Get Better Grades, Quicker and Easier, by Practicing

Peter Lenn

Telling Your Teen to Do the Homework Isn’t Enough

By the time teens get to high school, their eight or more years of school have convinced most of them that they are doing about as well as they can. As the parent of a teen, you may think he or she could and should be getting better grades, struggling less, and enjoying school more. Based on the success of thousands of teens who have attended our Power Learners workshops, it is clear that you are right. This post presents data that show both that it is possible and how to make it happen.

The problem looks like this. Bright students bringing home mediocre grades, or working too hard for the grades they get. Now, we find that, regardless of… Continue reading

Telling Your Teen to Do Homework Isn’t Enough

By the time teens get to high school, their eight years of school have convinced most of them that they are doing about as well in school as they can. As the parent of a teen, you have probably spent much time and effort telling your teen about the value of education and hard work. It probably hasn’t made much difference. Even the professionals at colleges who try to help struggling students graduate aren’t very successful. As you may know, California Community Colleges and State Universities are ending Student Success courses because they don’t work very well. One reason is that those courses talk about learning, studying, and motivation, rather than coaching students as learn by practicing. Here is why.… Continue reading

How to Help Your Teen Succeed in School

After a couple of decades of working with teenaged students, I’ve come to this conclusion. Every teen, no matter how they are doing in school and no matter what they say about school, knows that education is valuable and would like to be getting good grades. If this is so, you may ask, how do I explain why so many teens aren’t doing better in school? More importantly, you may be thinking, if that’s true, what can we parents do to help our teens do better?

In his best-selling book Drive, author Daniel Pink stresses that people are naturally motivated to explore, learn, and experiment. Sounds great, but maybe it seems as though your teen is discouraged or uninterested.… Continue reading

First Catch Up. Then Get Ahead

If you are like most high school and college students you start every course a little behind or a lot behind. Then as the semester goes along, you fall farther behind. Each new assignment is more difficult and takes more time. It’s discouraging and difficult to keep striving. Even when you study hard, your grades may not improve.

Here’s what’s going on. To enroll in Spanish 2, you have to pass Spanish 1 with a C or better. Let’s say you know 500 of the 1000 Spanish words you were supposed to learn in Spanish 1. At the beginning of Spanish 2, the teacher does a brief review of the grammar and vocabulary from Spanish 1. That helps, but there’s… Continue reading

Fresh Learning VS Familiar Learning

Several years ago, I was talking about learning with my friend Larry. We were, I thought, talking about helping teens do better in high school and college. But something was wrong. We two imminently reasonable people were not understanding each other. It turned out he was talking about his time at Harvard Law School and I was talking about junior college students struggling with math. Ever since, I have found that my discussions with teachers, students and adults are frequently more productive and satisfying if we take the time to clarify what aspects of teaching and learning we are talking about. In particular, I have found it helpful to distinguish between familiar learning and fresh learning.

    Familiar Learning

Learn more… Continue reading

How to Become an A Student

Unless you are getting A’s, school is hard and probably not much fun. You may like being with friends or sports or a club, but the basic routine of classes and homework can be a drag. Think about this. If you knew everything you are supposed to know from previous classes, then today’s assignments would be pretty easy. If you could get help by phone anytime you get stuck while doing your homework, you’d save a lot of time. If you knew the best way to learn today’s assignments, you wouldn’t be confused, procrastinate, or spend time defending yourself to your parents and teachers.

If you were already an A student, you would understand your subjects, learn new material quickly,… Continue reading

Intelligence and Motivation

Many students are not doing as well in school as they or their parents would like. Others have to work unreasonable hours to get good results. In both these situations, many teens form negative opinions about themselves: “I’m not good at this subject.” “I can’t do it.” “I am a procrastinator.” They think that there’s something wrong with their intelligence and motivation, which in turn, causes further poor performance and discouragement.

Instead, we have found that student performance depends mostly on doing enough of the right kind of practice, rather than on intelligence and motivation.

Obviously there are differences between people in capability, talent and interests. But research has shown that 95% of students have the intelligence to master everything… Continue reading