Friday, November 30, 2012

Big Brother On Campus

by Online

Big Brother On Campus

Getting Started With Graphics Calculators

English: TI-86 graphics calculator by Texas In...
TI-86 graphics calculator (Wikipedia)
by Richard D Boyce

Let me make this point first and make it strongly:

A teacher does not need to be an expert in using these calculators before he/she uses it as a teaching aid in a lesson. You need only the basic essentials to begin with for each procedure you need to use.

Using an OHP unit with your calculator is a great way to begin. Then you have total control plus a class full of students just 'dying to help you out' if you press the wrong button. These calculators are becoming more user friendly as time goes on.

The reason is simple. The calculator manufacturers see educational institutions as a growing market. If teachers can't use them easily then they will not use them.

Graphics Calculators, like computer software, are a very powerful tool for teachers. The advantage of these calculators over the computer is threefold - cost, portability and availability.

By availability, I mean that Mathematics teachers have to compete with every other subject department for computer resources whereas Graphics Calculators are mostly but not only a Maths teacher's domain.

One of the great advantages of using these calculators is that you can develop an understanding of a topic, e.g. Statistics, Graphing or Quadratics with little or none of the algebra and physical computations you need when using the chalk and talk/pen on paper approach.

The teacher can develop the understanding first with the Graphics Calculator before the pen on paper process is started. This calculator enables you to do many examples quickly and visually thus using the visual and frequency needs of each learner. As well, it is a great checking tool following a pen on paper example, e.g. after a student has drawn a graph in Calculus using the 'old' pen on paper approach.

The Graphics Calculator makers provide excellent manuals and other publications that provide other teaching ideas which will expand your usage of these powerful machines. Each manufacturer has a website with further ideas.

Like all things newly learnt, start off with a small chunk and then use the well proven learning techniques of frequency and recency to enhance the retention of what you have learnt.

Each time you try a new procedure with a class, practice first. Plan carefully and evaluate immediately after the event, noting errors and problems. Then do it again SOON. Keep refining your techniques and adding new ones to your repertoire.

One last important point to note is that students, especially boys, take to technology 'like ducks to water'. Therefore use their interest to create mentors for other students and yourself. Even use these students to demonstrate any new application you need to introduce into your program.

Remember the KISS principle, "Keep It Simple, Stupid" initially. That way, you will gain confidence in using Graphics Calculators and they will become, for you, a valuable teaching aid and a great learning tool for your students.

This is the introductory chapter in a booklet called, "The Beginner's Guide to Graphics Calculators" that our author wrote as a resource for teachers attending workshops he was asked to present on using Graphics Calculators.

A calculator company gave his school 30 Graphics Calculators and some training to implement their use. You'll find all the experience he shared with teachers in an eBook of the same name on the website

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Your College Essay: How to Express Uniqueness When You Think You Have None

US Navy 070823-N-3271W-004 Two young brothers ...
US Navy 070823-N-3271W-004 Two young brothers enjoy a spin in the Navy's Accelerate Your Life Experience that was on hand for a Back to School Bash at Julian Coleman Middle School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Lynell Engelmyer

You're not the best athlete in the region. You haven't started your own charity. Frankly, you've never had to overcome any significant life obstacles.

So, what do you write about that doesn't sound like millions of teens could have written the same exact 500 word essay?

Alas, there's hope, but first, put the pen and paper, err, keyboard away. It's time for some introspection.

In helping students identify what to write about, I ask them to answer the following question, "What have you done that you are truly proud of"? Your answer isn't limited to something school related. Really do some soul searching. Before you answer, here are a few ground rules:

- Your answer can't be vague, so an answer like "I'm proud of my grades" won't really help you, but talking about the fact that your GPA, or a grade in a class is much more than meets the eye because of what might have happened behind the scenes that your transcript doesn't reflect.

- Be very, very specific. You're 17 or 18 years old, no one is really expecting you to have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro or have won a Nobel Prize. Sometimes, however, a small anecdote about your life can reveal a lot about you. One student told me all he did on an extracurricular basis was babysit. After some prying, I found out that he babysat for his baby cousin so the baby's young, unmarried mother could continue with her college education. That's pretty powerful.

- SHOW, DON'T TELL - don't tell me that you're hardworking ... SHOW me. Tell me a vivid story, it will make a much more lasting impact on your reader and it will make your story more convincing, engaging and memorable.

Here are some anecdotes that will illustrate these points and demonstrate what does or does not work.

Example #1: Writing about your family

This isn't typically an earth shattering subject. We all have a family. You haven't necessarily been through any monumentally challenging times together, but how do you uniquely express their importance to you?

Compare these two openers:

My family is very important to me. My younger brother, mother and father are all very special to me, and I value our relationship. My parents are very supportive of all that my brother and I do.

The phone rings. It's Tommy calling to indicate that our friends are going to see the new James Bond movie tonight. I've been eagerly awaiting this new flick, but before I blurt out my excited acceptance, I stop myself. This is the same night that my family has been planning to get our Christmas tree. This is always a special event. We pick out the tree as a family, bring it home, decorate it while consuming hot chocolate and my mom's outstanding homemade cookies while my dad bellows off-key Christmas carols. I have not missed this event in 16 years, and I certainly was not going to start now. The same movie would be playing tomorrow night.

The first example tells while the second example shows.

Example #2: The supermarket cashier

Let's suppose you don't have a significant number of extracurricular activities. Perhaps it's because you work hard at your job as a cashier at the supermarket. There are thousands of teens who do this same job. How do you write about this uniquely? Here are the stories of two people who did:

Joe started his 1000 character extracurricular activity essay on the Common Application talking about how he missed some gatherings with his friends and how sometimes he had to get up much earlier than he'd like, but that his job at the Supermarket had taught him a tremendous amount. He learned discipline because absences and lateness aren't tolerated if he's going to keep his job. He learned the value of a dollar since it takes quite a number of hours for his earnings to accumulate, so he spends his money wisely. He's also talked about the friends he has made and how he considers this group to be like a second family.


