Category Archives: Teaching Tips & Strategies

Payroll Accounting – Teaching Today’s Students

Are you looking for new ideas on keeping students engaged in your Payroll Accounting class?

We’ve got some tips and techniques to help you change up your typical routine.  There is no right (or wrong!) way to teach payroll, but we hope to help you optimize the results you can get this year.

Finding the time to research new ideas and solutions can be overwhelming, so we have created a series of webinars that we’re sure instructors will find valuable this time of the year.

Whether or not you are using a Labyrinth Learning Solution, tune in to a webinar to learn ideas, tips, and techniques for adding elements to your class, and improving student outcomes.

Join our webinar: 8 steps you can take to improve student outcomes in your payroll course to learn:

payroll classroom

  • Methods for implementing a practical approach
  • Tips on maintaining student interest
  • Techniques to help prevent students from feeling overwhelmed
  • Issues associated with teaching payroll-related federal forms, various calculations, and state payroll nuances
  • There will also be a live question-and-answer period at the end

Presenter Eric Weinstein, an instructor at Suffolk County Community College (NY), will share best practices for both in-class and online courses.

Two sessions:

Friday, Sept 9, 2016
Time: 10am Pacific / 12noon Central / 1pm Eastern

Wednesday, Sept 14, 2016
Time: 1pm Pacific / 3pm Central / 4pm Eastern

 

Are you SURE you have the best materials for your course?

Our fourth edition textbook comes with eLab for automated assessment. Who doesn’t like to have automatically graded practice sets – and lots of them!

We think you’ll find that using our materials will provide your students with a significant advantage over their peers upon entering the workforce with the skills they need to be successful!

Our product manager, Jason Favro,Payroll-fourth-edition will present our text: Payroll Accounting: A Practical, Real-World Approach, and all of the solution elements that are complimentary for both instructors and students.

Rick Street, Professor at Spokane Community College (WA) will join us to share his experience switching to Labyrinth, as well as the success he has had with his students using the this payroll accounting solution.

Join our webinar to hear about the:

  • Table of Contents, and how our approach follows the payroll cycle
  • Structure of the Labyrinth approach, including practice set and problem methodology
  • Solution components and the ease of switching to Labyrinth
  • Practical approach elements of the textbook that can help your students be more successful in the course
  • eLab Homework Grader featuring automated grading of practice sets

Two sessions:

Tuesday, Sept 20, 2016 1:30pm PST / 3:30pm CST / 4:30pm EST

Friday, Sept 23, 2016 12noon PST / 2pm CST / 3pm EST

 

Check out eLab – for automated assessment and grading!

If you think that the Labyrinth solution might be just what you need to kick-start your Payroll class into gear – then join us for our webinar: eLab Homework Grader.

In this webinar, we will:LabLearning-eLab-joint-logo

  • Set up eLab and the “ready to go” course for Payroll Accounting
  • Demonstrate eLab Homework Grader (one eLab license comes free with every textbook)
  • Explain customization features – set up the Practice Sets to best meet your class needs
  • Create assignments and tests for student practice, for homework, and for testing.

We will have plenty of time to answer questions, and walk you through how easy it would be to switch to our Payroll Solution in time for January.

One session:

Wed, Sept 28, 2016 1pm Pacific / 3pm Central / 4pm Eastern

Four Ways to Motivate Students

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The fall semester is beginning, and students are preparing to return to the routine of homework, all-nighters, and cramming for exams. The feeling of a fresh start that a new semester brings increases the motivation many students feel to apply themselves to their studies and succeed in their education.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is an internal motivation driven by a desire to learn a subject or master a skill out of inherent interest and enjoyment. Extrinsic motivation is motivation to master a skill for the sake of achieving a specific result or goal. While extrinsic motivation can be effective in driving students to learn material and earn good grades in the short term, studies have shown that extrinsic motivators for success can reduce students’ intrinsic interests in the subject or skill. Following are four tips to help students develop intrinsic motivation to retain the knowledge and skills they gain in your class for the long-term.

Show how the lessons are relevant to their lives and future careers. Students are much more likely to want to study and retain the material once they understand how the information will be useful to them. Show them examples of how concepts can by utilized in their personal and professional lives.

