Today we started our day with an unplanned 45 minute discussion about the 6th grade workload and stress.  The students gave great feedback on what they saw as the major problems with getting their work done.

They identified four main problems:
1)  Not understanding the assignment (often in Math)
2) Being busy with outside activities
3) Last minute cramming
4) Being forced to study in a certain way that doesn't work for them

We then talked about solutions to these problems, and while just talking doesn't really make anything better, I think we may have planted some seeds for how students might solve these problems for themselves.  Here are some solutions we came up with:

Not understanding how to do the homework
- Call another student, 
- Contact the teacher if they have made themselves available (check on how to do this with teacher)
- Do one of each kind of math problem before leaving the classroom to see if you understand them all
- Try learning on Youtube, where you can rewind and watch again as many times as you need to.  Khan Academy is a good site for math.

Being too busy with outside activities
- Schedule out your homework a week in advance, placing study nights around sports, etc.
- Use the Three Week Planner Mr. Swedberg showed today.
- Plan on turning in some assignments late.  (Talk to you teachers about it ahead of time.  Tell them you want to learn the material and get it all done.  Tell them you understand the score might need to be lower and that you will accept that.  Believe it or not, you can turn something in late and be responsible about it... just don't do it all the time.)

Last minute cramming
- Study a little bit every night for things like Spelling or History tests.  Your brain likes it better!

Being forced to study in way you don't like
- This one could be tricky.  Talk to you parents about how you'd like to try studying.  Tell them that you'd like to try it your way once and if you do well on your test, you can talk about continuing your way and your parents can't complain about it.  However, if you do poorly on your test, you'll agree to try it their way without complaining.

After talking through these solutions, I have to say it didn't appear that the students felt much better.  I'm not sure if they didn't think these solutions were realistic or if they saw further problems with the solutions.  I think it's a starting place, though.

There was some good that came from our conversation, though.  I told the kids, I want them to know:
1) When they are frustrated or stressed out, they are not the only one.
2) Your teachers really want to set you up for success, not frustration.
3) If you are frustrated, come talk to your teacher about it, even if it's scary.

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