How We Get Our Students Excited About Text Response

This term, many of our English classes will be going through text response. We at Spectrum Tuition are always working to improve our curriculum in order to give our students the best possible chance of building confidence and achieving success in their studies. Recently, we have been working hard to come up with new and innovative ways of teaching our students the important skill of text response.

What Is Text Response?

Text response is the ability to read and respond to a piece of writing in complex and often difficult ways. Text response measures students’ abilities not just to understand a text, but to interpret themes, respond to characters, identify tones and engage imaginatively with that they are reading. Students who are good at text response are generally students who read widely and enjoy reading novels, poems, comics and newspapers.

Why Is Text Response Important?

The ability to engage with a piece of writing on a complex level is one of the most important skills that your child can learn. Text response is a central component of the VCE English curriculum, but it is also vital to most other subjects. A lot of students who struggle with mathematics and science are often held back, not by their inability to add numbers or remember formulas, but by their inability to interpret what they are reading. Good reading and text response skills are often very difficult to teach, but this is a challenge we have set for ourselves!

How Do We Get Students Excited About Text Response?

The most important step in helping our students improve their text response skills is to make sure they are actually excited or engaged by what they are reading. Students who are engaged in what they are reading are far more likely to learn valuable reading, comprehension and interpretation skills. In order to make sure all of our students are engaged in reading, we have begun an exciting project to develop our own range of short stories. These stories are written by our very own author Christopher Edwards specifically for Spectrum Tuition and are designed to engage students of a variety of year levels, whilst developing their text response skills.

If you would like to see an example of one of our stories, click HERE to read The Misdorians From Neptune!

The Importance Of Mental Mathematics + 3 Strategies You Can Use Today

In a world where most people walk around with a mobile phone in their pocket at all times, it is often suggested that we no longer need mental maths skills. Many people assume that the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers quickly in our head is useless in a day and age when a phone, calculator or computer can do it better. So why do we still teach students mental arithmetic? And, more importantly, is this still a skill worth teaching?

To put it simply, yes! While calculators are a wonderful invention, there are many benefits of having good mental maths skills. So here are the 3 most important reasons for your child to improve their mental maths skills.

1. Mental maths provides a deeper understanding of calculation

Imagine you wanted to order 4 sandwiches each for 14 people. You grab your calculator and type in 4 x 14. However, as you are typing, your finger slips and you accidentally type 4 x 144. The calculator gives you the answer 576. If you have good mental maths skills, you would probably notice something a bit odd. Based on your own understanding of how multiplication works, you would reason that 576 was far too many sandwiches. As such, you could type the equation in to your calculator again and get the correct answer, which is 56. However, if you ignore mental maths and always trust the calculator, your little slip of the finger can be disastrous! Imagine accidentally buying 576 sandwiches when you only needed 56! This point is especially relevant for VCE students who, if they rely too heavily on their calculators during their exams, can lose valuable marks.

At Spectrum Tuition, we teach mental arithmetic from a young age to keep our students’ minds sharp and to develop their sense of how numbers work. General arithmetic is the basis of most other topics in maths so having a strong intuitive understanding of the structure of how numbers work together ensures that our students are more successful with maths in the future. Additionally, the recent focus on mental strategies in the curriculum means that many schools are opting to move away from teaching the traditional addition and subtraction algorithm until students have grasped front end addition and subtraction strategies so it is important for students to learn these strategies to succeed at school.

Watch the following video of how a Spectrum Tuition student (and my daughter) demonstrates a mental maths technique that we teach in our classes:

2. Mental maths is vital in exams without calculators

Like it or not, our current school system requires students to complete a majority of their exams without calculators. While we adults can always pull out our phones to check our working out, students are required to rely on their own abilities to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers. And while all students are taught techniques to work out sums on paper, the ability to quickly do sums in their heads can help students save valuable seconds and even minutes in an exam situation. What’s more, during multiple choice exams, mental maths can provide a quick way of narrowing down which answers might be correct, and which are definitely wrong, making it much easier to choose the correct answer.

When preparing our students for Selective School and Scholarship exams, it is vital that we give them techniques to answer questions as quickly and as accurately as possible. The ability to quickly perform calculations in their head is one of the most valuable tools that students can have from primary all the way to VCE.

3. Mental maths is practical in real life

The ability to quickly calculate complicated sums is also a valuable life skill. Whether you’re trying to figure out how much your shopping cart is, how to split the bill at a dinner party or trying to work out how many boxes you will need to pack all of your groceries, or trying to figure out much money you have left over after making a purchase, mental maths will make your life easier.
By developing good mental maths skills from a young age, children are able to improve other skillsets and easily work out answers to mathematical scenarios in everyday life. It’s never too early or too late to start giving your child the foundational skills that they will need to succeed throughout their mathematics education.
3 mental maths addition strategies to apply today!

In the video above, Annabelle demonstrated the splitting strategy where she broke up the second number into tens and ones. Below are three further strategies to try out today.

a. Adding from left to right

25 + 36

Similar to the above strategy, this technique requires that you break both numbers into tens and ones

20 + 30 + 5 + 6

= 50 + 11

= 61

b. Compensation strategy

34 + 49
First, since 49 is so close to 50, we will add 1 to 49 which will make it easier to solve:
34 + 50
= 84
Then, since we added one extra to the original equation, we have to subtract one from the final answer
= 83

c. Using friendly numbers

Friendly numbers are numbers that are easy to work with. For example, multiples of 10 are “friendly” because they are easy to work with when we add or subtract.

We begin by getting to a friendly number, which is typically a multiple of 10, 100, or 100 – depending on the numbers that we are working with. Then we add on the remainder.

265 + 18

We can add 5 from the 18 to get to a friendly number 270.

We have 13 left, so now we can simply add the 13 to the 270 to get a final answer of 283.

