championship on Saturday. The game was played on the home field of the Detroit Lions,…
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Lombardi-isms: Lessons to Learn From Football

My husband’s high school is playing in the state football competition tomorrow! We are quite excited to see the Lake Orion Dragons perform on the home field of the Detroit Lions and sure hope to see them bring home a victory! In honor of our community’s celebration, I want to share some quotes from one…
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95% Rant and 5% “Morale.”

Warning: today’s message is 95% rant and 5% “morale.” It’s been a rough day!
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How to Improve Motivation

Can you think of a few times in your life when you felt particularly good about yourself…when your “self-esteem” meter was on the rise? What inspired those feelings? Every one of those memories is likely tied to an accomplishment you made in some way, shape, or form; a result of effort and work on your…
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Why I Can’t Spell “Entrepreneur” (or “Pee-Yew”)… and Don’t Really Care!

Why Am I So Passionate About Entrepreneurial Skills? For a variety of reasons, I believe the next several decades will see the employment pendulum swing further away from “big business” and over to small and independent businesses. For one thing, technology advancements are allowing companies to complete more with less “man” hours and are allowing…
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The 3/33 Approach to Back-to-School

Most teachers will tell you that the key to a great school year is to invest time at the beginning of the year establishing classroom routines and rules. The 3/33 approach in the classroom refers to spending the first three weeks focusing primarily on these expectations so that the remaining 33 weeks can be focused…
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Teacher Appreciation: How To Make Life in the Classroom Better for Your Child

What do you have to gain by developing a positive relationship with your child’s teachers? A lot more than you might have thought! One late-summer day, I was busy setting up my classroom when a woman and her son peeked in… Debbie and Luke. I was just transferring into the school and Luke would be in my class…
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Homework: The Power of Positive Consequences

At a recent presentation for parents, I mentioned the importance of providing positive consequences to motivate students with homework. Afterwards, one mother approached and explained that her daughter has been having problems all school year. “Her teacher has been insisting that I provide a lot of punishment at home,” she explained. “I think that might…
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Morning Organization:
ONE Simple Cure for Morning Mayhem

It is 6:00 AM…you have already hit the snooze button twice and are dreading the morning marathon hat lies in front of you. Making sure everyone is dressed and ready for school is enough of a process, especially when everyone is bleary-eyed (and oh-so cheery) at the very beginning of the day. Soon the chaos…
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Why Does Homework Cause so Much Grief?

Tips for Understanding and Minimizing Homework Headaches Does homework cause tension in your house? Is the sense of frustration becoming too much to take? If so, you are not alone. Every day, I receive calls from parents who are fed up with the homework battles. Most parents wonder with exasperation, “Why does homework cause such…
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How I Was Accused of Child Abuse

A week ago today, my husband & I were called in to meet with our son’s principal.  The topic? His attendance. Mark, a first-grader, has a variety of health and learning issues that we’ve been sorting through all year. He’s seen nine specialists and had a WIDE variety of tests, so his absences have been adding…
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Students
study skills college

Study Skills for College

Whether you teach students who are heading off to college in a few months or in five years, there are a few study skills that can dramatically improve their odds of success. How do I know? I’ve lived this story. If you have not heard it before, the short version of my story is that…
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Impact of a Zero

Have you ever thought about the impact of a zero? Probably not. Well, this week Brian put together a video to explain how one or two missing assignments can have a devastating impact on your grade. If you’ve never thought about the impact that a zero can have, you need to watch this video! JS…
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“I’m Not Stupid… So, What Is My Problem?!” College Student Shares How He Turned Struggles into Straight A’s with Study Skills

Previously, I wrote about my 20 year-old cousin, Kevin. He moved in with us from North Carolina to do an internship with SOAR®. (See the story here.) I made a prediction that within one year, Kevin would be earning straight-As in school. Turns out, I was wrong. It only took three months! Today, Kevin shares…
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digital planner

How to Use a Digital (or Paper) Planner

When it comes to using a planner, you really should go “back to the future.” We get lots of questions from our clients about how to use a digital planner. To be successful with a digital planner, it’s critical to employ the basics of a paper planner. Paper vs Digital Planners We still stand by…
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study for math test

How to Study for a Math Test

When I was a student and teachers would say, “Study for your math test!” I would think, “How do I study for a math test?” I now realize that study is the wrong verb. You really need to ‘practice’ for a math test. You not only need to KNOW material for a math test. You…
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Note-Taking: Writing vs. Typing Notes

It’s time for the note-taking showdown everyone has been waiting for. Today, we reveal the winner of the ultimate note-taking battle… pencil-and-paper vs the computer. This has been the hottest question on note-taking for the past few years, and we have an answer for you! So, which is better?   Full Disclosure Before we dig…
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How to “Stress Less” in School: Susan Shares Her Thoughts at the “Stress-Less” Summit with Eleni Vardaki

Few things in life get better because of stress, and school is no exception.  Students should enjoy learning and not be bogged down with stress and fear. But when we’re disorganized, and we don’t know how to study or learn effective, stress and fear sky-rockets. During the Stress Less Summit, Eleni Vardaki interviews Susan Kruger…
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how to set goals

How Students Should Set Goals

There are three steps to setting goals: deciding, believing, and focusing. Decide. Will you decide to sit down with your class and set goals together? Will you decide to get a pen and a piece of paper and dream? If you don’t decide to fit it in your schedule, think of the repercussions. Think of that…
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homework help

New Year. New Semester. New Homework Solutions.

