How UNHS Courses Promote Student Success

UNHS-Blog-Header-Success

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

All UNHS courses are designed with a gating and sequencing component.

Gating

Gating means only one assignment per course can be submitted per day. If students are enrolled in five courses, they may submit one assignment from each course. Gating ensures that students study at a pace that helps them understand the subject matter before moving forward with the coursework. The purpose of gating is not to delay learning but to allow students to study at a pace that sets them up for academic success and increases content retention.

Students may always move forward and explore the next lesson in a course. Parents should expect their student to complete all reading and activities within a course and textbook assignments. Although some course activities are not graded, they will help students expand their knowledge and ability to answer questions of higher order thinking and problem solving. Doing everything that is offered within a course is important for success.

By monitoring study sessions and assignments, and making certain their student has a dedicated place to study, parents can emphasize that they value education and believe in being proactive in UNHS’ academic expectations. Gating in courses is appreciated by parents as it helps students get a better learning experience while preparing them for college-level coursework.

Steps students can take toward their own success

  1. It is important to invest in note-taking that will support course, unit and lesson objectives. All Unit Evaluation and Progress Test questions are written to the objectives. Students will be better prepared for the Progress Tests if they can discuss their knowledge thoroughly and answer the objectives.
  2. Wise students will read the maps, charts, and diagrams offered throughout a course and look for patterns, variables, rates of increase or decrease, and expand the chart to predict future outcomes. Important information is missed by the scholar when these reading opportunities are skipped.
  3. Students are advised to look up unknown vocabulary that impedes understanding. Flash cards are an important tool so that students gain the ability to accurately apply the learned terms to future assignments.

Sequencing

Sequencing means all Teacher Connect Activities, Unit Evaluations, Projects and Progress Tests within a UNHS course must be completed in the order they are presented. All UNHS courses are presented in a progressive manner (step-by-step) and this helps students with both retention and understanding. Students can achieve a higher level of understanding if they go through a course correctly. Sequencing is like a map for success, and taking shortcuts may hinder the students’ intellectual development.

Gating and sequencing are tools designed to help students be successful and ensure that the love of learning will be sustained throughout their lifetime. At UNHS we believe that success in academic life is a collaborative effort involving parents, teachers, and advisers as well as the support staff who work together to ensure students always have access to a world-class education.

Advice to My Younger Self

Catherine BrackettThis post has been written by Catherine Brackett, a former student intern with the University of Nebraska High School. She offers advice to students about to begin their lives as freshmen and what she wished she could have told herself before she began her journey through college.

There are many tidbits of advice I wish I had known when I was younger–even just a couple years ago. I’m sure many of us replay events that could’ve gone differently if we had just known what the outcome would be. Although we are unable to rewind and give ourselves the advice that we thought we needed, mistakes and trials help us become the people we come to be proud of presently–flaws and all. If I can’t go back and change little mistakes that I had made when I was a fresh face in the university dorms, I hope I can provide future students with knowledge that I wish I would have known as a spunky 18-year-old.

I first advise all of my younger peers not to take courses too lightly. I was astounded when I found that many of my high school peers were flunking and were punished to academic probation–even brainiacs who did well in school. Never think that it couldn’t happen to you, because that’s when you let your guard down and assignments fall behind.

This brings me to my next point–don’t let your mistakes define you as a person. It isn’t the end of the world, even flunking out of university isn’t the end of the world. The most important thing to keep in mind if you are ever in a situation where you think there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, is to keep moving forward. These mistakes are just that–mistakes. They’re usually fixable and they are meant to be left in the past.

You might not have had to study in high school, but now is the time to pick up a good habit. I never studied my freshman year, and I got a huge wake-up call my sophomore year. I wasn’t able to get by that long without hitting the library, but now, the library is one of my favorite places on campus. Find a good study spot with no distractions and make it a “home-y” place for you to enjoy on those late nights of hitting the books. Also, just because your friends may be taking the same class doesn’t mean they may be the best study tools for you. Know when to cut your friends out of the study equation if they start to become a distraction.

