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Building a relationship with DD15 over AP Chem...seriously?


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I've been transitioning into the role of the main home-school educator over the past few years.  My main focus has been on the technical AP exam courses and test prep.  This year is no different with the twins taking AP Chemistry.  It has not gone well.  Neither of them kept up with their work, but even though they both claimed to have gotten through the same *minuscule* portion of the text, it is clear that while DS15 was reading for understanding, DD15 was reading...because it was on the plan I created.

Instead of talking about chemistry and such, let's talk about working through this with DD15.  She is a VERY bright young lady.  That is not in question.  She is the kind of bright that allows her to "get by" on her wits alone in many cases.  But that doesn't work for AP Chemistry (or virtually every other AP exam).  And it will not work in college.  After a few weeks of not-so-successful test prep, I finally came down very hard on her last week...and she now knows she will repeat this subject next year if she does not do well on this test in one month's time.

That brings us to this week.  We will need to spend a LOT of time together over the next month and she knows it.  But after a few hours with her this week, I am starting to get the impression that SHE ACTUALLY ENJOYS OUR SESSIONS TOGETHER!! (insert fainting emoji here)

I MUST be imagining this, since DD15 is currently in full "teen" mode.  You know, parents have become completely stupid and uncool in her view of things.

Would anyone like to educate me on the ways of teenage girls? TIA!

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She is 15.  Lots of 15 year olds aren't necessarily mature enough to be entirely responsible for keeping up with school work.  Some are, but I imagine many (maybe most) are not. Heck, a lot of college students aren't good about it.

You may have to be more hand holding or on top of her keeping up with it.

So really I think this is more the situation than her being a teen girl. 

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Build the relationship to entice her to the table to learn...treats, small rewards, whatever. Teens in many ways are like toddlers in bigger bodies. She may not be inherently motivated to cram AP Chem, but she may like pleasing you or hanging out over food while she completes a task she must do. A child does not generally mature on a straight incline—she may be intellectually capable but emotionally immature.

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I will if you educate me on the ways of teenaged boys. With all due respect, I truly am amazed that any male ever made it to adulthood. It's shocking that they didn't kill themselves off by their stupidity or that their parents didn't murder them. 

Best of luck to both on all their AP's, and enjoy this time with your girl. Your post warmed my heart. 

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How are her actual study skills? Often bright kids hit a wall at some point because "bright" may test well, but doesn't actually help master content. I would use it as an opportunity to walk both kids through study skills--how are they taking notes, how are they studying, etc. Have them keep track of the time they spend studying, and what they do during that time.

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51 minutes ago, Ravin said:

How are her actual study skills? Often bright kids hit a wall at some point because "bright" may test well, but doesn't actually help master content. I would use it as an opportunity to walk both kids through study skills--how are they taking notes, how are they studying, etc. Have them keep track of the time they spend studying, and what they do during that time.

 

That's true.  Focusing on strategies for studying might help.  Lot of stuff comes easily to my 16 year old so I do sometimes wonder how he'll handle it when it doesn't. 

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8 hours ago, Ravin said:

How are her actual study skills?

They're not good.  She's a lot like me that way:  If she's not interested in it, you're hard-pressed to get her to do the work.  Instead, she'll do ANYTHING else.  (And it certainly doesn't help that her older brother has done his best to convince her that she should pursue whatever she wants and not pay attention to us.)

My approach, right or wrong, is to make her responsible for her own actions.  If she doesn't learn to own the consequences for her actions then she will find life is going to be very difficult.  And I think she is finally owning this, but a bit (a BIG bit) late.  The problem with chemistry is that it doesn't come to most students quite as easily as many other subjects.  (FWIW, her older sister was the exception here:  She is getting her PhD in Chemistry.)  The good news is that our learning styles are quite similar, so perhaps I can better transfer my understandings of the various topics to her than I could to her twin, who is quite different in how he learns things.

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I think its a reflection on learning style.  My male extrovert dc does not appreciate spending time alone translating text into understanding...he's far happier splitting sections with the study group and teaching each other.  My male introvert dc  appreciates attempting the text, then having office hours or class, then a reread to pick up nuances.  My role before college was to be the expert to be consulted.  They appreciated not having to waste time wondering if they are interpreting correctly. 

I would be checking her definition of studying, and also auditing her reading skills. Something like SQ3R works for chem.

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4 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

My male extrovert dc does not appreciate spending time alone translating text into understanding...he's far happier splitting sections with the study group and teaching each other.

That sounds like DD15...

My male introvert dc  appreciates attempting the text, then having office hours or class, then a reread to pick up nuances.

...and that sounds like DS15.

I would be checking her definition of studying, and also auditing her reading skills.

Yeah, her definition of "studying" is something I am working to help her see is sorely lacking.  Her reading "skills" are quite good: she got a 710 on the R&W section of the PSAT in October.  Her reading "habits" are the problem.