Mental maths is not about following a one size fits all process. It involves having many “tools” available and being able to effectively choose and use a tool to solve an equation. The important thing to remember is that we don’t want to force our students into using a tool that doesn’t work for them. This is why it’s so important to introduce a variety of different strategies, teach them in isolation to allow mastery, and then allow students to begin choosing the tool that works best for them individually.

Going back to our original problem at the start of this email, now that we have a number of mental maths strategies, we can solve the problem as follows:

Most students are comfortable with their times tables up to 12, therefore, to solve 14 x 4, we might break up the sum as follows:

12 x 4 = 48

2 x 4 = 8

We then add the answers using the ‘friendly numbers’ strategy.

48 + 8 = 56

To learn more about how we can help your child develop their mental maths skills, please click on the link below to book your free assessment at one of our centres.

Click here to book your free assessment

Click here to enrol online

If you would like your child to further develop their logical thinking skills, our Yellow Brick Code holiday program starting next week from 2nd – 4th July is a perfect way for them to be productive and to keep their mind sharp over the school holidays. Over three days, students will follow the adventures of the four code blocks as they find magic batteries, cosmic crystals or solve the mystery of the missing diamond while learning to code and build their own video games in just 3 days.

To find out more, please click on the link below.

Click here to enrol online

If you have any queries, please contact us on 1800 668 177 today.

4 Skills That All 21st Century Students Need

It’s a tough time to be a student. Students are put under more pressure, expected to master more skills, and required to be more competitive than ever before. To be successful in today’s academic world, you need a certain set of skills. Today, we are going to look at the 4 main skills that all 21st century students need to achieve their goals.

1. Avoiding Distractions
In the past, the only way students could distract themselves from their homework was to gaze out the window. Today, the possibilities for procrastination are endless. With text messages, the internet and video games competing for students’ attention, the ability to avoid distractions is more valuable than ever. The key to avoiding distractions is to be systematic about it. Today’s successful students are the, more often than not, ones who draw a strict distinction between study time and relaxation time.

2. Flexibility
Things change quickly these days. Subjects and jobs that existed in the past no longer exist. Students are expected to pick up new skills and adapt to change quickly. Students who are comfortable learning in a variety of different ways, and approaching new ideas are much more likely to be successful in today’s world.

3. Digital Literacy
In today’s world, computers are everything. Students who develop advanced skills in digital literacy and coding are significantly more likely to find rewarding careers in tomorrow’s world. What’s more, the ability to effectively use technology can help with research, logical thinking and problem solving, skills that are necessary in every subject.

4. Independence
You can only get so far by doing as you are instructed. Today, successful students are often the ones who are independent and self motivated, who do their own research, set their own goals and pursue their own curiosity. Particularly in a world where class sizes are getting bigger, the ability for students to set their own schedules, keep track of their own progress, and work independently is essential to academic success.

Does your child possess these 4 skills? Would you like to learn more about how you can develop their study habits. Click here to join our mailing list and we’ll send you our FREE study skills guide, aimed to equip your child with all the skills they need to achieve their academic goals.

Why It’s Important To Try Something New Each Month

At Spectrum Tuition, we’re always looking out for ways to learn and develop new skills. Recently, we stumbled upon an inspiring TED talk by Matt Cutts called “Try something new for 30 days.” In this talk, Matt recommends a simple method for learning new skills, making the most of your time and building confidence. He argues that each month we should pick a new challenge and spend the entire month trying to complete it. Some of the things Matt tried during his trials were…

  • Riding to work every day for a month
  • Giving up sugar for a month
  • Writing a novel in a month

As Matt explains, a month is the perfect amount of time to add or subtract a habit from your daily routine. 30 days is not so long that it is unachievable, but it is also long enough to show a significant improvement or to make a significant achievement. He also argues that developing a new skill every month makes your month more memorable and, most importantly, builds self confidence.

But what does this have to do with education? Well, here are some ideas for challenges that your child can set themselves for the next month.

  • Limit screen time to half an hour a day for a month
  • Walk to school every day for a month
  • Do their homework as soon as they get home for a month
  • Read a book every week for a month
  • Practice their times tables every morning for a month

These goals seem achievable; surely, anyone can do something for just a month. But you’ll be surprised by how much little things add up to big results. These simple goals can have a dramatic impact on your child’s education! We’ve made a handy board that you can use to write down your own goal. Check it out!

Join the Spectrum Tuition 30 Day Challenge!
Want to build confidence, develop positive habits or learn a new skill. Why not to the 30 Day Challenge with us.  Click here to sign up to our mailing list and we’ll send you our goal setting guide for FREE! If you’d like to see how other members of our community are responding to the challenge, join our closed Facebook group for more inspiring. 

Selective Entry Catch-Up Classes Over The School Holidays

Is your child sitting an ACER or EDUTEST scholarship exam in Term 1 or the Selective Entry High Schools Examination in June next year? Are you worried that you may be too late to prepare or feel your child might benefit from a revision workshop covering all the skills they have developed over the course of this year? Maybe there’s a particular area of the exam, such as essay writing, numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning or creative writing or mathematics, that your child is still baffled by.

If this is the case, then we have the summer program for you! This summer, Spectrum Tuition is delighted to offer limited places in its intensive ‘Selective Entry Exam Catch-Up Classes’. Classes will run over three days from 15th – 17th January 2018 at Footscray North Primary School (Cnr Rosamond Rd & Mephan St, Footscray).

Classes will cover the foundational content students require for all six parts of the exam.