Another student worked as a cashier at a grocery store, and discussed her experiences like a sociological observation. She learned an awful lot about people based on their behavior as they stood in line or how they treated the cashiers. She shared some of these stories and told of how it made her more tolerant and more appreciative of small acts of civility and common courtesy.

Example #3: Community Service

A lot of students are engaged in community service, and a great number of students who choose to write about their civic involvement tend to employ some pretty overused expressions in conveying their thoughts. "It was very fulfilling", "I enjoy the feeling that I get when I help other people" or "it makes me feel good to help people who are less fortunate" are vague and overused. Again, tell me a story that SHOWS me how this work has impacted you. Examine the following example:

Nathan volunteered to help recovery efforts after serious flooding in a neighboring community. Nathan opens by describing himself as a 6 foot tall, 200 pound athlete, and, amidst the destruction, the sight that struck him most was a girl's tiny pink Barbie purse found in a mud pile. After seeing that, it really hit him that a little girl and her family, had lost so much. He then goes on to describe the work he did including carrying mold infested wood to dumpsters and how he learned to sand wood floors, install vinyl siding, and more. He also talked about learning how to comfort people who have lost everything.

No vague, over-arching statements could have made Nathan's story as vivid and as descriptive as his telling us what he saw through his own eyes. Breaking your story down into anecdotes is a fantastic strategy and will make your story much more engaging to your reader. Your reader will understand that your small story is probably an example of a greater whole, and your anecdotes will make your story much more memorable.

I'll leave you with a final anecdote that was one of my favorite college essays, but not because anything the writer did was so earth-shattering, but instead, I like it because she showed me that she's incredibly hard-working. This is something many of us can say, but how do we show it?

Cari was a solidly strong high school student. She was on the track team, but was not a standout athlete. She was also in some clubs. Her junior year was rough. She suffered a severe case of mononucleosis (Mono) and missed a good bit of school. She suffered a stress fracture in her leg and was unable to participate in track which was her main social outlet, and then there was the crowning glory of her terrible year and she started her essay with this story.

She describes a feeling of nausea. She mentions looking out the window and breathing deeply to try to keep it at bay, but there was just nothing she could do, so in the middle of the SAT's, she threw up. She goes on to talk about the mono, the missed school, the broken leg and anything else that went wrong during her junior year. She describes how the adults in her life suggested she drop her AP class because she was far behind in her work, but she refused. She talks about how hard she had to work to climb out of the hole she was in, but she just chipped away at it.

In the end, her grades were as strong as always and no one would have known anything went wrong by looking at her transcript. She even was elected president of a club for her senior year. Then, in her closing sentence, she said, "In case you're wondering, yes, I did make it to the bathroom during the SATs.

Lynell Engelmyer is the co-founder of College Application Wizard, a unique and sanity-saving college admission and financial aid application management tool. Check it out at

Lynell has over 20 years of experience in college admissions and financial aid. She has made several guest appearances on a local National Public Radio affiliate call-in show and speaks to groups of middle and high school students and their families. She currently has her own independent college counseling practice and volunteers with under-represented students through community based organizations locally and nationally.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Undergraduate Students and Technology

by Bachelors Degree Online:

Undergraduate Students & Technology
Presented By: Please Include Attribution to With This Graphic

10 Reasons Parents Choose Public Schools for Their Kids

Richard E. Byrd Public School
Richard E. Byrd Public School (Photo credit: davco9200)
by , Hire a Nanny:

As toddlers get older and approach school age, parents are faced with the decision of publicly or privately educating them.

There are many factors that can determine which path a family chooses, but here are 10 of the reasons why many parents opt to go the public school route. 


For some parents, there’s simply no way to make room in the family budget for private school tuition, especially if they have more than one child. As a result, financial constraints can lead parents who would otherwise opt for private school to choose public.

Good Academic Performance

While the public education system in America has come under close scrutiny in recent years, there are still many districts that are performing as well, or even better, academically than their private counterparts. 

Sports Programs

Though some private schools are known for their competitive athletic programs, the majority have trouble sustaining a wide array of specialty teams due solely to the relatively small number of students. For the parents of some budding athletes, public school is simply the best choice. 

Cultural Diversity

Many parents prefer the melting pot of race, religion and socioeconomic status that is public school over the often less-diverse private schools. Instead of keeping their kids isolated in a group of students from almost identical backgrounds, many parents choose the diversity of public education. 

They Live in the Suburbs

Real estate agents know that one of the strongest selling points of a home is being in a desirable school district. Parents who’ve deliberately chosen to live in a particular town or neighborhood based solely upon the merits of the public school system, or are fortunate enough to already live in such an area, rarely choose to send their little ones to private school. 


For busy working parents, the school bus can be a lifesaver. The inability to arrange regular transportation to a private school that doesn’t offer a bus service might cause parents to forgo a private education. 

Teacher Certification Requirements

Though there is a common assumption that private educators are more qualified than their public counterparts, this may not always be the case. Public schools have more stringent guidelines than private institutions, which could mean that the teacher at the local public school has more qualifications and certifications than an instructor at a swanky private school. This is because private schools aren’t beholden to the same staffing guidelines as a publicly-funded school. 

Religious Education Isn’t an Issue

One of the most common reasons for parents to choose a private school is to instill religious values and provide spiritual education that is banned from public schools. For parents that don’t feel the same way, a good public school may yield solid educational results. 

Special Needs Programs

Private schools that don’t directly cater to kids with special needs are actually likely to have weaker special education programs than public schools. Parents with special needs kids often choose the stronger public program, especially if there are no specializing private schools in their area. 

Competition and Real-Life Experiences

The larger class sizes and higher number of students in public school is believed by many parents to be a better training ground for the competitive aspect of real life than private school. For those parents, helping their kids understand the importance of setting themselves apart from the crowd starts with a public education.

Though public schools have certainly fallen out of fashion with more “hip” families, there are still many advantages over private education in some areas. For some parents, public school is simply a better fit for their family and the needs of their child than the schools of the private variety.
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Federal Education Bill Doesn't Fit the Bill

Australian Greens MPs give a Gonski
Australian Greens MPs give a Gonski (Photo credit: Greens MPs)
by Kevin Donnelly, Online Opinion:

About the Author: Dr Kevin Donnelly is Director of Melbourne-based Education Standards Institute He can be contacted at

He is author of Australia’s Education Revolution: How Kevin Rudd Won and Lost the Education Wars available to purchase at

Yesterday's tabling in the federal parliament of the ALP government's Australian Education Bill 2012 represents a momentous and important occasion.

