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One problem many people have with math and science is the presence of knowledge gaps that teachers simply don't have time to address with a classroom full of other students. And as both subjects build upon previously taught material, when a student misses a few concepts they can often fall permanently behind. When I tutor, I work to discover which skills are missing then help the student master them, providing a strong foundation for further learning.
In 2011 I earned my Master's degree in physics from the University of Illinois. During my time there, I led discussion sections for more than 300 students over the course of two years and learned to quickly gauge a student's level of knowledge and give explanations in terms they will understand. Additionally, since 2006 I have tutored students in subjects ranging from fifth grade math to university physics and I was able to help many a student who 'just wasn't good at math' rise to the top of their class.
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Teachers and professors who have been teaching calculus for years often forget how difficult certain concepts can be to students who are leaning the subject for the first time. Even though math was my 'easy class' in high school, calc courses in college were a challenge, largely because I struggled with the teaching styles of my professors.
So when I tutor calculus, I keep this in mind. When a student doesn't understand a concept, I go over it one step at a time, being sure each step is clearly understood before continuing. Then, once they have learned the correct method, I provide them with instant feedback as they work through problems, allowing them to cement each newly learned skill in their mind.
Even for people who are 'good at math', calculus takes time to learn. That considered, some methods of studying are far more effective than others, so I also provide my students with the methods I've found most effective for mastering calculus without it taking all their free time.
I find that elementary students can sometimes 'learn' a skill in math, but not be confident enough to use the skill beyond the basics. For instance, a student might be able to do multiplication problems, but they are not comfortable enough with the process to use multiplication when it's needed for long division. The result is that they appear to be struggling with division, when in reality it's their multiplication skills that need work.
When I tutor at the elementary level, I first help my students get caught up with their latest homework, then we work back through simpler skills until each is mastered. This usually takes the form of card games that are entertaining enough that the student doesn't mind spending long periods of time learning arithmetic. Using this method, I can hone a student's basic math skills and enable them to easily learn harder material in school without the drudgery of worksheets.
In 2011, I earned a master's degree in physics. During my time in graduate school, I taught dozens of 'discussion' sections where it was my job to help students with their physics homework and explain any concepts they didn't understand.
Much like math, physics builds upon itself, so often a student has difficulty with an advanced problem because they don't have a strong understanding of a more basic topic. When I help a student with physics, I first discover the skills or concepts they may have missed and explain them. Then, when the student better understands the basic skills, they can easily grasp more advanced material.
Also, as physics is fundamentally problem solving, I found the best way to help students with homework is to focus my instruction on the problem solving process rather than just telling them how to solve the problem they are struggling with at the moment. This way they are better able to do their homework without help, are more prepared for exams, and ultimately get better grades.
A student having trouble with prealgebra often has one of two problems. First, prealgebra is often taught at a much faster rate than students are used to, so some can have trouble with a concept, but before they manage to get help the teacher has already moved on. Alternatively, a student might be weak on a couple arithmetic skills and this hinders them from learning more advanced skills.
When I tutor at this level, I work to address both of these issues. I first explain any concepts they didn't understand from class, then I help them through their current homework, providing assistance when they make a mistake and encouragement when they do a problem correctly. This instant feedback helps students to quickly learn new skills and score better on quizzes and exams.
Then, when the student is caught up on their current homework, I go over any simpler skills they are missing until each is mastered, giving the student a better shot at understanding future skills as they are taught in class.
Northwest Nazarene University (Physics)
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (Master's)
Boise State University (Enrolled)
Physics Wizard to the rescue! — I can't say enough good things about Dale. My daughter is a competitive ice skater and sometimes misses school due to travel schedules. She started to fall behind in Advanced Physics (High School) because of the missed days and just couldn't get caught up. We contacted Dale and in a matter of a few lessons, he had her back up to speed. Dale worked patiently with her to break down the most compl ...
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Cancellation: 2 hours notice required
Dale will travel within 10 miles of Boise, ID 83702.
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