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Old 02-26-2003, 05:31 PM   #1
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Question for teachers and/or high achievers

If you are a teacher or were or still are a high achieving student, please give me your thoughts and advice.

My son is 15 and a 10th grade student. He is HIGHLY intelligent and has the potential to do great things. He regularly tests in the upper 95th percentile on standardized tests. As smart as he is, he gets terrible grades. I think right now he has C- average.

My question is...how do I motivate him to work to his obvious potential? I see it just wasting away because these grades will not get him into college. He is almost halfway through high school and nothing I have tried has worked. He's looking at journalism as a career but he has failed 4 semesters of language arts. He's been tested and he doesn't have any learning disablities...so I'm kind of at a loss with him.

The real kicker is I just got a letter from Governor Davis' office informing me that because my child scored in the upper 10% of his high school or the upper 5% of the State of California on the STAR test, he qualifies to receive a $1000 Governor's Scholarship.
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Old 02-26-2003, 05:37 PM   #2
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I'm in my high school's gifted ed programme, and I find goal-setting works. Set gradual targets to work towards.
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Old 02-26-2003, 05:42 PM   #3
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Perhaps he is bored with the current curriculum. My brother was the same way extremely intellegent but just really bored in school. So a lot of times he felt it was pointless to do the homework, because he knew most of the stuff already. Of course not doing the homework meant that he didn't get the grades he was capable of. Is he getting bad marks on tests or homework assignments. If it's the homework (i.e. he's not doing it), take something away from him until he gets it done. I know it sounds silly to do that because he's 15, but it may motivate him.

If he wants to get into journalism, try encouraging him outside the classroom, the school paper, many local papers have sections for high school students to have their own columns.
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Old 02-26-2003, 05:50 PM   #4
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That describes me in high school. C's all year long, then I'd have to ace the final to get a better grade.

What turned me around in college was an inner sense of competition with my peers. They were more vocal about what they were going to do – I wanted to show them that at the end of the day I was in the lead.

I would suggest setting a goals and rewards system. This can be done class-by-class, test-by-test, assignment-by-assignment. The rewards can include something of substance, but should always stress a mutual recognition of his abilities and what he can accomplish. Soon it will be “look where you were, and look where you are now!”

Hope this is helpful in some way.
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Old 02-26-2003, 06:21 PM   #5
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See if he can get into a private high school. If you can't afford it, often times there are scholarships. His test scores might grab their attention.

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Old 02-26-2003, 06:30 PM   #6
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Find something that really interests him. Find something that makes him grow inside.
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Old 02-26-2003, 06:44 PM   #7
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I was really stressed in High school... they put me in the advanced classes, and I hate it. My motivation was to not look like an idiot and get good grades with the nerds of my school.. and to beat Emily in History Honors! gawd, I hated her!



I dunno what to tell you... you need to have the desire to be motivated. For me, I have the desire.. I can almost taste graduation come next fall! So I put in all my efforts in my studies, espcially math.. since I hate it... I spend hours on hours in the math lab because I'm eagered to get this stuff and get my degree!! But reeally it comes down to having the desire.

He really needs to find something he's passionate about. It seems that journalism is not really a passion... if he's failing language arts... he doesn't seem to have the desire. There's so many career oportunities out there there's gotta be one that will make him get motivated. Maybe making a list of things he truly loves... and then doing some research on related careers regarding the things he listed.
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Old 02-26-2003, 06:44 PM   #8
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my daughter is the same. she recently scored extremely high on her tests, too. but only in the writing and writing comprehension categories. so she hates math. so what? i will do everything in my power to encourage her to write. already she has written three children's books. she is now focused on making homemade cat treats to sell so that she can raise enough money to publish her books herself.

the most important thing you can do is encourage your child. tell them they can do anything they dream of doing. tell them every single day if you have to. it can be hard not to focus on the negative grades at times, but i am determined that my daughter will be the one who shines.
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Old 02-26-2003, 07:32 PM   #9
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i would look into putting him in a gifted program. i was the same way. when i was little, i was considered excellerated. they wanted me to skip a grade, which my mom refused to do since i was already one of the youngest kids in the class (i was just barely old enough to start kindergarden by like a week). so i was enrolled in the gifted program.

once a week, i went to a different school across town (i went to my school like normal and then a school bus would pick me up) and would get to learn at a pace i was more accustomed to. it was great, i loved it. i managed to do this and keep up with the work i missed while i was at gifted (come on, this was third grade, what would i miss? a crossword puzzle?) and felt that that was the main reason my grades stayed as high as they did.

just as i think those with learning disabilities need to be in classes that cater to their needs, i think kids who are gifted need to be in special classes too. anyway, my guess is that he's bored. this stuff is probably way too easy for him so he tunes out the teachers and then doesn't learn anything and doesn't try to complete the assignments. i'm sure you'll see better results.

good luck!
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Old 02-26-2003, 10:13 PM   #10
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Standardized tests aren't always an indication of classroom success. The two frequently go hand in hand, but not always.

What does your son say? Ask him what he thinks of the classes he's taking.

Make appointments to talk to his teachers. (Be sure to make the appointment; we aren't prepared to talk to you about specifics without time to prepare.) Tell them what the problem is when you make the appointment.

Can you get real-life journalists to talk to him? They can tell him exactly what he needs to do in high school to pursue his career goals.

Are you sure he still wants to be a journalist? Could he have decided that he doesn't want to do it anymore and now he feels a little lost? Unable to back out of his choices?

Is this a new problem? If it is, look into the new kids he's hanging with. Do you trust them? Do you suspect they do drugs of any kind?