So says the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, who, in an interview on ABC radio said it was a "big day for us" and that education was the "smack bang, central core business for this government".

Ignored is that the education bill, some two years after the Gonski review of school funding was established and some 11 months after the government received the final report, says nothing about the quantum of funding available to schools or how such funding will be distributed.

The reality is that the current socioeconomic status model expires at the end of 2013 and non-government schools are desperately trying to finalise financial plans for 2014 and onwards in an environment of uncertainty and doubt.

Also ignored is that the bill simply repeats a long list of motherhood statements about lifting standards, improving performance, making schools more accountable and ensuring that children reach their full potential - all of which have been stated again and again since the election of the Rudd-led government in 2007.

ALP inspired documents like the Federalist Paper 2: The Future of Schooling in Australia, the series of issues papers published leading up to the 2007 election and the Melbourne Declaration (that provides a road map for Australian schools) all employ the same hollow rhetoric and grandiose promises.

Take the promise that by 2025 Australian students will be ranked "as one of the top 5 highest performing countries" in reading, mathematics and science. Much like Bob Hawke's promise, when Prime Minister, that no child will live in poverty, the sentiment is noble but, impossible to achieve and totally unrealistic.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'Tis the Season to Dig for Merit Scholarships

Scholarship Search Secrets eBook
Scholarship Search Secrets eBook (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)
by Nancy L Paul

It is college application season once again in our house. That means we are also busy researching scholarships for ones that Kayla has the best chance of winning.

Like so many other families, we do not qualify for need-based aid; yet, we do need help paying for college.

To lower college costs, we are digging through tons of merit scholarships - money for college awarded for achievement rather than demonstrated financial need.

According to, there are 1.5 million private merit scholarships offered by individuals, businesses and organizations. That helps explain why so many college-bound families use the word "overwhelmed" to describe the task of finding scholarships their student is eligible to receive.

Families endure the tedious scholarship process to cut down on the rising cost of college. Unlike loans, scholarships do not have to be paid back. They do, however, require time, effort, and strategy.

I spent over 100 hours researching scholarships for my eldest daughter, Rebecca, before uncovering $150,000 in private merit scholarships that fit. She did not apply for them all but the ones she did win made a substantial impact on our family budget. They also gave her a huge sense of accomplishment for lowering the cost of college, as well as other benefits including exclusive networking experiences.

There is no shortage of thick scholarship books and online resources. However, clients, friends, and strangers, alike, frequently ask me for tips on how to save time finding merit scholarships that fit a particular student.

Here are some:

  • Use online scholarship databases as starting points rather than final destinations. Follow the trail from scholarships the site recommends for your student to uncover other opportunities.

  • In addition to exploring resources at your student's school, check for scholarship information posted on the websites of other public and private high schools in your area.

  • Conduct internet searches revolving around your student's many involvements, career goals, and hobbies. For example, enter "community service scholarships," "dance scholarships" or "minority scholarships" into the browser.

  • If your student is involved in community service, type the name of your city or town plus "community foundation" into the web browser.

  • Watch for scholarship announcements posted in your local newspaper.

  • Contact charitable groups, businesses, churches/temples, and the Chamber of Commerce in your area to learn about scholarships.

  • Use the buddy system. Team up with another family to share scholarship information. You may find opportunities for money for college that match their student and vice versa. This saves time and increases the chances to lower the cost of college.

The cost of college has increased 7% a year for the past several decades (Forbes, March 24, 2012). Whether families seek merit scholarships to avoid college debt, increase their options about which college their student attends, or keep their investment portfolios intact, mastering the challenge of finding money for college based on achievement has become an important aspect of the college process.

Nancy L. Paul

Three Wishes Scholarships View our video at YouTube: "Understanding Merit Scholarships and Other Tips to Lower the Cost of College"
You can also receive our free reports: "7 Secrets to Scholarship Success" & "ABC's of Merit Scholarships" at our website -

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How to Nurture and Educate Your Child So They Want to Learn

baby while making his first steps
Toddler making first steps (Wikipedia)
by Carol A Henderson

If you are interested in providing an education to your child in a homeschool environment, it is absolutely essential that you learn how to properly nurture and educate your child so they want to learn.

The love and care that we project to our children will determine how they grow up, the values that they place on education and the manner in which they will parent their own children.

By having a desire to educate your child in a homeschool classroom, you have already taken a major step in nurturing your child and building a motivation to learn.

This is because you are showing an interest in your child's academics and have a desire for them to achieve success in their academics. Throughout this guide, you will be provided with additional tactics on how to nurture and educate your child so that they have a desire to learn and an appreciation towards learning. By taking these steps, you are assisting your child's academic success.

Recognize the Child as an Individual

The first step to nurturing your child so that they have a desire to learn is to nurture them as individuals. According to child development specialists and those that work in medical fields, such as psychology, the passion that we each experience for learning, working and living stems from our innermost being.

You should always work with your child in order to assist them in discovering who they are and their individual passions. By doing so, you are cultivating their sense of self-worth. You should strive to encourage your child and express to them that you believe in their talents, skills and dreams.

By doing so, you will find that your child starts to believe in their own talents, skills and dreams. When recognizing the child as an individual in the homeschool classroom, you should perform the following steps:

  1. It is important to encourage your child and to inform them regularly of how proud you are of them and their accomplishments. If a child feels as if they have a unique sense of purpose, they will develop an identity about themselves that is positive. This level of positivity will then turn into productivity when it comes to their education-based tasks. When you observe your child doing a good job at something, you should always praise them. By doing so, you will find that they start to experience higher levels of competence and that they feel valued.

  2. When nurturing your child to succeed in education and in the homeschool classroom, it is important that you make a point in listening to them and showing an interest in those things that they are passionate about. You should ask them how they feel regularly, inquire about their opinions and even ask for their ideas. If a child feels that you have a true interest in what they feel and the way that they think, they will feel valuable to you and will open up to you more regularly.