The start of a new year means it’s the perfect time for a new outlook on homework: homework systems! As a parent or a teacher, you know just how much of an energy drain (to put it lightly) homework can be for your students (and you)! Let’s start from the top. The first question you…
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study skills let me survive nursing school

Managing Heavy Material

“Wait, I must have read that wrong. They want me to read how many pages? BEFORE class even starts? This is not what I had in mind when deciding to take a summer class in college!” I knew nursing school wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t think it would be this demanding! My name is…
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Motivation & Multiple Intelligences

Increase Motivation: Identify Your Multiple Intelligence

Are you smart? Immediately you start judging yourself. Maybe you answered “yes.”  Or, “no.”  Or, maybe you waffled with indecision. As a society, we make this judgement of others all the time.  Even the best teachers in education find themselves with thoughts like, “Kyle is a bright kid, he’ll learn this quickly.  But Laura will…
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Procrastination

Procrastination Stops Now: The First Steps To Getting Started

Ever wonder how to eat a large frog? (Stay tuned to learn Brian Tracy’s answer). It’s Sunday night. You’re sitting on the couch watching Netflix and enjoying popcorn in your pjs. All of a sudden, you remember that you have a HUGE research paper due next Friday. Panic sets in. You haven’t even picked a…
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Stress-Free Test-Taking Tips!

The following test-taking tips will help you relax, feel “in control,” think more clearly, and ultimately… raise your test grades. Its test day! For many students that means: clammy hands, sweating, the non-stop bouncing leg, brain-fog, “I knew this stuff last night, why can’t I remember it now!” and even full-on P-A-N-I-C! Preparing for a test is essential. But, there…
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Student Organization: Why the SOAR® Binder Is Optimized for the Brain

I recently received an email from a mom, Beth R., concerned about organization for her middle school son. She believes in our streamlined system, but she’s concerned that her son won’t feel comfortable using our system. He won’t want to “stand out” amongst his peers. Beth’s concerns are fairly common for a student using the Binder…
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How to Prepare for an Exam with Your Eyes Closed!

What if you could accomplish the toughest challenges in life by simply closing your eyes and using your imagination? Well, you can. October 28, 1992 was supposed to be the final day of my high school soccer career. It was my senior year at Athens High. We were scheduled to play the undefeated cross-town rival,…
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Your Super Power Makes You Better Than 95% of People! Show It on Your Resume!

This year, 3.8 million college graduates will compete for a limited number of jobs. 8.5% of them will be unemployed, and another 44% will be underemployed (working in jobs that don’t require the degree they earned). I happen to be one of those 3.8 million students looking for a job, but I am armed with…
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Building a Positive Relationship with Your Teacher Could Impact Your Grade

As a teacher, I always set high expectations for my students. I was firm on deadlines and adhered to expectations I built from Day 1. Then, I met Jackie. Jackie was a smart, cheery, liked-by-everyone sort of student. Every day that she entered the classroom, she greeted me with a “Hi, Mr. Willer, how are…
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How a $0.06 Tool Gets Students to Use a Planner

Pavlov’s Dog taught us that we pursue activities that provide rewards. This historic experiment is an extremely relevant principle today, especially in education. Students do activities that they can see the value in! People also avoid pain. No one enjoys or does something that directly causes him or her pain or stress. This fact, and…
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How Are You Smart?

Last week, I wrote about How to Transcend All Barriers to Learning. The 100+ year-old story can be summarized in four basic principles: Provide Structure. Celebrate Originality. Build on Aptitudes. Make it Relevant. Today, in celebration of the release of our 2nd Edition of SOAR®, I am pleased to share an excerpt from the book.…
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How to Learn Vocabulary Words

We received an e-mail from our client Jean: I’m wondering if you can help with a recurring problem. My son, Daniel, gets 20-25 vocab words every couple of weeks for his Language Arts class. For the test, he has to pull the words out of his head, spell them correctly and write the correct definition.…
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How the Planner Saved My Life

This article comes to you from my cousin, and SOAR® intern, Kevin. Enjoy! – Susan ——– As I look back on my loooong 21 years of life, I realize one of the defining moments of that time was learning how to manage it. When I think about it, I can look forward to saving years…
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The Power of Gratitude, in School and at Home

I was diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis at age 19. The summer before my third year of college, I became extraordinarily sick. Somehow I limped through my first semester until I could return home for the holidays. But that Christmas was a disappointment. I couldn’t keep up with our traditional all-night euchre games with…
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How to Manage Your Time With a Planner

Why Do Traditional Planners Fail? Many schools provide planners for their students, but never teach them how to use them. They just assume that the students will figure it out. As a result, many students end up carrying the planner around and only use it for the bathroom pass section that is often included in…
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How do I study for my MATH test?!

It’s an aged old question, back to the days of the single-roomed school house… How do I study for a math test? However, if this is the question you are asking, then you’re asking the wrong one! You should be asking “WHEN do I study for my math test?” Many subjects like history and science…
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Why Organization Is Such a Challenge for Students

Do any of these situations sound familiar…? Rhonda’s teacher passed out homework to each student as they walked out of class this morning. Rhonda had a full stack of books in her arms and her bag was over her shoulder. Her teacher placed the paper on top of her books as she raced off to…
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45 Minutes of Study Skills Transforms This College Student’s Life!

