The VARK Model

I love taking neat, color-coded notes. I have a friend who can’t study sitting down. Every student learns differently; no one is equal to or better or worse than another.

The VARK Model describes the 4 most common types of learners: visual learners, auditory learners, reading & writing learners, and kinesthetic learners.

Very rarely does a student identify with just one method of learning. Often times students are a mix of two or more. Sometimes students can be sort of 60-40, leaning more toward one method than another.

Visual learners learn by seeing things in front of them. Maps, diagrams, PowerPoint presentations, these are all examples of mediums that work well when teaching a visual learner. Visual learners may not enjoy working in groups, but, when given the proper methods and tools, are able to work just as efficiently as a team of students.

Auditory learners learn by hearing. These learners learn well when someone talks or explains a concept to them, rather than reading it out of a textbook themselves. Videos and lectures are good for students like this. When reading a text, auditory learners may read it out loud to themselves to facilitate comprehension, and prefer not to take notes during classes.

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Reading and writing learners, on the other hand, love taking notes. These learners learn best when they’re writing out the information or reading it to themselves. They prefer to have written instructions and can get annoyed if someone insists on explaining a concept verbally.

Kinesthetic learners tend to be students who are athletic. They’re completely hands-on learners. Kinesthetic learners remember lessons better if they’re able to practice it with movements. Lab experiments, drawings, and interactive games are some good ways to get through to a kinesthetic learner. Kinesthetic learners may get fidgety and disruptive if made to sit still for a long period of time. They might have trouble focusing on a task that does not allow them to move.

Teachers who cannot teach all types of students are bad teachers. Teachers who do not recognize that students are not all the same are bad teachers. There is no right or wrong way to learn, as long as the student is comfortable and able to grasp the lesson.

 

Making the most of high school

‘High School is the best four years of your life.’I can see how that’s true. High school is a the time period where you’re just starting to discover who you are. It’s the time to decide which path you’d like to take and who you’d like to be. It’s a beautiful, messy, confusing part of life, and it’s amazing.

Have you ever had those nights, maybe you were out late with your friends, and you’re in such a good mood that all you can do is laugh and think, “I never want to grow up.” Those are my favorite kinds of nights.

Growing up is inevitable, but making memories that last forever is completely possible. They don’t have to be made in school, because any experience during these four years is a vital one.

Start by joining an extracurricular. Choose one you’re interested in so that you can enjoy yourself more. Extracurricular activities allow you to widen your horizons. You get to learn new things and make new friends, all while adding things to our college applications!

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If it’s possible, get a part time job. You’ll be able to make a little bit of extra money and get some real life experience. And when you’re older, you can walk down the street and tell your grandkids about the days you spent folding T-shirt’s at that one department store.

Better the life of someone else. Even a smile is a form of charity. Volunteer at some fundraisers, host your own fundraiser, make a difference! Being able to see a change you’ve made in someone’s life is one of the most fulfilling feelings. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Make friends with someone who seems shy. Apologize to someone you might’ve hurt. It’s the little things that count.

Speak up in class. Make yourself be heard. Go out when you’re invited, but stay out of trouble. Memories are great, but no memory is worth bodily harm or injury.

Listen to the songs you love, even if you feel like they’re not what everyone else listens to. Take pictures, create albums, don’t let anyone shame you into not living your life to the fullest.

Distance yourself from toxic people. You don’t want or need that kind of negativity in your life. I’d rather have two very, very good friends than a large group of friends who will turn their back on me at a moment’s notice.

Laugh, cry, scream your lungs out. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, people will love you for who you are.

High school is just four short years. I’ll never forget how, in my ninth grade year, just before she walked out of the school gate forever, one of the seniors that year said to me, “Don’t waste these years. They’re over before you know it.”

 

Peer Pressure

It’s been scientifically proven that when a group of teens becomes friends, the probability of them making stupid decisions rises. Teens can influence each other so much more than they realize. The definition of peer pressure is the pressure peers put on one another to take a certain action or conform to a certain standard.

Peer pressure can sometimes be positive but it usually has a very negative connotation. When you think of peer pressure, chances are your mind conjures up images of cigarettes and alcohol and other damaging behaviors that are typically associated with teenagers, though those may not always be the behaviors teens are pressured into acting on.

It’s natural human instinct to want to fit in. There’s nothing wrong with it, and the more time students spend with their peers, the more desperate they are to fit in with them. Sometimes they go to impossible or dangerous lengths to do so.

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A teenager typically chooses another teen or group of teens they’d like to be friends with and then tries to figure out what they might need to do to fit in with them. These actions can be damaging like smoking, doing drugs, or drinking. Or they can be really beneficial, like eating healthier, exercising more, or aspiring towards higher grades.

Although many teenagers base their decisions on peer pressure, there is always the option to say no. When teenagers start giving in to peer pressure they don’t often think about what they really want to do, or what they think is right. This is where things start going wrong and good kids become good kids no longer.

Teenagers need to be able to build their self confidence up to a level where they feel comfortable rejecting actions of behaviors they aren’t comfortable with. Having a friend who also says no to dangerous behaviors can help.

Otherwise, reinforcing positive behavior and talking to teenagers about the dangers and consequences of peer pressure can minimize the chances that they engage in such behaviours.

 

Helpful Sites

Not all students are the same. This is a fact. In the eighth grade, I taught myself science all year because I couldn’t understand a thing from the teacher. Sometimes teachers might be very good at their jobs, but not very good at getting through to students who learn differently from others. This can be frustrating for the student, especially if it’s in a subject the student loves or is usually very good at.

There are a variety of learning websites and apps that have been created to help students learn on their own. Some are free, and some require payments for memberships, but a little bit of searching can bring about loads of results. Here are some of the ones that I love:

1- Khan Academy – website, app (www.khanacademy.org)

This website saved my neck in the weeks leading up to my AP Physics exam. They have lessons on a wide variety of subjects ranging from sciences to arts and practice quizzes to go with them. They offer SAT and AP practice tests, as well as college admissions tips.

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2- edX – website, app (www.edx.org)

This website is amazing. They offer courses led by professors from some of the world’s best universities (MIT, Princeton, and Harvard just to name a few). Their courses are extremely varied and courses can be taken in a large variety of languages. This website was recommended to me by one of my teachers and I feel I should pass on this great resource.

3- Coursera – website, app (www.coursera.org)

Coursera is pretty much the same as edX, though I prefer edX. It just comes down to personal preference, really. Have a look at both, because they’re both great services. It should be noted that both edX and Coursera are targeted towards students looking for college level courses or for students looking to learn something their school does not offer.

4-Mathspace – website, app (www.mathspace.co)

I suck at math. This service works wonders for me. Typing in your answers can get a little bit annoying but the website checks your work step by step and eventually gives you a video to explain what you’re doing wrong, which is great so you don’ have to go searching for your mistakes. Teachers can sign up and see their students’ progress too. If you sign up as part of a class, there’s also a sort of leaderboard where you can see who has solved the most questions and how long it took them. This adds an air of competition which may help students who thrive on that sort of thing.

5- Quizlet – website, app (www.quizlet.com)

This one should be used with caution, as all the information on it is added by students and/or teachers. The service allows you to make flash cards for a certain subject and then tests you on them. Again, you can join as part of a class and do the same work as the rest of your classmates or use it on your own as a convenient study tool.

With exams just around the corner for many of us, there’s no such thing as too prepared!