5 Tips to Prepare Your Teen for the SAT

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is tomorrow. Is your child taking the exam? Are you wondering how you can help? Keep reading for tips! I have worked as a proctor for the SAT for many years, and I view the exam with an unusual, threefold perspective. As the mother of test-takers with very different learning styles, my two children have taken the test a total of six times. As a teacher, I am interested in seeing students perform well and preparing them for success. And, as a proctor, I aim to provide a comfortable testing environment for nervous teenagers who are often stressed out about the test. Getting your high schooler ready for the SAT can feel overwhelming. Many of us haven’t solved for "x" in ages. For some of us, the letters "S-A-T" are triggering. In addition, as this NerdyTeacherMom can attest, being knowledgeable about grammar, test-taking and academics does not guarantee that your teen will listen to your advice. I’m here to tell you that you are NOT

11 Wordle-style Games that High Schools Students Love

I recently started playing Wordle . I'm hooked! It took me a while to get into it, though. When I would see my friends post colored squares on Facebook and comment about the difficulty of the day's word, I figured I would try it one day. But I was in no rush. Then, I started to notice that my first period class was so engaged in Wordle each morning that I had trouble getting their attention to start lessons. I couldn't beat 'em, so I decided to join them.  My students walked me through the process of trying to guess the word of the day. Start by placing a random, five-letter word in the squares. If a letter turns green, it is in the proper position. If it turns yellow, it's a correct letter in the wrong position. And if the letter turns gray, it is not part of the word. I enjoy word games and got the hang of it quickly. Today, a rock-star student started a list on the classroom whiteboard of games that are similar to Wordle. As the day progressed, a few students add

Why I Still Wear a Mask to Teach at High School

It's been a week since the mask mandate was lifted at the high school where I work and where my teenage daughter attends. On the first mask-optional day, I announced to my students that I would be wearing a mask but that I was totally fine with whatever they decided to do. I would neither judge or make assumptions. I meant it.  Here are the three main reasons why I'm still wearing a mask to school. 1. I have not had a cold in more than two years. And I'm one of those people who typically catches a cold at least twice a year. I'm convinced that the mask (along with my other heightened sanitary practices) has protected me from the common cold. 2. I'm uncomfortable with the attitude that COVID-19 is no longer a threat. I have no idea how the latest variant could affect my body, and I don't want to find out. 3. Several of my coworkers, and some of the students, have expressed a great deal of anxiety. Being around mask-less people in a crowded, school environment mak

Logging community service hours can be a struggle -- especially during a pandemic

My eleventh grader needs to earn some community service hours. She needs them to stay active in several honor societies. Plus, she needs them to be competitive among her peers this fall when she begins applying to colleges and for scholarships. In a 2018  Forbes  article , writer Derek Newton reported on a survey of college admissions officers and the value they place on community service.  "Fortunately, a new survey of college admissions officers and staff shows that t argeted community service may be a shortcut to scoring college admission or serve as a powerful tie-breaker among competitive applicants," Newton wrote. Of late, I have been questioning the equity of service hour requirements and expectations. Are they fair? I've also been beating myself up a bit for failing to be a better example when it comes to serving in the community. Perhaps if I did more community service, and did it more consistently, then my daughter would see it as a natural part of our family

¡Oh, queso! Who remembers government cheese?

I wouldn't consider myself a cheese lover. But I do like cheese, especially on pizza and macaroni and cheese and pasta and gouda on crackers and cheesecake and ... Ok, maybe I am a cheese lover! Today is National Cheese Lover's Day. In recognition of this arguably insignificant but quirky day, I am sharing a poem I wrote a few years back. It's about the first cheese I actually remember. Those cardboard boxes had a special spot in our refrigerator! Comment below with your favorite cheese memory! Interested in the history of government cheese? Check out this article at   How the US Ended Up With Warehouses Full of 'Government Cheese'

Remembering bell hooks: She signed my books but wouldn't let me take her coat

Earlier this month, we lost the physical presence of a great intellectual, bell hooks.  bell hooks - Photo courtesy of Berea College I had two memorable encounters with this amazing woman. The first happened while working at UMass Boston. The second was at Goucher College. Prior to teaching, I worked in public relations at several organizations. These positions afforded me opportunities to meet and listen to some phenomenal thinkers, scholars and entertainers. At UMass Boston in 1998, hooks had visited the university to discuss Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. I covered the event for the University Reporter, the campus newspaper.  The article was titled "bell hooks Addresses Packed Faculty Club." In the piece, I mentioned that the venue was so packed, guests had to sit on the floor. Clearly someone had underestimated the popularity and reach of bell hooks. University Reporter - Vol. 02, No. 08 - April 1998 I can't honestly say that I remember much about the event. But I r

Look it up! Paper Dictionaries Offer Perks

I recently wrote an article titled " How to Teach World Language Vocabulary with Flashcards: The “Old-School” Strategy Still Works ." The post prompted me to think about how I approach vocabulary learning in my own home and what I can do to help build my own children's vocabulary. Back in the Day When I was a kid, the dictionary sucked me in -- kind of like the way video reels on social media hook our children today. We always had a good dictionary in the house. And by "good" I mean a huge, unabridged beast of a book that was too doggone heavy to carry around. It rarely moved from its place on the cluttered family desk that we all shared but where nobody ever seemed to actually sit. My siblings and I also kept smaller, student-style dictionaries in our bedrooms.  I would frequently approach the dictionary to find a word or two while doing homework or reading for pleasure. I'd often look up and realize that I had spent the equivalent of a sitcom engrossed in