Can you completely transform your abilities as a student in only 45 minutes? Keep reading to learn about one college student’s experience. Last week, our new intern, Jessie, shared vivid details about the struggles she faced transitioning into college. (See part 1 here.) Jessie graduated high school with a 3.7 GPA, but college was a…
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High School Honors Students Falter in College

The following story is real. It may alarm you. It’s about one high school HONOR student who got to college… and floundered! The truth is, she’s not alone. 2/3rds of high school honors students have the same problem.* I am thrilled to introduce our summer intern, Jessie. Jessie just completed her sophomore year of college.…
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Tips for Taking Notes in Class

Note-taking may be the quintessential study skill. Even people without a real concept of “study skills” know that students are supposed to take notes. Teachers like to say, “If I’m talking, you should be writing.” But how many students listen? Students struggle with note-taking because they are overwhelmed by the content covered in class. They…
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Study Tips from Eight International Competitors

First, I must express my sincere regard for the people of Boston, especially all who have been directly impacted by last week’s events. My heart and prayers have been with all of those who were injured and the four souls who were lost. With that said, the footage from the people of Boston on Friday…
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More Ways to Take Notes & Study Vocabulary Words

Through our SOAR® Study Skills book we describe a simple and efficient system for taking notes in class and studying those notes outside of class. There are, however, some additional note-taking formats, such as concept webs (great for learning science or social studies vocabulary) and graphic organizers. Below you will find a description of concept…
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Your Super Power + Study Skills

Very few people are “naturally” good at all of the tasks required to be successful in school. In fact, statistics say that only 5% of people will naturally have what it takes to excel in school.* Yet, students must get through school.  And, adults must work to make a living. We should all be working…
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What Is Your Super Power?

Super powers are not just reserved for the Avengers™.  We all have at least one. You are probably “good” at a wide variety of things.  But, there is *something* that you are REALLY good at! Something you do better than 90% of the population.  That something is your Super Power. Your Super Power is something…
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From Failing to 4.0

I struggled in school. From kindergarten thru 12th grade, I struggled to earn mediocre grades. I would study for hours…then fail a test. Over time, I had no motivation to study. “Why should I bother?” I wondered. As I entered college, I knew something would have to change. Based on my track-record, I would never…
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“Smart Phones” vs Planners

Marcia, a teacher from Wisconsin using the SOAR® curriculum, recently asked us: I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a student who wants to use an e-planner, rather than a paper one? First, I believe that the only way an “e-planner” will be helpful for a student is if it is on a…
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One Small Step for SOAR®, One Giant Leap for Study Skills

It represents countless hours of dedication and energy from the people on our crew who share my passion for study skills and the horizons they can open for students. Drum roll, please… I am thrilled to announce our new, easy to find, home on the web… www.StudySkills.com! Today’s celebration is not just about our new…
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Can You RESOLVE Your Way to Better Grades?

There is nothing like the holidays to take a break and evaluate your life. Any time we step away from our routines, we begin to see things more objectively. With this perspective, it is natural to desire change. No wonder we make resolutions! But, Do Resolutions Actually Work? A local newspaper posted the ten most…
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When Study Skills Cause Misery

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! For me, the holiday lived up to its name and was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all of the blessings in my life. We hosted 30 people for the holiday, but I didn’t cook a thing! My husband’s parents graciously took control of the turkey and mashed…
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Study Tips from Eight International Competitors

Greetings from DECA’s International Career Development Conference! If you are not aware, DECA is a student marketing association with 185,000 members in eight different countries. My husband and his co-worker (Brian and “Ms. D”) are advisers of their school’s DECA chapter. Brian and Ms. D have worked hard over the last few years to grow…
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Great Tool for Planning Big Projects

We are heading in to the time of year that students of all ages have reports, presentations, and other big projects to do. So, I am sharing a nifty, on-line tool that is a great for helping students map out a plan for these big projects. It is a calendar creator that will allow you…
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How to Make Homework More Interesting

I was recently asked a million-dollar question, “How can I make homework more interesting for my child?” The premise of this question is a bit faulty. It is like asking, “How do I make ‘paying bills’ more interesting?” You can play loud music and eat a lot of ice cream while paying bills, but at…
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Increase Your Grades by Talking to Your Teachers

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know”? Every adult could probably tell you about some opportunity that arose because they knew the right person at the right time. As human beings, relationships influence everything we do! Why do you think golf is such an integrated part of the business world?…
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How to Study for a Test

I am frequently asked, “How do I study for tests?” This question actually puts the “cart before the horse” because the efficient way to study for tests is to do your homework on time, ask questions in class, and learn information as it is taught, not just memorize the night before. There are easy ways…
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Homework: Staying Focused to Get It Done Faster

Recently, a SOAR® subscriber asked for tips to help her daughter stay on-task with her homework. Just last night, a student in my Homework Action Group complained of the same problem. “I have a hard time staying focused on homework. It takes me forever to do it!” I remember, as a young student myself, wriggling…
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“I Left My Homework at Home!”

