The Summer session has just begun. The stress has already begun to set in, but this week I had a break through with a few of the students. So this is my second week with a student who I am tutoring for both Algebra I and Earth Science. So far he seems stronger in Earth Science but still needs much practice, before I can be very confident about his ability to pass the Regents exam in August. After the first session of Algebra, I walked away thinking about how am I going to get him ready by August 13th. I recommended an additional session to the parents, but so far they have said no. I did several practice examples, and made the second session mainly a teaching and learning session. Then I ended the session with a quiz, but he failed :(. So when I had to meet him again for Earth Science, my mind was swirling as to how I can help him, and will I at least be successful with this subject. When I checked the homework, there was a slight improvement but not enough to celebrate.... read more
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When I was studying to be a teacher, one of the classes I had to take was Literacy in Secondary Education. Since the word literacy is associated to reading and writing by most, it would strike many as a surprise that Math teachers have to take courses on literacy. However, literacy is the most practical and crucial aspect of ANY academic discipline, simply because it involves the ability to read and write in said subject. For mathematics, it could not be anymore important. If you cannot understand the words that I am using, then it is almost as if we were communicating to each other in different languages. So whatever subject you are studying, I suggest you learn its vocabulary. As the helpful tutor that I am, I will share a list of vocabulary terms that was distributed in my literacy class to all of you so that you can check your own vocabulary. Keep in mind that this is considered to be the Mathematics vocab that one should know by the time they finish high school... read more
Although learning is an awesome thing, it can be a difficult and frustrating journey for many students. This difficulty, however, is often times quite normal although most feel it means that a child may not be able to learn or that he/she is so frustrated that learning is no longer taking place. This is where the experienced tutor steps in; for frustration in learning is a part of the learning itself. I have taught and tutored many students and have seen first hand how this frustration can leave some students, and their parents, feeling helpless and hopeless. But there is ALWAYS Hope!!! What they have failed to realize is that as the brain learns difficult concepts, it can only take in parts at a time, little parts at a time. So although it may seem no learning is taking place, it actually is, just in smaller segments. In fact, the most frustration comes right before a new concept is achieved. This is when most give up. Had they stayed focused for perhaps one or two more... read more
Hello Miss Gil, I received a 96% in Global History. I was so excited to hear these words from my student! At first she did not want to be tutored. Her father dropped her off at the Library. So I told her that if she did the practice test, and did well, she would never have to see me again. Well, she scored a 58%, and there were so many events and topics that she did not know. We scheduled 3 additional three hour sessions. By the last session, her essays had improved and her overall score was an 83%. I told her that I believe that she can score as much as a 95% on the Regents Exam. She laughed and said "Yeah right". Well she scored a 96% and I am very proud of her.
Humans have a tremendous capacity to learn and adapt. However, we consistently build barriers that hinder our natural ability to change and grow. Many people, regardless of age, perceive themselves as not being talented enough to excel at math and science. They view math and science as the realms in which only scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and geniuses truly soar. Nothing could be further than the truth. Sure, possessing a natural affinity towards these subjects helps. Yet, a supposed lack of talent does not prevent you from learning. The path may be more arduous. The journey may be longer. Nevertheless, you possess within you the fire to endure. Willpower, dedication, self belief, and an open mind can compensate for any lack of ability. Bruce Lee was a legendary martial artist, actor, and philosopher who continues to inspire millions with the sheer intensity which he pursued his endeavors. Frail, sickly, and small as a child, Bruce Lee overcame many physical... read more
Each summer I have a few students who work on both math and reading to keep the 'flow' and/or prep for the upcoming year. These students and their parents are completely committed to the idea of always learning as opposed to the idea of only learning in the classroom or merely learning during the school year... in essence, the parents are setting the foundation for lifelong learning. I would never ask a student to do work which I would not be willing to do myself or work through with them in tutoring. To this end, I have the opportunity to do reading AND catch up on my practice. This summer I am reading 'The Joy of X-A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity' by Steven Strogatz at Cornell University. I LOVE this book! It is almost as good as being in a lecture or small gathering and has helped me explore how I think about math and how to share these ideas with my students. One of my students recommended 'Hoot' by Carl Hiassen and it is on my list for the library... read more
Before I go run a marathon, play with my family at the pool, ride a roller coaster, head to the beach, or eat some serious amounts of ice cream, I will look back on the successful school year I have had. I got to tutor over 15 students in Middle School, High School, SAT, and College Math...and even Chemistry! I watched GPAs rise for everybody-some were happy just to pass that College Math course to graduate, others enjoyed their hard earned As that were brought up from the D level. I must say, that things did get crazy with exams at the end of the year, but it all worked out amidst our busy-ness. My tutoring schedule is light for the summer, and I am hoping nobody waits until December exams to contact me! I want things to be done the right way...after all of the swimming, adventure, and ice cream, of course! :) -Becky
SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES Now that students, teachers, parents and tutors have had a chance to catch their breath from final exams, it's time to make use of the weeks we have before school starts back. Consider all that could be accomplished in the next few weeks: Areas of math that students NEVER REALLY GRASPED could be fully explained. This could be elementary skills like adding fractions, middle school topics like systems of equations, or high school areas like sequences and series. Students could have a TREMENDOUS HEAD STARTon topics that will be covered in the first few weeks of school. Imagine your son or daughter being able to raise their hand to answer a question in the first week of school because they had worked several problems just like the ones that the teacher is demonstrating. ENORMOUS PROGRESS could be made in the area of preparation for the standardized tests (PSAT, SAT, ACT and more) that are so important to getting into a great college. STUDY... read more
A wise man once told me: "You can continue to beat your head against that rock, but you will not chip the rock, your head (on the other hand) will be deformed." I guess I should have seen it coming, my being summarily fired from a tutoring job - The parent (in this case the mother) demanding extra "busy-work" for her son between sessions, the lack of discipline, on the student's part (especially his inability to do homework or speak to his subject teacher) and his continual lack of attention during sessions. The call came, "You are not coming here anymore, Billy Ben (not his real name) ONLY got an 81 on his Geometry test. We want top performance, 95 or better, YOU failed." Did I tell you that this student, previous to my seeing him, was working on a solid average of 40? So, it was over. Had I failed? I'm not so sure. First, I didn't take HIS test, and second, knowing the student as I did, I actually thought that an 81 was pretty good and we might have saved the semester after... read more
Hi math students :) When preparing for a mathematics tutoring session, try to have the following things at hand... Textbook (online or e-text) Syllabus, assignment, tips/hints/suggestions, answer sheet/key Class notes Pencils, pens, erasers, paper (graph paper, ruler, protractor) All necessary formulas, laws, tables, constants, etc. Calculator that you will use on tests Do I really need my calculator? I can do most of my work in my head. Having your calculator is just as important as paper and a pencil in most cases. You'll be using it on your test and if you don't know how to input what you want, you won't do very well. Have your tutor teach you about your calculator's functions beforehand. Learn how to check your simple math and how to input exponents, logarithms, or trigonometric functions before your test. Why do I need my book, notes, or answer key? Isn't the tutor supposed to know everything? Yes :), but even the most experienced tutor... read more
Over the time that I have tutored, both at Austin Community College and as an independent tutor, the best thing that I have learned is that any student that is having fun while they learn make them actually want to come back and learn more. Although people came in to the tutoring lab at Austin Community College, they were coming in to the tutoring lab reluctantly because they just didn't understand what was going on and weren't really enjoying the subject because of it. My personal goal for any person that I tutor is to not only help someone understand the concepts while they are sitting with me, but also make it more fun. Not only does time fly when you're having fun but, as noted in "Brain & Behavior, An Introduction to Biological Psychology", a person is able to learn better and more efficiently as they have positive memories with those concepts rather than a neutral emotion of repetition. I love learning math and, as I look back, I did well in all my math classes, including... read more
I have been working with a few students who are ready to learn math much, MUCH faster than allowed by the traditional classroom model in which math is taught over 6 to 8 years. Based on this experience I believe that many students as young as 4th grade and as old as 8th grade (when starting in the program) can master math in 2 years from simple addition through the first semester of Calculus, with Arithmetic, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Probability, Statistics, and Trigonometry in between. This is significantly faster than the traditional approach and is enabled by a combination of one-on-one teaching and coaching and a variety of media that I assign to students to complete in between our sessions. This is a "leveraged blended learning" approach that makes use of online software, selected games, and selected videos with guided notes that I have created that ensure that students pick up the key points of the videos, and which we discuss later. The result is... read more
When someone is interested in a topic, there is a heavy intuitive knowledge associated with that interest. A good musician intuitively knows what would be enjoyable to their target audience; a good fashion designer intuitively knows what would be fashionable for the next season; a good personal trainer knows intuitively how to work a particular person with a particular body and a particular mentality to make that person more active and more healthy. In all of these fields and any field you can think of, there is a certain amount of memorization required, a certain set of rules to follow, but is mainly following personal intuition within that field. Science and math works the same way. Sure, there is a certain amount of memorization involved – terms, history, phrases – but there is a certain amount of intuition involved. There is a logic behind every concept in all of science and math, regardless of terms and phrases. This logic has its beginnings in the appropriate intuition... read more
As the school year begins to wind down, I have noticed that many of the students I help have begun the journey of signing up for next years classes or, better yet, deciding where they will start the next chapter of their life in college. I began to reminisce on my Senior year of high school and how stressful that year was for me. It was so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the choices that (seemed to be) abruptly placed in front of me: what college should I go to? What should I major in? Should I choose a college close to home? Should I rush? Should I go to a college with all of my friends? Will I absolutely hate it? I ended up choosing the wrong college and transferred twice until I finally ended up a college that I love! I say all of this to jump into the idea of NOT stressing about this time of year. Yes, I did say not to stress. College is a time of change. That change, no matter how terrifying it may seem, will take you on a wonderful journey that no one can plan... read more
Like any puzzle, it is difficult to find the solution without an order of operation, a guide that helps you take one step at a time.
