Since I've been tutoring English literature students, I've noticed a pattern: every time we read a book that I remember reading in my high school classes, I enjoy it far more as an adult than I ever did as a teenager. Time and time again I pick up a book I remember hating in class, resigned to slog through it and discuss metaphor and symbolism with my student, only to find that I thoroughly enjoy it. Each time I come out of the unit with a fresh new appreciation for the work in question. As this happens more and more I've come to the conclusion that there are whole worlds of theme and subtext in many novels that are only apparent to a reader who has reached adulthood, because they require the reader to have experiences beyond those of an average high-school student. In today's Literature Spotlight I'd like to illustrate this point using a recently-transformed work for me, A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. One of the main themes in A Doll's House is the idea of Nora's reluctance... read more
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As students prepare for standardized tests for college admission, "Vocabulary" suddenly becomes an important subject. Both the Writing and Critical Reading sections of the SAT reward a strong vocabulary. I try to emphasize to students that having a college (adult) level vocabulary will continue to reward them far beyond a one-day test. Studying SAT related vocabulary books is certainly worthwhile in the weeks before a test day, but I would like to reach out also to students who are still a few years away from college entrance concerns. The best way to build a rich and useful vocabulary is to read books, magazines, and newspapers that are well-written (e-books and online sources definitely count!) When you read great writing you will not only improve your vocabulary but also your writing and your critical thinking. Your reading can and should be varied. Admittedly, I do love literature that has been relevant to... read more
I've recently discovered several online resources that I find very helpful for the various subjects I tutor. Since my tutoring subjects break down into three broad categories (Math, English, and SAT Prep), I'll choose one from each category to discuss today. SAT Prep For SAT preparation, you can't beat the College Board website (sat.collegeboard.org). There's no better way to prepare than to hear it directly from the test makers. In addition, twitter users can follow @SATQuestion to receive the official SAT Question of the Day on their feed each morning. Particularly now given the announcement of the impending redesign, staying connected to the College Board will keep you up to date on all the changes. There's a place on their website to sign up for email updates, so you'll never miss a thing! Math Having recently started working with middle-school students, I found a sudden need for worksheets to practice with... read more
Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards. That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites: Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used. Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool... read more
Title choice is an often-overlooked aspect of literature. What the author chooses to call his or her work can serve as a window into their intentions, showing in a subtle way the aspects of the novel to which they wish to draw the reader's attention. As an example, take Emily Brontë's classic novel Wuthering Heights. According to the dictionary, “wuthering” means “blowing strongly with a roaring sound” when describing a wind, and “characterized by such a sound” when describing a place. The word also has close associations with the more common “weathering,” implying enduring harsh weather or coming through a storm. Throughout Brontë's novel are references to this idea of weathering out a storm or withstanding howling winds. Most of the major plot developments take place during thunderstorms, and the various characters are likened to different aspects of a storm. This theme comes to a head during Heathcliff's disappearance midway through the novel – not coincidentally in the... read more
After several months of carrying some pretty heavy textbooks around with me, I recently decided to switch to a Kindle Fire and start using electronic textbooks. Although there are times when a good old-fashioned book really cannot be replaced, I'm very pleased with the weight of my tutoring bag now, and my students seem to be enjoying the switch as well. I'm able to download textbooks for free in some cases ("Boundless" publishing), and I also have several different dictionaries and other reference books a tap away! Any other books I might find helpful for my students? Just a few clicks away. This also frees up my paper textbooks to loan to my students in-between sessions. Using a Kindle gives me the added benefit of being able to load educational applications to use for practice and reinforcement. Since we are in the 'computer testing' age, this also gives my students some extra practice in preparing for computerized exams. I'm sure you'll... read more
The past few years have allowed me the privilege of working with many talented students who are on a great trajectory for college through AP courses in high school. Simultaneously, I have tutored students who ended up in AP courses and were not adequately prepped and prepared for what would be expected of them during the school year. AP courses are to be enjoyed and valued as any college course. In the first instance above, my tutoring was helping students develop quality arguments surrounding history issues, exploring literary styles and analyzing the authors work and developing concise answers to biology explorations. In the second case, I actually had to help students learn to study (the 'extra' work which is not assigned homework) and develop writing which demonstrated collegiate level thinking. In order for more students to excel in AP coursework as well as enjoying the class during the academic year. they need to be prepared for the work load. This preparation... read more