Have you ever arrived at school and discovered that you left your homework at home…or your lunch money, gym shoes, library books, permission slip for next week’s field trip…? If you think it is annoying forgetting these things, your parents and teachers find it even more frustrating! The good news is that it is fairly…
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Homework Focus:
“Is it Multi-Tasking or Distracting?”

At a recent education conference I attended, there was a lot of buzz about the “multi-tasking” learner. Essentially, educators are recognizing that today’s students are plugged into their iPods®, surfing the internet, and text-messaging their friends all at the same time. So, there is a new push to educate students in that same “multi-tasking” mode.…
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Homework Help:
“I Don’t Have Time for Homework!”

As a classroom teacher, I used to hear excuses from a few students every morning about why they did not have their homework. Most of them had to do with extra-curricular commitments: “I couldn’t do my homework last night because I had a baseball game.” Or, “I had to go to my brother’s basketball game.”…
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Student Confidence:
“So You Think You’re Stupid? Maybe You Are.”

I recently received an email from a parent who is desperately frustrated over the struggles her middle-school son is facing. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and bi-polar disorder. School and everyday life, she says, is a real struggle; he loses everything and forgets everything. Like every other student I have met with these same…
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Fighting Procrastination Over the Holidays

The winter break is before us and, speaking for myself, procrastination is setting in. Case in point…I REALLY did not want to sit down and write this article for December. I came up with all kinds of excuses by thinking things like, “I have too many other things to do that are much more pressing.”…
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School Frustration and Anxiety

School Frustration and Anxiety: if you’ve ever felt totally lost and hopeless in school, there are some things you can you do to flip that feeling around… Feeling Like I’m Back in 4th Grade, Learning Long Division I recently had an experience (in fact, I’m still floundering my way through it) that took me right back…
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Study Skills Are Boring! Or, Are They?

“Study skills are boring!” That is what most students tell me when I first meet them. Boring!? These are skills that can help them get better grades and spend less time on homework…how can they be boring? Honestly, there is a good explanation for the bad rap that study skills have developed over the years…
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Study Skills: Lessons From a Football Quarterback

This time of year, my blood runs green and gold for the Green Bay Packers. My father grew up in Wisconsin during the Vince Lombardi era. I grew up in Detroit where people only complain about the Lions. I don’t think it was ever a decision…I was born a Cheesehead. Last night, I watched the…
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Special Ed & ADHD

How to Build an “Anxiety-Free” Environment in Your Classroom

Previously, I wrote about How to Help Your Students Manage Anxiety. If you haven’t read that article yet, I suggest you start with it, here. It explains what causes anxiety, which is key to understanding how to manage it. Today, I want to share some strategies for building an “anxiety-free” environment in your classroom. Obviously,…
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How to Help Students Manage Anxiety

The key to helping students manage anxiety is to understand what’s happening in their brain. “Emotions are the on/off switch to learning,” says Priscilla Vail, author of Smart Kids with School Problems. You and I both know this is true. We know from our own experience that it’s pretty hard to learn geometry theorems when…
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Student Motivation: How to Get Students in the “Green Zone”

It’s second hour in Mr. K’s class. The bell has just rung.  Mr. K is ready to get started with his lesson. But, here’s what Mr. K doesn’t know is lurking under the surface: Susie was just dumped by her boyfriend because of an untrue rumor posted on social media last night. Jimmy’s coach stopped him…
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Teaching Students with Autism

Teaching Students with Autism: Science that Empowers What Your Heart Already Knows

Teaching Students with Autism There’s a very good chance you could teach me a lot about teaching students with autism. You’re in the trenches, working with students every day, So, I’m NOT here to tell you what you “should be doing differently.” Nor am I here to point out “where you’re dropping the ball.” I…
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How to Use a Planner… with Dysgraphia

I was recently asked by a tutor using SOAR, how to help a student who has dysgraphia use a planner. (Dysgraphia is an extreme difficulty with writing.) It’s such an important question, I wanted to share my response with you. Q: Do you have any suggestions for my student who has dysgraphia and has difficulty writing in…
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Are You the Best Version of Yourself?

Have you created the best version of yourself? I recently met an inspiring individual that most certainly has. You haven’t seen this person on the cover of Forbes.  She doesn’t flaunt expensive clothing and jewelry. And, you haven’t seen her meeting with world leaders. Well, not yet anyway. But, she did just win a prestigious…
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iep meeting

Strategies for Successful IEPs

The only battle more epic than Batman vs. Superman might be “parent vs. teacher” in a special education IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. My First IEP I’ll never forget one particular IEP… I was accused of “not having the student’s interests in mind.” David had ADHD and a learning disability in written expression.  David’s greatest challenge…
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Special Education: How to Make Common Core Work

“Common Core” is an emotional phrase nowadays. Some people hate it. Some people love it. From what we have heard from Special Ed teachers, their story is no different. Special Ed students are being held to the same high standards as their Gen Ed peers. On top of that, you don’t have the time to teach…
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The Motivation Circuit: How Motivation Works

The Motivation Circuit Video Transcription “Motivation” is the term we use to describe a power surge from the emotional region of the brain. When the emotional region of your brain is happy, comfortable, and engaged, it makes a lot of brain chemicals. This provides a hefty power boost the rest of the brain, making learning…
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The Learning Disability Circuit: How Learning Disabilities Work