  3. Express to your child that they are special and unique. That the things that they enjoy, the way that they think and their feelings make them an individual. You may even elect to use a homeschool education curriculum that centers on your child's unique traits, interests and characteristics. By doing so, you are nurturing a personality that will have a desire to learn.

The Real World

Many children that are in a homeschool education environment benefit more than their peers that attend traditional academic institutions because of the fact that they often have more knowledge and expertise about what many refer to as the "Real World". If you want to nurture your child in such a way that they are driven to learn and achieve academic success, you may take the following steps:

  1. You should always set an example for your children when it comes to attitudes and various types of behaviors as far as education is concerned. You should ensure that your child observes your natural passion for learning and working. As a result, they will start to model this passion. Motivating through example is one of the most positive means of building a desire to learn when it comes to kids.

  2. When educating your child in a homeschool classroom, it is important to utilize standard, everyday activities in life to teach them. All of these activities - regardless of how small or large they are - assist in developing skills and building knowledge. Children may learn about responsibility, consequences, being reliable, how to make decisions and how to develop respect for themselves and others.

  3. If you elect to homeschool your child, you should always have high, but realistic, expectations for your child. Hard work, self-discipline and the ability to overcome obstacles will build a child's self-confidence and will assist in helping them become more motivated at learning.


The homeschool classroom is quickly becoming the top education choice among parents. It is more than just teaching kids, it is an opportunity for a child to develop as an individual and to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. Once weaknesses are identified, a child may then turn them into strengths if they are nurtured in such a way that they want to learn.

The steps contained in this guide will motivate and encourage children to become excited when it comes to their education. Your involvement should be both positive and proactive. Above all, you should celebrate all accomplishments. By doing so, you will produce a passionate learner that will excel in the homeschool classroom and all other academic endeavors.

Carolann Henderson, homeschooling mom, website editor and researcher. You'll find some more homeschooling articles, games, lots more on homeschooling kindergarten, general homeschooling information, free resources, tips and encouragement on my website.

I also have a free gift for you that you will find instrumental in getting and staying organized in homeschooling and all areas of your life along with a free ebook to help you homeschool holidays. You can claim your free gift by visiting my website and signing up for our free newsletter "Homeschool Helping Hands".

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Back to the Future: Do We Need a Universities Commission?

University of Melbourne (Trinity College Chape...
UniMelb (Trinity College Chapel) (Wikipedia)
by Professor Simon Marginson, Professor of Higher Education at University of Melbourne, The Conversation:

There’s been a push recently in university circles for a new body to help govern the sector and act as a buffer between the universities and government.

Champions of the idea point to the Universities Commission created under Menzies as a model that could provide governance for the sector as a whole, less directly controlled buy the Minister in Canberra.

As two vice-chancellors, Greg Craven and Glyn Davis recently wrote, a revived universities commission would “allow government - Labor or Liberal - to set basic directions for higher education but allow an expert body to build the policy details in a coherent way.”

Their suggested commission would have a broad mandate to allocate government grants and set student charges.

However, last week, Universities Australia rejected a proposal to set up such a body, citing concerns about additional red-tape. Despite this, the notion of some form of semi-autonomous expert commission or “buffer” body deserves serious consideration. With less than a year until the next federal election now is a good time to discuss it.

A historic model

The federal government first took charge of university funding in 1957 just as the modern mass higher education system was emerging in Australia.

For the next thirty years, Canberra ran policy and funding through the Universities Commission, later called the Tertiary Education Commission when its brief was extended to cover vocational education.

The Tertiary Education Commission was inside government but partly independent of the minister of the day. It built strong expertise, published many reports, encouraged public discussion and took the long view.

In many ways the country was well served. However, over time the Commission moved closer to the sector that it was meant to regulate and this proved its downfall.

When reforming minister John Dawkins took over in 1987 he knew the Commission would oppose the more far-reaching changes he planned. In a stroke he abolished it.

The Minister went on to merge universities and colleges of advanced education in a single system, boost student numbers in higher education by 50%, introduce HECS, whereby students paid part of the cost of their tuition, create the Australian Research Council, and shape a more professional and strategic university leadership.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homeschool Record Keeping Reminders

Homeschool Picnic
Homeschool Picnic (Wikipedia)
by Lee Binz

Course descriptions are an important part of your homeschool student's high school records, because they give colleges a great picture of what your homeschool looked like. Good record keeping is key to creating those course descriptions.

If you don't keep good records, it will be hard to remember what you did, especially if you have multiple children. Use your records as the tools they are, and your course descriptions will be a breeze!

It's particularly easy to make a course description if you use a textbook. Keep a photocopy of the cover of the book and the table of contents, and you can create a whole course description with just that information. Another nice thing about using textbooks is that if you visit the publisher's website or catalog, they often have course descriptions there, already written out for you.

For the very easiest course description experience, keep track of everything you do that is educational, and use it to help write your course descriptions. If you go to a museum, put the receipt in your records binder (or however you keep your records). If your student creates a sculpture, take a picture and keep that in your records. Anytime you do anything or go anywhere educational, figure out where it fits, and keep a record of it.

Of course, you don't need to keep everything! Your child will take a lot of tests and write a lot of papers, but you don't have to keep each one. Just keep the ones that are out of the ordinary, special, or a good representation, and include them with your records.

It's important to remember that record keeping is not scrap booking! Those pretty pictures that you took of the state fair should be put in your scrap book and not in your record keeping. If you have a tall soccer trophy from when your child was in 5th grade and won most inspirational student, don't include that! That's a memento and not a part of your record keeping. Keep things that are academic in nature or things that are high school level.

Don't forget that it's relatively common for homeschool students to do high school level material when they are younger. If, for instance, your junior high student is doing Algebra right now, make sure to keep some records on Algebra even if they are not yet in 9th grade. It's academic, and it's high school level, so it goes on the record!

Did you know that failing to keep good homeschool records in high school is one of "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Homeschooling High School. Learn how to avoid all 5 mistakes in my free e-mail mini-course available on my website.