Have students set performance goals. At the beginning of the semester, have students write down what goals they would like to achieve in your class by the end of the semester. Tailor assignments to these interests, and periodically check in with students to have them evaluate their progress and adjust their goals to the appropriate level of challenge if necessary.

Give students options and control over their education. Give students options in their homework assignments and projects when possible. Let them choose topics for essays and research papers, and types of presentations for projects, whether it be PowerPoint presentation, oral presentation, video, or written report. Also use a variety of test types, such as multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short essay. This gives students more control over how they demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter to you.

Foster a sense of belonging in the classroom. Students are more likely to be engaged and intrinsically motivated in the course if they feel a connection with their instructor and peers. Be warm and welcoming towards your students and make an effort to get to know them individually. Also, encourage class participation and create some group activities in order to prompt students to learn from and get to know each other.

Labyrinth Learning’s full solutions provide a variety of materials to engage students and motivate them in their studies. Contact us today to learn more.

Tips for Teaching Older Learners in ESL Classes

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A small but significant number of immigrants who arrive to this country are elderly. Older learners can be defined chronologically, as between the ages 40-65, or by status, as midlife career changers, retirees returning to the labor force, displaced workers, and homemakers. While, contrary to popular belief, adults can learn language in the early stages more quickly than children due to more highly developed cognitive strategies for processing information, many older learners still have different learning needs from younger adult learners that should be addressed in ESL programs. Below are some factors that can affect their English language learning in the classroom, as well as strategies for working with these factors.

  • Visual and hearing disabilities: Aging tends to affect sight and hearing, which can make it difficult for older learners to hear the language as it’s spoken or read their lessons. Create a more comfortable classroom environment for older learners by keeping the room well-lit, using textbooks and other reading materials with large print, and reducing any background noises as much as possible.
  • Learning styles: Older learners have often become set in their ways with regard to the different learning styles they have developed over the years, so it would be beneficial to use a more flexible teaching approach. Observe how your students learn best, draw on their life experiences, and use these tools to further engage them in learning English language and literacy.
  • Personal and professional needs: Many older learners are not learning English as part of the goal of earning a degree or certification. Instead they’re learning it to gain access to information and services, for work, to interact more fully with other English speakers, or to communicate with family members who do not speak the learner’s native language. Focus the lessons around practical everyday tasks like making a doctor’s appointment, or on interactions with family, friends, and their communities.

Our full solutions for Welcome to Computers for ESL Students, 4th Edition, coming August 12, includes large print, picture dictionaries, and a variety of activities and assignments to engage many different learning styles. Contact Labyrinth Learning to learn more.

Increasing Retention in ESL Programs

Retaining Adult ESL Learners in Class

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One challenge many ESL instructors face is retaining students in their classes. Throughout the semester, you may see your class size dwindle as students attend class irregularly, or disappear altogether. Some factors for this are beyond the instructor’s control; changing work schedules, family responsibilities, and transportation issues are some of the issues that can affect students’ attendance and ability to continue the course. Other barriers to success are more internal. Low self-esteem and embarrassment from the possibility of making mistakes can prevent students from participating in class and improving their oral language skills. Frustration at the slow progress of acquiring language skills may discourage students from continuing with the course. Also, some students may not feel supported by their instructors, peers, or even their families in their pursuit of English education.

However, there are steps instructors can take to help students combat each of these obstacles and persevere in their studies. Following are some common barriers to regular class attendance, and some strategies for encouraging students to continue with their studies, thereby increasing class retention.

Students feel uncomfortable and unsupported in the classroom.

Create a welcoming environment in your classroom. Make time to speak to each of your students individually at the beginning of the semester and get to know them. Make yourself available shortly before or after class to answer questions and arrange times to meet with any students who need extra guidance. Also, have students get to know each other by learning everyone’s names and assigning group activities during class to give them opportunities to work together.

To alleviate any anxiety students may feel at the prospect of making mistakes in front of the class, reassure them that failure is normal and a part of the learning experience that will lead them to success. Share your own mistakes and failures in learning a second language, and how you learned from them and improved your language skills. Recognize and praise students’ efforts to participate in class whether their answers are right or wrong.

Students feel frustrated and discouraged that their progress is slower than they anticipated.