I would like to encourage all of the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students with Interest in Mathematics to participate in Mathcounts competition. Mathcounts is the best Math competition available in the Nation to Middle school students. It is very helpful to build a Very strong foundation in Mathematics for the kids. Most students who have done well in this competition have done very well in their life. Many of them go to study in Top Engineering and Medical schools and many represent our nation USA in International Mathematics Olympiad. I love to help students prepare for this competition. More details about this can be found on www.mathcounts.org. The kids who get selected from their state get to go to compete in National competition which is fully paid by Mathcounts organization for all flight, stay and food expenses and lots of freebies offered at the competition.
To My Future and Current Students, I can't stress enough the IMPORTANCE of ALGEBRA! Of all the mathematics I have taken in my lifetime...BELIEVE ME IT'S BEEN A LOT, ALGEBRA is the only course that is WOVEN into every single course. I was lucky enough that my first mathematics teacher in High School (Mr. Large), turned me from a B student into an A student such that I graduated High School with a 4.0 in mathematics. The one piece of advice he gave me that I will share with you is that...I NEED TO CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK AND TRIPLE CHECK ALL OF MY ANSWERS! Algebra is a required course (prerequisite) for many of your other math courses, but most importantly in your High School career it is MANDATORY in order to be successful in Algebra 2. It may seem silly to learn and master Algebra, however, it is an integral part of every math course you will take after that except some geometry courses. Algebra teaches you how to think, be organized and how to prove your answers by checking... read more
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a parent/business owner who hires/places tutors for high end families in my area. It was a wonderful opportunity as once again I heard the mantra, "Parents just want the grades to go up." I asked what this meant, how I could measure it (quantitatively and anecdotally) and if this was indeed proof of my skills as a tutor or a momentary 'save' on a reversal of fortune. This parent does not use Wyzant. I was hard pressed to accept from this parent the reason I wasn't being contacted by high end parents for tutoring was my lack of guaranteeing grades would go up, a promise I can not make in good faith as there are too many factors involved. Honesty and integrity should be important, not my sales ability. In my years as a teacher and tutor, I have found once I have parents on board, the rest is EASY. Parents are the elephant in the room and I can run myself ragged (knowing full well very little if anything changes without parental buy... read more
IF I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to be a better student, be more successful in school, life, etc, I would definitely tell myself that being involved in everything comes at a cost. It is better to find a few things that you like to do, do them well and often, than feeling stressed because there is so much on your plate at one time. Being a 'Jack of all Trades' it is natural for me to dip my toes in different waters- all at the same time, but that does not mean that I can give 100% to any of them at that time. While I was able to get good grades (A- average) while in school, I was impressed by how much better I did- and felt about my work- the few times that I scaled back on my activities. Another piece of advice that I wish that I could bestow upon my younger self would be to learn how to speak up in a group setting when someone is not fulfilling their part of an agreement. Now, this said, the best way to do this would be in a tactful... read more
A parent told me recently that her son scored a near 100% on his last test. I was so proud. I feel proud when all my students succeed. The question is what does it mean for a student to be successful. I think it's a mix between the student having more confidence than when I begin working with the student, as well as an increase in the student's grades. Depending on the student and his or her own situation grades may increase immediately and with others it may take a bit of time. I want my students to feel confident about their abilities and also be able to show the world and themselves that they understand what's going on in class. I make a commitment when I take on a student, which is, I will work my hardest to be available and flexible. Your child's success is my success.