With all of that being said, don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to let loose sometimes and enjoy yourself. Many people may tell you that the best years of your life were in high school, but I disagree–college is. Be active and involved and you’re sure to have the best experience possible!

From One Procrastinator to Another

 

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

I almost did not write this blog, I just kept putting it off, putting it off and putting it off.  I finally decided to make a procrastination acrostic with statements and thoughts that hopefully can be helpful to you if you have issues with being a procrastinator.

 

Procrastination is a problem of self-regulation.

Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is an important step.

Opt out of putting things off by saying, “I will do it tomorrow.”

Coping mechanism for a lot of people.

Really would rather play video games or do something else.

All people procrastinate sometimes, you are not alone.

Set goals and list the steps needed to meet them.

Time management skills development (use a planning device).

I work better under pressure! Is that really true for you?

Nice to have someone who will help keep you on track (an accountability partner).

Adopt anti-procrastination strategies like a daily to-do list.

Treat or reward yourself for getting something done early or on time.

Idleness is okay sometimes (we all need a break from our pressures).

Opt out of looking for distractions, so you don’t have to do your needed task.

Never give up on improving your procrastination habits!

Famous American patriot, Ben Franklin, once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” but well-known American author, Mark Twain, also stated, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

It’s your choice which advice you will follow!  All the best to my fellow procrastinators!

Showcase Your Achievements and Hobbies

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Showcasing achievements through activities is now a standard component of the university application process. While every student applying to colleges will have taken the same standardized tests and similar courses, no one will have the unique combination of hobbies and interests like the ones you may have learned and taken part in.

Writing about your hobbies and activities are a great way to show a university the unique aspects of your personality. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Expertise. If you have maintained a hobby for years and thoroughly understands it, they might be considered an expert on the matter. Any expertise, no matter how trivial it may seem, is very valuable to share with colleges you are applying to.
  • Uniqueness. Unique activities don’t have to include winning a Nobel Peace Prize or a Guinness World Record—activities could include private lessons, leadership of clubs/organizations, volunteering, and employment. You should think how you have had an opportunity to share these experiences through performing, competition, training someone else or being published.
  • Time management. By showing what you do outside the classroom, it conveys that you can use time management skills—a necessary quality to have in college.
  • Hard work. We know you put all the time and effort you have into your activity or hobby, now you need to tell the colleges you are applying to the same thing!
  • Adds to traditional transcripts. Explaining what you are passionate about can help colleges understand you and what makes you special. Stories about what you love to do in or outside of school are a great addition to the transcripts that are also sent in with your application.

Your extracurricular activities don’t just have to include sports or other hobbies. We understand some students have jobs to support themselves and their families, and this can be a very strong topic to share with colleges as well! By holding a job in high school, it shows you are ambitious and have good balance between work and school.

Here’s another tip! It always helps to include an anecdote or recommendation from an acquaintance you’ve made through shared interests.

Colleges just want to learn more about you and what you have done apart from your traditional application and transcript, because your level of involvement most likely indicates how you will do in college. This is your chance to give a face to your candidacy and stand out amongst other applicants.

So take the time to show your strengths. We know you have many!

 

 

Resource: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/11/12/incorporate-jobs-hobbies-into-college-applications

What’s Your Hangtag?

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Along with academic advising of students and parents at the UNHS, I enjoy shopping and comparing products and services in stores and online. Of course, it is exciting when I have found the best price, but I also make sure to look at the merchandise or service carefully. The hangtag always grabs my attention, because it usually conveys the price, the designer or manufacturer of the product and much more important information needed to make your buying decision.

So how do you convey to someone why they should “buy” into what you are saying? I personally think we each have an invisible hangtag that explains our professional branding image to each person we meet. I personally want my hangtag to tell others that I am a hard worker and that I care about my students. Everyone’s hangtags are different—we all have unique styles and brand images that separate us from others.

Even though we cannot all wear a physical hangtag, we can all take steps to make sure we are communicating to others our positive and professional brand image, one that stands out from the others.