Learning a second language is hard work and takes a long time, and the difference between a student’s expectation of how long it will take them to learn English and the reality of how long it can really take, especially when juggled with all of their other responsibilities, can lead to frustration. To give students a barometer by which to measure their success, work with students to establish realistic goals and timelines to accomplish them throughout the semester. Goals can include ordering a meal, making a doctor’s appointment, or asking for directions and understanding the responses. Then meet with them regularly to discuss their progress. You may even create competency checklists at the beginning of the semester so students have a tangible source by which to measure their progress.

Personal responsibilities interfere with the student’s ability to attend class.

Many adult students balance their studies with jobs and families, and some often miss class to attend to these responsibilities, leading to irregular attendance or dropping out altogether. Financial issues are another factor that can interfere with a student’s ability to attend class. To find out what the barrier may be, contact the student about their attendance, then depending on the issue, lead them to resources and organizations that can help with their needs, like for employment, transportation, childcare, or tuition. If the issue has more to do with scheduling, let them know that there are other sections of the course and they can switch to another class at a time that is better for them. Some students drop out of the program because they think that once they have stopped attending a course, they can no longer return. Let them know that they will always be welcome to return to the program at a later date.

Our full solutions for Welcome to Computers for ESL Students, 4th Edition include a variety of assignments and activities to engage students in learning English and basic computer skills. To learn more, contact Labyrinth Learning today.

 

Tips for Teaching Computer Skills to ESL Students

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the best ways to teach skills and information and ensure that students retain it is to connect the teachings to their lives. This can be especially beneficial for adult ESL students, who are often juggling work and families in addition to school. Teaching various computer skills that are useful for performing personal and professional tasks, in conjunction with English language skills, can expedite the process of being able to perform these skills outside of the classroom and becoming more competitive candidates for employment. Following are a few tips for effectively teaching computer skills to ESL students.

  • Discuss computer use at the beginning of class. Get an idea of your students’ knowledge of and experiences with computers. Ask who has used a computer before, who has a computer at home, which computer programs they use, what kinds of tasks can be done, and which websites they visit. This will help you tailor your lessons and let you know the level of assistance each of your students may need.
  • Incorporate students’ interests into lessons. You can also ask for students’ input on what skills they would like to learn in the course, whether that be typing, searching for directions to a chosen location, or shopping online, then structure lessons around learning these skills.
  • Tie lessons to real-life activities. Some ideas include teaching typing by having students type a resume, using the internet to research prices for things that they currently need, or email use by emailing someone for information.

Our solutions for ESL students tie in valuable life and English language skills while teaching basic computer skills. To learn more about our Welcome to Computers for ESL Students, 4th Edition textbook and workbook, coming August 12, contact Labyrinth Learning today.

Improving the Study Skills of ESL Students

From morguefile.com
From morguefile.com

Adult ESL students have unique needs and challenges in learning the English language. Many work and support families which may make it difficult to find time to study, and some may have not gotten much formal education in their home countries, thus not developing good study habits. Following are a few tips for improving ESL students’ study habits and retention of lessons.
At the beginning of the semester, get students input on what they would like to cover in the course. For a basic computer course, for instance, examples of topics students might request to cover include typing and using the internet. This will increase students’ engagement and investment in the course.
Set expectations and goals to motivate students to study. Assign homework and give specific study requirements to students that they can easily fit into their schedules, like dedicating a certain amount of time each night to studying English. Also, when returning graded homework, speak with students about any difficulties they encountered in the assignments.
Encourage students to read text aloud slowly, preferably after listening to a recording, to help learn the pronunciation of words and develop a sense of the natural flow of the language.
Encourage students to keep an English diary. Keeping a diary where they write exclusively in English everyday reinforces learning of vocabulary and grammatical structures, and in time will help students to think directly in English, which will help them write faster and more naturally.
Labyrinth Learning’s solutions for ESL basic computer courses come with a variety of exercises and activities to assist students in strengthening their language skills while learning computer skills. To learn more about our Welcome to Computers for ESL Students, 4th Edition textbook and workbook, coming in August, contact us today.