  The Learning Disability Circuit Video Transcription “Learning disability” is the term we use to describe a low power supply of brain chemicals in sections of the brain that process language or math. Common learning disabilities include: dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, language processing disorders, and more. For example, imagine this string of lights represents the neuron…
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The Autism Circuit: How Autism Works

The Autism Circuit Video Transcription Autism is the term we use when more than one region of the brain has a LOW supply of brain chemicals. Since the Front Brain is often impacted by these power outages, people with autism often have ADHD, too. For example, imagine this string of lights represents the neuron wires…
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The ADHD Circuit: How ADHD Works

The ADHD Circuit Video Transcription ADHD is the term we use when the Front Brain has a LOW power supply of brain chemicals. The Front Brain is the organizing center of the brain. It orchestrates everything…from your five senses and emotions to the thoughts you generate in response to them. For example, imagine this string…
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The Learning CircuitTM: How Learning Works

The Learning Circuit Video Transcription Learning is nothing more than your brain creating new wires. How does this work? Every time you learn something new, your brain powers a connection from something you already understand. When this happens, the neuron wires in your brain –the information you already understand– create new wires to capture the…
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The Brain Circuit: How the Brain Works

The Brain Circuit Video Transcription The brain has dozens of different sections. Each section does something different to help us move and process thoughts. Think of the brain like your digestive system… Your digestive system is made of many distinct organs. Each organ does something different. But, these organs work together to digest your food.…
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80/20 in Special Education: How Special Ed Can Create Big Gains With Minimal Effort!

Can You Relate…? You’re a special education teacher (or maybe you know one) sitting in a building-wide staff meeting.  In the meeting, the results of your state’s annual, standardized test scores were released.  The results are good, except for one segment of students that are not showing enough improvement and thus hurting the school’s overall…
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Learning and Soft Skills Empower Special Education Students

Are we aiming to have our students “college ready” OR “career ready?” OR both? If both, do we get them “college ready” first, then “career ready?” These are many of the questions that educators seem to wrestle with on a regular basis as our country works to prepare future generations for workplace success. Let’s cut…
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Special Education Teachers: What Makes You Sing Like Taylor Swift?

Dear Special Education Teachers, why do you do it? You have to deal with loads of paperwork, angry parents, impossible state standards, and flack from administrators. Doesn’t it feel like you’re constantly swimming upstream? Teaching has become a job, not a passion. Schools are not a warm and fuzzy place anymore. The focus has changed…
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College and Career-Readiness for Special Education

“My students think they are ‘broken,’” lamented one special education teacher. “They don’t have dreams because they don’t think their dreams matter.” The truth is, our education system is not equipped to help any student explore their dreams and options beyond high school. But special education students have an even greater disadvantage; they don’t think…
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The Brain Biology of ADHD & Autism

Welcome to part 3 of our 3-part series on special education. In part 1, we explored the brain biology of learning disabilities. In part II, we explored How to Solve and Prevent Learning Disabilities. The brain biology of ADHD & autism is very similar to the brain biology of learning disabilities, as explained in the previous article. Just like learning disabilities,…
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RTI Tier 3 Interventions:
Take a Step Back Before Going Forward

RTI Tier 3 Interventions are highly intensive. Students have already passed through the first two levels of intervention without success. As interventions become more “intense,” the temptation is always to drill down on the skill. Increase pressure. Push harder. In reality, this increased pressure often does more harm than good. To be most effective, we must…
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RTI Tier 2 Interventions:
Elements of Effective Intervention Lessons

RTI Tier 2 Interventions are small groups. These groups are formed based on specific skills not mastered from Tier 1 instruction. Since they are formed around “skill mastery,” these groups are temporary; they meet only until a specific set of skills are mastered. Assessments (formal and anecdotal) from Tier 1 instruction help teachers identify students needing more support. In…
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RTI Tier 1 Interventions:
The Small Set of Skills with 80% Impact

RTI Tier 1 interventions are the “first line of defense” for supporting students. Response to Intervention (RTI) was designed to help prevent students from needing special education assistance. Tier 1 instruction is delivered to the whole class. Assessments monitor progress of students. If students are struggling to learn specific concepts or strategies, they would then move up…
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What Goes On in the ADHD Brain?

This was a question I’ve asked myself many times.  My wife and both of my kids have ADHD, but I do not.  This was problematic, because… I didn’t understand why I had to ask my son repeatedly to perform simple tasks like put his toys away, brush his teeth, or put his clothes on.  At…
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How Special Education Students Can Come Out Ahead of General Education Students

Stop. Answer these questions: In 1970, what percentage of jobs in the marketplace required a 4-year college degree? Today, what percentage of jobs in the marketplace require a 4-year college degree? Here’s your answer… Notice the percentage of jobs requiring a 4-year degree has not changed. How can this be?  Professional careers (e.g. doctor, lawyer,…
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How to Maximize Brain Energy

I recently received an email from our electric company offering an “Energy Efficiency Kit.” Obviously, everyone is concerned about saving energy! However, we rarely think about conserving *brain* energy. Just like every appliance in your home, however, your brain is an electrical organ. So, let’s talk about some ways you can give your brain –and…
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When Parents CAN’T Get Help