I feel lucky to have grown up bilingual. I have my mother to thank for that, who insisted I learned a foreign language. I also attribute my passion for travel to my maternal grandfather. He was a top executive at Braniff International Airlines in Argentina and we were fortunate enough to travel for free when we were kids thanks to him. I also look up to my grandmother. She was a world explorer and wanderer herself; she took me and my brother everywhere on her trips. What my mother didn’t know – and maybe regretted later – was that by insisting on a bilingual education, she was encouraging her daughter to leave her home country. And that’s exactly what I did. With mastery of the English language, which I learned early in preschool in Argentina, I left home as soon as I became of age. Driving by the domestic airport (“Aeroparque”) as a kid meant freedom. It was a gateway for exotic adventures across distant lands. I always knew I’d be a perfect adventure-goer... read more
Learning a language is a funny thing. Lots of people in the world today learn their second language as a child and that language is (maybe) usually English. Many people in the world are introduced to a new language as children during a period when learning a language is optimal. I am well past this age and I have just now begun to start learning a second language, formally. For what it's worth, I knew a little Japanese before I went to Japan. I could read Kana and maybe a couple hundred kanji, so I wasn't a total newbie. But, this was my first time really learning it for real and being in a country where it is spoken. A few things that I learned about learning a language for real: 1. Frustration and disappointment. I came in this knowing some words and the disappointment I experienced when I could hear NONE of them rained on my parade a bit. The frustration was a bit unbearable in the beginning. I was only in the country for a semester... read more
I am happy to announce that all my students have passed the NY State Regents examinations, except one student. The subjects varied from Algebra 1, Algebra 11/Trigonometry, English, US and Global History and Living Environment. I am so proud of them. Most of these students are students who struggled quite a bit. It was a long journey but one I would do again. I am very proud of them as most of them will be graduating this year. The NY State Common Core examinations are next.
The English language can be tough, we have a lot of complicated words and meanings that other languages don't have and it can be hard getting through certain classes or walks of life if a person struggles with English. I can make improving your skills fun and exciting, with a variety of areas to focus on depending on what needs the most work. I am determined to perfect your speaking and reading or writing skills, whatever needs to be done. If you need help writing an essay for school, I have written countless of them so I could help with that as well. Anything English related please contact me I would be happy to help.
Here are some of my favorite English (high school) resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores. (K-12) Readwritethink.org – Click on “Parent and After School Resources,” for a great list, sorted by grade level, to help your child practice a variety of different skill sets at home (ex: giving an interview, thinking critically, writing activities, etc) (Gr 6-12) Englishpage.com – Very thorough grammar lessons (Gr 6-12) TheOatmeal.com/tag/grammar – Short, humorous grammar lessons (Gr 6 -12) Grammarbook.com – Free video lessons on common grammar topics. *Note- some areas of this site are subscription-based. (Gr. 6-12) Grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar – Quick lessons on parts of speech, and tips on writing essays. (Gr 9-12) Owl.English.purdue.edu/owl – Grammar lessons, tutorials on writing essays and using specific formats... read more
Ms. Betty Lynn Snyder, a sixth-grade teacher at Forrest Park Elementary, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas is my most memorable teacher. She was a great teacher because she made us think, write, and create. In Ms. Snyder's class I learned about Shakespeare's sonnets, The Belgian Congo, Nigeria and conserving natural resources. She was ahead of her time: she was a Project-Based Learning (PBL) Queen! The independent project learning broadened my knowledge of the world and of myself. It was through Ms. Snyder's class that I became enamored of the story of diplomat and Ambassador Ralph Bunche. This was particularly important, because I was the only person of color in my class--before our schools were officially integrated--and she found a way to create diversity in our learning. Thus, I always felt comfortable in her classroom and, in fact, I was elected secretary general of the mock United Nations. As I recall, Ms. Snyder had two sons--one of whom was named Edward,... read more
I remember the moment clearly even now: Mrs S., brandishing the loose-leaf pages in front of my fourth-grade classroom, her wild-eyed look at odds with her precise hair and immaculate apple-printed skirt. I remember how I had quietly slipped the papers into tray of finished homework, how I had felt somehow embarrassed by the inked words. I remember her words: "Julie is going to be a famous writer someday!" And I remember the feeling: elation, pride, and a stark wonder that someone believed in me this much. Now, years later--after a college degree in Creative Writing and a few published pieces in literary journals--I think back on the powerful impact that Mrs. S. had on my writing. I was an extraordinarily shy student. English had been my second language, and I had been shuffled through ESL classes all throughout my early elementary school years. But for me, English was not a hardship—it was a refuge. I lost myself in books, and found myself in paper and... read more
