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What is the CogAT?

Jul-06, 2020

students, classroom, test, standardized test

As parents, we are always looking for ways for our children to get ahead, prepare for college, and enjoy learning as much as possible. To that end, gifted and talented programs make students feel engaged and excited at school. Because of this, there can be some very difficult competition in order to qualify for these programs. To that end, many schools have turned to an assessment called the CogAT, or Cognitive Abilities Test, to determine which students to enroll in these programs each year.

The CogAT was developed by Dr. David F. Lohman and Dr. Joni Lakin and is implemented across the country. The test itself can be administered at any grade level, K-8, with different versions of the test for different grades. Unlike a traditional standardized test, the CogAT measures reasoning, puzzle-solving, and logic. It's designed to test how a child thinks, as opposed to what a child knows. It's important to note that different states may implement the test in different ways, so it's important to communicate with your child's individual school to learn exactly what is expected of the students.

If a child is not expected to learn facts or figures, how can they prepare for a test like this? Using a CogAT preparatory program, students are introduced to the test concepts, take practice versions of the test, and learn to think more abstractly. CogAT prep courses not only help students before taking the CogAT, they also strengthen the skills the CogAT itself is testing for, which has huge benefits for your child's education in general!

Are you interested in signing your child up for CogAT test prep? Find a local center offering the program today!


Is Summer Education a Good Idea?

Apr-28, 2020

Two smart girl students with glasses

Photo created by jcomp www.freepik.com

Summer is traditionally a time when kids get to relax, play, and pursue non-academic pursuits. But summertime just might be the best time of year to focus on education. What makes summer education so appealing? Let’s take a look.

Summer Learning Loss

It’s a quantifiable fact that children do forget Math and English skills over the summer. This can lead to several weeks at the start of each school year working back up to the correct level. Over a period of years, this extra time can add up. Not to mention the extra frustration during an already stressful back-to-school season. Continuing Math and English studies over the long break combats summer learning loss and positions your child ahead for the next school year.

Routine

While every student deserves to relax and enjoy their summer break, this does not mean that abandoning all routine is healthy. Without structure, days and weeks can blend together. Not to mention, summer assignments like novel reading become easy to ignore, leading to cramming in preparation for back-to-school. Keeping a schedule that includes summer education keeps your child’s mind engaged. The comfort of a routine balances work and play and allows us to appreciate both.

Good Time Management

Without huge blocks of time in your child’s schedule taken up by school, summer break can be an excellent opportunity to let your child create their own schedule. What do they need to accomplish each week? What times of the day are available to work towards that goal? Let your child self-guide their own education, with your supervision and advice, and use the summer break as a way to learn responsibility and time management skills. Your child will be ready to go back-to-school calm and confident, knowing that they are fully prepared. Summer education gives your child weekly goals to work towards, and the extra time with educators can mean extra advice for your whole family.

As you can see, pursuing summer education for your child still allows plenty of fun and enjoyment of the long break between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. But the benefits to your child’s overall education and growth are many. Want to learn more about your options for summer education? Follow this link to set up a meeting with a qualified education provider in your area! www.bestbrains.com/locations


Top Educational Toys for the Holidays

Nov-26, 2019

Top Educational Toys, Games, and Activities for the Holidays

Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik

Educational toys, games and activities are great gift ideas to keep your Brainiacs learning and having fun. Here are a few recommendations for the upcoming holiday season:

Early Development

It all starts with “building blocks’ and setting the foundation for learning. “The Letter and Number Blocks Set by Hey! Play!” are designed with a combination of numbers 0-9, the wonderful letters of the alphabet, punctuation signs, math signs and of course, cute pictures to keep any young learner engaged.

Early Development

Young Readers

Help your child explore words daily with this collection of site word books, activity workbooks and a tote bag. Sight Word Reader Library by Scholastic is the perfect gift for students learning how to read and write.

Young Readers

Science Kits

We love SLIME! And we love helping children make slime. Now you can bring the science of making slime home for your children to love too with “It's Alive! Slime Lab” by Smart Lab.

Science Kits

Geography Globe

Illuminate the great wonders of the world with “Discovery 2-in-1 Globe Light with Day and Night Illumination” by Discovery. Children will enjoy the changing LED lights representing different geographic data like major cities, boundaries, rivers and waterways.

Geography Globe

Astronomy & Telescope

Expand your child’s universe with the “G-860BG Refractor Telescope with SmartPhone Photo Adapter” by Galileo. Combining the reach of a telescope and functionality of a smartphone, your child will discover that knowledge is expansive and intergalactic.

Astronomy & Telescope

Botany & Nature

Help your child grow in love with nature and plants with “Botany - Experimental Greenhouse Kit” by Thames & Kosmos. This is a great learning kit for the kids that love to get their hands dirty to learn.

Botany & Nature


Helping Students Who Work Slowly

Feb-14, 2019

Children are drawing

In every classroom there are students who have a wide range of abilities. Some students will have learned material before; others will be encountering it for the first time. This can be a challenge for teachers who need to use a standard curriculum to instruct students with different abilities. With a few simple strategies, teachers can make room for students who learn more slowly, while still challenging students who have an easier time.

One way to make students who learn more slowly feel comfortable is to allow students to work in groups that fit their learning style. This is easily accomplished by putting students in small groups to complete projects. The key to this activity is to give students a flexible number of tasks to complete. For instance, each group can have a worksheet that has ten activities. By telling students at the outset that they are not expected to complete all the activities, and that they should just do as many as they can, you create a low-stakes opportunity for students to work at their own pace. By putting students into groups with similar abilities, teachers can create a comfortable working environment for all students.