My Total Transcript Solution will show you how to create an AMAZING homeschool transcript that will impress the colleges!

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, is a homeschool high school expert. Both her two boys earned full-tuition scholarships at their first choice university. Learn how she did it on

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The Peculiarities of Learning Foreign Languages: Learning Styles

Student learning charasterictics
Student learning characteristics (Wikipedia)
by Elena V Zhdanova

Learning styles are various approaches or ways of learning. They involve education methods, particular to an individual that are presumed to allow that individual to learn best.

Most people prefer an identifiable method of interacting with, taking in, and processing stimuli or information.

Based on this concept, the idea of individualized "learning styles" originated in the 1970s, and acquired "enormous popularity".

Today we can speak about different styles of learning, which depend on our personality and psychological qualities. What we should take into account defining our learning styles is the following:

1) interest, attitudes and sources of energy
- extroversion (orientation towards the external world)
- introversion (orientation towards inner world)

2) preferences for gathering information
- sensing (obtaining information from sensory input)
- intuition (gathering information by going beyond the immediate experiences of life to consider possibilities, probabilities and other aspects that are not immediately available to our senses).

3) how judgements and decisions are made
- thinking (becoming objective, logical, personal, looking for causes of events, and pros and cons of every situation)
- feelings (subjective and personal judging of the situation)

4) lifestyle orientations
- judgement
- perception

Based on this information different widely used models of learning styles were appeared. One of them is the Index of learning Styles developed by Richard Felder and Linda Silverman in 1980s.

According to this model four dimensions of learning styles are apparent:

Having read the information about all these dimensions it was difficult for me to define my prevailing learning style. But the special questionnaire helped me solve this problem. It was suggested to visit the special site and to answer a number of questions about my own attitude to these or those tasks in learning practice.

My result was quite good from my point of view. Almost all dimensions are in balance, only in one dimension visual-verbal I had a score 5-7 (a moderate preference for the dimension Verbal).

Having done this questionnaire I came to the conclusion that it's essential to be a balanced learner e.g. not to have a prevailing learning style, but to have abilities to acquire different types of information: visual, verbal, through our senses etc.

So I had to think over how to provide my students with a balanced learning experience. And I understood that it's necessary to use this questionnaire for them in order to point out their preferences in learning. And after that I should use different types of presenting information and also different kinds of tasks and projects thinking about the prevailing learning styles of my students.

For instance, if I present a new topic it's better use visual presentation which students can see while I am speaking. Visual learners can summarize this information using Mind Maps. Verbal learners should present a short summary or rendering of this information.

For those who like facts and details (sensory learners) we may give a task to analyze additional information at home and prepare a short report of important facts concerning this topic. For sequential learners you may give a problem-solving task (state a problem and give them some time to find alternative decisions).

And after that it's good to use Round table tasks or Debates concerning the problem of this topic (doing this task active learners can demonstrate their abilities and at the same time reflective learners can take part in decision-making).

Summing it up I would like to underline that it's important to have a personalized approach to every student paying attention to his demands and expectations. That is why teachers should be creative in teaching and use a wide range of tasks and activities in order to help students with different learning styles.

Elena Zhdanova

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Universities Need an Advocate: UK Research Funding Director

by Megan Clement, Editor, The Conversation interviewing David Sweeney, Director, Research, Innovation and Skills, HEFCE, The Conversation:

Australia’s peak body for higher education, Universities Australia, has been debating the relationship universities have with government.
English: Clock Tower of Old Arts Building (Bui...
Clock Tower of Old Arts Building (built 1854), University of Melbourne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, a proposal to introduce a “buffer” body to act between government and universities was not endorsed at a Universities Australia plenary, despite strong support from both the University of Melbourne and the Australian Catholic University.

But such a body does exist in the UK, where the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) allocates funding to universities and assesses research excellence.

David Sweeney is Director of Research, Innovation, and Skills at HEFCE, and is visiting Australia this week. In an interview for The Conversation, he discussed how HEFCE acts as an advocate for the sector, as well as major changes facing higher education such as online learning and the open access movement.

How does HEFCE act as a buffer between universities and government?

HEFCE is not a buffer body, we are a brokering body, which has a number of functions. We are a funding body, we are also developing a role as a regulatory body, and we spend a lot of time being an advocate for the sector to government.

The government respects our arms-length nature, reporting to our board within a statutory framework which constrains the government in the level of detailed advice and direction which they can offer to us. We spend a lot of time exploring with universities, as autonomous independent bodies, how they may be aligned appropriately with government intentions. We can give a more sympathetic and informed explanation than would be possible from civil servants.

We also are capable of offering a degree of challenge that is more difficult for civil servants who are working closely with government. This is a time of civil service reform, a challenging time for civil servants and, although we too have to accept reductions in our administration budget, it is easier for us to take a strategic view about our policy teams and about the way they present material, possibly unpalatable, to ministers.

How have the politics of austerity affected university funding in the UK?

The times of austerity for universities shouldn’t be overstated. There’s been a 10-12% cut in public funding over the past four years. Much of that public funding will be recovered if prospective students continue to elect to go to university because the new regime where the government pays the fees upfront gives slightly more public funding to universities.

Our universities in any event have been successful in increasing their private funding. So during a tough period, universities have restructured and cut their cost base significantly. Mostly they’ve cut their cost base and mostly they’ve maintained their income, so they’ve used also austerity as a time for increased efficiency.

What is the best way for universities to share their research with the public?

Research that no one knows about is not going to have any impact, nor is it going to stimulate the worldwide scholarly discourse which is at the core of the academy. Publication is an essential feature of taking research forward to a societal contribution and that’s why we’re so enthusiastic about traditional research outputs being freely and openly available.

We think that the current view of the world plays too much to a linear model where universities develop new knowledge, they give it, or indeed sometimes sell it, to others who take it forward and develop societal contribution.

We don’t think that’s the way it works, we think research directions are best informed by societal need. We think the capacity of business and others to make the most of university research, this so-called “absorptive capacity”, is stimulated by a high level of engagement between academics and universities and those who are going to use research.

How will the rise of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) affect the higher education sector?