There is a scene in the Disney movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” where Belle’s father is desperately trying to save her. She’s being held prisoner by the Beast, so her father begs people in town to help rescue her. At first, the townspeople lead him on, letting him think they will help. But, in truth,…
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When A Student Is Not “Working to His Potential”

If you ever hear a teacher say these words about your child: “He’s just not working to his to potential!” OR “She just needs to try harder.” …something is very wrong! (Obviously, if you are a teacher and feel inclined to say these words…keep reading.) I have come to learn that these words are major…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 10): When ADHD Children Have ADHD Parents

This week, I thought I would share an inspiring article from ADDitude Magazine.  I am a big fan of ADDitude and was very touched by an article about a mother and daughter who overcame substance abuse and threats of suicide through a double ADHD diagnosis.  They learned about ADHD together, and grew significantly from their…
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The ADHD Circuit®

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Joe, whose son has ADHD and he wanted to know if I had any thoughts about managing social skills.  This was my response… Dear Joe, You have a great question!  First, I am a big proponent of teaching communication/interpersonal skills to ALL children/students, not just students with…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 8): “EVERYTHING Is Wrong With My Kid!”

I must admit that I’ve become a little obsessed with researching the brain lately.  I always considered myself a semi-expert in understanding how the brain works for learning, but I have never dug this deep into the biology before. At the same time, I am trying hard not to learn too much.  I think that…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 7): A Simple Learning Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

When I was in middle school, I began to notice problems with my reading.  I was having trouble seeing the text in my textbooks. When I looked at a page, I saw a glare of  light slithering between the text and reflecting back at me. It was distracting and painful…like seeing a camera flash in the…
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The Brain Biology of Learning Disabilities

For the last two weeks, I have been writing about a 9 year-old boy named Will who is struggling with reading. I prepared a short video explaining some basic, yet very important information about the biology of the brain. I am sending this video to Will because I believe it will give him hope and…
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Brain Biology = Hope for Reading Disabilities – Part II

In last week’s article, I wrote about Cori, a heart-broken mother who is watching her bright son, Will, struggle with reading. She is out of options and feeling very hopeless. Today, I am going to share some general recommendations that will help Will “catch up” and read on grade-level within the next 12-18 months. The…
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Brain Biology = Hope for Reading Disabilities – Part I

Last weekend, I was visiting a ski area in northern Michigan for a few days and met Cori. She was working the front desk and checked me in as I arrived. We were chatting as the paperwork was processing and Cori asked what I do for a living. I told her about my work with…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 6): How to Avoid the “Tasmanian Devil Tailspin” of School Work

Have you ever seen a dog chase its tail?  The dog keeps going round and round, presumably thinking that, any moment now, he will actually catch that tail behind him.  He expends a lot of energy, but has nothing to show for it. People with ADHD often describe a similar sensation of spinning around in…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 5): Is it Creativity… or ADHD?

A few years ago, a friend of mine was working as a grad-assistant to Bonnie Cramond, a professor at the University of Georgia. They surveyed hundreds of teachers, asking half of the teachers to list words that described “creative” students. The other half were asked to list words that described students with ADHD. The two…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 4): ADHD Is Not an Excuse!

We’ve done a few “special article” series before, but nothing has lit up the blog comments like the topic of ADHD. I’ve enjoyed the questions and feedback. There are excellent questions coming through and I hope to expand on most of them in future articles. Keep them coming! One of the comments came from Rita,…
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Study Skills Resolve 50% of Caseloads, According to School Psychologists

Our first home as young newlyweds was a small bungalow built in 1942. We purchased the house in the month of August, many months before we discovered the drafty windows. As the Michigan winter rushed in, it literally rushed right through our house. Day after day. Month after month. Winter after winter. It took a…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 3): My Personal Journey Through The ADHD Circuit®. . .for a Cup of Milk!

I would like to send a special call-out to my cousins! I am the youngest of 32 “first” cousins; Minta, a cousin by marriage, says that we all have the same eyes. Apparently, the genetics do not stop there because many of us -and our children- have ADHD. There was a lot of buzz about…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 2): A Breakdown of the ADHD Circuit®

I have always been fascinated by strings of lights. It amazes me how a simple strand of light bulbs can illuminate any space and transform it into a warm and festive atmosphere. While shopping for party decorations this summer, I came across an inexpensive set of lights that would fit perfectly in our kitchen. I…
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The ADHD Circuit® (Article 1):
Introduction to the ADHD Circuit®

Dear Parents and Educators, ADHD affects nearly 8% of the world’s population. Regardless of country or culture, one in thirteen people have the condition. Many are quick to think that ADHD is “over diagnosed,” “just an excuse,” or simply “not real.” For anyone who has it, or has lived with someone who does, you know…
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Learning Disability or Instructional Deficiency?

The more I learn about learning disabilities, the more I see that the “best practices” for educating students with learning disabilities are actually considered “best practices” for all learners. For example, math and reading interventions focus heavily on “hands-on” and “experiential” learning activities. Isn’t it well known that all students learn best when they can…
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Developing Confidence in School When You Have ADHD

Do you know why you have ADHD? …Because you are extremely intelligent! No, I am not being sarcastic. In fact, I could not be more sincere. Most people with ADHD have such a strong interest in a great variety of things, they have a hard time maintaining focus on one thing at a time. Of…
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Literacy
cue to reading

Cue to Reading: How to Identify & Fix Any Reading Challenge…Quickly!