Students will learn:

  • How to structure and write effective, engaging narratives, and persuasive essays in fifteen minutes.
  • How to quickly and accurately solve mathematical and numerical reasoning problems by drawing on BODMAS, algebra, factors and multiples, and other core mathematical concepts covered in Terms 1 & 2 of the selective course. The scholarship course will focus on topics specific to the ACER scholarship exams which are often held in February.
  • How to speedily and accurately interpret common types of verbal and logical reasoning questions covered in Terms 1 & 2 of the selective course.
  • How to read a range of texts and respond to comprehension questions under pressure.
  • How to manage your time through timed tests

Our expert tutors will work through core concepts step by step, building your child’s confidence and giving them the support they need to do their absolute best on the exam.

Classes will also help students apply the knowledge through practice exams giving your child vital experience working under strict exam-style conditions.

BONUS OFFER! Enrol in the summer selective program and get an exam package PLUS our best selling essay writing bundle (valued at $238) absolutely FREE!

 

Places are strictly limited. Book now to avoid disappointment. Click here to find out more!

Our First Yellow Brick Code School Holiday Program

Over the September school holidays, we held out first Yellow Brick Code coding workshop! Twenty students, aged from 5-8 joined us on an adventure through the fictional world of Codeland with our friendly code block characters. Using a combination of story telling, games and activities, we introduced students to the fundamental skills that they need to create their own fun video games. And, best of all, we all had a great time!

Today, we thought we’d share some of the highlights of each day.

Day 1: On the first day, students were introduced to the four code blocks, Kieran, Christina, Chloe, and Cody, who invited them on an adventure across Codeland to retrieve 9 magic batteries. In order to find these batteries, students had to complete various challenges across the 3 days. First, students had to travel through the Forest of Bugs, and learn valuable debugging skills. Then, they had to brave Mount Persistence, where they learned the importance of not giving up when faced with difficult problems. We also learned the importance of responsible computer use, and how to avoid sharing personal information online. Then it was time for a game!

Using a fun game, we taught students how to direct a character through a maze, using simple direction blocks. Once students got the hang of it, we showed them how to they could use this skill to program a character to move around their computer screen.

Day 2: On the second day, we used our coding skills to help an old lady find her missing diamonds. In order to do so, we had to learn how to “loop” or repeat coding commands. We then used these skills to draw images using only code! By this point, everyone was getting the hang of coding.

We then played “my robot friend,” a game that required students to pretend to be robots and follow simple instructions. This was a fun way understanding the concept of “events,” which are actions that cause something else to happen in a computer program. Once we all understood the concept of “events,” we had a go making an animated story starring a playful puppy!

Day 3: On day 3, the code blocks met a brave knight and a fearsome dragon. Students had to use all of their skills and cunning to program a computer game in which the knight ran around collecting flags, while avoiding the dangerous dragon. It was a lot of fun making a video game from scratch, but we made sure we took lots of breaks to get some fresh air and play some games outside.

By the end of the 3 days, our students helped the code blocks find all of the 9 magic batteries. To celebrate their impressive efforts, each of our students received a certificate, recognising their impressive persistence and coding abilities. We were so impressed with how much progress our students made over just 3 days!

We all had so much fun at Yellow Brick Code that we’re currently planning our next school holiday coding program for the summer holidays. If you’d like to know more about how you can introduce your kids to coding, click here to join our mailing list, and we’ll send you a free guide to running your own offline coding camp at home!

Why Every Child Should Learn To Code

Have you ever wondered why we teach our children to read, write, ride bikes, play musical instruments, or swim at such an early age? Probably not. After all, it’s commonly accepted that these are important or necessary skills that will help children throughout their lives. Furthermore, we all know how quickly young kids pick up new skills. So it makes sense that if a skill is important for your child’s future, you should help them learn it as early as possible, right?

So why aren’t we teaching our kids to code?

This may sound like a silly question. After all, many people of our generation consider coding to be a niche skill, only important if you want a career in IT. But, in the coming decades, digital literacy will become one of the most sought-after skills in the job market. Last year LinkedIn’s list of top 10 most important career skills included data analysis, web development, mobile development, SEO marketing, information security and user interface design. And, with the rise of automation, these skills are going to become even more vital to your child’s ability to secure a stable and rewarding career. Simply put, now is the perfect time to start teaching our kids to code.

As Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, writes: “In fifteen years, we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing… and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.” So why wait?

What Are The Benefits Of Teaching Your Child To Code?

Aside from just improving your child’s future job prospect, the development of digital literacy offers a number of other benefits. Kids who learn to code at an early age also develop the following skills:

  • Logical thinking – coding requires students to use logical thinking to solve problems
  • Creativity – student are required to come up with unique solutions to achieve a goal
  • Mathematics – coding offers a chance to apply mathematical concepts to concrete situations
  • Perseverance – the ability to persevere when faced with unexpected or difficult situations in central to coding
  • Communication – coding is the language of the 21st century, and allows students to to interact with the world around them
  • Responsibility – the sooner students learn how to safely navigate the internet, and the more aware they are of the risks or online spaces, the more secure and responsible they will be

What Can We Do To Help?

Despite the innumerable benefits of teaching kids to code, the Australian education system is still taking its time to catch up. In Victoria, coding is often only taught at a high school level, and then often only as an elective subject. So what do you do if you want to give your child a leg up?

That’s where we come in! We have created Yellow Brick Code, a fun, interactive school holiday program to be run during the upcoming September school holidays. It is designed to introduce students aged 5-8 to the exciting world of computer science, while giving them the opportunity to meet some wonderful new friends over their school holiday break! Over 3 days, your child will learn skills in algorithmic thinking, programming and creative expression through stories, videos, hands on physical activities, games, fun programming challenges, and a group of colourful characters like Kieran the code block.

If you’d like to know more about how you can introduce your kids to coding, click here to join our mailing list, and we’ll send you a free guide to running your own offline coding camp at home!

