I know many kids are struggling, and I know some parents are a bit freaked out by grades. I'd like to address these issues as briefly as possible. This may be a little redundant to those of you with whom I have been trading emails.
If you think about what these students are being challenged to do, there are really two developmental issues involved. The first is that they are likely reading a book at a higher level than ever before. Students have had to adjust many strategies that may have worked in the past, but aren't working in this true pre-AP environment. I have seen enormous progress in this regard on the part of almost every student. I can tell from the quality of questions I'm getting, the quality of the discussion when we debriefed the last test, and in the forum posts.
Okay, so if they are understanding more and showing improvement, how come the grades are still lower than one would expect? That goes to the second developmental issue, expressing what one knows on a blank line in response to a specific question. Again, open ended tests are probably new for your student. They are a generation of scanners, for better or worse; and they miss key words in questions that would lead them to accessing what they learned from de Blij. This skill will come too, and we are working on it in class.
I am asking both you and your child to trust me. I'm not bragging, but you need to know that my students perform above national averages in every way that can be measured. My students really do come away college ready. Things get better, study time shortens, grades improve, stress eases. And the harder students work, the sooner those breakthroughs happen.
Here are the reading techniques that I know work.
1. Scan the chapter first and determine how de Blij has organized the content.
2. Go through next and identify challenging vocabulary in writing, by hand.
3. Read through section by section and stop after each one and write a summary and a "so what?" paragraph, by hand.
4. Interact with other students, and anyone who will hold still, about this chapter's content, ideas, significance, etc.
5. Share the work and reinforce your understanding on the class forum.
With regard to test taking, students need to be in the habit of slowing down and asking, "what is this a question about?", box the subject, underline the object and the verb, answer the question, then look back at the question and ask, "did I answer the question asked?"
More later, all the best,