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Seven Ways to Motivate Your Students to do the Assignment by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A photo of statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with the words 7 ways to motivate your students

Seven ways to motivate your students to do their assignments:

  • Give them a reason why they should.
    • A poll of the students in my 6th grade Language Arts class:
      • “I want to get good grades”
      • “I know I will need this education later in life”
      • “My mom and dad expect me to do well.”
      • “I want to go on to seventh grade.”
      • “I want to be in student council and be a tutor.”
      • “I want to get a good job when I grow up.”
      • “I want to do well so I can be a better person.”
  • Give a lot of individual genuine praise.
    • Ways to say “Good Job”
      • “You’ve got your brain in gear today!”
      • “That was first class work.”
      • “Congratulations, you got it right!”
      • “You’ve got the hang of it.
      • “That’s an interesting way of looking at it.”
      • “That’s “A” work.
      • “Keep working on it; you’re improving.”
      • “You are learning fast.”
      • “Keep up the good work!”
      • “It looks like it is going to be a super paper.”
  • Choose subjects that interest them and are “cool” to work on.
  • Provide extra time and extra chances for them to complete their work.
  • Take a lot of time to explain concepts and directions well.
  • Make subjects easy to understand.
    • Speak in language of their grade level, not in teacher-ese.
  • Make things seem easier than they really are.
    • Math doesn’t have to have “problems.” It can have “situations.” And harder problems can become “fancier situations.”

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher, and creator of the comprehensive educational supplemental workbooks published by Lyric Power Publishing.

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A Lesson on Cardinal Directions, and How to Grade Your Home-Schooled Child’s Work by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

How to Grade Using  
My Book on Directions and
Prepositions of Place

a green and white book cover with an image of a Compass Rose
34 Pages of Activity Sheets

by Marilyn Buehrer (Workbook  available for purchase here.)

“Don’t Give out Grades.
Children Should

Earn Them.”

Marilyn Buehrer

“I have a C student and an A student,” a home-teacher mom once said to me. While it’s important to know where your children stand academically, grades should not be viewed as an expression of your children’s worth. Grades are something your children earn.

It is more accurate to say, “I have one child who is earning a C average and another child who is maintaining an A average.”

So, how should you grade your student’s work? Create a simple point system for each assignment. Carefully explain it verbally and in writing before your students begin to work. This ensures you have their full attention and they’re not thinking about what they’re going to do with the assignment. Through a point system, your students will know exactly what’s expected of them. They’ll have a goal to work toward, and their efforts will determine the grade they receive. They will have earned it.

Geography Lesson
Grades 2-5

Map work (Geography) using pages 3, 4, and 5 from My Book on Directions and Prepositions of Place.

The GOAL of this Lesson

Students will demonstrate comprehension of Cardinal Directions using a map with a Compass Rose on it.

The OBJECTIVES for this Assignment

  1. Student will be able to follow oral and written directions.
  2. Student will be able to locate the answers on the map and write them in the correct spaces on the worksheets.
  3. Student will be able to work independently.

A Simple Point System Including Character Development:

  1. Answer the questions correctly on worksheets four and five using the compass rose on the map of the Caribbean Islands. (5 points per page for a total of 10 points)
  2. Completely color the map. (5 points)
  3. Finish both tasks (one and two) within ten minutes. (5 points)
  4. Work quietly. (5 points)
  5. Stay on task for the entire ten minutes. (5 points)

Grading Chart

30-25 points = A

24-20 points = B

19-15 points = C

14-10 points = D

Less than 10 points = F

If a student successfully does steps 1, 2, and 3, s/he has earned 20 points. If s/he was not successful in step 4, s/he has not earned a possible 5 points. If s/he was able to stay on task the entire ten minutes, s/he has earned another 5 points, for a total of 25.

Refer to the grading chart and you will see that 25 points =A-.

a white sheet of paper with blue lines, showing a blue pen and the grade A+

How to Calculate Grade-Point Average

A = 4 points

B = 3 points

C = 2 points

D = 1 point

F = 0 points

If a student earned three grades in one week, an A, a B, and a C, she earned a total of 9 points: 4 points for the A, 3 points for the B, and 2 points for the C.  Nine points divided by 3 (the number of grades she earned) equals 3 points. Three points = a B.

Calculating the GPA for One Quarter

Using this formula, let’s say that over a quarter, a student earns 16 A’s, 24 B’s, 36 C’s, 12 D’s, and 8 F’s.

Step One: Add the number of grades to determine the total number of grades. 16 + 24 + 36 + 12 + 8 = 96 grades earned in the quarter.

Step Two: Multiply the number of grades by the grade point each grade is worth to determine the total number of points.