 

Questions To Ask Yourself If Your Child Is Considering Sitting A Selective Schools Exam

Over the past few years, we have worked with countless students and parents to help them prepare for the Selective Schools Exam. Successfully gaining a place within a Selective School is obviously a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that can have a phenomenal impact on the educational possibilities of the lucky students who are selected. That said, with all the pressure surrounding Selective Schools, it is often easy to forget that Selective Schools are, quite simply, not the best choice for every child. While Spectrum Tuition obviously encourages all of our students to strive for their potential, we also think it’s important that parents and students give serious consideration to the difficulties that come with applying for, and even receiving a place in, a Selective School. In that spirit, here are four questions you should ask yourself if your child is considering sitting a Selective Schools Exam.

 

Does My Child Thrive In Competitive Environments?

For a lot of students, attending a Selective School can come as a crude shock. When they start, most Selective School students are used to being top of their class, and have generally found their schoolwork easy. However, once they start attending a Selective School, they suddenly find themselves surrounded by other extremely talented and motivated students. As a result, Selective Schools are often very competitive environments. Some students respond well to such environments; competition motivates them to work harder. However, some students can be demotivated. It’s worth considering how your child responds to challenges before you sign them up for a Selective Schools Exam.

 

How Far Will My Child Have To Travel To Attend A Selective School?

The other things to consider is practicality. If your child does get selected to attend Melbourne High School, Suzanne Cory or Mac Rob, how far will they have to travel? This may sounds like a silly question, but an extra hour or two of commute time each day can have a dramatic impact on your child’s ability to do their homework, participate in extracurricular activities and get a good night’s sleep.

 

Is My Child Ready For The Pressure Of A Selective Schools Exam?

Finally, you should also consider whether your child is ready for the pressures of a Selective Schools Exam. Students who sit the Selective Schools Exam have to tackle one of the most complex and competitive challenges ever faced by a high school student. The exam requires students to write essays and narratives under extremely strict times limits, tackle complex logical problems, and demonstrate a familiarity with mathematical concepts that are often not taught until later years. While the exam presents an opportunity for talented and committed students, it can also be a very stressful obstacle.

This is not to say that we mean to discourage students from sitting the Selective Schools Exam; on the contrary, we at Spectrum Tuition believe that all students deserve the chance to pursue their goals. But we also think that it’s important for people to go into these exams as informed as possible about the challenges that lay ahead. If you would like to have a conversation about whether the Selective Schools Exam is right for your child, or if you would like to know more about how you can help your child prepare for this exam, feel free to email us at enquiries@spectrumtuition.com or call us free on 1800 668 177.

Why Strong Readers Are Not Necessarily Strong Writers

There is a very common misconception that students who read a lot will automatically become good writers. On the surface level, it makes sense. After all, reading extensively allows students to develop a large vocabulary, appreciate different perspectives and gain an understanding of how different texts are structured. As with any skill, the first step towards becoming proficient is to watch a professional at work.

On the other hand, nobody learns to drive a car by watching their mum drive; nobody learns how to shoot baskets by watching basketball on television; and nobody learns how to bake a perfect souffle by just reading recipe books. In all these situations, practise is the key. While this all seems obvious, to be a strong English student, people often forget the importance of practising writing. Like any skill, writing requires constant practise. Here are some skills that you can only get from practising writing…

1. Practising writing builds muscle memory

Students often forget that writing is not just a mental task; it is a physical one as well. When students sit their VCE exams, or if they sit a Selective Schools or Scholarship test, they are required to write long, well thought out essays or creative narratives under a strict time limit. Quite often, under these situations, students’ hands get tired before their brains do. Students who haven’t practised writing essays or narratives on a regular basis will find it hard to write quickly enough, or for long enough, to get all of their great ideas on the page. On the other hand, students who recognise that writing (like all tasks) needs practise, are much more likely to have the physical and mental skills they need to succeed.

2. Learning to read and learning to write are two completely different skills

Reading is obviously a wonderful skill for building imagination in students; but it is, in the end, largely a passive activity. When you are learning to read for the first time, you need to recognise the shapes of letters and words and decode them using your knowledge of sounds and phonics. Then when you have built up the required skills to read a story, you get to sit back and let the author take you on a journey.

When it’s your turn to do the writing, suddenly your job becomes a lot more difficult. How do you even start? What is the right word to use to communicate the right message? How can you grab and maintain your reader’s attention? How do you conclude in a satisfactory way? What about grammar/ spelling/ punctuation? You’re given an empty page that you’re supposed to fill with ideas. This can be incredibly stressful, and many students face writer’s block as a result. Learning specific writing skills and practising writing is a good way to get better at generating your own ideas, so you can succeed every time. The more you practise, the less intimidating the empty page will look, and the more techniques you will learn for generating ideas in order to become a successful writer.

3. Practising writing demystifies the art of writing

Have you ever read a great essay or a great story and thought, “How on Earth did they do that?” It’s a common experience, and it’s part of the fun of reading. When we read good writing, we’re not necessarily trying to figure out how the author is doing what they’re doing, we’re just enjoying their work. This is one of the reasons why it’s not enough to just read extensively if you want to learn to write well. Put simply: reading good writing doesn’t teach you how to be a good writer yourself. On the other hand, when you practise writing regularly, you start to notice the patterns, the little tricks that you can use again and again to make your writing successful. Practising writing allows you to look behind the curtain and seeing the mechanisms that make up a successful piece of writing.

Of course, practising is hard. And it’s not the kind of thing you can just do without guidance. That’s where we come in. If you or your child wants more guidance on how to practise their writing, feel free to email us at enquiries@spectrumtuition.com or call us on 1800 668 177 to book a free assessment. Alternatively, you can book online by clicking here.

If your child is preparing for a Scholarship or Selective Schools Exam, you might also want to check out our custom Writing Bundle. This bundle contains our best selling persuasive essay book and narrative book.  After reading these books your child will have the skills required to write a compelling and well structured narrative and persuasive essay!

