The ninth grade can be a tricky time. Along with starting over as younger children in school, navigating new social situations, and juggling extracurricular activities, high school freshmen often encounter new challenges in the classroom as well.
To set kids up for success, we asked four high school teachers and other education professionals to share their lists of essential ninth grade school supplies. Below is everything a freshman will need to start high school on the right foot.
According to Carol Lloyd, vice president and editorial director of the education nonprofit Great Schools, the high school class structure can be difficult for some students to get used to because “there is a sudden expectation that children sit, listen to lessons and take notes. .” To get the most out of note-taking, she says students should look for pens that won’t smudge or bleed while writing, or leak into their backpacks and make a mess. Marcia Bennett, M.Ed., a ninth-grade history teacher in Alexandria, Va., says Pilot G2 pens are her #1 choice “because they’re easy to take notes and write seamlessly. “. She even finds messy handwriting more decipherable when students write with this smudge-proof pen.
Multi-colored pens come in handy when teachers ask students to use different colored inks for different purposes, such as peer editing. Katie Davis, a New York-based clinical neuropsychologist who works with teens and young adults on developing strategies to enhance learning, suggests these “tried-and-true” four-color BIC pens. She says, “There are no caps to waste and the ink doesn’t bleed through the back of the paper.
Lloyd says the pencils are useful for math and science lessons where it’s “increasingly important to show what you know rather than just having the right answer”. Davis says many students prefer mechanical pencils, and these durable pencils from Paper Mate are her favorites. “Lean ones break all the time, and when [students] have to stop and refresh the subject, it disrupts their train of thought,” she says. “These are totally robust, so they completely eliminate the usual problems.”
To take notes and make it easier to find important information, Bennet recommends that students purchase highlighters in at least two colors. She relies on these smudge-proof Sharpies that “last a while.”
Kids with messy backpacks or lockers waste valuable time looking for a pen or pencil. These stainless steel holders, according to KA Keener, a ninth-grade English teacher in Chappaqua, New York, are very effective in preventing losing writing utensils. “Just attach one to each notebook and you’ll never have to search for a pen,” she says. “They fit all pens, all notebooks.”
Learning to stay organized is the key to a successful high school career. “The best organization system is the one that’s the simplest,” says Davis. “For many children, it’s only one notebook per class with written notes and handouts [organized] in chronological order. When it comes time to revise for an exam, everything is in one place. She suggests these binder/notebook hybrids because “they can hold three-hole-punched documents like binders, but they’re also nice and lightweight, and they don’t take up too much backpack space like notebooks.” Choose a different color for each class for visual organization.
Every teacher we spoke with agreed that high school students should have a planner to track homework, assignments, tests, and extracurricular activities. Kim Blevins, a ninth-grade English teacher with 16 years of experience in Kansas City, Missouri, says a bullet journal is a good option for students who want something simple “that doesn’t scream ‘planner.’ .” She says students appreciate the customizable and open-ended nature of the dotted journal: “Some teens love tracking all sorts of things besides homework and creating a personalized time capsule of their year.”
Bennett says the flashcards are a great study aid for new high school students. “They help to strengthen [subject matter] and are good tools for teamwork. His favorite are these brightly colored cards from Office Depot. “Straight lines are useful in case the student doesn’t have the best handwriting,” she says. “Additionally, color matching is useful for categorizing vocabulary words by themes or concepts.”
Cell phone calculators work well for calculating a tip or splitting a bill among friends, but for high school math class kids will need something more powerful. Jaclyn Gibbons, a ninth-grade math teacher in New York City, tells us that this calculator will allow students to track the four years of high school, from algebra to calculus. And it is one of the models approved for use on the SAT test.
For students who are easily distracted by their phones, Keener finds that this productivity app motivates kids to stay away from the screen. “It challenges you not to touch your phone while a virtual tree grows within a set time frame that you enter,” she says. Forest partners with non-profit organization Trees for the Future, which plants real trees in sub-Saharan Africa for every tree grown in-game – up to five per user. Also available in the Google Play store here.
Without access to a printer, Lloyd said students are “likely going to be frustrated and struggling throughout [high school]because many teachers still require students to submit hard copies of their essays and assignments. To avoid running out of ink the day before an important paper, try a printer with an automatic refill service. This $40 option can be synced with HP Instant Ink or an Amazon Dash button for quick and timely top-ups.
Between laptops and heavy textbooks, Lloyd says high school backpacks can end up weighing 30 to 40 pounds and “wearing some serious wear.” Instead of a cheaper backpack that isn’t built to last, she recommends investing in a high-quality backpack that can last through high school. She likes that REI backpacks are durable with padded straps that are gentler on students’ backs and shoulders.
To avoid lugging a heavy backpack around all day, Lloyd encourages students to use their lockers and change books between lessons. We’re fans of Wordlock, which lets you set an easy-to-remember letter combination. Strat writer Logan Sachon says, “If, like me, you pick one that’s also a little personal joke, you get a little whiff of happiness every time you unlock it.”
Blevins recommends a refillable water bottle because “the brain needs water to function.” Because, as she says, “freshmen will unfortunately lose things,” she recommends the Mira bottle for less than $20. Available in over a dozen colors, any child should be able to pick one that matches their style. “You want the teen’s buy-in,” Blevins says, “so let them choose the color and they’ll more likely use it and keep track of it.”
Even though fidget spinners are decidedly over, Blevins isn’t worried that anxious teens have something insane to play with to keep their energy in check during class. She prefers fidget cubes because they’re “quiet, unlike spinners, and they’re great for fidgety freshmen.”
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