3 Techniques to Help in your Child’s Learning


We’ve all at one point or another had difficulty learning something. Whether it was Chemistry in high school, Algebra in Middle school, or even Art in kindergarten, we all needed to find a way that we learned best.


Many students today focus on the Procrastination-Cram method, where they wait until the last day or hour and try to “cram” as much information in their head as possible. Other students maybe use memorization or repetitive mnemonics to help them recall the information.

But, what teachers and professors are finding out is that there are small good things that can help with the big bad work they have to complete. Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D speaks of many “laws” about teaching/learning in his book  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Teacher. I found a way to condense them into 3 easy techniques.

The first technique is Content. Relevance, association and interest play a big part in what you are teaching. Make sure you are using examples that your child can understand and relate with. But, not just things that are new.

The second technique is Interaction. Your student wants bright, colorful, moving parts. They want to be able to see and feel that they’re doing something that has impact. Just like when you work and you get paid, they seek that direct causal relationship between input and output. Which leads us to the last technique.

The third technique is Effect. Your child needs to see the effect when there are no moving parts. The reward and the challenge needs to exist. Overcoming a challenge can be a reward in itself. But, if the task becomes to cumbersome, a reward at each milestone can help them move forward.


Hopefully, these techniques can aid you in assisting your child or student in many ways!

Serving the Seniors

This year, Firewall Centers aims to focus and expand its already prevalent service footprint in Broward County. Students who are a part of Firewall had their first opportunity of the new year to serve our local senior community by visiting Artis Senior Living of Davie. Many of us would like to imagine that the seniors of our community are enjoying their years reminiscing on all of their life memories. However, many are not experiencing that because they have been placed in nursing homes where they have limited contact with family and friends. An estimated 60% of residents in nursing homes never have a single visitor and spend weekends, birthdays, and even holidays by themselves.

How can Firewall make a positive impact on changing this reality? Students from both Plantation High School and Western High School were brought to Artis Senior Living of Davie, where all of the residents are experiencing symptoms of dementia. This gave our students the opportunity to model the servant leadership lifestyle that is a part of everything that Firewall instills.

Daily, our students are being taught the importance of having good character and serving the people around them. When the idea was presented to the students they were excited for the opportunity to be the first visitor for many of the residents. At Artis Senior Living of Davie we spent time with the residents by doing crafts, listening to music, and playing games. The students also talked with the residents and heard about their different life experiences. Two juniors from Plantation High School expressed that they are excited to go back and talk to one of the women that they spent time with.

This month for Valentine’s Day, our students will be making handmade cards for residents living in different elderly care centers. This is their third year doing this. We love seeing our students serve others!

Summer Program at Lauderhill 6-12


Firewall partnered with Lauderhill 6-12 STEM-MED Magnet School, where we just finished our first program school year, to launch a brand new summer program on June 11th. Serving over 35 incoming 6th and 7th grade students for 3 weeks, the program consisted of a full day of academic and character-building activities.

In the morning, Firewall Mentors delivered hands-on activities that reinforced important academic skills such as mathematics and Language Arts. They also taught life skills to students using Firewall’s character building curriculum and emphasized the importance of servant leadership as students learned about acts of kindness and how each of them could help transform their communities.

Students learned how to set “SMART” (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals and created their own PowerPoint presentation on a specific goal they wanted to achieve this coming school year. “While doing my SMART goals, I realized what I want to do in ten years is harder than I thought. This is why I need goals,” said Nyrdgie, an incoming sixth grade student. Additionally, students also engaged in innovative projects with their science teachers pertaining to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

The summer program not only gave students the opportunity to continue their academic success past the school year, but it also helped provide a smooth transition from elementary to middle school for the incoming sixth grade students. One of the students, Anika, believes she can now enter middle school with more confidence thanks to the program. She said, “I did not know how to solve equations, and I learned it here. It feels so good to go into 6th grade knowing I am better prepared.”

The summer program ended June 30th and we are excited to serve Lauderhill 6-12 students again this August!

Will My Middle Schooler Pass?

We have all experienced it before – the fear that our child will be held back. But there is a way to keep track of your student’s progress throughout the year to ensure their passing.In Middle School, students must earn a minimum of 4 points in each of the following “core” subjects for the entire school year:
  • Language Arts (English)
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies
  • Science

Here’s how the points are broken down:













Students receive points at the end of each quarter for their classes. These points are then added up at the end of the year and must equal 4 points or more in order to pass.

Read these sample situations to see if your child is on the right track:

  • It is possible for a student to get 4 D’s in each quarter of the school year for a particular class and still pass.
  • It is also possible for a student to get an A in a particular class in the first quarter of the school year and get F’s for the last 3 quarters and still pass.

**Note: Students who are failing and/or fail up to two of the four core courses (English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies) will be given the opportunity to meet the requirements of the course(s) through regular school day or extended learning opportunities. 

Understanding your child’s assignments in Pinnacle Gradebook

Z’S, X’S, AND 0’S, OH MY!