Is this the same old problem? Then he may need to learn the hard way. If he can't get into college due to poor choices in high school, maybe he needs to go to a JC to qualify for a four-year school.


These are some ideas that came to mind.
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Old 02-28-2003, 12:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
What turned me around in college was an inner sense of competition with my peers. They were more vocal about what they were going to do – I wanted to show them that at the end of the day I was in the lead.
totally what happened to me. i compete so badly and i feel better winning an intellectual conversation than an athletic competition.

char you need to not stress the importance of achieving. i know it sounds backwards. but the more people were like "hey! this shit matters!" to me in high school, the more i was like "uhh..no it doesn't"

what happened to me was i was always thinking "well, i know about this, i can pull it off without studying" or i'd always think i was too good for the assignment. but now i appreciate doing little increments of work to prepare for tests. like i just went through a pretty stressful midterm, but it was better since i studied all along instead of waited for cramming now.

i would give anything to go back and get really fantastic grades when they were super easy to attain so i could get more scholarships. i always had the attitude that grades meant nothing. but, now i'm smarter, and i recognize that though the grades may mean nothing to me they are a horrific way of measuring my intelligence and so i need to at least try to do well on exams and papers. let him know that even though it seems futile there are a lot of opportunities (study abroad, cheap school via scholarships) he's going to miss out on if he doesn't wise up and bite the bullet and just take the time to study for everything.

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Old 02-28-2003, 12:42 AM   #12
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my sister's the exact same way. I believe she got two of those scholarships cause you can get one each year. I got only one because the last year i took the test was the year they implemented it (damn thing should have been radioactive imo ....anyways getting off topic)She graduated last year, and it kills my parents to see her throwing her potential away like that. I hope he snaps out of it, a lot of kids do, esp when they start college.
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Old 02-28-2003, 12:49 AM   #13
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wow, motivation is always the biggest problem isnt it? i know it is for me.

how do you deal with it though, i dont know. obviously theres no sure fire way.

that would be terribly frustrating to see him waste away with efforts that should be below his standard.
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Old 03-27-2003, 02:44 AM   #14
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Re: Question for teachers and/or high achievers

Quote:
Originally posted by Bono's American Wife
If you are a teacher or were or still are a high achieving student, please give me your thoughts and advice.

My son is 15 and a 10th grade student. He is HIGHLY intelligent and has the potential to do great things. He regularly tests in the upper 95th percentile on standardized tests. As smart as he is, he gets terrible grades. I think right now he has C- average.

My question is...how do I motivate him to work to his obvious potential? I see it just wasting away because these grades will not get him into college. He is almost halfway through high school and nothing I have tried has worked. He's looking at journalism as a career but he has failed 4 semesters of language arts. He's been tested and he doesn't have any learning disablities...so I'm kind of at a loss with him.

The real kicker is I just got a letter from Governor Davis' office informing me that because my child scored in the upper 10% of his high school or the upper 5% of the State of California on the STAR test, he qualifies to receive a $1000 Governor's Scholarship.
Hi Charlene....

I taught middle school English for 2 1/2 years, left it and am going back again. I miss it. Anyway, to address your son's grades: It took me 8 years to get my bachelor's degree. College wasn't for me when I got out of high school. I still went anyway - but I went to community college and fluffed around there for six years. For some young adults, they're not really ready for college until a little later on in life. My grades were eh in school - I got mostly A's, B's, and C's and D's in math and science. I always struggled with math. I never figured my grades were good enough to go to a state school - why bother if I'm getting D's in math?

I didn't understand the importance of college until about 5 years after I graduated from high school. Once I figured out what I wanted to do, I set out and did it. After I graduated from community college, I transfered to Long Beach State and it took me 1 1/2 years to get my Bachelor's in English. I wasted NO time. Even before I started state school, I had been working full time and had been living on my own. I had no choice but to work to get me through school and life.

You might want to have your son watch "Finding Forrester" - it's a great movie with Sean Connery as a crotchety old teacher and a young black student. It might be an inspiration to him. I don't know for sure. The boy in the movie is an under-achiever because he doesn't want his friends to find out he's smart.

Even if he's a smart kid and achieves high scores, there may be several factors as to why he's performing so low. I remember you saying a while back he lost a really good friend tragically in a car crash. That may have some underlying factor. He may be bored with school. This may be his way of acting out and "punishing" people who think he's smart. He may not want to stand out in the crowd and this is his way of just scraping by. It's very hard to say what your son's really feeling because it seems to me he's been keeping a lot to himself. Does he play any sports? Or, since you said he likes to write and wants to look into journalism, you may want to see if he'll be interested in submitting his writing to journalism/writing contests. His language arts teacher might have some info on that. He may even want to look into what entails doing an internship with a newspaper.

Just some suggestions. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask/PM me. I hope this helps.

Moonie
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Old 03-27-2003, 06:42 PM   #15
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Does he recognize he's smart? Maybe he doesn't feel very good about himself and so he just doesn't bother trying.

I know I went through that when I was in an advanced English class. I thought it was hard and boring--everyone else was doing much better than me--so I just screwed around and made sarcastic comments. Often, it felt that no matter how excited I was for a project or how hard I worked on it, I still didn't do well. My teacher told my parents I was smart, just bored. Who knows.

I'm in college now. I was terrified and felt totally stupid, I didn't know what to expect or if I would get good grades. My first semester, I was singled out by a professor to join the honors program. That immediately made me feel like achieving. If I hadn't been singled out as "smart", would I have taken it more easy? I might have. So maybe your son just needs someone to single *him* outside his family and say "You know, I think you really have some potential for this..."

I don't know if that helps any.
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