Spectrum Tuition Victorian Selective Schools Mock Exam 2017: Open For Enrolments

Want to practice your exam taking skills under realistic test conditions before the actual selective schools exam? Then this is what you’ve been waiting for!

Our 2017 Victorian selective schools mock exam is now open for enrollments.

We will be holding our 2017 selective schools mock exam for students sitting the Victorian Selective Schools Exam on Sunday 14th May (mock exam) and Sunday 21st May (workshop).

Why Sit Our Mock Exam?

Are you worried your child isn’t ‘exam ready?’ Do you want to know how they’ll perform under realistic time constraints and exam conditions? If so, you’ll want to enrol in our mock exam programme.

Our mock exam is aimed at helping students get a realistic sense of how they’ll perform under the intense pressure of a 3-hour exam. We then follow up with a 4-hour workshop that’ll go through the most common problems student had with the mock exam questions.

To ensure that students get the maximum value from the workshop we limit our intake to 45 students.  We don’t fill out the hall with hundreds of students and then run a generic workshop. We tailor our program based on the data generated from the actual mock exam.

How Does It Work?

The exam will begin at 9am and will be held at Footscray North Primary School (map). The exam will be held in the school hall.

We will then hold a 4 HOUR interactive workshop the very next Sunday outlining the most common errors and provide tips on how to improve your performance on exam day. We also encourage parents of students who have sat the mock exam to sit in on the workshop, so that they can fully understand what their child needs to do to prepare in the last few weeks before the exam.

Places are strictly limited to 45 places – so register today to secure your spot.

This is your only chance for your child to sit a full-length exam in a similar style and format as the actual test BEFORE the day AND get feedback on your performance!

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! Register by 22nd April and get $50 off! 7 hours of test preparation normally $325, now just $275!

 

Eventbrite - Spectrum Tuition | The Selective Schools Mock Exam 2017

How “Gritty” Is Your Child?

When I mention the word ‘grit’, I don’t mean the dirt you may find beneath your fingernails. Rather, I am referring to the ability to be dedicated to a task over a very long time, pushing through even when things get hard.

In her TED talk, “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance,” Angela Duckworth, winner of the 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, reminds us that intelligence, IQ and “natural talent” are not the most important factors in a student’s success. After leaving a prestigious and well paying job as a management consultant to become a maths teacher, she made some important discoveries. As a maths teacher at a New York public school, Duckworth noticed that her students’ IQs had very little correlation to their exam results and eventual success over the course of their education. Put simply, just being “smart” wasn’t enough to ensure success. Intrigued, Duckworth left teaching to pursue a career in Educational Psychology. In her research she studied military cadets, national spelling bee champions, salespeople, teachers and students, in order to find out what it was, if not IQ or natural talent, that determined success in these areas. The answer she came to was “grit.”

So what is Grit?

In Duckworth’s own words, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals.” Grit is the capacity to dedicate yourself to a task over a long period of time, rather than seeking immediate gratification. Grit, says Duckworth, is the ability to treat your goals like “a marathon, not a sprint.” A student with grit is less likely to be discouraged when they perform poorly on a test, or when faced with a difficult question. These students understand that challenges are part of the journey towards success. Students with grit are those who see difficulty as an opportunity to learn something new and to develop new skills.

Throughout her research, Duckworth found time and time again that “grit” played a more significant role than intelligence, family income and standardised test scores in determining a student’s ultimate ability to achieve their goals. Put simply, being “smart” wasn’t enough to ensure success; the missing link was grit.

How do we make our students gritty?

As Duckworth admits, there is no clear answer to the question. The closest thing to a solution, she argues, is Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck’s theory of “Growth Mindset.” For Dweck, who we spoke about in our recent blog article, grit is the ability to recognise that failure is not a permanent condition, and that our minds are capable of growth and development. Put simply, success is determined by a student’s ability to not say “I’m smart” or “I’m not smart” but “I have the ability to learn more.”

However, as Duckworth points out at the end of her talk, there is still a lot we don’t know about how to develop gritty learners. What is needed is more thought, more research, and more practice.

At Spectrum Tuition, we couldn’t agree more. We are always in the process of developing our approach to teaching, pioneering new techniques to ensure that our students have growth mindsets – to ensure, in Duckworth’s words, that they are “gritty” learners. Some of our approaches include:

1. Goal setting. We believe that the achievement of larger goals are made up of lots of smaller goals. By identifying and achieving a small goal each week, students will work steadily towards the achievement of their full potential. Furthermore, through our entrance exams, we can ensure that every student who joins us, regardless of their age, is placed in a class that will provide them with the right level of challenge.

2. Continuous feedback. Through measurable results obtained through weekly quizzes, students can better track their progress. This will provide more opportunities to learn from mistakes and grow. By also administering cumulative quizzes, we can help our students see how much their skills have built up over time.

3. Understand that mistakes actually help your brain grow. Psychologist Jason Moser found that when people make a mistake, the brain sparks and grows in the following ways:

 

  • During a time of struggle, the brain is being challenged and this challenge results in growth.
  • When there is an awareness that an error has been made, the brain considers this and steps are taken to correct this error. Thus, using the mistakes page and highlighting errors made following each week’s class will help your child take huge strides in their learning, promoting a positive mindset.

At Spectrum Tuition, we aim to ensure that all of our students, no matter what their natural talents are, are provided with challenges and scope for improvement. To make this possible, we only hire tutors who have grit as well. Our tutors are dedicated high performing university students who are also taught the latest teaching approaches to get the best outcomes for your child. These are individuals who have shown that they have the ability to dedicate themselves to a task and work until they achieve success. After all, you can’t expect to shape gritty students without gritty tutors. We believe every child has the potential to be an excellent student. All they need is a healthy dose of grit!

