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Hello, I am Barbara J., a former high school English teacher who has a law degree that is quite helpful to me in many ways, even in tutoring. I taught all levels of juniors and seniors for 10 plus years; this included students who took Advanced Placement English Literature, AP Language and Composition, Honors English, Regular English students who needed remediation as well as gifted students.
As a published, award-winning teacher of juniors and seniors in a large public school system, I was also responsible for preparing students to take the English portions (essay writing, reading, vocabulary, grammar, etc.) of all standardized tests; special emphasis was placed on the ACT and the SAT.
I love teaching and empowering young people, but I also love writing, and that is why I retired in 2007, quite early, to pursue a writing career.
Since 2007, I have written two books: Journaling: Twenty Plus Reasons Why You Should Start Now, was published in 2008; my second book, Coming Full Circle, was published in late January 2012.
Although I retired in 2007,I voluntarily tutored two home schooled teens,a sister and brother,from 2007 until they graduated in June of 2011.I became a certified tutor with WyzAnt in January of 2011,because I truly enjoy helping students become successful,life long independent learners and thinkers who realize that learning really can be loads of fun!
In preparing students for the English portions (reading, essay writing, vocabulary, grammar, etc.) of The ACT, SAT, or The AP Exam in English, I first give students a timed -40 minute- diagnostic writing assignment that quickly reveals their strengths and weaknesses in thinking, organizing and writing their ideas;the diagnostic results allow me to get right to the problem.I also give the students pretests in the subjects, and I systematically give timed practice tests so that they can get a real feel for the exams under exam constraints and conditions; after testing, students and I analyze responses to determine why their answers are right or wrong. Students are also encouraged to look for patterns (good and bad) in their responses so that they can focus on eliminating the bad patterns (not reading the entire question or all options before making a selection,or overlooking key words, for example) and enhancing the good ones. Needless to say, this approach is extremely helpful in building students' confidence. As a result, their scores on the practice tests improve considerably, and because the practice tests are based on actual past exams, students' chances of success on the real tests are increased significantly.
This methodical approach to test taking gives the students the help needed to exercise the discipline and develop the confidence necessary to stay focused on their test preparation until the test is taken.
Needless to say, I spend much time preparing activities, writing prompts, etc., for each session; accommodations are also made for a student's individuality, including preferred, and or dominant learning style(s).
I know how concerned you are as parents about your child(ren)'s education, and I applaud you for taking the extra measures to assure his/her/their success. You should know that I have always taken my responsibilities seriously, and that is why I give to your child(ren) as I'd give to my own.
Continue to encourage your child(ren) and accept nothing but the best from him/her/them;you know better than any one what their best looks like.
Working together, I believe we can help your child(ren) reach his or her highest academic goals!
ACT English is designed to determine, in large measure, a student's readiness to compete successfully at the college level in English, a course that all incoming college students are required to take unless they have tested out by taking and passing a specific test, i.e. The AP English Literature and Composition Test, for example.
A student's devotion to studying over the years is very important, but there are also some strategies and test taking tips that have proven to be quite helpful.
As a high school English teacher for several years, I have considerable experience in preparing students to take this all important test.
Regular sample tests are administered and analyzed to determine why students' responses are right or wrong. Students are encouraged to identify patterns in their responses that are causing them to make the same mistakes repeatedly; tips are given to help eliminate the faulty patterns.
Several timed (same amount of time as allotted on the test) tests are given throughout the preparation process, and these are evaluated by both student and teacher to determine why answers are right or (especially) wrong.
This methodical approach to preparation gives the students the confidence needed to stay focused until the actual test is taken.
It is believed that reading a large and varied amount of information over the years, and writing on a variety of progressively complex subjects, are the best ways to prepare for standardized tests, and when those actions are combined with the processes mentioned here and others I employ as a tutor,the student's success on the test is assured.
ACT Reading, like SAT Reading, is a most important test for students,and it requires focused concentration and comprehension in order for students to receive high scores.
During the first session,students are given a timed diagnostic reading test that reveals their reading strengths and weaknesses.The weak areas become the focal point of the remaining tutoring sessions.
Throughout the sessions, many timed sample tests are administered;samples are graded and analyzed by students so that they can identify patterns that need to be corrected, and to determine why their answers are right or wrong. I oversee this process and frequently, I have shown the students some faulty pattern(s) that they did not detect.
For example, I have found that often time, students overlook key words, unintentionally omit important parts of the passage, or do not know correct meanings of words found in passages.
All of these issues are addressed during the tutoring sessions, and the students are given many strategies and tips to help them over come the weaknesses discovered so that they reach or get closer to their desired scores when the actual test is taken.
Having mastery of English is very important for many reasons: It is one of the most widely spoken languages, and it is the language that identifies its speaker as one who is 'Americanized' or one who respects and considers important the major language of America.
The more fluently one handles English, the more personal opportunities he/she makes possible.
All languages have value and merit, but for those of us who are Americans, speaking fluent English tells everyone that the language is a vital part of the culture and the Country. As a former award winning high school English teacher, I took great pride in helping my students see the importance of mastering English so as to increase their chances of becoming successful in their chosen fields.
Now more than ever, a strong command of English is vital to all who desire to succeed.
As a tutor, I continue to impress upon my students the importance of mastering the English Language.
(Good) grammar, the way by which we effectively express our ideas orally, is such an important skill. Without a clear understanding and command of grammar, it would be virtually impossible to succeed in any field requiring oral communication. No matter what career or area of employment one enters, oral communication is vital, and the facility with which ideas are communicated will determine whether, and how quickly, one advances. Not only is a good and accurate command of language important in the 'work place', it is equally important for social advancement.
Of course, there is a more relaxed atmosphere in most social settings, but even so, using correct grammar is still expected of all, by all.
As an English teacher of all levels of juniors and seniors for several years, I gladly accepted the responsibility of teaching my students "Standard English", even when they preferred not to use it. Exposing them to great, well written stories, novels, essays, etc., by popular authors for example, made it easier for me to teach them the importance of good grammar, and as a result, they knew how to express themselves when talking to their peers and adults, such as the principal, other teachers, or the superintendent of education. We are not only rated and evaluated by how we look; we are also judged and graded by 'how we say, what we say.' Having a good command of language, then, is helpful in every area of our lives;this is especially true if we desire to improve or retain our social status or advance in a chosen career.
I have studied, read, and taught all types of literature, in the high school curriculum, from 9th through 12th grades, including the classics, and contemporary writers. I know that reading widely on many different topics is one of the best ways to develop strong thinking, writing, and reading skills.
These goals are upper most in my mind as I tutor my students in their literature assignments, and whether it's helping them to more fully understand and appreciate Antigone, or a modern work, I meet them where they are and help them to move forward in their understanding, written responses, and thinking, as well as their appreciation of the work.
Preparing students to succeed on standardized tests is a major responsibility that I take seriously, and I have done so for several years. Like all standardized tests, the PSAT is very important because it highlights specific skills that are important to a student's success in school and in life.
A methodical approach, that helps the student grow in confidence as competence increases,is the manner in which I approach this test.
For example, several timed sample tests are given; the samples are similar(many times actual former tests) to the test the student will take;as a result, continuous progress is experienced,and because this is so, success on the actual test is assured,and students,knowing the importance of the test to their advancement in school and in life, make conscious decisions to do their best.
As a life long reader, I believe that reading is key to any success in life,regardless of the trade or business. My love for reading is a major tool I use in helping my students to develop a love and growing appreciation for this all important skill. It is my belief and experience that any type of material can foster good reading and good reading habits.
I therefore, am very open minded about what my students read,and as a result of my love for the written word, it is quite easy to influence my students. Knowing the right questions to ask, at the right time, is made quite easy when one reads widely and frequently.
SAT Reading is a major skill one has to master for college entrance,and for success in college and life.This obvious fact is stressed in the first session, and if it is revealed in my first diagnostic test that the student has weak reading skills, I give him/her high interest, YA novels and stories to read, in addition to their regular class reading; this is done for obvious reasons.
No matter where the students are in their reading, I believe I can help them advance when they are focused, and committed to doing their best, and I have found that most of the students are quite serious about doing their best on this and other standardized tests.
As a SAT Writing tutor, I give students a diagnostic test during the first session; the results tell me where the students are and what skills need to be improved.
Writing, like reading, is so important to a student's overall success in college and in life, and the students are given many opportunities to improve in those areas that are identified as being "weak" during the diagnostic testing. The amount of time the student is given to write, and the type and complexity of the writing prompts, are the same as what appears on the actual test.
Each timed writing is subsequently evaluated so that the student can see what has improved and what needs more work.
This feedback is done consistently,and as a result, students can see their steady progress.
It is always my goal as a tutor/teacher to instill confidence in my students by helping each of them to experience consistent, measurable progress.
Spelling is a very important skill that should not be overlooked. I have found that when basic spelling rules and phonics are taught and reinforced early, no major problems exist, and students can be taught to spell almost any word, regardless of the number of syllables.
The problem occurs when the student does not get exposed to phonics in the early grades, or there is a problem understanding the concepts.
It has been my policy, so far,to only tutor high school students who usually have a good understanding of spelling basics. Sometimes, though not too often, I get a student whose spelling tells me that phonics was not taught or mastered. When this happens, I review some of the basic spelling, and phonics rules with the student. I will often direct the student to specific references that can be used independently.
Spelling is such an important skill that directly impacts many areas of learning;comprehension is one of them; that is why correct spelling must be stressed at every level of learning.
I am a life long learner who understands the importance of acquiring the proper study skills that foster success in whatever endeavor that is undertaken. Throughout high school (Diploma), college (Degree), law school (J.D.),and sundry classes (Gifted Education Certification, etc) after my formal education, I attribute a large portion of my successes to the study skills I was taught, and those I subsequently developed, as primary factors in my overall success as a student,former high school educator, lawyer,and now, author(of two books)/speaker.
No matter what the task, where studying is involved, one needs a quiet consistent place, the proper tools (books, paper, pen, dictionary, thesaurus, etc) a specific goal in studying, i.e. to complete an assignment, study for a test, work on a project, etc., a specific amount of time, focus or sustained concentration, and the ability to prioritize, among other things.
Over the years, I have taught students how to develop good study skills, and as a result, I have seen tremendous improvement in their work products as well as an increase in their confidence and self esteem. I am positive that what I have learned about study skills as a life long learner can be of inestimable help to those WyzAnt students who need to develop these skills.
Teaching vocabulary is very important since no new knowledge is acquired without new words.
One obvious way to expand the "word base" is to read a wide variety of materials that challenges and holds the attention.
As a former high school English teacher for several years, I consciously made "Vocabulary Building" a major part of my curriculum because I know that an extensive vocabulary helps in any area of study or career.
As a Wyzant tutor, I make available, in the first meeting, a list of one hundred (100) words that all high school graduates should know.
The student is told to first go through the list identifying all the words with which he/she is already familiar.Throughout the sessions, the students define,provide at least one synonym and antonym for the words(they are asked to work with at least three words each time) and they are also asked to use the three in one sentence.
Because words change forms and functions, the students are asked to provide various endings; for example, I will ask them to change a noun to an adjective, or an adjective to a noun. Roots and origins of words are also included.
As a student works through the word list, he/she begins to see the importance of having an extensive vocabulary which is especially helpful when he/she begins working on writing assignments, specifically, the SAT, or ACT essay.
When the student has specific vocabulary to study/learn, the same procedure is usually employed; one of the main things added is the use of context clues (when a specific text is assigned) to help with the meaning.
So many fun ways exist to increase one's vocabulary; I have used crossword puzzles, word finds, the jeopardy game, unscrambling words and many others tools to grow and to improve students' vocabulary.
Not only do they have fun with the tools used to expand their vocabulary; they actually "remember" what they have learned long after the fun has ended.
Writing is my passion! I retired from teaching early because I wanted to write, and since retiring, I have written and published two books.
So much can be said about writing.For example, it is a reflection of one's thinking, organizing, and knowledge. I have found that the more clearly one thinks, the more fluent and coherent the writing and organizing.
As a Wyzant tutor, I give my students a forty (40) minute writing diagnostic assignment during the first session, and while the student is writing, the parent/guardian and I discuss their expectations.
The writing is evaluated within one day,and a written analysis is e-mailed to the parents/guardians.
The diagnostic writing is so valuable because it helps me to get right to the problem(s), thus saving both time and money.
So far, most of the students I have tutored need help in several areas,but the main three problem areas are: using a simple vocabulary, not providing enough details, and not using transitions-or appropriate ones- to connect ideas.
Writing is one of the most intimate and effective ways to communicate, and the written words tell each reader much about the writer. One of the main goals in writing then, is to make sure that what is written expresses the writer's ideas in the most accurate, and effective manner.
Courteous, professional and good-natured — My teenage daughter has been tutored by Barbara for several months now and has made a great deal of progress in her writing skills. Barbara is extremely knowledgeable and a great motivator. Since Barbara has been working with my daughter, my daughter both reads more and has taken a heightened interest in writing more effectively. Barbara has developed an excellent working relationship with my da ...
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