Sunday, May 22, 2016

Is Social Media and Technology Affecting our Students?

If you are a parent of a school aged student, you are likely wondering if your children are being negatively affected from the use of so many technological devices.  From cell phones, computers, music devices, electronic notebooks, Facebook, Twitter, etc., students are likely involved in their use.  Is all of this electronic interaction negatively impacting students’ attention span, memory skills, writing and inter-personal communication?

As a parent and educator who has observed many students throughout my career, just from shear observation it appears that students today are thwarting their memory skills and their ability to tend to tasks for any measurable amount of time due to a seemingly addiction to technology.  What began with instant messaging that hampered students grammar, word usage, sentence construction, idea development and other components of written language, has now evolved into the use of various means of social media.  Students are juggling so much input and mental stimuli all at once that it appears that their attention span is dimensioning as a result. 

In regards to memory, gone are the days of traveling to the local library to research periodicals, books and scholarly research papers to locate important information.  When past generation’s located information in this way, they took notes and learned the information, preventing them from having to return to the library if they forgot what was researched.  Today’s students visit GOOGLE and other similar search engines to locate information and have no need to memorize or transcribe notes because they can search it again in an instant.  No doubt there are benefits to the World Wide Web and having so much information literally at our fingertips, but there are down sides, too! 

According to a research study by Lloyd's TSB insurance, over the course of the last ten years the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to about 5 minutes from what it was once was.  For example, if we are honest, today, we give a YouTube video only a few seconds to determine if it’s worth watching.  Declining attention spans are causing household accidents such as pans being left to boil over on the stove top, bath water allowed to overflow, and freezer doors left open, the survey suggests. But the over-50s are able to concentrate for longer periods than young people, suggesting that busy lifestyles and intrusive modern technology rather than old age are to blame for our mental decline. "More than ever, research is highlighting a trend in reduced attention and concentration spans, and as our experiment suggests, the younger generation appear to be the worst afflicted," said sociologist David Moxon, who led the survey of 1,000 people.

A quarter of people polled in the Lloyd's study said they regularly forget the names of close friends or relatives, and seven per cent even admitted to momentarily forgetting their own birthdays.  Lack of attention can have a serious impact on task performance and increases the risk of accidents such as left pots and pans on the stove top.  Last year more than $1.6 billion dollars of damage was caused by people not concentrating properly, the research found.

Following are some interesting and shocking statistics:

* People spend 700 billion minutes on Facebook each month
* 41.6% of people access emails on their mobile phones
* Facebook users instill 20 million applications every day, most of which are distractions
* Social media addiction is real!  People report phantom phone vibration, reaching for a phone that doesn’t exist, fidgeting and restlessness.
* Technology creates interruptions and every time we are interrupted, our brains must reorient itself on what we were doing before interrupted.
* The average office worker check his or her email inbox 30-40 times per hour, once every 1.5 minutes
* 500,000 people join Twitter each day
* 12 millions twitter users following 64 of more twitter accounts.

If you would like to share what you are doing in your family to prevent the symptoms described above of excessive use of technology, please email them to me at We have a responsibility as parents, grandparents, and adult mentors to train young people in ways that will benefit them throughout their lifetime as they prepare for college and a career. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Appreciating and Supporting TEACHERS
By Carol C. Wood / Founder & CEO
Total Learning Concepts, Inc.

As the new school year begins, it is a good time to recognize those who have dedicated and committed themselves to the education of students. Whether one teaches 4-year olds in a Pre-kindergarten program or adults who are furthering their education, the common component for educators is their passion for people.  When asked what I do as a career, I often respond with, “I am in the ‘people building’ business!”   Most people I know who are teachers feel the same.
It is difficult to understand why some feel compelled to teach, but they do.  It’s as if God “taps” certain people for this life role. 

What are some of the characteristics of a teacher?

