Coping with Test Anxiety

High school students across the country are feeling the pressure of the PSAT this week. While most students experience some level of uneasiness during a test, students with test anxiety suffer severe physical, emotional and cognitive reactions. Headaches, nausea, sweating, feelings of helplessness and difficulty concentrating are common indicators of test anxiety.

For those who experience symptoms, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers some tips for managing test anxiety:

  • Be prepared. Begin studying at least a week or two before the exam. If possible, take a practice test, constraining yourself to the same time limit as the actual test.
  • Develop good test-taking skills. Read all directions carefully, and answer the questions you know first.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Your self-worth is not defined by a test grade.
  • Stay focused. Concentrate on the test, not others around you during the exam.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. If you start to feel stressed during the test, take deep, slow breaths and consciously relax your muscles, one at a time.
  • Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise. You can handle stress better when you are well-rested and nourished.
  • Visit the counseling center. Reach out to your school counselors for help with test anxiety.

Soon, this will be you!



Is Two Greater Than Four?

The economy is constantly changing, as is the education system. For decades we’ve equated a bachelor’s degree with long-term economic success. Now there are signs that this may not always be the case.

Recent research finds that graduates of two-year programs often enter the work force earning more than their peers with four-year degrees. This is especially true in the technical, medical and skilled labor fields. In fact, some associate degrees have an $11,ooo yearly earnings advantage. And when you shave off the tuition costs of an extra two years of college, the financial implications are huge.

For those still not convinced, this statistic might just catch your attention: the average cost of four years of tuition and fees at a public university is $34,620, vs. just $6,262 for an associate’s degree.

Do you think that short-term, highly specialized degrees will continue to gain in popularity?


Take It Outside – Benefits of Outdoor Play

Take a drive around most neighborhoods and it is easy to see that kids are spending less and less time outside. According to research cited by the National Wildlife Federation, children are spending half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago. Electronics are pulling our kids indoors and away from the many benefits of enjoying the great outdoors.

Some of the benefits of frequent outdoor exposure listed in the NWF article include:

  • A decrease in the chance for obesity
  • Increased levels of Vitamin D
  • A possible increase in scores on standardized tests
  • Lower stress levels

What are the outdoor areas like at your school? How often are students permitted to play, eat and explore outside? We recently added hundreds of new UltraSite products to our website that are sure to spruce up your outdoor areas and to help kids (and adults!) better enjoy being out in nature. Find picnic tables, benches, planters and more. Many of the UltraSite products

UltraSite Preschool Picnic Tablecome with an earth-friendly, PVC-free thermoplastic coating. The coating adds years of life to your outdoor furniture and comes in a big selection of colors.

Call our customer service team at (877) 839-3330 and
we’ll be happy to answer any questions about our UltraSite outdoor furniture.

Test Time All the Time

College planning requires applications, research and standardized testing.  The most commonly taken and submitted college preparatory tests in the U.S. are the ACT and the SAT and, until recently, the SAT was favored most among college admissions officers.

Interestingly, that trend has changed. The two tests have gained equal status amongst colleges and student applicants, and most students are taking both. The New York Times profiles students who have devoted their junior years of high school to preparation and testing. The question we’re left with: Is it worth it?

For many students, the preparation for the ACT and SAT means time away from family, friends and social activities. Even students who take each of the tests multiple times find that their scores only improve marginally. But many students and parents believe it best to take both tests multiple times to put them in the best light with admissions officers.

This ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality means the mad college scramble is here to stay – one test after another, and another, and another…


Teachers Armed with More Than Knowledge

As children across the country head back to school this month, teachers in one Missouri school district are armed with more than just knowledge. In response to last year’s Sandy Hook shooting, the Fairview School District is allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons. “We’re not going to wait around for the sheriff’s department to show up and take care of some incident,” said Principal Aaron Sydow in an article on the CBS St. Louis website.

The Clarksville School District in Arkansas tried to follow suit, responding to the concerns of parents after the fatal Connecticut shooting last December. The district selected 20 teachers and gave them each an $1,100 stipend for purchasing a gun and holster. The district also paid for training and was planning to cover the cost of ammunition, but backlash from the Attorney General forced the plan to be terminated this summer.

Recently, South Dakota passed a law allowing teachers and volunteers to carry firearms, though no districts have plans to implement the program this year.

These instances of arming teachers are few and far between. While some districts allow administrators to carry handguns, the majority are still opposed to putting them in the hands of anyone near children. According to a poll conducted by the National Education Association (NEA), most teachers themselves don’t want to be armed. The poll found that “only 22 percent of [NEA's] members favored a proposal to arm teachers and other school staffers; 68 percent opposed this idea, including 61 percent who indicated they strongly oppose it.”

What do you think?