Another way to make students of different abilities feel more comfortable is to send more time-consuming work home to be completed as homework. Students don’t have to report how much time they spent on homework each night. So students who work more slowly don’t have to compare themselves to students who complete their homework more quickly. All that matters is that every student has the time they need to complete the work. Not only does this create a less judgmental environment for students who take more time, but it also frees up time for more instruction in class. By reserving class time for activities that everyone can complete quickly, teachers can ensure that they’re able to cover as much material as possible in the classroom.

A more creative way to deal with the issue of students who work at different speeds is to give students assignments that they can structure themselves. One example of this is to give students ten questions to answer, and tell them that they’re required to turn in at least five correct answers. Students who work quickly can complete more questions for extra credit. Students who work more slowly can select which questions they want to tackle with the time they have. This puts all the students in control of their own goals and the pace at which they work. A second benefit of this strategy is that students who generally work quickly can elect to take it easy and work more slowly if it helps them. In this way, we aren’t just helping the students who need more time. We are giving all students more control of their learning processes.

There will always be a diversity of abilities in a classroom. But by using some simple strategies to make assignments more flexible, we can create a more comfortable learning experience for everyone.


Think-Pair-Share – Does it Work?

Feb-13, 2019

Idea innovation imagination

Photo Credit: KasparLunt from Pixabay

To determine if this is an efficient and effective learning process, we first must understand just what it is and how it does or doesn’t work.

What is TPS?

TPS is a collaborative learning strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question. This requires students to:

  • Firstly, students are asked to think through the problem or topic individually. This may include answering a specific question or coming up with an example or prompt.
  • Secondly, students will pair up or join a small group of their peers to discuss their thoughts and work through the problem more in depth.
  • Lastly, each group or pair of students will present or share their findings with the class and/or a larger group.

What is So Special About it?

Recent studies have found that students are able to learn more when they are allowed to discuss ideas and elaborate on them through communication with others. Think, Pair, Share enables those opportunities to talk in an environment that encourages learning and requires participation from all class members and not just those who are typically more outspoken.

This type of learning also helps to build confidence in students that may feel a little uncomfortable talking or presenting to large groups or classes. When they are able to be supported by a partner or several of them, they are much more at ease and willing to share their real thoughts and opinions.

With the use of TPS, students learn to collaborate with others and to value each other’s opinions on a wide variety of topics. They can begin to think of their peers as resources with a wealth of knowledge. Students, as a result, come to respect each other more and can understand ideas and concepts that may be far from the norm given their background or upbringing.

How to Use it?

The process is easy to use in just about any classroom setting and for all ages. PreK through Kindergarten students, for example, can’t be expected to write their thoughts or answers as well as older students. However, they can draw out their ideas and still discuss them with other students and the class.

Some of the most common ways this valuable tool is used is to gauge students’ reactions and thoughts about a certain lesson or material, such a film you just watched or a text that was recently read. You can also use this as an introduction to new materials or assignments. Doing this before a new lesson allows students to tap into any prior knowledge of the topic or to gather ideas and get a game plan together for a new project or assignment.

You can also use this to strengthen your classes listening skills. During the “share” portion, each student can be asked to present their partner’s ideas instead of their own.


Building an Inclusive Classroom

Feb-04, 2019

Building an Inclusive Classroom

As America becomes increasingly diverse, one of the first places that students encounter that diversity is in their classrooms. This is an incredible opportunity for teachers to introduce students to the principles of inclusivity and mutual respect that will make them active and productive citizens later on.

One of the first ways to practice inclusivity is to be open about the differences that students bring into the classroom. For instance, just because all of the students have families that live in Cleveland now, doesn’t mean that everyone’s family is originally from Cleveland. One exercise that teachers can do to begin to recognize and celebrate differences is to have students ask their parents where their families are from. Then the students can report back. There will be some students whose families have been in the same place for generations. Others will report that their families are from Mexico or Nigeria or India. During the exercise, you can have each student place a pin in a map to show where they are from. The map can then represent all the cool places that students come from and the various cultures that they bring with them into the classroom.

Another way to build an inclusive classroom is by using content that represents lots of different people. Children are used to reading stories that include magic and animals and challenge their imaginations. But it is also important that they encounter stories about the real people they’ll meet in the world. Books are powerful tools for helping people learn to empathize with others. Children can read books about people from different backgrounds, who speak different languages, have different challenges, and who have different strengths. Encountering these characters in the classroom and talking about them with their peers can help students to understand that the world is full of different people who are interesting and smart and have valuable things to offer.

Finally, it is important that students feel that their own experiences are equally valued by their teachers and mentors. This means that when students have an experience that is different from their peers, they are not left out of conversations in the classroom or made to feel odd because of their differences. Teachers have a vital role in accomplishing this. One thing teachers can do is to agree with students who are in the minority. So if students are talking and one of them has a different opinion or experience than the others, a thoughtful teacher can point out how that student’s answer is accurate or valuable. Another way that teachers can support students is by giving an example of someone students know who has a similar experience. Students will know lots of actors, musicians, athletes and authors whose experiences may differ from their own. By pointing out that the people students admire also have these diverse experiences, we can teach them to value difference from a young age.

Ultimately, we all have a range of encounters with people whose languages, religions, and families are different than ours. Teachers are in a unique position to teach children early on that these differences make us stronger and should be valued.