T         Trustworthy, Tenacious, Thought provoking

E         Expert, Enthusiastic, Entertaining, Energetic

A        Approachable, Appreciative, Attentive

C        Caring, Challenging, Constructive, Creative, Comforting, Communicative

H        Honest, Hard-working, Humorous

E         Engaging, Empathetic, Encouraging

R        Role model, Rebuilder, Responsible, Respectful, Receptive

Following are a few reminders to establish a positive working relationship with teachers during the next school year:

·         Provide teachers with information about your child that will help them know him or her as an individual.

·         Volunteer your time and energy to the classroom and school when needed.

·         Demonstrate respect for each teacher’s expertise and experience with subject matter and student behavior management in the classroom.

·         Send a note of thanks and appreciation to teachers when things are going well in the classroom.

·         Be on each teacher’s “team” by supporting his or her instruction, classroom policies, and procedures and expectations from your child as a student. 

·         If you disagree with a teacher on any matter, never voice this in front of your child.  Doing so may cause your student to place blame on the teacher rather than accepting personal responsibility for the matter.

·         When desiring to talk with a teacher, contact him or her via email or a written note initially and briefly describe the nature of your concern(s).  Ask for a return phone call and provide your best number and time of day to be reached.  If a phone call is not sufficient to handle your concerns, request a brief in-person conference.  Emailing concerns can be risky since they do not reflect vocal tone, expression or mannerisms.

·         When talking with the teacher via phone or in a conference, begin with questions rather than accusations.  Asking questions will allow you to have a better idea of the manner in which classes are conducted and subjects taught.  You do not want to put the teacher in a defensive mode and verbal accusations will likely do this.  Teachers are human beings first and want and deserve your respect and approval of the work they do with your child each day.

So, as the new school year begins, recognize the many special characteristics each teacher brings to the learning environment and achievement of students’ goals and potential and support their efforts with your child.  

Have a fabulous school year!

Friday, June 19, 2015

For Rising 9th Grade Students:
Launch to High School

By Carol C. Wood / Owner & College Admissions Process Counselor
Total Learning Concepts, Inc.

So, you’re a rising 9th grader, your first year of high school! As you begin your high school career, you will adjust to a new building, attend school as the youngest, meet lots of new people, acclimate to the expectations of high school teachers, have an array of clubs and activities in which to participate and make LOTS of new friends!  How exciting! 

As high school begins, it is important to recognize that every course grade you earn is likely a determining factor for your future college and career plans.  And, there are many tasks to complete as you begin your high school journey in preparation for the college admissions process. 

Let’s start first with you utilizing the most effective and efficient study strategies.  Following are just a few study tips as you begin high school:

  • Attend all classes and be on time.  Only an emergency or illness should cause you to miss class.
  • Select a seat in the classroom where you can pay close attention to the teacher’s instruction and directions.  If the student next to you caused distraction, find another place to sit or privately ask the teacher to be moved.
  • Know each teacher’s course website where he or she posts homework assignments, projects, due dates, test dates, etc.  You are responsible to keep up with each course and teacher’s expectations.
  • Consistently use only one agenda; either electronic or paper, in which you notate due dates, test dates, activities, etc.   
  • Take detailed, legible class and study notes.  If you are absent from school, ask a classmate for a copy of his or her notes.
  • Find a study buddy for classes which present you the most challenge.  Ideally, this person is another responsible student like you!
  • Select a study space at home in which you can concentrate and remain focused. 
  • Exhibit good management of your own behaviors by turning all forms of technology OFF while studying.  Technology time-out is necessary for quality learning time!
  • Read assignments thoroughly and re-read when necessary to fully grasp the content.
  • Do all homework assigned and MORE by drilling and practicing each day’s class material presented by your teachers.  In other words, master a little at a time, rather than cramming in weeks of material in one night when preparing for a major test.