Shared School Supplies – What’s Yours is Mine

From three-ring binders and fresh new No. 2 pencils to packs of crayons and tissues, parents everywhere are stocking up on school supplies as the new school year commences. The process brings with it the question – “To share or not to share?”Three-Ring Binders

Shared school supplies are becoming more and more popular in schools, especially for younger grades. Parents are still expected to purchase the glue, markers and other items on the school supplies list, but instead of writing their child’s name on each box or container for personal use, the supplies are placed in a community bin for all to use.

The positive of shared school supplies is that it ensures that each child is properly equipped for the school day, whether or not his or her parents bothered to send in supplies. Also, there is no arguing over one student taking another’s pencil, scissors or other supplies. There is less need for personal storage since supplies can be kept in community buckets.

But not everyone is excited about shared supplies. Some parents argue that it is not fair that they are expected to provide supplies for children whose parents simply chose not to purchase the items. Plus, not all children treat supplies with the same level of respect. Writing with a chewed-on pencil can be pretty unappealing, especially when you weren’t the one who did the chewing.

Does your school do shared school supplies? What are your thoughts?

Higher Education Plateau?

Has the number of college-bound students peaked?

A recent New York Times article explores the link between decreasing college enrollment and the growing job market and economy. It cites recent figures from smaller colleges and universities as evidence that these institutions will be negatively impacted for years to come.

Census figures show that college enrollment dropped 2% last year, the first time since the 1990s. What does this mean for smaller community colleges and universities? It means the potential for budget cutbacks due to empty dorms and classrooms. Many enrollment officials have taken to following up with applicants in an attempt to change their minds – but with limited success.

Time will tell if these schools can survive. In the meantime, the elite Harvards and M.I.T.s of the world continue to attract and turn away students as they have in the past.

Do you think this trend will continue?

Touchless Bathroom Fixtures Control Germs in Public Restrooms
Palmer Fixture Electronic Foam Soap Dispenser

Palmer Fixture Electronic Foam Soap Dispenser

A recent article featured on listed soap dispensers as one of the “8 Germiest Public Places”, harboring more bacteria growth than most toilet seats. According to the article, about 25 percent of public restroom soap dispensers are contaminated with fecal matter. That number could be even higher in schools, where kids’ hygienic practices are likely not as perfected as adults’.

To help combat the problem, many schools and businesses are turning to touchless soap dispensers, hand dryers and other bathroom fixtures. In addition to cutting down on the spread of germs, electronic soap dispensers also help eliminate product waste by dispensing the appropriate amount of foam or liquid with each use.

SCHOOLSin recently unveiled a complete line of bathroom fixtures that includes touchless soap dispensers, automatic paper towel dispensers, sensor-activated hand dryers and more. All of the new bathroom-related products are manufactured by Palmer Fixture, a long-standing, trusted name in facility equipment. Shop our selection of affordable, hands-free bathroom fixtures and create healthier environments today.

Summer Vacation: Time for R&R or a Second Job?

For many teachers, the end of the school year doesn’t mean a 3-month break. It means more hours to fill as a camp counselor, tutor, student, summer school teacher, resume writer, waitress, retail associate or <insert any job title here>. John Wright, a senior policy analyst for the National Education Association, believes that more teachers are looking for summer work now than in the past because many haven’t seen salary increases in several years.

The Columbus Dispatch recently highlighted five teachers who work summer jobs. From community pool manager to airline luggage loader to opera singer, the jobs are as varied as the teachers themselves. Fortunately for some, these unique experiences outside the classroom serve as inspiration for lessons during the school year. Mike Mundew, a 54-year-old science teacher at a juvenile detention center, works a second job as an airline luggage loader.  He shows students pictures of his travels (part of the perks of working for an airline) to help them understand the world’s vastness: “I just try to do something that motivates them so they don’t come back.”

Even if teachers aren’t working a second job in the traditional sense, many spend time working on continuing education classes or refreshing their curricula for the new school year.

How do you fill your summer vacation? Are you able to relax and refresh or do you work a second (or third) job just to make ends meet?

Technology’s True Impact in the Classroom

A new study from the National Assessment of Educational Progress adds confusion to the debate over technology use in schools. The New York Times recently reported on the findings of this organization, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

One of the central points surrounds the use of computers in math class. Many middle school students reported that computers were used for drill work and not sophisticated problem solving. Students from poorer backgrounds reported more use of computers for drill work versus problem solving. The question asked is whether the underprivileged are best served in this manner. While schools race to add technology, are they overlooking the skills the skills that instructors should be teaching?

Another point from the study concluded science classrooms were slow in embracing technology and thus, made little difference in learning.

Meanwhile, the debate rages on as educators face either letting students learn using software-based programs, or coupling it with classroom-led instruction. A study conducted for the Department of Education found this combination was most effective in elevating some statewide math scores.

Does technology make a difference in your classroom? Do you rely on it too much, or too little?