If you have any questions about the concept of grit, or if you would like to know more about how Spectrum Tuition can help your child achieve their goals, feel free to contact us anytime! Speaking of goals, we have created a handy guide on goal setting to help students set and achieve their academic goals. Click here to sign up to our mailing list and we’ll send you our goal setting guide for FREE!

Sources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141015-angela-duckworth-success-grit-psychology-self-control-science-nginnovators/

Mistakes grow your brain

 

 

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Enrolments At Spectrum Tuition Now Open For 2017 – Get An Extra $50 Off!

Please note, this offer is strictly limited and will end on 10th December 2017. So if you want to save on your fees next year please make sure you enrol before the end of term 4 (10/12/2016).

 

We have reached the end of 2016 and would like to thank all our parents, students and tutors for continuing to play an active part in our thriving community. It has been a wonderful privilege to contribute to your child’s educational journey and we look forward to maintaining a strong partnership for many years to come.

If you’d like to download our newsletter (which includes our timetable and prices for 2017) click the link below:

Term 4 Newsletter

Enrolments Now Open For 2017 – Get An Extra $50 Off!

We are very excited to release our 2017 timetable with priority enrolments for existing students. In most cases, students should enrol in the next level up, e.g. if your child is currently doing Year 7 classes at Spectrum, they should enrol in Year 8 etc. However if you are unsure, or if you are interested in having your child sit a selective/ scholarship exam next year, please contact us and we will be able to advise you accordingly.
Our updated investment schedule is attached. Students who enrol and pay their super early bird term fees or yearly fees by Saturday 10th December, will receive an extra $50 discount off 2016 prices plus access to free books to use over the holidays.
To guarantee a place in your chosen classes, please enrol by Saturday 10th December to take advantage of these bonuses.

You can make your payments online by simply filling in the following form/s.

Pay For The Year Pay For The Term

pay and save $50

Free Books For Students Who Pre-enrol For 2017!

For those looking for some additional materials to complete over the summer holidays, we have a number of extra course books for students who pre-enrol for 2017. Titles are strictly limited and are snapped up quickly so get in quick to get first picks.

Changes To Books For 2017

From 2017, we will be adding answers to the following week’s booklets to make it easier for students to check their understanding. For example, the week 2 booklet will contain answers to the week 1 booklet etc.
Bring a Study Sidekick – Get a $30 Gift Certificate
For every new friend you refer to Spectrum, both you and your friend will receive a $30 gift certificate to use towards the following term or year’s tuition fees if they enrol in our classes. If you do refer a friend, complete the following short online form so we know that you were the one who referred them in case your friend forgets to tell us! Visit www.spectrumtuition.com/friends

Updated VCE Curriculum in 2017

There will be a number of changes to the VCE study design for 2017. We have been working hard on ensuring that our courses align with the updated curriculum to help prepare students well ahead of their exams which will take place towards the end of the year. Other features of our VCE curriculum include:

  1. A specific section outlining insights from the examination report. For each topic, we have analysed and summarised specific comments outlined in the examination reports from previous years so you can avoid making common errors and improve your technique. Our expert tutors, who have successfully been through the process themselves, have organised these tips, and have provided their own commentary to help you work as efficiently as possible
  2. Exam style questions to help you become familiar with the style and difficulty level of questions likely to appear on the exams.
  3. Cumulative tests following each key topic to build up test stamina and as an effective revision tool throughout the year!

Have A Happy Festive Season!

On behalf of all staff, I would like to thank you again for your continued support and wish you and your families the very best over the festive season. I look forward to seeing you again in 2017!

The Power of “Yet”

I recently came across a TED talk by Carol S Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, that explained the profound potential of the simple word “yet”. This talk resounded with our beliefs regarding learning and education, so we thought we should share it with you, and explain some of the ways in which we, as tutors and you, as parents, can use these ideas to help our students reach their full potential.

What is the power of “yet”?

In her talk, Dweck distinguishes between two student mindsets that she has encountered in her research: “fixed” and “growth”. When students with a “fixed” mindset are faced with a difficult or unfamiliar problem that they can’t solve, they tend to take it as a judgement on their own intelligence. “Fixed” mindset students are happiest when they are getting answers right, when they are getting A’s on their tests, when they can easily answer questions. However, when faced with new ideas and concepts, they tend to get defensive. In various studies, Dweck has found that these students resort to cheating, deflection, and giving up when faced with difficult problems.

On the other hand, students with a “growth” mindset are those that view difficulties as opportunities for growth. Instead of looking at an unfamiliar problem and saying “I don’t know how to do this,” they say: “I don’t know how to do this yet.” Dweck has found that students who use this sort of language aren’t stuck in the present. They understand that they are always in a continual process of learning and developing. Saying “not yet” instead of “not” suggests the possibility for future growth.

Why is this important?

On a daily basis, we see the profound impact that these two mindsets can have on a student’s performance. In particular, a “fixed” mindset can cause difficulties for students transitioning from primary school to high school, students studying for a Select entry or Scholarship Exam, or students commencing their VCE. At these points of their education, students are going to be faced with a number of challenging concepts and difficult tasks. Often, at these times, students can become overwhelmed and go from getting straight A’s to suddenly getting C’s or D’s. This, in itself, is not the problem. What’s important is how they respond to these challenges. Do they give up, or do they use their limitations as motivation to learn more?

So, what can we do?

Obviously, students with “growth” mindsets are more likely to respond positively to challenges and, ultimately, to perform better than those with a “fixed” mindset. But what can we, as tutors, and you, as parents, do to ensure that your child develops a healthy and productive mindset? Here are some things to keep in mind…

1. Praise wisely

Students who are only praised for their successes are much more likely to develop “fixed” mindsets. According to Dweck’s findings, it’s much more productive to praise students for effort, strategy and progress. As tempting as it is to only reward good performance, make sure you primarily praise your child when they work hard, when they refuse to give up, when they try something new. This will teach them that there is more to education than just getting the answer right.