For additional study skills tips and strategies or for recommendations in the College Admissions Process, you may contact me on 770-381-5958 or

Have a fabulous start to high school!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The New SAT and Suggestions for Rising Juniors (2015-16 school year)

Did you know that the SAT is changing in March of 2016? The new test will have several key changes, including a writing and language test and a portion of the math section on which no calculator is allowed. In the long run, the changes are promised to be a more accurate representation of a student's abilities. As the test is administered and scored over the next year or so, we will see trend data and will be able to compare student scores to their success in college. For details about the new SAT, click here.
What does this mean for rising seniors?  There will be three opportunities to take the SAT in its current form in 2015 and one opportunity in 2016. These dates will not impact seniors much, as most of their college application deadlines will fall within the range of these test dates. It will be very important to pay close attention to all application deadlines, to plan ahead, and to register to take the current SAT this fall at least twice, if not three times. It is also important to take the ACT at least two to three times as well. Colleges will often take the BEST scores from either the SAT or the ACT. The ACT is NOT making changes to its current format. For details about the differences between the current SAT and the ACT, click here.
What does this mean for rising juniors?  The class of 2017 will be allowed to submit both current (2015) SAT scores and new (2016) SAT scores when applying to colleges. As always, colleges will also accept ACT scores and will take the best scores. What is advised for you to do? We suggest doing things a little differently this year. It is best for juniors to begin preparing for the current SAT this summer, but no later than August in order to be prepared for the SAT this October and November 2015. It is best to take the SAT at least twice this fall, but three times is recommended. This allows for optimum score potential. The SAT will also be administered in December, 2015 and January, 2016. The exact national test dates will be posted sometime this June. Juniors should also plan to take the ACT at least two to three times.

Should juniors take the NEW SAT in March 2016 or later? It's definitely up to the individual student. We recommend "go with what you know." If a student has the opportunity to take the current SAT, it is definitely better for him/her to prepare for and take it as often as possible, as colleges are more familiar with the current test and what the scores represent. Taking the current SAT and the ACT will give juniors more options when applying to colleges.

What does this mean for rising freshmen and sophomores? They will be required to take the new version of the SAT, and at present, colleges will only accept test scores from the SAT's newest version. Rising freshmen and sophomores will also take the new version of the PSAT this October.
How can Total Learning Concepts help? We offer a preparation course for the new PSAT and will have our first class this summer. We will also offer SAT/ACT preparation session options for rising juniors and seniors this summer and fall to prepare for the current SAT. For more information on our course dates, please click here.
To discuss your student's academic goals for the summer and upcoming school year, please call your center director and schedule an in-person consultation. Together, we can determine the best course of action for you and/or your student!


Lilburn: (770) 381-5958  Loganville: (770) 466-8282  Dacula (770) 271-7544

Monday, April 27, 2015

Start School Sharp.

This summer, Prepare to START SCHOOL SHARP!
By Carol C. Wood Founder & CEO
Total Learning Concepts, Inc.

Woohoo!  School is out for the summer so learning can stop!  Right?  Wrong! 

Summer time provides the BEST opportunity students have to enrich their academic skills if they desire to get ahead before school begins again or catch up in skills if they ended the school year below average in an area.  During the summer, because school has ended and teachers are not moving through additional curriculum, students have the opportunity to gain ground in their academics.  Whereas, during the school year if students fall behind, they must catch up with what they have missed AND keep up with what is being taught on a day-by-day basis BOTH at the same time.  This is difficult to do and can be stressful!  So, parents, give the students in your family the opportunity to do what they can not easily do during the school year, which is to CATCH UP or MOVE AHEAD in their academics this summer and solve their STUDY SKILL weaknesses!

What you can do to get started for summer learning:  First, locate your child’s recent school standardized test scores and school report cards to determine the areas they are performing below, on, or above average as compared to his/her school grade level.  Any area(s) in which the student scored below 50th percentile or below their grade and month level in school when the tests were administered, are ones in which the student was performing below average at that time.  If the student scored above 50th percentile or above his or her grade level, he/she is performing above average so summer tutoring could entail enrichment work to maintain skills or further build on the student’s strengths in preparation for the next school year.  By examining your child’s most recent test scores and determining which areas are below, on, or above average, you will then know which academic areas to build upon so the student can START SCHOOL SHARP! 

