March 6, 2014
Remedial teacher Marielle Potvin regularly adds articles to our blog since its inception. She was recently brought on as a panel expert for the “Les Persévérants” TV show broadcasted on RDI and Tou.tv. Over a period of 13 weeks, nine teenagers aged 13-15, at risk of dropping out, will be accompanied by an interdisciplinary team of global health experts to receive the learning tools necessary to meet the academic challenge.
Ms. Potvin’s vast experience, along with her proven expertise in the area of motivation and learning issues among children and teens, have made her an invaluable asset for this team of experts who will guide these youths through the entire 13-week period.
In the following article, Marielle Potvin shares with us some of the highlights about this unique experience, and also numerous perseverance insights and tools, which have been presented to these potential dropouts.
One day, as two friends were discussing the topic of the staggering dropout rate in Quebec, a flash of inspiration suddenly led them to suggest a global health approach to a group of high-school students. Included in this conversation were Dr. Lysanne Gohier, the Head of the Psychology Department of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (University of Montreal Hospital Centre) and all-around athlete, and Sophie Ferron, a television content producer with MédiaRanch.
Following their conversation, an interdisciplinary team was assembled to offer a group of high-school students the proper tools to address the threat of school dropout. This idea materialized at the Cavelier-de-Lasalle School with a group of nine students at risk of dropping out. The teens were selected by their school administration, which let us shoot material in their institution twice a week as part of a TV show project.
First off, I should mention that the participants did not have to miss classes to be the subject of this academic supervision experience; all the activities took place outside class hours.
When it came to lifestyle (eating habits, physical condition, stress management) and the ability to concentrate and persevere, every effort was made to encourage students to develop a healthier outlook on life.
The entire roster of experts includes Dr. Gohier, Dr. Brouillard (general and global health practitioner), Jean-François Thibeault (sports coach), Nathasha Azrak (nutritionist) as well as myself, Marielle Potvin (remedial teacher). Together, we have pooled what seemed most appropriate to maximize the scope for academic success. Each field expert provided his insight, while I focused on teaching students an approach to mental management, namely the method of learning to learn.
Source of the picture : http://bit.ly/1fWyMmu
At first, when I asked students how they memorized information, they all confessed that they did not have a clue ― they just memorized, period. They simply had no idea as to how memory functioned. How could they know how to focus their attention and be sure they retained new information correctly? “We just do!” is what they would reply... Poor answer. To obtain satisfactory results, students must know the principles that lead to academic achievement in a much more detailed fashion.
Maintaining attention can be summarized by the following actions:
Watching (and not simply seeing) and listening (and not simply hearing) with the intention of reproducing the object of learning in one’s own mind.
Memorizing information can be summarized by the following action:
Visualizing oneself in the future using the information.
Knowing we understood correctly...
involves the ability to re-explain a notion to someone.
Obviously, I am only painting a succinct picture of what mental management really is (most recently, I penned down an article on that topic – “Learning to Learn”). The activities I proposed to the students were far more detailed.
An entire range of support tools were offered to the teens:
Time management resources included a presentation of the Pomodoro Technique.
- Each teenager could download a Time Timer on his iPod (provided for the TV show).
- Stress management resources proved helpful and included, among others, stress or tangled balls to help kids cope with tension-filled situations. Hyperactivity resources also proved helpful and included elastic bands attached to the front legs of a chair, which allowed students freedom to move if they pleased without disturbing others.
- Numerous motivational tools were also supplied, among which were those from the Prosper publications materials (French only). (Inspirational posters and books were graciously offered to the students.) I also presented the teens with a very special dictionary.
- Are you familiar with Eurêka? It is a reference tool that contains over 30,000 words, each of which can be looked up within less than 30 seconds. What makes this reference tool different is that entries are shown using a phonological approach! Only spelling ― and no definition ― is provided. Quite often, that’s all students need to spell words correctly as they already know the meaning of the words they want to use.
All the students from the group have made considerable progress with Buzz Math (Netmaths), a site that offers additional help to math students. Buzz Math is pretty visual and provides personalized individual guidance. As a user, I could closely monitor students’ personal progress and see the activities that have been labeled as “completed” or “successful,” along with those that require extra attention.
This is only my contribution; now imagine the result of the whole team’s work! Each expert shared his resources.
The students eventually understood the importance of acquiring healthy lifestyle habits (better eating, more physical activity) as well as the impact their live can have on academic achievement.
I strongly urge you to watch this TV show to track the progress of these students as they unfold. The first episode was aired on Monday, February 24, 2014 on RDI. Viewers can still access this episode on Tou.tv. A certain evolution of the teenagers can be seen in the reality TV show. In addition, a website has been specifically created so that you, parents, can chat with the experts following broadcast of each episode.
You can also access a large number of additional resources via the following address: http://perseverants.radio-canada.ca (French only).
Finally, I must tell you right away: there will be a second season! A show you will not want to miss!