It’s too early to tell in my view. We’ve had a succession of different initiatives where technology influences the learning process, and it was suggested on many of these occasions that technology would significantly interrupt the business model of universities. On the whole that hasn’t happened. Higher education remains a sector which has not been transformed by new technology.

Now that’s not to say it won’t happen, but I think it does reveal that you’ve got to get it right in order to make a difference. We’ve learned so far that for many people going to university, it is about the personal interaction with staff and with other students, as well as engagement with technology.

MOOCs offer something new and I think they’ve got to be assessed, particularly in usability terms, before we can determine if they might significantly disturb the business model.

We’ve got to face up to these challenges. If it’s a better way of learning, if it’s what students choose to do, then universities have got to respond to that. Some traditional media businesses took some time to respond to technological changes, and perhaps now regret that.

Those with a closed mind to new technology haven’t learned the lessons of history. But those who assume that every new technology will transform an old-fashioned business model are hopelessly optimistic. This will proceed in an incremental way and then hopefully we will learn that there are better ways of doing things.
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Grammar for Research Writing: Nouns and Verbs

Possessive Nouns.
Possessive Nouns? (Photo: elvis_payne)
by Susan Carter, Doctoral Writing SIG:

Doctoral theses are long. In the writing of them, you want your reader to persevere and more: you want them to hang in closely, so that they can follow you.

So the writing needs to be clear and not fuzzy, as when, for example, abstract or theoretical terms blur clarity.

Terms may be so vague that readers disengage. ‘Stove’ is concrete and visible; ‘domestic appliance’ is broad, harder to envision other than lined up in a store. Using broad abstracts when there is an exact concrete option will make writing fuzzy.

Generally, the more a reader can see in their mind’s eye what you mean, the more closely they follow you. One route to best possible precision is to think about the function of nouns and the function of verbs. Different grammatical functions mean different implications for verbal and nominal abstract terms.

Nouns are substantive. They have presence. But they can’t do anything without verbs. Grammatically, nouns are static. Verbs lack substance, but they get nouns up and running.

Without nouns, verbs are just an electric current without a light bulb. They exert their own presence only by animating nouns. The verbs drive; they need a noun to do it with.

So is your abstract concept a noun or a verb? When you are in a research topic that is bogged down in abstract terms, you might need to labour at precision. That nouns and verbs have different grammatical functions means that they bring their own influence to your abstract, complex or theoretical ideas.

Theory terms may be verbal as well as nominal. We can ‘other’ the people we don’t quite trust and they will notice our bias. Theories around ‘being’ view identity a little differently than when it is described nominally. Pondering over a troublesome abstraction, you might ask is it substantive or is it a ‘doing or being’ concept?

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Why a Solution to the St John’s Scandal Lies With Barry O’Farrell

The University of Sydney, established in 1850,...
The University of Sydney (Wikipedia)
by Dr Julia Horne, University Historian and Senior Research Fellow, History at University of Sydney, The Conversation:

Why is the University of Sydney powerless to stop bullying behaviour in what the public sees as “its colleges”?

This has been a constant refrain in recent weeks as the controversy surrounding the behaviour of students at St John’s college has made headlines.

This week NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell gave the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell the power to appoint St John’s governing council, after he ordered his priests to resign from the board, effectively leaving the college without a council.

But the changes, introduced into the parliament on Wednesday, are just a band-aid solution to resolve the current emergency. The bigger problem lies in the complicated legislative relationships established between the University of Sydney and the churches more than 150 years ago.

It’s time for O'Farrell to introduce major legislative changes that update these relationships and clarify who’s responsible for the colleges.

Shaky foundations

A prime concern of the University of Sydney’s founders was to establish a secular university based on religious tolerance. In the words of primary founder, William Charles Wentworth the university was to be “open to all whether they are disciples of Moses, of Jesus, of Mohamed, of Vishnu, or of Buddha”.

To ensure the secular and educational authority of Sydney University, parliament enacted legislation to establish Church-run colleges in ways that would not challenge the university’s authority. The St Paul’s College Act (1854) was the first and became the model used for the College Acts that followed, including St John’s College.

But the legislators were so concerned with minimising church interference in university business that little was done to describe the nature of the affiliation between the university and the colleges. The word “affiliation” and the phrase “a college of and within the university” were tossed around in the legislation, but their meaning was never pinned down.

This legislative oversight now haunts the modern university. College business remains college business, and the university can only rattle the gates.

Arcane laws and modern universities

Both St Paul’s and St John’s are still governed by what is largely 1850s legislation. There have been some modern amendments, but there is still no legal place for the university in the affairs of either college, and no consideration of how a college-university relationship might work.

At St John’s, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney is designated by the St Paul’s Act as the “visitor”, a role that provides some external oversight of college affairs. This is why Cardinal Pell recently intervened in College matters. But there is no similar right for the university at St John’s, nor at St Paul’s, Wesley or Sancta Sophia colleges.

By contrast, from the beginning, the Women’s College Act (1889) provided a place for the university through senate appointments on its council and made the university chancellor a “visitor”, which, arguably, allowed for some university scrutiny of college business. It also required at least four women on council showing unusual foresight for the time.

St Andrew’s, officially opened in 1876, repealed its founding Act in 1998 and, among various changes, made the university chancellor a visitor and specified what this meant. The chancellor can tell the college council there is a problem in the “manner in which the college is conducted” and, presumably, keep telling them until something is done. But they can also advise the council when that is needed.

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Testing the Test: NAPLAN Makes For Stressed Kids and a Narrow Curriculum

Queensland Teachers' Union reps at Queensland ...
Queensland Teachers' Union reps at Queensland Industrial Relations Commission conference, re: NAPLAN testing (Photo credit: David Jackmanson)
by Nicky Dulfer, Academic, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at University of Melbourne, The Conversation:

NAPLAN tests - the literacy and numeracy tests given to primary and secondary students - are causing health problems and promoting a culture of “teaching to the test”.

A national study released today surveyed around 8,300 teachers and found the tests had unintended consequences, particularly on how the curriculum was taught, student health and school reputation.

Melbourne University’s Nicky Dulfer discusses the findings below.

What are the major findings in the study?