Using PowerPoint in the Classroom

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One method of classroom instruction that has become widespread in recent years is the use of PowerPoint presentations. Using PowerPoint presentations as a tool to enhance your lectures can be beneficial to students because it can improve audience focus by breaking down and highlighting important information through a combination of text, graphics, and multimedia. Here are a few simple ways to utilize PowerPoint effectively in your class.

Use a mixture of text and images. A combination of short sentences, bullet points, graphics, and multimedia all work together to engage a variety of learning styles and effectively illustrate the concepts being taught. As a bonus, your presentation can also double as student notes. If you’d like to use this option, you can post the presentation online to be downloaded and reviewed by students anywhere, anytime, before or after class. To further engage students in the presentation, you may even include questions in the slide for them to review, either for discussion in class or as a study question for a test.

Be careful with the amount of graphics and multimedia you use in your slides. You only want to use graphics to enhance your notes, not for aesthetic purposes. Too many graphics are overwhelming will distract students from the information you are trying to teach.

Also overwhelming are slides that are too text-heavy. Use your slides as speaking notes with which to guide your lecture rather than reading directly from the slides word-for-word. Slides should not contain all of the information for the concepts you are teaching, only short talking points that introduce the concepts.

We provide ready-made PowerPoint presentations to instructors in the instructor support materials associated with our textbooks, in addition to making them accessible to students for free. Contact Labyrinth Learning today for more information about our full solutions.

Improving Student Participation

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the classroom, there are often a few students who readily and willingly raise their hands to answer questions and contribute to class discussions, while other students hold back and listen passively. Some of these students are shy and uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups of people. Others may be reflective learners who prefer to think about the material they have just learned before they volunteer to contribute their thoughts to the class. By contrast, more vocal students may be active learners who participate, in part, because they learn by thinking out loud.

Encouraging all of your students to participate in class engages students with the lessons more, gauges how well they really understand the material, and adds a greater variety of viewpoints to discussions. Here are several strategies for encouraging more class participation.

  • Most instructors state clearly in the syllabus that participation is expected and part of the student’s grade. However, it may be helpful to give specific criteria as to what you are evaluating in the student’s participation, such as the application of concepts to their answers, or evidence of critical thinking in the student’s comments and questions. Or, you could give bonus points for participation. For instance, you could give students one point for each time they ask a question about the material, answer a question, or contribute an idea to a discussion.
  • Arrive to class early and chat informally with the students. Getting to know your students in this manner may make them more comfortable with you, and therefore willing to speak up more in your class.
  • Give short, informal writing assignments that students have to complete before the next class, and come prepared to speak about it. This will allow reflective learners time to think about the discussion topic and formulate their thoughts and ideas. Shy students can prepare what they will say ahead of time to reduce anxiety about having to answer questions on the spot.
  • Pause frequently during lectures for questions and discussion. Students are often so busy taking notes that if you go too long before pausing for discussion, by the time you do pause, they may have forgotten what they were going to say. Also, present open-ended questions at the beginning of the lecture to give students a focus during the lecture around which to formulate their ideas. You may even have students write down their answers before answering aloud to give them time to clarify their ideas.
  • Provide encouraging feedback and follow-up questions. Positive encouragement increases students’ comfort level and will motivate them to participate more if they feel their contributions are valued. Follow-up questions will prompt students to clarify and support their answers, and sometimes reconsider the evidence behind their ideas.
  • Give students a preliminary participation grade and written evaluation halfway through the semester. Students can then see exactly how you are evaluating their participation and where they can improve, such as the frequency of participation, the clarity of their ideas, or courtesy toward their classmates’ contributions to discussions.

Labyrinth Learning’s full solutions provide a variety of resources to facilitate class discussions on the concepts taught in our textbooks. To learn more about our solutions for computer science and accounting courses, please contact us today.

 

Teaching According to Your Students’ Strengths

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every person has aptitudes in different areas, and different ways in which they learn and absorb information best. Psychologist Howard Gardner proposed the theory that there are eight different types of intelligences which everyone possesses a blend of to varying degrees. They are linguistic, spatial, mathematical-logical, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. By incorporating a variety of teaching methods, tools, activities, and assignments into your classes, you can engage the greatest number of students in the material being taught, and ensure that they absorb and retain the lessons and skills they learn.

