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Helping students to become self-sufficient, confident, and successful in school

I was reading what another WyzAnt tutor said, and I realized that he and I have the same attitude towards tutoring: We cherish each and every student, and enjoy working with them, but we don’t necessarily want to build a long-term relationship with them. I compare this situation to birds learning to fly. They need help at first, but it is important for them to learn to be self-sufficient, and learn to handle the challenges on their own. My goal is to help you to get on track, fill in some "gaps," and then let you "fly" on your own, when you are ready. In the future, if more help is needed with a new challenge, I am always glad to help. As John from California said, "Many students were never taught the basic concepts behind their courses. Because of that, the entire course can be a struggle for them." That problem does not just happen out West. I have found that to be true here too. If you were never taught the basic concepts, we will... read more

Proactive vs. Reactive - Plan for Fall -- Use Summer wisely

It's important to plan ahead - "get ahead of the game" whether planning for SAT/ACT or planning for this coming Fall, 2012. Most parents and students wait till they get an "unexpected bad grade" - then REACT. A tutor can help things turnaround at that point - but what about your other classes - do you ignore those to catch up? This is not a good situation. Pressure packed. If this happens to be the semester they are preparing and taking the SAT or ACT, or they have to prepare to take an AP exam - even more pressure. I am thinking primarily in terms of math/science. If your student can start a tough math or science course in the fall having already mastered several key fundamentals of that course, it will give them confidence, relieve stress, and move them to a higher level of understanding. Also plan ahead carefully in class selection. You want a strong high school resume, but not at the expense of a significant drop in grades. My own daughter... read more

Test Preparation – Best Practices

Test Preparation – Best Practices Start this at least one week before the math, chemistry or physics exam. What does the test cover? Sounds simple but it is amazing that many students are not sure the night before an exam. Using major topic titles, your notes, instructors’ notes, pages in the book – describe fully what the upcoming test covers. If questions come up - NOW is the time to ask the instructor exactly what is covered. I encourage you to approach the instructor – let him/her know you are actively preparing. Ask them if they have a good source of extra problems to work to prepare. They will love that you are taking their class seriously. Don’t do this to impress them – be sincere – but be aware – this could be helpful in that they might be interested in helping you. They work very hard instructing you - you probably don’t realize how much work they do when they are not in front of you in class – so you “make their day” by your behavior. Even if a... read more

Mastery...with extra problems

Extra problems are the cure to your ills. Mastery... There is a book called Mastery, by George Leonard which speaks to how those who are the very best at what they do are not naturally gifted but rather they work very diligently – repeating their craft so much that it is engrained. It is the same for math. Don’t just do you assigned homework – do extra problems. Don’t just prepare for the test – find old tests by the same teacher or others and work them in a test-like environment. When I was in graduate school, there was a statistics class, and for whatever reason I was able to find this professor’s old exams – several of them for every test. In addition to working homework problems etc., before every test, I worked ALL the tests for that topic. I could have gotten an A blindfolded! One time, the test WAS IDENTICAL to a test I practiced EARLIER the same day. It was all I could do to not start laughing. But I felt no guilt - I WAS P-R-E-P-A-R-E-D and worked hard preparing... read more


SOH CAH TOA When working with Right Triangles in any Math and Science subject, especially Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Physics, many problems can be solved by remembering this Memory Jogger: Indian Chief SOH CAH TOA (sounds like soow caah towaah) Angle = A Sine A = Opposite/Hypotenuse Cosine A = Adjacent/Hypotenuse Tangent A = Opposite/Adjacent You can use these formulas to calculate and find missing angles or sides to solve various problems. Please contact me to help your student achieve the best grades possible in Math and Science. As a Chemical Engineer, I work on Math and Science problems all day, and tutor students in Math and Science in the evenings and weekends, including students from Elementary School to College Graduate School. I help students learn to see how Math and Science can be fun and useful in daily life, school, and career choices. All the best, John M.

Turning Distress into Success

I have found that many students fear math and business classes as the teacher/instructor knows only a single approach to the topic and additionally cannot show the relevance of the subject with real world examples. With over 20 years of classroom and tutoring experience in math and business topics and my experience in the business and education sectors, I have a huge variety of experiences to draw upon to solve problems and show day-to-day relevance. Learning needs to be fun to engage the student and success must be achieved with every learning situation. I truly enjoy "Turning Distress Into Success"! Larry D.