How to live your hangtag:

  • Actively think about how you want others to see you.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Separate your professional life and personal opinions.
  • Learn from your coworkers or colleagues.
  • Surround yourself with those who can help you grow.
  • Talk positively.
  • Ask for constructive feedback and make changes accordingly.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have great online etiquette.

What would your hangtag say?

Facing Adversity

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

This statement is first credited to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in 1888, but in the not too distant past (2011) was used repeatedly in a song by Kelly Clarkson called Stronger. I don’t believe this quote is true in all circumstances, but in many cases there are some obvious benefits of going through trials and tribulations.

Although not many people would choose struggles over prosperity, going through difficult times can help develop important character qualities. To illustrate the importance of facing adversity, I would like to share a brief synopsis of a couple famous Americans and their ability in overcoming obstacles:

One of the most beloved United States Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, lost eight different elections, had two failed business ventures and had a nervous breakdown before he became our sixteenth President in 1860.

Talk show star, Oprah Winfrey, was born to single teenage mother in Mississippi; was physically abused; became pregnant at 14 and lost her baby; and was shuttled back and forth to various family members.  Today, Oprah has her own cable network and became the first African-American billionaire.

Abraham Lincoln and Oprah Winfrey are just two examples of people who have faced adversity and were able to use their setbacks as fuel for success.

How did they do it and how can you get through tough situations?

Below are three principles that should help:

  1. Work hard! Nothing can take the place of putting forth great effort. You would be surprised what you can overcome with just giving your best.
  2. Get help! It is not a sign of weakness to ask for assistance. If a situation is overwhelming or you need someone else’s perspective, be sure to enlist their help.
  3. Don’t give up! This may be the most difficult, because in our high tech world we are used to instant results. This is not always the way of life. Many great things take time. Remember this wise saying by William Edward Hickson: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

One of my students at the University of Nebraska High School recently shared an important perspective on facing adversity: “I believe the struggles you have do not determine the kind of person you are or will be, but rather are an influence on your outlook on the world—which is why our struggles make us wiser.”

Who doesn’t want to become wiser?

4 Tips for a Successful School Year

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

For many high school students, August seems to be the favored month for the start of back-to-school. For students involved in sports, many have actually been training and working out even before the traditional pre-season of the school year officially began, and August means the start of when they can demonstrate their hard work. For others, the start of school means the reduction or the stopping of work for summer jobs as they begin to focus on their studies.

As a high school principal, my previous talks to students at the start of the school year focused on these four rules—applicable to all whether you’re an athlete, have a part-time job or anyone else.

  1. Show up. Attendance is critical to your success—you have to be there to get the instruction offered by your teachers. For online students, you have to open up your coursework and you have to submit assignments frequently so that there is evidence of your involvement and participation on a frequent basis. Ask questions of your online teachers [unhsteach@nebraska.edu]—this lets them know you’re engaged in the process.
  2. Do your work. Not only is it critical that you do the assignments and work assigned to you by your teachers, but you should do quality work. Remember, everything you turn in has your name on it. Your name should mean something—it is who you are and stands for the integrity of your good character. Be proud of each and every assignment you submit because it represents (or should), your very best efforts.
  3. Practice civility. Students who really care about their education demonstrate great amounts of civility toward others—even folks they don’t know. Your words and actions matter, whether it is how you speak and act towards members of your community, others are forming an impression of how you manage yourself as a human being. Keep your words and actions positive and reflective of your dedication to yourself. Your words matter to your teachers as they grade your work and your projects. Use them wisely and carefully. Online teachers can quickly pick up the “tone” of your comments in your writing. Make it a point to practice your civility online!
  4. School comes first. If you continue to work during the school year, which is perfectly fine (and more power to you!), just remember that your schoolwork should be your priority.

If you follow these simple rules, you are more likely to enjoy the learning experience this year.

I hope that what you will take away from this is experience is a life-long love of learning that will guide you along a very productive life. Have a great start to your year!