One A is worth 4 points; therefore, 16 A’s equal 64 points. (16 x 4)

One B is worth 3 points; therefore, 24 B’s equal 72 points. (24 x 3)

One C is worth 2 points; therefore, 36 C’s equal 72 points. (36 x 2)

One D is worth 1 point; therefore, 12 D’s equal 12 points. (12 x 1)

One F is worth 0 points; therefore, 8 F’s equal 0 points. (8 x 0)

Step Three: Add the number of points.

          64 + 72+ 72 + 12 + 0 = 220 points.

Step Four: Divide the number of grades the child earned into the number of points she earned.

Points for Letter Grades

Ninety-six (96) grades divided into 220 points = 2.3 which is the grade average. Translated into a letter grade, it is a “C” average for the quarter.

4.0 – 3.5 = A to an A-

3.4 – 2.6 = B+ to a B-

2.5 – 1.6 = C+ to a C-

1.5 – 1.0 = D+ to a D-

Below 1.0=F

These four steps make it easy to calculate the Grade Point Average.

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Teach Your Kids to Calculate the Tip, by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A tip is a small amount of money given to someone for performing a service. It’s also known as a gratuity. Some people think it’s rude to leave pennies on the restaurant table. Some servers, however, like the small change so they can make change for the next guest right from their apron pockets.

Learning Objective:

  • To calculate 5%, 10%, and 15%, and 20% percent of a given quantity.

No one likes a math lecture, so the best way to teach is by letting your kids do. Kids respond well to getting a chance to try to figure out something for themselves. Even before you begin eating, your children can practice calculating the tip. Tipping is based on the restaurant bill before the tax is added. A customary tip should be no less than 15%.

To calculate 5%, move the decimal one place to the left and divide the number by two. For example, a $15.38 tab would become $1.538. Divide that amount in half to get 5% ( .77).

To figure 10%, move the decimal one place to the left. For example, a $15.38 tab would become $1.538 or, rounded up, $1.54.

a white background, a boy in a blue shirt, reading a book, with math calculations and school terms all around him

To calculate 15%, figure out 10% and add half of that amount (which is 5%) to it, e.g., $1.54 (10%) + .77 (5%) = $2.31 (15%).

To calculate 20%, move the decimal point one place to the left to get 10% and then double it e.g., $15.38 would become $1.53 (round it down to $1.50) and then double it to come up with $3.00.

As they grow, show children how math is part of daily life, as you make change, or measure ingredients, or decide how soon to leave for a destination 10 miles away, says Mann Koepke, of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Marilyn Buehrer is a Middle School English Teacher and a specialist in Home Schooling.

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Dining Out with Kids? Here’s a Fun Idea by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

By Marilyn Buehrer


One way to keep education outside of school fun is to provide real experiences wherever you can, and then make a game out of it. The game, “Finding Words In a Word,” is especially fun at restaurants. Problem solving activities are good challenges for kids, but don’t set them up for failure. Keep it fun by encouraging and helping them as they attempt to complete the new game you’ve created.

image of words for a word game for children: Find the Words within the Word

Learning Objectives:

  • To recognize the critical features of words, e.g. length, common spelling patterns and words within words
  • To read familiar words on sight  

Before traveling to the restaurant with your family, write each of the following words on half size sheets of copy paper (one word per paper). Include a sentence using the word to give your children the word in context. Context helps children learn a new word, even a word they have never seen or heard before.

Your papers would look something like this:

Restaurant. We like to eat at this restaurant often.

Outstanding. This restaurant has outstanding food.

Drenched. The mashed potatoes they serve are drenched in gravy.

Homemade. Their meatloaf tastes homemade.

Complemented. The ribeye steak is complemented with a Caesar salad.

A list of restaurant words: restaurant, cafeteria, commissary, steakhouse, affordable, downtown, expensive, fashionable, inexpensive, international, outstanding, sophisticated, Mexican, Japanese, American, German, Chinese, Indian, Italian, vegetarian, caramelized, charbroiled, complemented, scrumptious, refreshing, mouthwatering, homemade, delightfully, generously, smothered, drenched, marinated, sprinkled appetizing, breakfast, garnished, heavenly, contemporary, cosmopolitan, picturesque.

Let the children work individually writing down the other words they find in the words you gave them, and then compare their answers when they’re done. Or let the kids work in pairs, with  your older children each helping a younger child. The winner(s) gets a special prize, such as a beverage other than water.

This is an educational and fun way to keep everyone busy while you wait for dinner to arrive. Bon appetit!

Mariyln Buehrer teaches English in Middle School and is an expert at Homeschooling.