The major findings can be broken down into four key areas. The first major finding is around the fact that teachers are really unsure as to the purpose of NAPLAN.

We asked teachers and educators across the whole of the nation: what do you think NAPLAN is for? And they think it’s a school ranking tool, they thinking it’s a method of policing school performance. Some say it might be a diagnostic tool but that it doesn’t quite fit that role. So there’s some confusion about what the purpose of NAPLAN is.

The second finding is to do with enrolments. And the idea that if you were a school that got poor results in NAPLAN, or poorer than expected results in a NAPLAN test, how that might affect your school.

And teachers felt overwhelmingly that it could affect media reporting about the school, which would affect the reputation of the school, how parents felt about the school, how staff felt, the morale of the students and the staff and also it could affect the school’s ability to attract and retain teachers and students.

We also asked about areas around health and well-being. But teachers were only allowed to talk about students who had reported issues or parents who had reported issues. We didn’t want teachers to say “I’ve heard about issues”, they needed to have hard evidence.

And they reported that they had a number of students who said they were feeling stressed, there were students that were concerned they were too dumb to sit the NAPLAN.

There was a fear of parents' reactions to the test results, if the school performed lower than expected. There were some teachers who reported that kids do feel sick before the test or freeze during the test. There’s some sleeplessness and some crying.

Teachers also responded with anecdotes in that section - there were many stories of kids not wanting to go to school and things like that.

The final area that we looked into and asked teachers about is the one that teachers have the most control over and are also the people that know the most about it. And that is the impact of the testing on curriculum and teaching.

And we asked them what the impacts on the curriculum and teaching are, and there were some very strong results about the fact that NAPLAN preparation is taking up a lot of time in a crowded curriculum, that there are other curriculum areas that are seen as not as important because they’re not tested. That they teach more to the test, so they make sure that they cover the knowledge that’s on the test, and that means that they’re not teaching other things.

It has actually reduced the amount of face-to-face talking time they have with their students and it’s narrowed the range of teaching strategies.

We also asked them about how they were able to use the NAPLAN results and how useful it was. One of the overwhelming responses was that it comes through so late, that it’s not as useful as they would like. They can’t use it as a diagnostic tool.

So predominantly they said they looked through the data and they checked if there were any surprises - if students were performing well-above expected or well-below expected.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Top Four Tips to Succeed in an Online Class

E-learning short courses
E-learning short courses (Photo credit: London College of Fashion short courses)
by Edward J Hulse

Enrollment in online education is at an all-time high. More students are going back to school to complete their degree or pursue higher education than ever before. Adult learners love online classes due to their convenience, flexibility, and cost savings.

One of the main concerns a new student has is if they can handle an accelerated online class along with work and their family obligations. In this article we are going to discuss four tips to help a new online student succeed in a course.

First and foremost, make sure you have enough time set aside per week to complete your assignments. Many students are overwhelmed in their first couple of classes because they are not prepared.

Students should ask their advisor how much time an average students spend per week in a class. If you are a new online student you should add 5-10 hours on top of that. Make sure to have a set schedule of when you will be studying and completing your assignments each week.

Second, students should have the support of their family and friends. Things will come up when you will have to ask for some help from loved ones. You may need a babysitter so you can concentrate on a big paper or just a friend to talk to. Make sure your family and friends know about your online classes and will support you throughout the program.

Before classes begin make sure to have all of the reading materials you need for the class. If you need to purchase a book, make sure you have it shipped well before the first day of class. If you need access to online lectures, videos, or articles make sure you know how to access them prior to the first day of class.

Also, make sure you have all of the up to date computer software you need to be successful. If you have a MAC make sure the online course is compatible. If you have a PC make sure you have updated windows and Microsoft Office.

Once classes begin you should have easy access to important contact information. You want to be able to call or email your professor, academic advisor, and classmates. You also want the number to the IT helpdesk in case you experience any issues.

As you can see online courses are very popular but can be a very daunting experience if you are not prepared for them. Each class is a little different, but hopefully these tips help you along your journey.

Please Review Our Continuing Education Courses Online
Please Review Our Continuing Education Courses in California

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5 Steps to Learning a New Language

Boston - Boston Common: Parkman Plaza - Learning
Boston - Boston Common: Parkman Plaza - Learning (Photo credit: wallyg)
by Amy Gaerlan

A book or a teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if YOU want to ...

1) Take your time!

You didn't learn your native language overnight. In fact, you started out with a few oohs, ahhs, and tears (maybe because no one could understand you!).

When you're learning a new language it's going to take some time - but hopefully without the tears. One of the most important factors is how much time you are able to immerse yourself in the language.

In short, the more time you spend, the faster you will learn. Playing Angry Birds or daydreaming out the window will not help you learn. Find a way that makes learning fun for you, otherwise you're going to struggle wanting to do it.

2) Use more than one medium!

Don't just focus on reading a book or watching videos. Mix it up. Read, listen, watch and when you can - engage! Start practicing reading what you're listening to and when you can - listen or read things that you enjoy.

As long as you can partly understand, you'll be working towards becoming more fluent in the language. Just one hour of listening or reading could be more effective than hours of class (especially if you're not paying attention!)

3) Focus on words and phrases!

Build up your vocabulary - you'll need it. Really listen and focus on how words come together as phrases. Utilize online dictionaries to help grow your own vocabulary for your personal interests. You might not ever need to say a phrase like "My mother in law dances the tango at night."

You might laugh, but I've had some courses have me practice phrases just as silly. The more personalized you make your vocabulary list to you - the more you'll start seeing the words and phrases on a regular basis. While you're learning, don't stress about how accurately you speak, the more you practice the better you'll get.

4) Take responsibility for your own learning!

Guess what - if you don't want to learn the language, you won't. If you are serious about it, then take control. For instance, if you're interested in Japanese manga, maybe learning Japanese will be more enjoyable and less of a stress for you.

Go back to step three and seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Don't wait for someone to magically appear at your door and teach you the language overnight. It's not going to happen. Instead, grab your own magic wand and discover the language by yourself.

5) Relax and enjoy yourself!