Next, seek educational resources for your child with a track record of success should you decide to teach your children at home.   Purchase the appropriate levels of materials and teach your child on an established consistent, weekly schedule.  Do not allow the student to skip around within workbooks and complete the “fun” pages first, as the material is purposefully presented in a sequential order.  Select a study place for each student which is equipped with the learning supplies and tools needed. 

If you do not feel qualified or do not have the necessary patience with your own child, contact me at Total Learning Concepts since we are a full-time professional academic support service and have a successful 29-year track record helping students in the community reach their goals and potential!  Schedule summer learning sessions with us on a consistent weekly basis with the same degreed and experienced instructor.   Remember, at Total Learning Concepts we utilize nationally recognized materials and proven teaching methods and conduct individualized instruction in an environment free from distractions and interruptions.

Remember, SUMMER is the most ideal time for students to get a JUMP START on the next school year! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Teenage Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

As an educational professional, I have consulted and worked with many teenage students who are trying to cope with stress and anxiety.  I am saddened each time to learn about their struggles and feel propelled to help.  Teenagers are not immune from stress and anxiety.  Just because they are young and somewhat carefree, they still face stress from outside factors and from within themselves.   If not controlled, their stress and anxiety may turn into depression.  I believe that teenagers may be more prone to anxiety and depression because they do not understand what they are feeling and have likely not yet been taught any significant coping skills.  These feelings are new for them, unlike for most adults as we have worked through these same feelings throughout our life experiences.  Therefore, it is important that as adults in their lives; whether we are their parent, teacher, coach, relative, or neighbor; we pay attention to their behaviors, know when to recognize there is a problem and then take steps to help them get these feelings under control.  Eventually, if anxiety and stress are not brought under control and managed in a young person’s life, he or she may succumb to depression. 
What causes this anxiety and how can it be lessened?  Following are a few answers that I have learned throughout my career as a teacher and educational consultant.

There are two ways that anxiety can be triggered; externally and internally.  External anxiety is caused by something real in a student’s life; such as family problems, death of a loved one, academic challenges, meeting the expectations of teachers and parents, loss of a friendship, moving to a new city, school or state.  External stress can also be positive events in a teenager’s life, such as the birth of a sibling, starting middle or high school, learning to drive, beginning a part-time job, going on a first date, or anticipating the start of college.
Internal anxiety is caused by a teenager’s concern about his or her external anxiety and the way it makes him or her feel.  In other words, internal anxiety is something chosen and can be very difficult to control because to do so he or she must begin to think differently.  Thoughts of a teenager can include, “What is wrong with me?”, “What if I fail?”, “What if I do or say something stupid?”, “No one likes me.”, “I’m ugly.”, “I’m fat.”,  “I can’t control my temper with my sibling”., “I have disappointed my parents.”, “I will never amount to anything.”, “What if I go crazy?”, “Why can’t I be smart like everybody else?, “No one will ever love me.”,  “Why can’t I control my thoughts?”.  All of these thoughts can turn into beliefs by the teenager about him or herself and can subsequently damage their self-concept and lead to depression.

Since external anxiety is in everyone’s lives, including that of teenagers’, as teachers, coaches, parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors or some other adult mentor in their lives, we need to teach them that they can choose to be less affected by events in their lives that cause their anxiety and stress and learn how to control their internal dialogue.  It is from internally generated anxiety that they can become obsessive and carried away in their internal dialogue, which results in untrue thoughts and increased body symptoms; such as panic attacks, racing heart, shaking, trembling, sweating, feeling like they are going crazy, nausea, dizziness, and other scary body sensations.  Students must learn to stop and give themselves permission to have externally generated anxiety and then tell themselves why they are having it and then let it pass. By not being afraid of these body sensations, the symptoms will gradually lessen along with their anxiety.
Tips for Teenagers:

1)       Accept and recognize that you are feeling stressed and anxious.  Accept the way your body feels and the symptoms of anxiety as a sign that something is bothering you.  Know that this is normal.

