Want to Learn More, Better and Faster?

I just found this great article called The Science of Memory: Top 10 Proven Techniques to Remember More and Learn Faster.  In the article, it describes the different types of memory and how to use that knowledge to improve your memory.  Want to learn how to  improve your memory?  Just click on the link and learn how you can learn, better and faster.


Want to be a Successful Student?

Get interested in the class!  Find a reason(s) to want to like the class.  If you are interested in what you are learning not only will you learn it better you will want to go to class and do the work which will help you get a better grade.


Read the original article here!

Don’t Use “You”!

Many young or inexperienced writers use “You” as their point of view.  It is very distracting for a reader.  Mostly because what the writer may be trying to convey is not relevant to the reader.   Example, I once read a paper that stated, “If you plan on going to college you should study more.”  One, I have already gone to college so I don’t need to worry about getting into a college.  And two, I am slightly offended that the writer thought I did not study while I was in high school. I don’t think that the writer meant to irk me, the reader but that is exactly what has happened.   The other problem with using “You” is that it can make the writing too informal for the intended purpose.

Below is a list of suggestions on how to fix the “You” dilemma.

When you are at school, you should not eat the food in the cafeteria…

Kids at school should not eat in the cafeteria…
When students are at school they should not eat in the cafeteria……
When you go to the store for only one item then you are wasting your time.

When people go to the store for one item they are wasting their time.
When shoppers go to the store for one item they are wasting their time.
You are crazy to think that if you do not study you will get into college.

Young adults shouldn’t count on not studying if they plan on going to college.
Students should keep an open mind about studying if they plan on going to college.

Where to Find Help in Math

Need help in math?  No one around to help you?  Have you ever thought about going to the web to find the answer?  Try the following sites below.  Rate the sites below.  Let us know which ones we should try.  If you know of a good site we should try let us know that too!  Happy hunting, er, I mean mathing…

When using these sites for Tutorial use the following guide:

  1.  Look at one video.  Be sure to look up a video that relates to your question.
  2. Take notes on video.  Notes should include step by step instructions. Solve question.
  3. Make sure you understand your notes by finding a similar problem with the one you have.
  4. Solve both your problem and the similar problem.
  5. Check your work.  If both problems are correct to move on to next problem, if not repeat steps 1-5.

Watch Videos:




Look for additional problems here



Check your work:



How to Get it Done!

I hear a lot of excuses in middle school.  Kids are always quick to tell me why they can’t do their homework, why they can’t work on an assignment, or work with another kid.  I often say “Don’t give me an excuse as to why you can’t do something.  Give me an excuse as to why you can get something done”.  What I think these excuses really are is a way to stop yourself from getting the work done.  I thought it might be nice to look at some of those excuses and find a way to stop it in it’s tracks.

  • “I don’t know where to begin.”–Look for ways to break the assignment down into parts.  Probably, the best way is to look for what needs to be done first.  Then concentrate on second and all of the other parts until the assignment is completed.
  • “There are too many distractions.”–There will always be kids trying to distract other kids.  The trick is to remind yourself that the job, or the assignment, must get done.  Thinking about the bad grade, detention, or other punishment is a good way to stay on task and not let the distractions stop you from getting your work done.
  • “This is easy.”–Many students have told me how easy and quick an assignment will be only to find that they do not get it done in time.  By putting off the work, the work rarely gets done.  It is much better to think of all the free time you will have once the assignment is done and what you will be able to do with that time.
  • “This is boring.”–As I am constantly saying in class, some activities and assignments are going to be boring.  But they still have to get done.  I try to teach all of my students to get into the habit of doing the work first then finding a way to reward themselves.
  • “I don’t think I can do it.”–How do you know until you try?  I am constantly telling students in class, done is better than perfect.  The first step is to complete the task.  If, indeed, you can do the assignment or task then a person can go back and perfect the assignment.  If not, well, you completed the assignment.

A person  must learn the signs of procrastination and learn to ignore them.



STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  You may have heard of this acronym a lot lately, it is very popular.  Students who study STEM are more likely to find a job, are in higher demand, and typically receive higher pay than their counterparts.

Unfortunately, STEM is still a collection of male dominated fields.  To help combat that there are many programs at Sussman that encourage girls to join these fields.


The Femineer program, created by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering, was devised to inspire girls to explore and work in STEM fields. Girls at Sussman Middle School work on projects after-school and then show off those projects at STEM fairs at  Cal Poly Pomona.  Click  here for more information.

STEAMworks Summer Session

STEAMworks which stands for Science, Technolgy, Engineering, Art, and Math, is a summer enrichment program for students all throughout Downey. Summer classes are located at Price, Lewis, Unsworth Elementary Schools and Sussman Middle School. Students have the opportunity to spend time working on projects in the related fields mentioned above.



Project Lead the Way is a series of classes offered at Sussman Middle School that focus on the STEM fields.  Students at Sussman have a variety of classes to choose from like Medical Detectives, Green Architecture, and Automation and Robotics class.  These classes are offered for one semester.

If you hare any questions or need further information, please comment below.


What to Ask Your Teacher at the Beginning of the School Year

Is There A Syllabus?

All the rules of the classroom, what is on a test, how to get make up work, and other valuable information can be found on the syllabus.  Yet some students and most parents never read it.  And if they parents and student do read the syllabus they almost immediately forget the information.  The syllabus is like a student handbook for that particular class.

How Do You Grade?

No one should care about your grade except you.  It shouldn’t be the teachers responsibility to tell you what you need to raise your grade or how many points you need for a certain grade.  Be sure to ask the teacher in the beginning of the semester about grades.  Questions like does the teacher round up, or what happens if there is a missing assignment are important to know ahead of time so that a student is not doing a ton of make up work. that is of no value.

Do You Accept Extra Credit?

Many teachers allow extra-credit.  Make sure to ask how much it is worth.  Be sure you know if extra credit is constantly offered or only offered certain times of the year.

What Do I Do When I am Absent?

Most teachers have a system in place for absent students.  Make sure you know that system.  Teachers are busy and have many students, it can not be up to them to remember when you were absent and which papers you are missing.


If I Have a Problem When is the Best Time to Talk to You?


Some teachers actually leave their class at lunch and snack.  So when is the best time to talk to a teacher?  Sometimes it is during class, sometimes it is after school.  Every teacher is different.  If you need help with an assignment or need to talk about your grade do not assume that your teacher is waiting for you in their classroom.  Ask ahead of time so that if you need to talk you know where that teacher will be.


It is important to take notes the first few days of school and jot down important information about the policies of a classroom.  I found a great handout that will help you identify what is important.  Click Getting to Know Your Class to make a copy.