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Back to School Tips from Teachers

Parents: Are You Prepared for Back-to-School?

Sep 1, 2006

Ok -- so you've bought the trendy shoes, searched for the perfect backpack and dished out the lunch money. But with your pre-teen or teen facing math classes, countless extracurricular activities and standardized exams, what can you do to help ensure that they have a successful school year?

High school algebra teacher Juan Manuel Gonzales Alfaro and mathematics curriculum and instruction consultant Lynn Rambo have teamed with Sylvan Learning Center and Texas Instruments to provide the following tips specifically to help parents and their teens head back to the classroom this fall:

1. Take the time to meet your student's teacher(s) at the beginning of the school year. What are their procedures and processes? How will they communicate with you and how often?

2. Be sure your teen has a good place to study. Designate a specific time and place for homework, and help him or her develop a study routine. Having a "learning zone" free from potential distractions helps keep your teen focused on the task at hand.

3. Ask your teen to explain what he or she is supposed to do for to you. Make sure you are aware of all homework assignments and whether they are being completed. Remember the saying, "Practice makes perfect?" It still applies, especially when referring to schoolwork.

4. Encourage organization. Today's student juggles a multitude of exams, homework deadlines, essays and projects. For some students, having color-coded binders for each subject helps them stay on track throughout the school year. In addition, handheld educational technology, one of the most popular forms of technology used in America's high schools today, oftentimes includes an organizer application that students can use to keep track of their schedules, assignment due dates, classmate contact information, etc.

5. Explore the Internet for helpful resources. Many educational technology companies offer free tutorials and software on their Web sites. Texas Instruments offers help specifically for math and science, and Sylvan Learning Center provides parents with tip sheets and family activities. (www.tibacktoschool.com, www.educate.com)

6. Anticipate that teachers will encourage the use of technology such as graphing calculators on homework assignments. Research shows that using graphing calculators, such as the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, can significantly improve a student's math performance by helping him/her visualize and better understand concepts in math and science.* "Schools and states are testing analytical skills, not computational skills," Mrs. Rambo comments. "Graphing calculators allow students to perform math at a higher level."

7. Ask your student's teacher or school counselor for assistance if your teen is feeling overwhelmed. Educational resources like Sylvan Learning Center offer a variety of tutorial programs (1-800-31-SUCCESS) to best fit your teen's needs, whether he or she is catching up, keeping up or getting ahead.

8. Control your stress level. By remaining calm and managing one thing at a time, you and your teen will transition from the lazy days of summer to the structured school year with ease.

The bottom line for parents is that you are a critical component of your teen's education, so be as involved and aware as possible. These guidelines, combined with the usual good night's rest and hearty breakfast, will equate to a great start to a new school year. For more information on handheld educational technology and how you can help your student succeed in math, go to www.education.ti.com.

About Texas Instruments
Educational & Productivity Solutions, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of advanced tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications and enabling students and teachers to explore math and science interactively. Designed with leading educators, Texas Instruments' educational technology and services are tested against recognized third-party research on effective instruction and improved student learning. Such research shows that use of graphing calculators and wireless collaborative technology in the classroom helps teachers implement instructional strategies that lead to higher student interest, engagement and achievement in mathematics.* For more than 15 years, TI has worked closely with educators and administrators to develop student-focused curricular and supplemental classroom materials, and it supports the world's largest professional development organization for the appropriate use of educational technology. More information is available at www.education.ti.com.

Texas Instruments Incorporated provides innovative DSP and analog technologies to meet our customers' real world signal processing requirements. In addition to Semiconductor, the company includes the Educational & Productivity Solutions business. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing, design or sales operations in more than 25 countries.

Texas Instruments is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TXN. More information is located on the World Wide Web at www.ti.com.

*For information about research showing that graphing calculator use improves students' math skills as well as their attitudes toward math, visit Research on Graphing Calculators

For more information:
Regina Haas
The Point Group for Texas Instruments
(214) 378-7970
rhaas@thepointgroup.com