For instance, last week's practice test had a question which included a drawing and description of an experimental setup and a question related to that experiment.  DD15 had NO IDEA what was going on with the problem, but DS15 recognized the drawing to be virtually identical to one in the textbook and got that question correct.

Something like SQ3R works for chem.

I'm sorry, but I do not know what that is.  Can you please elaborate?

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SQ3R is a reading technique for textbooks...survey, question, read,recite,review.  It can be applied to the test question.

So with your practice test question, the taker should be quickly looking at drawing and reading caption.

Next is ask questions to oneself -- what is this drawing showing? what do I know from the caption? what is the author's purpose? 

Actively read the description of the set up. Actively read means go into with the mindset of developing understanding. Build that picture of the concept, in detail. 

Recite ...with own words, relate what was just read. Don't just summarize, explain the concept's major points and review the evidence. Answer the questions previously formulated from looking at drawing and reading caption. 

Review...did I understand the material's major points enough to answer the question?  If having to choose between two mc answers, ask self what is needed in order to chose. Re-read for details that may allow that choice to be made. Don't walk away without knowing what you need to find out to answer the question.  And better yet, if its practice,  tell why the other choices may be selected, and why they aren't the best choice.

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Thanks, HeighHo!  That is very helpful!

I find that we are doing this with the AP Chem practice test reviews, but we are doing it in a tutoring session.  I call it "struggling with" the problem (or concept).  The idea behind that term is that it is NOT passive.  (I find myself saying "passive" and "passively" a lot these days!)  Perhaps by doing this together with her (and DS15) they will see how I approach things.

1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

Actively read the description of the set up. Actively read means go into with the mindset of developing understanding.

DS15 is very active when he reads his chemistry while DD15 is very passive.

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I found the term 'struggling' to be associated with poor students, not with those who were actually long term 'studying'. I prefer the term 'illuminating'...to me its like shining a flashlight in a black room, uncovering the mysteries. Very soon one finds something one can begin with, and the picture in the mind begins to fill in. Corners may remain in shadow until questions can be formulated and conjectures made....once the student is engaged actively I can make the point that they are actually studying. Studying is also a word that has become misunderstood....it does not mean memorize, as many students and some teachers have told me.  

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5 hours ago, RegGuheert said:

They're not good.  She's a lot like me that way:  If she's not interested in it, you're hard-pressed to get her to do the work.  Instead, she'll do ANYTHING else.

 

Haha, well that's understandable.  I'm not loving my current class and wowsers it's been SO DIFFICULT to motivate myself to get through it.  I am and I will, but my 15 year old self would not have. 

 

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4 hours ago, RegGuheert said:

For instance, last week's practice test had a question which included a drawing and description of an experimental setup and a question related to that experiment.  DD15 had NO IDEA what was going on with the problem, but DS15 recognized the drawing to be virtually identical to one in the textbook and got that question correct.

How would DS15 solve it if he did not correlate it to the textbook?  Our bright young students have tremendous capacity for remembering information. (I can't remember what I had for breakfast!) My DS heads off to college this August and he seems to solve problems by what I will call 'familiarity' which will probably hold up well for him in Freshman and maybe Sophomore level classes but concerned with Junior year and beyond! He gets frustrated easily when he does not recognize the problem context. (will be a Physics major)

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25 minutes ago, MarkT said:

How would DS15 solve it if he did not correlate it to the textbook?  Our bright young students have tremendous capacity for remembering information. (I can't remember what I had for breakfast!) My DS heads off to college this August and he seems to solve problems by what I will call 'familiarity' which will probably hold up well for him in Freshman and maybe Sophomore level classes but concerned with Junior year and beyond! He gets frustrated easily when he does not recognize the problem context. (will be a Physics major)

Good question!  Frankly, tackling new challenges is one of my strengths, but I'm not sure it's a heritable trait! ;)  I've been learning chemistry along with the children and I will synthesize relationships from what we've been learning.  I find that DS15 and DS18 (who took AP Chem last year) are VERY uncomfortable with this approach.  I ask them how they think new things get invented if people can only learn things by seeing what others do.  To me, this is how to REALLY learn something:  try to figure out something that is not given and then see if it is correct.  If you never do that, you end up having no confidence in your abilities to go beyond what has already been taught.

I would like to think that skill is something that comes with more learning, but I'm not convinced that it is.  It's almost like what is taught is a security blanket to them while I am not comfortable unless I am making the connections myself.

And this brings us back to DD15.  I think she is very much like me this way.  The problem is this only gets you so far with chemistry.  Many things in chemistry are NOT intuitive until you have learned a certain amount of basic material and some techniques for applying that knowledge.  And there are quite a few "basics" to be learned.  But once you get over that hurdle things begin to open up.

I've got about 30 days to get her over that hurdle...

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7 hours ago, RegGuheert said:

 I've got about 30 days to get her over that hurdle...