My latest eBook, “Cue to Reading: How to Identify & Fix Any Reading Challenge…Quickly!”, is available on Kindle for only $9.99. You can find the Cue to Reading here, or read on for more information about the book. The Cue to Reading will: Give you the power to identify reading problems/disabilities. Teach you a deep…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 10): Creating Effective Lessons for a LD Student

When my son was a few months old and I was a new mom, I had no idea how or when to introduce him to solid foods. I fell asleep one night in the midst of reading an article about the topic. The article explained that solid foods should be introduced in very small bites,…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 9): Strategies for the Three Cueing Systems – Part II

As promised last week, I will share effective strategies for the remaining two cueing systems today. However, I’d like to begin with a story about a powerful way to support struggling readers…that I discovered by accident. Several years ago, I had a third-grade student, Emilia (name changed) who had very few reading skills. She could…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 8): Strategies for the Three Cueing Systems

Two weeks ago, our computers were down and my productivity came to a grinding halt. (Perhaps you noticed that I skipped a week with these articles…) With nothing else to do, we cleaned out our filing cabinets. One large drawer was overstuffed with reading materials from my days in the classroom. “This ought to be…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 7): Journey of a Reading Teacher

It was my husband who first suggested I go for a reading degree when I entered grad school. “Are you kidding?” I replied.  “I HATE teaching reading!” It was August and we were on a road trip, heading home after camping for a week on Michigan’s west coast.  I was supposed to start grad school…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 6):
Why Reading Level Is Overrated

One year, when teaching third-grade, I had a half-dozen students enter my class with a “documented” reading level of 7th grade or higher. These reading levels were determined by their second-grade teacher, after she completed her end-of-year testing. Naturally, these parents wanted to be sure their children would continue to be challenged. Several of them…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 5): What Do I Do? Where Do I Go?

A subscriber from St. Louis emailed me a couple weeks ago. She feels her son had a reading disability and was wondering what she should do next. Should she seek a tutor? If so, where could she find one? How could she get a diagnosis? Her questions address the next logical topic to discuss in…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 4): “He’s Just Not Tryin'”

We all have our little nuances and idiosyncrasies. One of mine is my “Rule of Three.” That is, when something comes to my attention three times in a relatively short span of time, I take notice and wonder if the world is trying to tell me something. The Rule of Three has helped me navigate…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 3): When Mistakes are Golden

By now, you may be getting a little “tired” of all of this talk about cueing systems, but these first three articles are synthesizing what I believe to be the most significant information about the reading process. Out of the thousands of hours of training I have had between my master’s degree, several years of…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 2): Cueing Into a Problem / The Most Important Cueing System in Reading

What Is The Most Important Cueing System In Reading? When I ask this question in training sessions (typically for highly experienced teachers), the response from 90% of them is, “Visual!” Then, I open my PowerPoint and display this message: I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. It is the phaonmneal…
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cue to reading

“The Cue to Reading” Series (Article 1): The Three Cueing Systems of Reading

Zimulis. What is this word? How do you say it? How would it fit in a sentence? What is it describing? Do you have ANY ideas? Does this help…“I misplaced my trusty zimulis”? Now you know that a zimulis is a noun. Whatever it is, it’s “trusty,” so maybe it is some type of electronic…
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cue to reading

Introduction to “The Cue to Reading” Series

  My son, Mark, was diagnosed with dyslexia two weeks ago. As you may have read in previous articles, we had some struggles with his principal and reading teachers and had to pull him from a school that we otherwise loved (with a “main” classroom teacher that we adored and who adored Mark). Mark started…
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Stories & News
Brian and Susan - 1996 and Now

The Story of Us… and SOAR

Today, Brian & I celebrate our 20th (!!) anniversary. I feel like I’m barely older than 20… how is it possible that I’ve been married that long? You may not know Brian, but he has manned the helm of the SOAR Ship for the past eight years. He is the unsung hero behind every product…
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Stand-Up Paddle Board with Injury Modifications

The Story of Us… and SOAR
pg. 3 of 3

continued from page 2… Eight years later, we are able to pick up that dream, again. This time, we can mold it into something so much more beautiful and “human-friendly,” as we create a secondary school. Something that will redefine the experience of being 14-18-years-old. Something for: our children, their peers, and (God-willing) many future…
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The Story of Us… and SOAR
p. 2 of 3

continued from page 1… Five years later, the dreams I thought would take a lifetime to achieve, had already come true! (Thanks to lots of support from you and family.) Very soon, it became evident that the child I once thought would get in the way of my dreams, was actually the North Star to…
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soft skills advice from dad

Advice from Dad: The Original “Soft Skills”

When I was in middle and high school, my dad was home to greet us after school every day. He and I would often drift into long conversations while enjoying a snack together (usually saltine crackers with butter). Looking back, those “cracker conversations” with Dad were my personal “Soft Skills University.” It was during those…
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personal story

Happy Halloween!
My Grandma’s Eternal Halloween Departure

Happy Halloween! On this peculiar holiday that celebrates death, I thought I would share a very crazy, but 100% true story about my Grandma’s Eternal Halloween Departure. Hey, I’m not the one who invented this holiday! So, if it sounds a little weird to celebrate this story, well… it is. But, death is a natural part of…
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Processing Emotions

Processing Emotions: Why Facing Tough Stuff Hurts and Helps

This website is primarily dedicated to optimizing the process of learning. However, learning has no greater roadblock than negative emotions. For that reason, I am planning a series of articles on “emotional intelligence.” Frankly, I’m long overdue to address this topic. But as they say, “hindsight is 20/20.” Several recent situations keep bringing this topic…
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When Addiction Changes Your Life Story

As the holidays approach, this time of year often amplifies grief. Loss of loved ones, or even loss of “what used to be” becomes more… well, MORE. I doubt anyone reading this has not been impacted by addiction… in some way, shape, or form. Today, I want to share a very important, powerful, and raw…
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How I Almost Forgot the Meaning of Thanksgiving…

Although I’m very blessed to be hosting 40+ family members at my home for Thanksgiving, I almost forgot to be thankful… The plan was to move my husband, our two kids, and myself into our new home this past weekend. Then, be ready to host my 40+ extended family members for Thanksgiving less than a…
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working in pairs

Working in Pairs; the Most Powerful Productivity Tool Ever!

I shared before that I hit a patch of serious “burn-out” last summer. Writing became paralyzing; it was a miserable process. As a result, Brian (president of SOAR® and my husband) began to write the weekly newsletter. Soon, Jessie, our summer intern, jumped in to help him. They did a great job, but they too,…
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sandy hook

We Are Sideline Grievers: Honoring the Angels and Heroes Newtown, CT

I bet every one of us has hugged our children a bit more often…and a bit tighter…since last week’s horrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary.  We are all struggling to come to terms with what happened. I’ve been quite sick for the past few days, so I apologize for this delayed newsletter.  However, my mind…
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personal story

Learning from Tragedy: Honoring Kenley’s Spirit

NOTE: I first wrote this two weeks ago, but needed some time to collect my thoughts and thoroughly review it before sharing. This is a tough story and includes my personal journey for making sense of tragedy, including a few spiritual thoughts and beliefs. There is a powerful message here for all parents and educators.…
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One Small Step for SOAR®, One Giant Leap for Study Skills

It represents countless hours of dedication and energy from the people on our crew who share my passion for study skills and the horizons they can open for students. Drum roll, please… I am thrilled to announce our new, easy to find, home on the web… www.StudySkills.com! Today’s celebration is not just about our new…
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Thanksgiving Tribute to Parents and Teachers

Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of this wonderful holiday, this week’s newsletter is a tribute to parents and teachers. I have shared many details about struggles we have had to help my son over the past several months, including a shocking situation that caused us to pull him from his school abruptly last spring. We…
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SOAR Is in the News!

I’m from the Detroit area and our local economy, like many others, has been hit hard lately. People from the Motor City are working hard to re-innovate themselves and the community. It’s an energizing time to be a part of this town (especially now that our baseball team has just clinched the American League Central…
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Day 30 – What Should I Talk About On the Last Day?

For a while, I didn’t think this day could come soon enough…the LAST day of 30-in-30! Now, I find that I have a whole slew of ideas, topics, and technologies I could dig further into. And, I will…eventually. For now, I need a break. 🙂 I want to thank you, whole-heartedly, for sharing time out…
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You’re From Detroit???

Yesterday, I took a walk down memory lane, visiting a special store called The Detroit Shoppe. I was inspired to share some thoughts about what makes me proud to be from Detroit. I was chaperoning a field trip with my husband’s marketing class to a local shopping center that is a national attraction, Somerset Collection.…
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Tribute to a Special Friend with Terminal Cancer

Last week, my dad shared a story that really touched me and has been on my mind for a few days, so I thought I would share it with you. Dad had just returned from a two-week trip to his hometown of Eau Claire, WI. While there, he visited with Gerrie, a former classmate that…
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Tribute to My Dad on His Birthday

Several months ago, I was asked to write a 600-word story about how my father has contributed to my success in life. It was supposed to be published in a book paying tribute to fathers, but I believe the project has fallen-through. Nonetheless, I have had this piece and had been wondering how I might…
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Middle School
middle school problems

Why Middle School Sucks for Most Students

My name is Kylie, I’m SOAR® Learning’s Marketing Systems Engineer, and I vividly recall the first days of middle school. Like many students’ first experience…it sucked! Here’s why… Like lots of students I loved fifth grade, being the oldest and coolest kids in school was so fun. My teacher cared about me, I had known…
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stressed out student

New to Middle School… and Totally Overwhelmed!

Last Friday evening, I sat in the waiting room of a local gym, watching my daughter’s gymnastics class through the viewing window.  Another mom was seated next to me, watching her son’s class, bouncing a baby on her lap, and cradling a cell phone in her neck as she talked to someone at work. I…
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Private & Charter
study skills for private school

Is Your Focus On Private Schools Response

Two weeks ago, we got an angry response from a subscriber after publishing our newsletter titled, “Is Your Focus on Private Schools?” In that newsletter, we described several pressures facing private school teachers. In the interest of providing clarity and remaining fully transparent, I’d like to address her concerns. Her letter is in italics. My…
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