Pinnacle Gradebook can be confusing at times, but have no fear, this post is here to help! Here are four different types of grades that you may see a teacher input for any given assignment:
  •   If an assignment is BLANK, this may mean that your child hasn’t turned in their work or the teacher has not inputted their grade yet.
  •   Z – Your child CAN make up the assignment. These assignments must be made up within a specific time period or the teacher might not accept them.
  • 0 – This assignment CANNOT be made up. Depending on the teacher’s policy, they might accept late work so do not lose all hope.
  •   X – This means that your child has been excused from this assignment, and it cannot hurt their grade. Often, teachers will put an “X” for extra credit assignments that were not completed.

All your Pinnacle Gradebook questions answered here:


Q.   If my child says that they turned in an assignment but receive a 0, Z, or the assignment still has no grade assigned, what should I do?

A. You can email the teacher right from Pinnacle to follow up.


Q.   If my child consistently does poorly on tests/quizzes, how can I help them?

A. Take the time to remind them to study. Some teachers have consistent test dates so

become familiar with these. For example, when homework for a particular chapter is due,

some teachers test on it on the same day. These set schedules are great because you can then

help your child study for their tests in advance.


Q.   Is there anything else that I should be aware of?

A. Become familiar with weekly assignment due dates (current events, reading logs, etc.)

Teachers usually do not let students make-up these assignments since they are so frequent.

Every grade counts!


Before students arrive each day at Firewall Centers, AmeriCorps Firewall Mentors have checked the students’ Pinnacles and are aware of any missing or upcoming assignments.

Read more about from the students they serve here.

Knowing your child’s homework- tools & resources

Student: I have no homework…

Time to check School Notes!

School Notes provides mostly middle school students and parents with homework information. It also contains vocabulary lists, worksheets, and study guides.How to use School Notes in 5 steps:

  1. Go to new.schoolnotes.com
  2. From there, click on the blue tab labeled “Parents.”
  3. Look on the right for “By School” and fill out the information relating to Country, State, District, and School (i.e. USA, Florida, Broward, Pompano Beach Middle School)
  4. You will then see “Teacher Results.”
  5. Find the teacher and click on the blue link corresponding to the right teacher (i.e. J. Doe).
    Warning: Every teacher is different so be sure to become familiar with the website.

Student: I need to check my Instagram…

Well check your Edmodo first!

Another useful website that helps keep track of upcoming assignments is Edmodo. Edmodo allows students to connect with their teachers about their assignments, tests, study resources and important announcements.Students can communicate with teachers, submit assignments, or ask questions.

How to log onto Edmodo in 3 steps:

  1. Go to https://broward.edmodo.com/
  2. Once the page opens, click to sign in. Each student has a username and password as well as a group code assigned by a teacher.
  3. Once a student has an account, Edmodo can also assign a code for the student’s parent to create an account as well.

“I forgot my textbook” is an excuse of the past with B.E.E.P.

Accessing Your Child’s Textbooks – B.E.E.P.

Your child gets home from school. When you tell them to do their homework, they tell you one of two things:

  1. They finished their homework in class.
  2. They do not have the textbook at home to be able to work on the assignment and that they will just finish it during lunch the next day.

Firewall students say these things to our Mentor staff all the time. If your child’s grades are not what they should be, then this is what you can do to ensure that they are headed in the right direction.

There are so many valuable tools and resources out there. Broward County Schools provides many of them to you, and they are easily accessible. One of these is “B.E.E.P.”

B.E.E.P. (Broward Enterprise Education Portal) allows students to access a Broward County Schools textbook online.

  1. To log onto B.E.E.P.:
  2. Once you log into B.E.E.P., a list appears that contains grade levels (K-5, Grades 6-8, & Grades 9-12) and links to different subjects that correspond with each grade level.
  3. Depending on what your child has for homework and what book he/she needs, click on the link. Once you click on the link, click on “View Textbook.” For example, your child needs the seventh grade math book. While on this page, click on the book that says Florida Math Connects Course 2 (Grade 7).

So the next time your child tells you that they cannot finish their math problems because they do not have the textbook at home, think about B.E.E.P. before you let them slide!

Read more about Firewall Centers and their school-based mentoring services here.

Firewall Student


Happy, happy happy!

