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This year, make it a point to get connected with your student

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Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 5:00 pm


ave you seen the websites Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista high schools offer to their students? To put it simply, they are very useful!

Easy to navigate and incredibly comprehensive, families can review grades, look up homework, print lost worksheets, and a lot more. It's like having a virtual classroom that a student can access at any time of the day.

In fact, I visit these websites on a daily bases with every one of my students. As soon as they walk in the door, we pull up their favorite's folder with direct links to all of their agendas and grade reports. We take two minutes to talk about their progress and another five to discuss what they did in class that day. No longer can students say "we didn't do anything" because I can look at the agenda for the day, week and, sometimes, the entire month.

When students think they don't have homework, we can look at the class calendar for upcoming tests and due dates. Doing this gives us an opportunity to talk about the dangers of procrastination and the necessity to self assign tasks. Students taught to break up large assignments into smaller, more manageable pieces and work on it a little bit at a time rather than making a mad dash the night before will fare much better in high school, college, and later, the real world.

Using the agendas posted online, we can also figure out where they are in a unit as well as review what they have done up to that point. Students can even go through their notes while looking at their teacher's power points posted online.

Every teacher has a site, so I encourage students and parents to take a look at them. Find out which history, English, etc. teacher has the site you like most and use that one, too. For example, Mr. Hiller of Mountain Pointe High School has a great site; I direct all of my Spanish 3-4, 5-6 students there. He provides helpful links to things like flashcard quizzes and matching games to help his students do well.

This year, make it a point to get connected. Check grades and websites on a daily basis. Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista have made a concerted effort to give their students tools that make it impossible to fail. All students and their families have to do is use them.

To learn how to benefit from these sites even more, attend my last seminar of the year, "What It Takes to Succeed at High School," on Sept 25.

Shauna Cahill is a high school tutor, college planner and owner of The Successful Tutor. To register for her seminar, contact her at or (480) 794-0177.

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