Here are some methods to teach according to each intelligence. The best part is that many of these methods are useful across multiple intelligences, making it even easier to reach as many students as possible with any one method.

Linguistic intelligence has to do with the ability to use written and verbal language to learn and express oneself.

  • Lecture and hold class discussions
  • Write out notes and lists during lectures or project them to the class on a computer
  • Distribute articles and assign internet research
  • Assign reading and writing assignments

Spatial intelligence involves the ability to think in pictures, images, and physical space.

  • Use PowerPoint presentations with labeled photos and screenshots of the subject at hands
  • Show videos and have students use simulation exercises
  • Create charts and tables to break down information

Kinesthetic intelligence deals with the awareness of the body, touch, and movement.

  • Assign hands-on activities
  • Use repetition of newly learned skills to memorize and improve those skills
  • Use simulation exercises and test questions

Mathematical-logical intelligence has to do with the ability to use reasoning skills and think conceptually and abstractly in order to solve complex problems.

  • Assign comprehensive projects that require students to use a variety of lessons and skills they’ve learned throughout the course
  • Assign critical thinking and analysis assignments

Interpersonal intelligence involves the ability to effectively interact with others.

  • Hold class discussions and debates
  • Assign group (or partnered) activities and projects
  • Assign presentations where students demonstrate or teach a lesson or skill

Intrapersonal intelligence is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and goals.

  • Have students identify their goals for what they hope to accomplish in your course and their careers, and plan ways to achieve them
  • Connect the material being taught to students’ personal experiences
  • Allow students to choose their own topics for certain assignments and projects

Our full solutions contain many different resources to engage a multitude of strengths. To learn more about our full solutions for computer science or business and accounting courses, contact us at Labyrinth Learning today.

 

 

 

 

From School to Career: How to Prepare Students for the Workforce

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to new college graduates’ preparedness for their future careers, studies show a great divide between the perception students have of their skills, and what employers see from interviewing and working with recent grads. In areas such as organization, working in teams, and applying skills and knowledge in real-world settings, students were more than twice as likely to think they were being well-prepared for the workforce as employers were.

Colleges provide many resources for students to prepare for their chosen careers, but usually only students who are proactive about finding and utilizing those resources benefit from them. Following are some improvements colleges can make to better guide students to be prepared for the workforce once they graduate:

Hire more experienced career center staff – Better-qualified career center staff with hiring experience can give updated career and job-searching advice that reflect the realities of today’s job market, and will be better able to communicate to students what hiring managers are looking for. This will allow students time to improve their qualifications before they graduate.

Teach networking and interviewing skills – These are two very crucial skills one needs to get a job, but many students graduate from college not knowing how to network or what to expect in a job interview. Career centers could better promote the opportunities they provide to sign up for practice interviewing sessions, as well as add lessons and practice sessions on networking. Colleges can also hold more career-related events where students can learn about and practice these skills with career coaches or hiring managers, as well as incorporate lessons on networking and interviewing into many different courses.

Stress the importance of work experience outside of a degree – Jobs and internships while in school will give students a significant advantage when it comes to job-hunting, as they will be starting the job search with valuable experiences and skills on their résumés that their peers who only have classes and extracurricular activities lack. They also have the benefit of allowing students to explore a particular career path to decide if it is really right for them, and giving them the chance to change direction and explore other options before graduation if they discover it isn’t.

Improve soft skills by connecting activities in the classroom to necessary job skills – Many classroom activities that students may see as being an unnecessary nuisance are actually a taste of what is to come when they start their careers. Instructors should emphasize how class requirements and activities like group projects, class participation, analytical essays, and even interactions with their classmates and instructors are precursors to what their careers will require of them. Once students graduate and find work, they will likely find themselves having to collaborate with their coworkers to complete a project, participate in and contribute ideas in meetings, analyze problems, results, and customer feedback to improve a product or service, and communicate effectively and appropriately with coworkers, upper management, and customers. Raising awareness of the similarities between what goes on in the classroom and the workforce may motivate students to take their classroom experiences more seriously.

Our solutions use case studies to provide a real-world context for how the skills students are learning in class will be used in their careers. For more tips on how to prepare your students for their careers, contact Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our solutions for Business and Accounting, as well as our Mastery Series.