Success Rx No. 2: Check your Energy Level

Today's success prescription: Check your energy level. Energy is key to effective studying. Some causes of tiredness may be inadequate sleep, hunger, poor diet, thirst, or overwork. Other health problems may also be the cause; if fatigue is a chronic condition not solved by taking care of the factors mentioned above, you should consult your physician. This will be a short post, but it's just a reminder that you don't always have to blame yourself if studying is going by slowly. Often a health factor is the cause.

5 Things I've Learned From My Favorite Students

1. No one was born to lose. The best of my students understand this principle like the backs of their hands. No, there is no inherent genetic formula or organic compound you can use to get an A in a class. We are all products of our hardwork and investments. Whoever decides to put in excellent work will definitely reap excellent results. 2. Always aim for gold. Have you heard that there is a pot of gold lying somewhere at the end of the rainbow? It's true! Okay, I'm just joking, but my best students always aim for the gold. The very best. As, not Bs, or Cs, or Ds. Just the very best. The one thing people don't think they are capable of achieving is the best. The top of the class. Or the valedictorian. 3. Never settle for less. My best students are innovative, inquisitive thinkers. They tend to think outside the box, never settling for "just what they got from class." They love to use real life examples and explore how theory comes alive in their personal... read more

Calling all students

I'm new to this site and can't wait to help you. Got questions? I got answers! Whether you need some simple study skills and techniques or if you have very specific problems in a subject, I can help. Let me show you how all these subjects work together and are not isolated disciplines that you're never going to use. I'll show you the relevance of each subject and how they're all integrated. Learning is so much fun when you understand why you need to know.

Geometry: Definitions of geometry words

Effective strategies to understand and remember geometry terms include the following: 1. First try to understand the word before memorizing the definition. If you do not understand the definition, you will not remember it for very long. 2. Write out the definitions of geometry words in your own words. 3. Draw pictures depicting the geometry terms. This technique is especially helpful to visual learners. 4. For auditory learners, consider saying the definitions of the terms in your own words out loud. 5. For each type of math problem involving a geometry term, do more than one practice problem. The more problems you work on, the more likely you will understand and remember the geometry term.

Math - Check your work!!

Whenever you complete a math problem, it is paramount to go back and double check your work. Remember, no one is perfect and mistakes will be made from time to time. The first step is to always ask yourself "Does this answer make sense"? For example, if you're working on a geometry problem and you're trying to calculate an angle of a polygon, and you determine the answer is 110°, look at the angle and ask "Does this answer makes sense, does this angle look like it's greater than a right angle or a 90° angle"? If not, you know you've made an error and can go back to find the mistake. You can do it!!

A Success Story

I wanted to take a moment to share a recent "success story". Recently, a Student contacted me because he needed to pass a formal standardized exam, known as the "Praxis I". The Praxis tests are used by State Governments and Colleges of Education to ensure they bring only quality students into their programs to be trained as educators. My Student had unfortunately previously failed all 3 components of the Praxis test, and was now "under the gun", since a second failing score would have resulted in his expulsion from his School. In my home State, students must achieve a combined Praxis I Score of at least 522 to be eligible for School. The passing score for the Reading test is 176, the Writing test 173, and the Math test 173. The minimum score on each test is 150, and the maximum score is 190. It should be noted that this is a fairly difficult exam series; the median scores (175-179) are barely above the minimum passing scores (173-176). My... read more

Math Doesn't Have to be Stressful

OK, so I'm a math geek, but actually very down-to-earth and not much of a blogger. My students like that I'm friendly, approachable, and explain in plain English using tangible objects when possible. For example, when teaching the calculation of volumes generated by revolving curves around a line, I've used a glass vase to illustrate; for cylindrical shells, a roll of toilet paper got the idea across. For Trig, 'sketch, look, and count' go much further than memorizing the gazillion rules your textbook makes you think you need to memorize. Exponents? Easy--think of asking for a certain number of copies when you print. Do the same thing with the algebra expression, only multiply those copies. Yup, plain analogies make the concepts way clearer and less intimidating. No, I don't eat math for breakfast and love dogs, cats, and doing arts & crafts. But I am very experienced at teaching math and my students tend to stick with me as long as they need help. Being too humble to... read more

Geometry: Volumes

Here are some ways to help you more easily memorize volume equations: (1) If you can remember the area equations for shapes, for shapes like cylinders and shipping boxes the volume equation will be that area (of the shape's base) times the height. (2) If you are studying for the GED, the only pyramids on the test will be those with four-sided bases. The volume of such a pyramid is 1/3 times the area of the base times the height. An easy way to remember this complicated equation is that the volume of a four-sided pyramid is 1/3 the volume of a packaging box with the same base length and width and the same height. Although the GED provides these equations, you should still try to remember as many equations as you can to save you time during the test. (3) On the GED, if you are asked to calculate the volume of an irregular shape, first break the shape up into easy to manage parts, calculate each part individually, and then combine these parts with addition and or subtraction... read more

Tips for solving geometry problems

Here are 3 tips to help you solve geometry problems involving shapes: (1) Understand the definitions of the shapes your questions ask you about. To help understand the definitions of the many shapes with fancy names, make flash cards with drawings of the shapes and study these cards 5 to 15 minutes at a time a few days in a row until you understand and remember the definitions of the shapes. (2) If you are dealing with two congruent (= same exact shape, angles, & size) or similar (same shape and angles, but different size with sides of shape A proportional to the sides of shape B) shapes and the questions seems very difficult, try re-drawing one of the shapes carefully so that the angles of the two different shapes that are equal to one another are in the same orientation, and then try again to solve the problem. Make sure that the sides of the two shapes that are proportional to one another are also oriented similarly. (3) To find out if two triangles are... read more

Taking Time and Learning

“Take time to think, for this is the source of power. Take time to work that you may know the joy of success. Take time to leave the world a better place, for only then will you truly appreciate the journey of life.” Life in the 21st century does not always lend itself to taking time. Since leaving Abington Friends School, I have been taking time to write. In recent days, I have been working on an opus entitled Dear Thomas. Over a two-year period, I penned my son Thomas 155 letters chronicling family history, my life, thoughts and feelings of the day, and hopes and dreams for the future. I am now in the finishing stages as I edit and re-edit this illustrated volume of about 600 pages. "Know you what it is to be a child? It is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing... read more

Almost Clear Sailing

Finals have started in the middle and high schools and so the break will soon be here. I'm anxious for my students and my daughter (in 9th grade) who are waiting to see what their final grade will be. While a few weeks off is treasured by teachers and students, the Christmas break is actually an excellent time for students to learn in math what they weren't able to master during the year. Neither the tutor nor the student relishes the idea of giving up vacation time but it's those students who go above and beyond who will ultimately succeed. In just a few sessions over the break, so very much can be accomplished because there isn't other work to compete with the student's time. To my students in middle school, good luck and remember to simplify those radicals and fractions. To my high school students, please practice the formulas and mnemonics I've taught you. Good luck to you as well! I have every confidence in you! Sincerely, Tracey M.

Greetings and salutations!

Greetings! I am a new tutor and would like some advice on how to get students. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be very many students out there who want or need tutoring in my area but there are an abundance of students in other areas. I am proficient with online tutoring as I have done that several times before for free with other students at my school while in college. I am unsure how to approach this problem as I have no transportation to other places. Does anyone have any ideas? Kat

Geometry in the World ... One Artist's View

Treat Nature by the sphere, the cylinder and the cone. - Cézanne When a student is having a difficult time understanding geometry, it is eye opening to walk outside and see the world. Go outside with a notebook and pencil. Draw what you see - it could be the street, a building, your living room window, the roof of your house.... The list is endless. Now ask your student, "what do you see?" Guide her or him toward seeing that the everyday things we encounter are geometric shapes. The street could be a rectangle or a line. A building may be a cube, or its facade a rectangle. Your living room window is perhaps a square. The roof of your house may be a triangle from the side. Gaze at the full moon and see a spherical object that looks like a circle. Look inside your home, too. A soup can is a cylinder. Ice cream cones are aptly named! The lesson from Cézanne is that our world, nature, the things we build, are all shapes to be discovered.

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