The holidays are almost upon us - school will be out soon - and parents and students are looking at a 2-4 week hiatus from the regular routine of school work. What happens to all of the knowledge and skills learned from school and tutoring during those weeks? Well, having been a high school principal for years, as well as a classroom teacher, my experience is that students often will not read on their own, review math on their own, or if in an AP class "read ahead" on their own. If you have tutors in the educational profession, we also have that time off and our lesson times can be flexible - so instead of all of those late afternoon, early evening, or weekend appointments, most of us can now meet with our students in the morning or afternoon. So, what would your student gain from tutoring in the winter break? 1. Weekly reinforcement of knowledge and skills already... read more
Real funny!!! I was working, talking to a customer of the store. I asked a question using the Present Perfect Tense and soon a partner of mine tried to correct me, but he was wrong in the end. I, the Italian guy of the team, had to explain some English grammar to an American... Davvero divertente!!! Stavo lavorando, parlando ad un cliente del negozio. Gli feci una domanda usando il Present Perfect e subito un mio collega ha cercarto di correggermi, ma alla fine a sbagliare era lui. Io, l'italiano del gruppo, ho dovuto spiegare un minimo di grammatica inglese ad un americano... Divertido de verda!!! Estaba trabajando y hablando con un cliente del sitio. Le hize una pregunta usando el Present Perfect y mi colega se puso a corregirme, pero el se equivoco'. Yo, el italiano del grupo, tenia que explicar un poquito de gramatica inglesa a un chico americano...
Grammar is a particularly challenging aspect of language study, for several reasons. First, English grammar is typically taught though direct instruction, where student must memorize parts of speech, and systematically follow and apply the rules pertaining to usage of these parts of speech. This is contrary to how humans naturally learn language. Young children learn how to speak through generative grammar - they learn to mimic the language use of those around them; rather quickly and without direct instruction, children internalize and solidify the "rules" of how to use spoken language, long before they learn how to read or write. Second, English grammar consists of rules and exceptions. As with English spelling, there are nearly as many exceptions as there are rules, and many students "give up" on learning grammatically correct writing skills, because the sheer amount of memorization is daunting and intimidating. Third,... read more
Hey everyone! This is Regan ready to provide a basic review of Plural Nouns. I know, it seems like it's the most basic thing in the world; but sometimes the most basic is the hardest thing to remember right off the top of your head. These are just some quick little 'rules' I use the term rules loosely. 1. Most plural nouns you can add an 's' to. Bike---Bikes cup---cups Lake---Lakes so on and so forth. 2. There are also nouns that end in ch, x, or s sounds; for these you add 'es' Box---Boxes Latch---Latches Bus---Buses 3. For words that end with the 'f' sound or 'fe,' you change the 'f' to a 'v' and add 'es' Wolf---Wolves Life---Lives Wife---Wives Knife---Knives 4. Some nouns have different Plural words Man---Men Child---Children Mouse---Mice Goose---Geese 5. Then you have the words that end in 'y' and 'o,' these words don't have a specific set of rules to... read more
Essay writing can be challenging for young writers. I have written hundreds of essays. It's always been a pleasure to receive a grade of A on an essay; however, it is even more enjoyable to receive a direct deposit for a winning scholarship essay! Yes, it can make all the difference when funding your own education. There are thousands of scholarship opportunities and most of them require a well written essay submission. Have you ever been given a writing assignment that requires referencing a dozen different documents? Are you learning to organize your writing? Is it overwhelming when you are asked to complete a lengthy essay or report that includes more than just 5 or 6 references? Do you want to apply for scholarships but you don't know how to write a winning essay? To write any type of essay, my first tip is to take a step back, re-read the assignment criteria and/or rubric, and ask yourself a few questions. 1... read more
Writing and Reading Arts are recursive processes. That is they constantly impact and influence one another. The process of writing has not changed. It consists of seven basic steps: Pre-write, Rough Draft, Revise, Response Group, Edit, Teacher Conference, and Publish, grade, celebrate! The difference then is how the teacher uses strategies to impart this knowledge to the student. Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect! It is up to the teacher to find out what modalities, the student best learns in, and present material in that way. At the same time teachers must have students work on areas of learning they are weak in, because higher education requires you be a thinker that learns from stimuli that is physical or even total physical response, for special needs, (kinesthetic), visual, auditory, graphophonic. The teacher models for the student to self monitor. Many do this by talking to themselves and asking themselves questions... read more