If you're stressing out - learning a new language will become work. Don't worry about what you can't remember, because there are multiple resources out that will help you along the way. Each day you practice, you are learning and improving.

Eventually it will stick, and you will end up surprising yourself. Just remember, the more time you spend with it, the more successful you will be. Find a way to be consistent, and do your best to have fun. That is the greatest guarantee for your success.

Learning a new language can be for business or for fun. If you're interested in learning Japanese online, I'd love to invite you to visit Nihongo Master. It's a new approach to learning. Small courses to fit your busy schedule, achievements, points, and a fantastic community that is dedicated to your success:

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ACT Test: How to Raise Your Score to Get Scholarships

Mean SAT Score for reading and math tests, by year
Mean SAT Score for reading and math tests, by year (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Mike Bius

Raising your score on the ACT test is a critical part of qualifying for scholarships so that you can afford the college of your choice.

However, it is not as simple as just studying more or working harder to raise your ACT test score.

The answer to how to raise your ACT test score to get scholarships lies in mastering the test instead of just studying the subjects.

The key is not in the English, Math, Reading and Science knowledge. Most students who take the test are proficient enough in these subjects to get a higher score than they are getting.

Since knowledge of the subject matter isn't the key, then what is the way to master the test? There are three specifics areas of test taking skills to master in order to raise your ACT test score to qualify for more scholarships.

1) Time management is the first aspect that must be considered in order to improve your test taking skills. Many students lose a lot of points on the test merely because they run out of time. Time management is more than just watching the clock though.

2) The second aspect of raising your ACT score is learning how to answer questions quickly. For instance, on the Math test, it is not always necessary to know how to solve the problem in order to get the right score. Understanding "rounding" and "process of elimination" to rule out wrong answers helps you get questions right and save time as well.

3) Finally, you need to learn what areas to focus on in your studying in order to raise your ACT test score. Unless you are realistically aiming for a score of 31 or higher, for instance, studying Trigonometry is a waste of time, as there are only 4 Trig questions on the test. Additionally, by learning how to analyze your sub-scores on Math and English, you will save a lot of time studying just the right things.

With the right focus, that of studying smart instead of just working hard, it is possible to raise your ACT score significantly in order to qualify for scholarships. However, it takes focus and a strategy that is borne out of a very good understanding of the ACT test.

Check out a good ACT prep course, preferably one that is video based for better retention, that focuses not on subject matter and test content, but rather on test taking skills.

By the way, if you are a parent or a student and want to see a brief video telling you more about the best way to prepare for the ACT test, you can watch the PARENT ACT Test or go here to watch the Student's video ACT Test Prep.

From Mike Bius, College Exam Tutor's ACT and College Success Coach.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Signs Your Child May Be the Victim of Bullying in School

English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, th...
Bullying on the first class day (Wikipedia)
by admin,

According to a May 2011 survey published by the United States Department of Education, approximately 8,166,000 students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported that they were being bullied in school; this number translates to about 31.7% of American students in that age group.

The effects of bullying have been emphasized to parents, educators and childcare providers as media coverage of teen suicides resulting from unchecked bullying increases. In today’s world, children require protection from each other, as well as reprehensible adult influence.

Fortunately, there are a few warning signs that could indicate that your child is the victim of schoolyard bullies.
  • Unexplained Injuries or Damages to Property - When items go missing or turn up broken, clothing and other property is torn or damaged, or your child shows clear signs of physical injury but lacks a plausible explanation for these occurrences, there’s a very strong chance that he’s being bullied and trying to hide it from you. Because seeking help for bullying is often considered a sign of weakness, some kids will go to great lengths to keep their plight under wraps.
  • Displays an Aversion to School - A child that was once happy and eager to attend classes but suddenly exhibits a strong aversion to school, attempts to fake illnesses as a means of staying home, or puts up a fight every morning may be trying to avoid school because he’s trying to avoid being bullied there. Most kids show at least a mild aversion to school from time to time; however, should your child seem genuinely afraid or angry about going to his classes each morning, there may be more to the story than a typical childhood distaste for school.
  • Difficulty Sleeping or Nightmares - One of the most common signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not uncommon in children that are severely bullied, is difficulty sleeping. Sleep disruptions and nightmares should be viewed as a cause for concern when they become a regular occurrence; the occasional bad dream is simply par for the childhood course, but recurring nightmares could indicate a serious problem.
  • Lowered Academic Performance - Kids that are the victims of bullying may experience a drop in grades or show other indications of a lowered academic performance, either as a result of being actively distracted from their studies by bullies or because they’re experiencing symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that makes it difficult for them to focus. When grades rapidly plummet, parents should always address the situation; however, if there are other indicators of bullying, kids should certainly not be punished if their studies are suffering.
  • Loss of Interest in Hobbies or Activities - When a child that was once eager to join in activities, extra-curricular sports or after school programs abruptly shows a lack of interest or even a distaste for those hobbies, it could indicate that he’s being bullied by other participants and wants to distance himself from the situation as much as possible.
  • Isolation - It’s not unheard of for tweens and teens to barricade themselves in their rooms, eschewing the company of their parents in favor of talking to their friends; it’s so common, in fact, that it’s become something of a societal cliché. That being said, if your child is isolating himself from everyone, and doesn’t seem to have many friends that he’s interacting with, that isolation could be an indicator of bullying or harassment.
  • Self-Harming Behavior - The most drastic, and perhaps the most upsetting, indicator of bullying is self-harming behavior in your child. Cutting, eating disorders and risky behavior, like running away from home, are all classic signs of bullying or abuse; though they may seem extreme and overwhelming, they’re not an indicator that all hope is lost. A child exhibiting these signs is likely to require some treatment, and may need to be removed from their current school as a protective measure.
Fear of retribution, a reluctance to appear helpless, and humiliation at their plight may leave kids reluctant to notify an authority figure, or even to admit to being bullied in many cases. The 2008 to 2009 School Crime Supplement indicates that roughly two-thirds of bullying cases go unreported by the victims or their peers, so uncovering the truth may require a bit of finesse.

Aggressive questioning can feel like an interrogation to an already victimized child, so parents should keep their tone open, calm and non-judgmental during conversations about the subject.
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