 

 

I'm glad you're working with her now. AP chem is hard as heck! I would get overwhelmed and drown in the details if I tried to work through it on my own, and I'm an adult, lol. Sometimes, even very good students get to a subject that is too much for them, and they don't ask for help because they honestly don't know enough to even realize that their understanding is not where it should be. 

Plus, almost everyone, including adults, needs a certain level of oversight. That's why management is a job :) 

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My DD#1 likes the one-on-one attention as long as we are all struggling together. DH, DD, and I work on some of her harder math problems together. We give tips to each other sometimes, but mostly it is just that we are all working *together* that makes it more bearable. (DH & DD were working on solving a particularly hairy 3x3 matrix by hand a few weeks ago. They both gave it a go twice & weren't able to do it. I sat down & was still attempting to figure out how to do the problem by reviewing the lessons in the textbook when DD got the answer on the third try. Sharing the pain? Whatever, I'll take the win.)

So, maybe she just likes that you are both working through the material together in a one-on-one session (without DS15)?

Whatever you do, don't let her know you think she's enjoying it. She'll have to pretend to hate it. Ruins everything.

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14 hours ago, HeighHo said:

I think its a reflection on learning style.  My male extrovert dc does not appreciate spending time alone translating text into understanding...he's far happier splitting sections with the study group and teaching each other.  My male introvert dc  appreciates attempting the text, then having office hours or class, then a reread to pick up nuances.  My role before college was to be the expert to be consulted.  They appreciated not having to waste time wondering if they are interpreting correctly. 

I would be checking her definition of studying, and also auditing her reading skills. Something like SQ3R works for chem.

 

Very good point about teaching someone else. I used to talk to my dog about parts of the brain. She is the smartest boxer around. :)

Interaction, especially positive, fun interaction (as much fun as chem can be) is mostly appreciated - even by teens.

Can you have her read a selection and then "teach" you what she learned. This way, gaps will be become apparent and you can explain things on the spot.

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1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

My DD#1 likes the one-on-one attention as long as we are all struggling together.

Yes, DD15 likes that, too.  The thing is that I did this course with DS18 last year, so I'm farther along.  But I still don't know the material well enough to answer all the questions, so there are still a few questions where we "struggle together".

So, maybe she just likes that you are both working through the material together in a one-on-one session (without DS15)?

Absolutely!  The thing is that I've never done review together with DS15:  we always review separately.  And we've done this since we started test prep in February.  What I think changed things is that DD15 had been under the impression that she could just fail this test and be done with it.  Once she found out she would repeat, she realizes that she needs my help to get through this.  It was the best thing I could have done at that point, methinks.

Whatever you do, don't let her know you think she's enjoying it. She'll have to pretend to hate it. Ruins everything.

No way will I ever let on!  We must keep appearances up, after all! ;)

 

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41 minutes ago, Liz CA said:

Can you have her read a selection and then "teach" you what she learned. This way, gaps will be become apparent and you can explain things on the spot.

Probably not at this point.  The text is over 1000 pages and we need to focus on test prep.  But I DO make her look up and read in the text whenever she is missing some knowledge.  Then I ask her to see if she can then answer the question.  She does try, but it has been difficult.  We end up having a conversation about the topic and trying to attain some level of understanding.

10 minutes ago, ----- said:

My first thought when I read the above was that I would have absolutely loved to have spent that much one-on-one time with my father when I was that age.  Even if it was centered around schoolwork.  lol    

That's kinda my thought that prompted this thread.  I'm hopeful that DD15 is benefiting from this "experience."  But you coulda knocked me over with a feather yesterday when I got the impression she was having fun.  It totally doesn't fit her "teen persona".

Oh, and thanks for saying this!  I appreciate the confirmation that this might be what is going on.

And, BTW, we had a good session today, also.

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Woohoo!  DD15 is taking a FULL practice test today and she ran out of time on the MC section!  That's a VERY good sign because instead of throwing up her hands on many (most) of the problems because she has no idea how to approach them, she actually feels that she has something she can work out.

Can you say "Owning It!"?

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Result: 33/50 MCs correct!

DD15 asked me to review that test *before* she takes the FRQs so that she can have a better chance of knowing what to do on the MCs.  That's ownership!  (FWIW, DS15 got 41/50 MCs correct on this test, but he says he bombed the FRQs (which I haven't yet scored).)

To put this into perspective, here are her previous scores on the partial MC practice tests she has taken:

  • Date: Score
  • 3/26: 9/20
  • 3/19: 9/20
  • 3/12: 10/20
  • 3/6: 5/19
  • 2/26: 4/19
  • 2/19: 4/19

Notice that those first three tests had five answers for each question so her scores were indistinguishable from random guessing.  Since then, there have been only four answers available for each question.

I think she is finally starting to get some confidence in her ability to tackle this test!

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Just curious.  Is there a reason why they are in AP Chemistry if they are not willing to give it 100%?  Why not just do a regular chemistry class?  

The reason I ask, and you probably already know because you teach at a college if I remember correctly, is that getting college credit without the actual grade may actually hurt the college GPA in the long run.  

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