2. Use growth-based language

It’s also important to be mindful of the language that you and your child use. Try to avoid language that labels a student “good” or “bad” at something. Instead of saying “I’m bad at maths” or “I can’t write an essay,” say “I can’t do this particular question yet” or “I have a lot to learn about essay writing.” When giving feedback to students, aim to use language that is specific, goal-oriented, and suggests the potential for future learning.

3. Provide constant challenges

“Fixed” mindsets can also develop when naturally able students are not given sufficient challenges. This is something we see all the time; clever students are often allowed to drift through school, achieving high marks with relatively minimal effort. Unfortunately, these students rarely learn how to deal with challenges, and tend to give up when things may not be so easy anymore.

That is why it is important for students to work at or just above their level, to ensure that they are constantly challenged in order for them to grow and develop. If they find some sections difficult, use this as an opportunity to praise their effort, strategies and progress, because it is not that they can’t do it, they just can’t do it yet!

If you want to watch Carol S Dweck’s video it’s just below

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how we can help your child develop a healthy and productive mindset towards their education or click here to book a free assessment. 

While you’re here, why not check out our hand guide to goal setting, designed to help our students achieve their academic goals. Click here to sign up to our mailing list and we’ll send you our goal setting guide for FREE!

Why You Should Take A VCE Subject Early

This is the time of year when year 10 students will start to make serious decisions regarding which subjects they will choose to complete for their VCE.

Many schools will offer students the opportunity to complete a year 12 subject while they are in year 11 and while most students will take advantage of this option, other students decide not to and instead opt to complete all their Year 12 subjects in the following year. In our experience we find that taking a VCE subject in year 10 has many advantages.

The Structure Of VCE: A Brief Overview

When VCE students finish their exams at the end of year 12, they each receive a total score, which is used to calculate their ultimate ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank).

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) is based on up to six VCE results and is calculated using:

  • Your best score in any one of the English studies (English, Literature, English Language) plus
  • The scores of your next three studies (which together with the English subject make the “Primary Four”), plus
  • 10% of the scores for any fifth and sixth study with you may have completed (these are called increments)

These scores are combined to produce an ATAR aggregate, which is a number between 0 and over 210. All students are ranked in order according to this aggregate and the percentage rank is converted to an ATAR, which is a number between 0 and 99.95.

What this means is that a total of 6 subjects can contribute to a student’s total ATAR. Students who only do 5 subjects miss out on a valuable possible 10%. Despite this, most schools only allow students to complete 5 subjects in year 12. The only way to get around this, and avoid missing out on that precious 10%, is to complete a VCE subject early. This is an increasingly popular option. Each year more and more dedicated students choose to start a year 11 subject in year 10 and complete their year 12 exams in year 11.

Three Reasons You Should Take A VCE Subject In Year 10

Here are some reasons why students should take up the option to complete a year 12 subject early:

1. Gain Valuable Experience

Apart from ensuring that you have completed a 6th subject, the main benefit of completing a VCE subject a year early is the valuable experience it gives students. Students who take a year 12 subject in year 11 will gain valuable insight into what it takes to study for and sit a proper VCE exam. They will learn how to prioritise their time, organise their notes, revise questions and deal with exam pressures. And, best of all, they will learn all of these skills before they even commence year 12 and tackle the full load of subjects.

2. Focus Your Energy

The other benefit of completing a year 12 subject in year 11 is the potential to get a high score. Year 11 students don’t have the distractions and pressures unique to year 12 students. They don’t have to deal with prefect positions, graduation ceremonies, university applications, or the pressure of studying for 5 other year 12 exams. Because of this, a student who takes a year 12 subject early can focus significantly much more attention and energy on that one subject. Because they only have a single year 12 exam to study for that year, their chances of getting a high score dramatically increases.

3. Cover Your Bases

Considering that VTAC uses scores of up to 6 subjects to calculate the ATAR aggregate (English, the scores of your next 3 best subjects and 10% of any fifth and sixth subject), choosing 6 subjects is strongly recommended to maximise the ATAR you will ultimately achieve. Many schools offer Year 11 students the opportunity to study one Year 12 subject. Take advantage of this if the opportunity presents itself.

Most importantly, 6 subjects is obviously better than 5. A student who completes a subject early will have an automatic 10% advantage over a student who only completes 5. On a more pragmatic note, a 6th subject will ensure that a poor mark in one subject will have significantly less of an impact on the student’s overall score.

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If you think your child should start a VCE subject a year early, or you would like to know more about how you can improve your child’s chances of ATAR success, feel free to call us on 1800 668 177 or email us for more information!

The Mock Exam Bundle: A Great Way To Prepare For The Selective Schools Exam

In the final week before the selective schools test, we are giving you the opportunity to sit our full length selective schools mock exam in the comfort of your own home!

One of the best ways to feel more confident during the Selective Schools exam is to do as many practice questions in a similar style and difficulty level as those you will encounter on the actual test.

In previous years, students have stated that one of the most difficult aspects of the exam is answering the questions within the very limited time. By doing a full length test BEFORE the actual exam, you will better understand what the experience will be like so you know what to expect. To help you learn the most efficient technique to answering the questions, full solutions for each question is included PLUS access to our online workshop where we go over major problems and concepts students encountered during our mock exam.

In this package, we’ve bundled together:

  • Our full length 2.5 hour mock exam (including all six sections covered on the Victorian Selective Schools Exam);
  • An answer booklet containing FULLY worked solutions for each question
  • The answer booklet will also contain a sample analytical and creative essay based on the prompts; and
  • A recording of our mock exam workshop, run by our co-founder and selective schools exam expert, Thuy Pham. During the workshop, Thuy runs you through major areas of difficulty and common problems students encountered during the mock exam providing you with a general overview of each area covered (7 Videos in total and over 2.5 hours of content!).

TESTIMONIAL:

“We used both the classroom and private tuition options for our daughter in Maths and English as part of Selective testing preparation. We could not fault the consistent high standard of delivery by all the tutors especially Thuy who was incredibly supportive. Spectrum use excellent resources which they continue to review and update and they take the time to explain the best approach to what are many new areas for the students through practical advice. We were particularly impressed with the opportunity to undertake a mock exam prior with a feedback session and the post test follow up. Plus you could purchase additional resources through their online store. My daughter enjoyed it so much she has chosen to continue with extension classes. We would strongly recommend Spectrum for anyone seeking any type of tuition they get results.” R. Devlin, parent of student who was offered a place at a selective school in 2015.

Who Is This For?

This bundle is designed for Year 8 students sitting the Victorian Selective Schools entrance exam looking to gain entry into Melbourne High, MacRobertson Girls’. Suzanne Cory High or Nossal High.

This pack is specifically geared towards students who are looking to practice all the exam components to gauge their performance BEFORE the test day. We’ve found that many questions on these exams may be completely unfamiliar to students and this will cause a major loss of time if students are stuck on particular questions. It is therefore essential that students practice as many of these questions prior to the test day as possible to give them the best chance of achieving success. This, combined with our detailed answers and workshop videos tend to give students the extra edge and confidence they need prior to sitting the Victorian Selective Schools exam.

What Do You Receive In This Bundle?

This bundle includes:

  • 1 x full Selective Schools exam package (covering all 6 exam sections: numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, mathematics, reading comprehension, narrative and analytical writing prompts)
  • 1 x FULLY worked solutions book containing all the sections covered in the mock exam
  • 2 x sample essays (one creative, one analytical) PLUS detailed instructions walking you through the process of writing winning essays within the very limited 15 minute timeframe.
  • 7 x videos from our Mock Exam workshop (over 2.5 hours of content) covering major problems uncovered during the mock exam this year. In these videos, we go through each area and discuss the most important topics as well as common errors that students made on the mock exam. We also do a review of the key skills students should be focusing in on prior to exam day.

Why You Should Purchase This Exam Package

This package will prove to be a great tool if your child hasn’t completed many (or any!) exam style questions or full length practice tests, and needs to become familiar with exam timing.

The detailed answers and video workshop will also provide further guidance on how to solve all the tricky questions presented in the exam paper in the most efficient way possible.

This package is also useful as it allows you to simulate a full exam to help you improve your timing during the real test. Numerous students have also used this pack as a diagnostic tool to guide their study in the crucial final weeks before the actual test.

** For our terms and conditions see here => https://spectrumlearning.com.au/terms-conditions/


Buy Now >>

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What Does It Take To Gain Entry To A Selective School? The Results Might Surprise You!

One of the most common questions we receive from parents and students regarding the Victorian Selective Schools exam is:

“What marks do I need to gain entry?” or “How many superiors do I need?”

The answer to these types of questions is complex. In previous years, different combinations have resulted in students gaining entry to the selective school of their choice. In this video, we will discuss some of these results to give you an insight to what different students achieved when they received their offers. We also describe how these students used the results after sitting our mock exam to help them focus their study in the few short weeks leading up to the actual exam.

In the video, we’ll share a short case study of 3 students who attended classes at Spectrum Tuition, completed our annual mock exam and then subsequently gained entry into a selective school. If you would like to have a go at this mock exam and watch the accompanying workshop video which offers tips and outlines common mistakes, please click here. Full worked solutions for every question is also included with this mock exam package.

The important thing to note about the above video is that there is no set formula on how many ‘superiors’ you need to gain entry to a Selective School. Having said this, it is unlikely that you will be offered a place if you score a ‘low’ in any of the tests.

If you have any questions please feel free to add them below in the comments and we’ll endeavour to answer them.

Spectrum Tuition Victorian Selective Schools Mock Exam 2016: Open For Enrolments

Want to practice your exam taking skills under realistic test conditions before the actual selective schools exam? Then this is what you’ve been waiting for!

Our 2016 Victorian selective schools mock exam is now open for enrollments.

We will be holding our 2016 selective schools mock exam for students sitting the Victorian Selective Schools Exam on Sunday 15th May (mock exam) and Sunday 22nd May (workshop).

Why Sit Our Mock Exam?

Are you worried your child isn’t ‘exam ready?’ Do you want to know how they’ll perform under realistic time constraints and exam conditions? If so, you’ll want to enrol in our mock exam programme.

Our mock exam is aimed at helping students get a realistic sense of how they’ll perform under the intense pressure of a 3-hour exam. We then follow up with a 4-hour workshop that’ll go through the most common problems student had with the mock exam questions.

To ensure that students get the maximum value from the workshop we limit our intake to 45 students.  We don’t fill out the hall with hundreds of students and then run a generic workshop. We tailor our program based on the data generated from the actual mock exam.

How Does It Work?

The exam will begin at 9am and will be held at Footscray North Primary School (map). The exam will be held in the school hall.

We will then hold a 4 HOUR interactive workshop the very next Sunday outlining the most common errors and provide tips on how to improve your performance on exam day. We also encourage parents of students who have sat the mock exam to sit in on the workshop, so that they can fully understand what their child needs to do to prepare in the last few weeks before the exam.

Places are strictly limited to 45 places – so register today to secure your spot.

This is your only chance for your child to sit a full-length exam in a similar style and format as the actual test BEFORE the day AND get feedback on your performance!

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! Register by 11th April and get $50 off! 7 hours of test preparation normally $225, now just $175!