Friday, 9 September 2016

Duke TIP - An incredible way to spend the summer for gifted students

Imagine 70 students between the ages of 13 - 18 coming together to study, make friends and, maybe for the first time in their lives, share an environment where they are appreciated and engineering,

Imagine no more, I gave just returned from  a month in Kunshan this July as Academic Coordinator for the Duke University TIP programme where I witnessed an incredible transformation in our students as they studied cryptology, writing, entrepreneurship, biotechnology, international relations and engineering. The course is aimed at gifted students and it was Duke's research in this area which first led me to want to be involved in the programme.

Teaching was inspirational; experiential and thoughtful. Over and above the learning which took place within the classroom, it was fascinating and inspiring to watch the way that students engaged with and respected each other. Gifted learners are often very isolated in their academic settings and being able to find a peer group with shared abilities is an extraordinary experience which the students took full advantage of.

If you have a child who is academically high performing, I strongly recommend exploring the options in your area. The experience will give your son or daughter friends for life and a peer group which will support and encourage them (and three weeks of fun!)

To see more:  Duke TIP in action!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Common Entrance - don't panic, start decorating!

The countdown to Common Entrance is well and truly on. Can't remember any of your formulae? Irregular verbs driving you insane?  Don't worry, there is a simple solution... decorate!

1: Choose your topic: science, maths, French, Latin, history? Focus in on the key points, facts and formulae.

3: Create a mind map or a diagram from your notes. Use colours, pictures, different types of lines, anything you like! Be creative...

4: Stick the picture on the bathroom mirror and read it whilst brushing your teeth!

Here is an example of a diagram we created for French to help us remember the passe compose.

Good luck

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Top top for success at Common Entrance: Become a teacher!

Here is a brilliant tip for anyone who is about to sit Common Entrance (or any other exam for that matter!) Reading and making notes will help your remember your information but teaching and explaining your topics will help you even more.

In stages...

1: Revise one of your topics (e.g. life processes) and make your notes,

2: Try to teach the topic back to a member of your family. Plan your lesson around providing the information needed to answer typical Common Entrance questions. Refer to the marking scheme when you are thinking of how much information to include. Your aim is to teach the materials and for your student (victim?) to be able to reply to your questions.

3: As you are teaching, remember to repeat key points or share mnemonics (MRS GREN?!) Through teaching your student, you are ensuring that the topic will stick in your mind.

3: At the end of your lesson, if you have explained everything clearly, your students should be able to give you complete answers.

You are now a complete Common Entrance star and your family should also be experts!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

13+ Common Entrance or Winchester College Revision Planning

Common Entrance and Scholarship exams are almost upon us...

Easter is a brilliant time to consolidate all your hard work and make a final push before the Common Entrance or scholarship exams.

Try these steps.

Get a copy of the Common Entrance syllabus from Print out each subject.

Choose three coloured pens.

Go through the syllabus and use a different colour to mark each topic depending on your knowledge level (e.g. red - 'I am confident with this topic', green - 'I need to revise', yellow- 'I have no idea!')

Plan your revision based on your findings. If you have identified big topics which are confusing (e.g. tectonic plates) start with those.

In the next update, I will give you some ideas for planning each study session. In the meantime, and importantly, don't panic! I have had students whose grades have gone from Ds to As after Easter revision sessions. There is still time, you just need to use it wisely.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

How can I help my child to prepare for the Speech Festival?

The HKSMSA festival dates have just been announced. Students will have had their poems for a few weeks now. A common question from parents is 'how can we help?' Brandon has a few suggestions:

1: Come to one of our Speech Festival Prep classes (of course!)

2: Read the poem through with your child and get them to retell the story to you. Do they understand all the language? If not, look up the words together.

3: Mark up the poem with the relevant emotions. Play with the voices and add in facial expressions.

4: Practice whenever you can in front of family members.

Most importantly....

The Speech Festival is a brilliant way to build confidence, encourage your child irrespective of their final result!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What is the difference between Common Entrance and Schools' own papers?

If I had a pound for every time parents had asked me to explain the difference between Common Entrance (11+/13+) and schools' own papers, I would have a nice little pot of savings! So here we go:

1: Common Entrance is an examination created by the ISEB (Independent Schools' Examination Board). The exam is available for a board range of subjects and different levels are available (maths has three for example). Individual schools decide: which papers candidates should sit and, the level required.

You need to check requirements with the school (ask for subjects/levels). Registration is done through the ISEB website.

Schools are provided with a suggested marking scheme but some adapt to suit their needs (e.g. rewards for correct spelling/forgiveness of incorrect spelling)

Depending on the selectivity of the school, Common Entrance could be used to confirm an offer or just for setting purposes.

Common Entrance can be sent to ONE school. The only way that it can be used for a second application is if your child is unsuccessful with school A and they then send the papers to school B.

THUS... if you are applying to two schools which use Common Entrance, you need to make a decision!

Common Entrance is taken in Spring (mainly for girls' schools) and Summer. Check the timetable online as dates do change.

2: Schools' own papers are written by the schools themselves and tend to be of a similar level but are often designed for students whose schools do not prepare for Common Entrance. Eton, for example offer their own papers for students from state schools who are following the National Curriculum.

Typically English, Maths and possibly Science are required.

Most of our HK students fall into this bracket. Benenden, for example, offers an option of Common Entrance/own papers which is very welcome to overseas students.

Some schools are extremely helpful and provide past papers or guidelines which parents and teachers can use to prepare. If in doubt, ask!

Schools set their own timetables for exams - for example, Tonbridge is in November for our students, Winchester is in May.

For more information about the Common Entrance Syllabus: