Ann’s current tutoring subjects are listed at the left. You
can read more about
Ann’s qualifications in specific subjects below.
The ACT English Test evaluates a student's ability to understand and use the English language. It is divided into two main categories: Usage/Mechanics, which includes grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure; and Rhetorical Skills, which includes writing strategy, organization, and style in short written passages. Although not tested directly, spelling and vocabulary are also included. I have bachelor's and master's degrees in science. I have taught high school science and have worked as a biochemistry researcher. I have also taught all academic subjects, including English, as a substitute teacher at the elementary and middle school levels, where grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraph development are emphasized. While tutoring for the ACT English Test, I first teach basic grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence-structure rules. Then, I strongly encourage students to memorize prefixes and word roots to improve their vocabulary. Finally, students practice actual ACT-type questions and take timed practice ACT tests.
The ACT Mathematics Test evaluates a student's ability to solve problems in the following areas of math: pre-algebra, elementary algebra (algebra 1), intermediate algebra (algebra 2), coordinate and plane geometry, and trigonometry. Students may use a calculator and may use an area in the test booklet as scratch paper. Many high school juniors take the ACT before they have taken trigonometry. Realistically, however, this isn't a serious problem because only 4 of the 60 math questions are from trig, and the topics for at least 2 of those questions may be taught in tutoring without too much trouble. Although I did not major in math, I did major in science for my bachelor's and master's degrees and this required taking a large number of math courses. I have taught chemistry--which includes a lot of mathematical calculations--as a high school teacher and math in elementary and middle schools as a substitute teacher. While tutoring for the ACT Math Test, I first teach the main topics which are covered on the test and have students work on practice problems. Then I cover some "tricks" which help students answer the ACT math questions more quickly. Finally, students practice solving ACT-type questions and take timed practice ACT tests, while using the calculator they will use for the actual ACT.
The ACT Reading Test evaluates a student's ability to understand and interpret four different reading passages of about 700-900 words each. Three of the passages are nonfiction--one each from Humanities (arts and literature), Social Studies (history, sociology, psychology), and Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics). The fourth passage is Prose Fiction (excerpts from a novel or short story). Each passage is then followed by 10 questions. Sometimes the reading is difficult, but no outside knowledge is needed to understand the passages. The trickiest part of the Reading Test is finishing all four passages before running out of time. While tutoring for this test, I teach students what to look for while reading, how to find the answers to factual questions quickly, and how to decide when to stop reading and start guessing. Knowing when to guess is important because most test-takers do not have time to tackle all four passages.
The Science Reasoning Test of the ACT is different from the other tests. There is very little knowledge of science required. This section actually tests analysis and evaluation of scientific data, and problem-solving skills. There is also some simple math which does not require a calculator; in fact, a calculator is not permitted. I have bachelor's and master's degrees in science. I have taught science in high school (biology, chemistry, and physical science), and I have worked as a biochemistry researcher. I have also taught science and math as a substitute teacher in elementary and middle school. While tutoring for the ACT Science Reasoning Test, I first teach science basics such as the scientific method and experimental design. Then I have students practice interpreting data tables, different types of graphs, and charts. Finally, students can practice actual ACT-type questions, learning how to find all the information they need just from the questions themselves.
Chemistry is the study of matter--atoms, their structure, and the interactions between them. It includes the metric system, scientific measurement, the periodic table, chemical reactions, states of matter, behavior of gases, and many other topics. I have bachelor's and master's degrees in science (zoology). I have taught chemistry and physical science as a high school teacher, and middle school science (which includes basic chemistry) as a substitute teacher. I have also worked as a biochemistry researcher. Chemistry can be made much easier to understand if the student is taught certain "tricks." It is also easier to learn if the student is able to manipulate physical models and participate in simple demonstrations. Models and demonstrations are better if used one-on-one, so I use these whenever possible in my tutoring.
Elementary and middle school education includes math, science, English, reading/literature, and social studies, as well as other subjects. It also teaches students study skills, social interactions, proper behavior, and other skills which are necessary for success in life. In addition to teaching science in high school, I have taught the elementary/middle school academic subjects as a substitute teacher. I have volunteered with children as a recess supervisor, cub scout den leader, and boy scout merit badge counselor. I consider the education of children to be vitally important, and I enjoy being around children. So I love teaching and tutoring young children and teenagers.
Math in elementary and middle schools begins with basic concepts such as recognizing numbers and shapes, counting, ordering, and patterns. It continues with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and variables. It culminates in basic geometry and pre-algebra or algebra to prepare the students for high school math. Although I did not major in math, I did major in science for my bachelor's and master's degrees and this required taking a large number of math courses. I have taught chemistry--which includes a lot of mathematical calculations--as a high school teacher and math in elementary and middle schools as a substitute teacher. Understanding math requires logical and abstract thinking. Since different children become capable of this type of thinking at different ages, the same math concepts are taught year after year through 7th or 8th grades. Each year the same concepts are covered in more depth than in the previous year. As a tutor I use models and physical manipulation of objects as much as possible in order to stimulate development of abstract thinking and understanding of the abstract concepts.
Science in elementary and middle schools introduces the student to a basic understanding of how the physical world works. It touches on all the major areas of science--biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, meteorology. Science was always my favorite subject! I majored in zoology (a subset of biology) to earn my bachelor's and master's degrees. I have taught science as a high school teacher (biology, chemistry, physical science, and science research) and as a K-8 substitute teacher. I have also worked as a biochemistry researcher. Science can sometimes be confusing, but is much easier to learn if the student is able to manipulate physical models and participate in simple demonstrations. Models and demonstrations are better if used one-on-one, so I use these whenever possible in my tutoring.