There’s a lot of talk about HAPPINESS these days… How to find happiness, the benefits of happiness, and what does it really mean to be HAPPY?
I think we can all agree that even though TV commercials and movies tell us that success = happiness, it just isn’t the truth. No matter what lies we want to tell ourselves:
• Once I finish school, I’ll be happy
• When I get “that” job, I’ll be happy
• Once I get married, I’ll be happy
• When I am successful, I’ll be happy
The TRUTH is that SUCCESS DOES NOT EQUAL HAPPINESS.You can stand in line at the grocery store and read any celebrity magazine to prove that being beautiful, successful, or rich does not make you happy.
So how do I find HAPPINESS?
Step #1. Admit that your not going to find it in something you buy, do, or achieve.
These things may make you feel good for a little while but soon there is something else your going to be wanting. True happiness is found in the journey!
Step #2. Make HAPPINESS a habit. Being happy is not some magical mystery, you have to train your brain to be happy. Experts say it takes 21 days to build a habit, start your habit today, choose something to help you focus on being happy and set a goal to do it for 21 days.
Harvard studies proved this significantly can change your mindset to run on HAPPY.
• Do something creative. Write. Paint. Compose the next song about being happy. Just do something fun and artistic.
• Be thankful. Every day. And just don’t think it. Share with someone why you’re grateful.
• High five someone. Tell them how awesome they are and let them know they are important, this can be through email, social media, or in person. By making someone else’s day it will make you happy!
• Journal. Write down 3 things you are thankful for.
• Surround yourself with happy people. It’s infectious.
And so is this song:

Scholarship Searching

Every year, it is estimated that millions of dollars in scholarship money goes unclaimed. Why? Because students either don’t apply or they apply to late. Paying for college can be extremely difficult. Some graduates will spend the majority of their adult life paying back student loans. But if you put in the hard work now and apply, you may find most if not all of your tuition paid for.

Here are some tips for Scholarship Searching:


    You know the saying: “The early bird gets the worm!” Well this is certainly the case here. Begin looking for scholarships as early as your junior year. Don’t let a scholarship pass you by simply because you didn’t meet the application deadline. It’s never too early to plan and prepare for your future!


    Your school guidance office should be stacked with local scholarship applications. This is the best place to start because it is the easiest to find scholarships which you are both eligible for and have a greater chance of winning. Not everyone can win some National Honor’s Award for a full tuition. But you can win several smaller scholarships—$1,000 here, $2,000 there—it all adds up!


    Don’t be disqualified for a scholarship because of a simple mistake or typo. Make sure you meet all of the qualifications for the scholarship and have someone proofread your application.


    Begin asking your teachers or youth pastors to write recommendations for you. Give them plenty of time in advance so that they can give you their best!


    Not scholarship is too small. Apply for everything that you possibly can! Nothing in life is free. These scholarships aren’t free—you have to work for them! So get to work and start applying!

For more tips, advice, and scholarship applications, check out these websites:

–      www.fastweb.com

–     www.scholarshipamerica.com

–      www.finaid.com

–      www.scholarships.com

–      http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships/finding-scholarships


Time Management


The thing about time management is you have to do just that—manage! Remember that you are your own manager of your life and time, so if you feel too busy, then it is nobody’s fault except… well I think you know who I’m talking about. We each must make the decision to take control of our lives and not just become victims to circumstances. Successful time management requires intentionality. You make the conscious choice to manage your life and time. Some of us actually get comfortable in our misery and our busy-ness. Change is scary even when it’s good change. Taking the first step is the most difficult, but it is also the most important. So just begin the journey!


In college, one of my professors used to always tell us, “You gotta schedule time to schedule time!” And it is so true. Having a calendar doesn’t do any good unless you take the time to manage the calendar and plan out your weeks and months. I recommend setting aside some time at least once a week (preferably at the beginning of the week) to schedule out those next seven days. Then, do the same thing at the start of each month and the start of each year. Write it all down and you’ll find that each day becomes much more manageable. You’ll even see that you had more time than you realized at first!


Prioritization is the point here. When we don’t manage our time, time simply seems to slip us by. Little things that don’t seem like a big deal add up in the end—television, social networking, video games, web surfing, etc. Research states that the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (28 hours a week, 2 months a year). By this statistic, a 65-year-old person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube! Now don’t pretend that you are the one “exception.” We all have lost track of time with idle things such as TV. So, as they say, the first step to solving a problem is realizing that you have a problem. Learn to focus on the things that really matter. Invest your time and energy into those things that you truly love to do; those things which are world impacting.


In slight contrast to the last tip, this point is for those who just can’t seem to say “no” to others. People and things are always going to demand more time of you then is available. It’s ok to be realistic and tell them that you just don’t have the time. Don’t overbook and overwork your life. You only have so much to give, and everything you commit to will inevitably take away from something else. Set a limit for yourself on how many commitments you are willing to take in any given week. If nothing else, tell the person that you can reschedule with them for another day.


I know this seems crazy amidst our hectic lives, but trust me, it is essential. And if you don’t trust me then at least trust God! He actually commands us to take a rest day (Sabbath) once a week. Seriously though, from experience I can say that you can actually get more done in six days then you can in seven. The math might not add up in your head but the reality is true nonetheless. We need to recharge and re-energize. Without taking the time to rest, we end up exhausted and ineffective. We work slower and duller. But when we take a Sabbath we optimize our work for the rest of the week. We were given this example to follow, not merely as a suggestion.

Feel like there is just not enough time in the day?
Too much on your plate?
Juggling too many things?
Wearing too many different hats?
If you feel like you are too busy then welcome to the human race.
We feel like we could use a little time management in our lives. Consider a few tips for “redeeming the time” of your life.