2)       Give yourself permission to feel anxious about whatever is bothering you.  Don’t try to fight it.  Float with the feelings.

3)       Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.  Slowly breathe in through your nose and hold for 10 seconds and then slowly exhale for 10 seconds.  Do this for about a minute or so.

4)       Talk to yourself with positive and truthful dialogue, such as; “It’s just anxiety, it will go away in a little bit.”, “I will not lose control.”, “I can still continue with what I was doing even if I feel a little spaced out or weird.”,  “It won’t hurt me.”, “I am not the only person who has ever felt this way.”,  “Many other teenagers are feeling this same way as I am right now.”, “I have not always felt this way.”,  “I used to be able to do certain things and I will again.”

5)       Get busy with something that will distract you away from your feelings of stress and anxiety. When in a state of anxiety, your body is like a car whose accelerated is pressed to the floor and stuck, so get out there and move, exert some energy, and focus on someone or something else.  Jog, play tennis, shoot hoops, organize your book bag, go to the gym, clean out a closet, walk the dog, brush and pet the cat, talk to a friend, volunteer in your community, or help a neighbor.  Do something!

6)       Let time pass and try to humor yourself with the way you are feeling.  Learn to not take yourself too seriously.
It will take time and lots of practice for a teenager to begin to control the amount of stress and anxiety he or she is feeling.  The only way to stop fearing panic and anxiety attacks is to experience them.  Working through them and realizing that they are not harmful is a great first step. 

It is important to seek a professional whose specialty is counseling teenagers experiencing extreme stress, anxiety and depression.  The Anxiety and Depression Association of America or ADAA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders through education, practice, and research.  Their website is where you can become better educated on this topic.  Professionals in your community can also be located through their website.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Importance of a Good Vocabulary

Improving your vocabulary is one of the most important academic investments you can make, however, it is often overlooked.  Most of us use slang words and phrases, simple words, and at times even improper grammar when we speak and write.  Good vocabulary is sometimes ignored and is considered to be somewhat “out of style”.   Young people and those seeking college or job acceptance need to be careful about their choice of words because a broad vocabulary will enhance their communication skills, thus causing them to be a more effective speaker, a better conversationalist, and convincing leader.   We have probably all been judged by our vocabulary many times recently without even knowing it!
Whether we realize it or not, every time we speak, we use our language to immediately tip others off about how educated, competent, and /or successful we are. It's not surprising, therefore, that studies have shown that a powerful vocabulary is directly linked to success, status, and earning potential!
Benefits of a strong vocabulary are:
  • Grants you greater respect and credibility - When you are broadening your vocabulary, people will start to pay more attention to you and begin to follow your lead.
  • Boosts your career – Your superiors at work will likely view you as competent.
  • Improves your communication & equips you to easily express your ideas - Having the right words to express your ideas effectively will make a difference in getting your point across.
  • Improves your writing – You will create the impression you intend in your emails and letters.
  • Improves your ability to earn high grades at school or college – You will be writing so well that your grades will likely improve.
  • Improves your confidence with words and conversation – You will reduce the amount of stuttering and stammering for the right word and be able to make your point boldly and clearly without losing others’ interest.
  • Improves your score on tests such as the SAT, ACT, GMAT, and GRE – You will have greater confidence with an advanced vocabulary when taking these type of tests.
  • Improves your spelling - When your emails and letters contain no spelling errors, people will likely view you as educated and may even assume you have a high IQ. 
  • Empowers you with advanced reading and comprehension skills –You will be able to understand the words and concepts in most everything you read.
  • Improves opportunities for promotion and career progression – It has been proven by numerous studies that a good vocabulary is a strong predictor of career success. Having this knowledge will give you a distinct edge over your competition.
Now that you know the benefits of a having a broad vocabulary, it is important to get started now to enhance your own.  For suggestions on the steps to take, you may contact me by email and I will provide a list of techniques which should prove beneficial.