English classes usually include writing, reading/literature, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and spelling. I have taught English at the elementary and middle school levels as a substitute teacher. I have also extensively tutored my own children in grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and spelling throughout their school years. Some of these topics can be confusing to students in a large class, but during tutoring I can identify a student's exact problems and then teach appropriate learning techniques.
Grammar is a subject which is often disliked and misunderstood. It is usually included as part of English class. As a substitute teacher in a K-8 school, I teach grammar at the elementary and middle school levels. English grammar is pretty much all rules, with a lot of exceptions. However, it is important to learn grammar so that a student can learn to express him/herself clearly and precisely in both speaking and writing. The key to learning grammar is some memorizing, a fair amount of practice, and a lot of common sense. I say common sense because students have actually learned most of the rules just by learning to speak the language. They just need to be shown what they already know and how to apply it.
I earned a B.S. (at MSU) and M.S. (at U of Wisconsin) degrees in zoology as well as teacher certification (at U of Wisconsin). Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing in early elementary school. It consists of teaching young students the common pronunciations of the different letters in words. Then students can “sound out” many simple English words that they don’t yet know. Phonics education is limited because the English language was formed from many different languages. Therefore, there are many (often contradictory) rules for spelling, many exceptions to the rules, and many words which are not spelled the way they sound. However, for beginning readers the use of phonics gives them success in reading easy words and in writing their own short stories. As a substitute teacher in a K-8 school, I teach phonics and the related subjects of English, reading, writing, and spelling. I use letter, phonics, and sight-word flash cards, picture books, age-appropriate worksheets, and games designed to teach phonics, reading, and writing.
Pre-algebra is the math that is usually taught in 7th or 8th (sometimes 9th) grade. It combines the math taught in elementary school with simple algebra to prepare the students for algebra 1, which is usually taught in 8th or 9th grade. Although I did not major in math, I did major in science for my bachelor's and master's degrees and this required taking a large number of math courses. I have taught chemistry--which includes a lot of mathematical calculations--as a high school teacher and math in elementary and middle schools as a substitute teacher. Understanding math requires logical and abstract thinking. So some students will learn pre-algebra easily while others will struggle. As a tutor I use drawings, models, and physical manipulation of objects as much as possible in order to stimulate development of abstract thinking and understanding of the abstract concepts.
As a substitute teacher in a K-8 school, I teach reading in elementary and middle school. Reading means different things for different ages.
In preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary school, reading means learning to put letters together to make words, learning to put words together to make sentences, and learning to read and understand sentences. To teach this early reading, I use letter and phonics flash cards, picture books, age-appropriate worksheets, and games designed to teach grammar and spelling.
Middle elementary students learn to read picture books, short stories, and then easy chapter books. They learn to recall the characters, places, and events in these stories. They must also be able to understand the characters’ motives and be able to make predictions about what will happen next. To teach this age group, I use picture and chapter books, reading worksheets, and recall games.
Older elementary, middle, and high school students read progressively harder and longer books. They need to understand the more difficult vocabulary. They need to understand the setting, plot, and characters. They learn to look beyond what the author wrote to make inferences about what the author is hoping to teach the readers. At the higher levels, reading classes are generally called literature. To teach reading to these older students, we read short stories and chapter books (the books from school, if possible). Then I help the students recall characteristics of the characters and events in the stories. I have them practice explaining why the characters behaved as they did, supporting their answers with passages from the books. I also have them try to determine what the books teach about the world and what the authors’ purposes were.
I teach spelling as a substitute teacher in elementary and middle school. Students need to learn to spell properly in order to communicate effectively in writing, and to increase reading comprehension. One cannot rely on Spell-check to correct the spelling in documents because Spell-check makes a lot of mistakes! Mastering spelling requires learning rules and their exceptions, and then memorizing. With one-on-one tutoring, memorizing can be made easier.
Study skills are behaviors that students use to increase their learning success. They include proper time management, organizing materials, making an effective study space, note-taking, keeping track of assignments and tests, getting help when needed, learning exactly what each teacher expects, making study aides, etc. Until these skills become second nature, a student must be taught to use them and reminded frequently to practice them. I have taught science at the college and high school levels, and I am a substitute teacher in grades K-8. No matter which academic subject I am teaching, I include study skill instruction whenever possible.
The larger the vocabulary, the better a student will perform in writing, reading comprehension, spelling, and general communication. Also, the student will sound really smart! Increasing vocabulary does involve memorization, but it is easier if the student learns certain "tricks" and reads a lot. In tutoring, I focus on teaching patterns, prefixes, and memorization tricks to make learning vocabulary easier.
I teach writing in elementary and middle school as a substitute teacher in a K-8 school. Writing in the early grades involves learning how to form the letters properly (first in printing, then in cursive), how to properly write a string of words, and how to make a complete sentence with proper punctuation. Then students learn to write simple 3-5-sentence stories without worrying about correct spelling. Older students progress to writing paragraphs with proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. They learn to express themselves clearly and concisely. By middle school, students are writing 5-paragraph essays and longer research papers. Writing cannot be taught without also teaching grammar and spelling. To tutor this subject I use age-appropriate worksheets, flashcards, and games to practice parts of speech, forming complete sentences, writing short stories, and writing quick essays.