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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 3, 2009

Back to school story tip sheet

Here are some back to school story ideas for which University of Iowa experts can provide comment and analysis.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR TEST-TAKING: It's the night before a big test and your son or daughter is stressed and complaining of a stomachache. How do you calm your children's fear and help them feel more confident? What tips could help them better prepare for taking a test with confidence and calmness? Sam Cochran, clinical professor in the Counseling Psychology Program in the UI College of Education and director of the University Counseling Service, shares tips for helping students prepare for test-taking and empowering them with the skills they need to do their best. Cochran's special area of interest is in academic skills counseling. He can be reached at or 319-335-7294.

BULLYING IN SCHOOLS: Bullying is a serious problem in many classrooms and on playgrounds. Malik Henfield, an assistant professor in the Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development Program in the UI College of Education, has expertise in how to prevent -- and handle -- bullying in constructive ways, offering tips for parents, students and educators. Henfield wanted his counseling master's students to gain experience working with diverse populations early in their educations, so he arranged for his group counseling class to present anti-bullying curricula to students at the Mark Twain Elementary after school program in Iowa City. For more information, contact 319-335-5942 or

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: More students are entering K-12 schools with different levels of abilities, whether due to learning disabilities, physical disabilities, visual impairment or autism, among others. With both on campus and mobile demonstration labs, Jim Stachowiak of the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research (ICATER) in the UI College of Education, helps parents, counselors, teachers and administrators determine the best assistive technology solutions to help these students access the curriculum. He can share insights and tips that will help educate parents, teachers and the general public about simple technology solutions as well as the cutting-edge technology developments and how they can help students with differing abilities achieve their full potential in the classroom. For more information, contact Stachowiak at 319-335-5280,

TEACHING, COUNSELING AND GIFTED EDUCATION: Working together, school counselors and gifted educators can do amazing things for gifted students and their families. Susannah Wood, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development in the UI College of Education, teaches and trains current school counseling students to work with gifted students and collaborate with gifted educators. She is also pursuing her interest in how K-12 school counselors are serving their gifted populations and discovering innovative strategies and opportunities for school counselors and gifted educators to collaborate. For more information, contact Wood at, 319-335-5050.

LEARNING DISABILITIES AND READING: Did you know that more than 5 percent of the school-aged population in the United States has a learning disability, and that 80 percent of these students have identified needs in reading? Bill Therrien, special education assistant professor in the UI College of Education Department of Teaching and Learning, says "poor reading performance is by far the most common reason students are referred for special education services." Fortunately, much is known about how to help students with learning disabilities succeed. Therrien says, "With intensive reading skills instruction, the majority of students with learning disabilities can become competent readers who are able to read just as well as their non-disabled peers." Contact Therrien at 319-335-5606 or

To listen to an Iowa Insights podcast that focuses on back-to-school advice for parents, educators and students on tantrums, bullies and sports physicals, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois Gray, 319-384-0077,