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I recently sent this as advice to one of my clients having trouble with linear systems of inequalities. I thought I would share it here on my blog for students, parents, and tutors who have use for it. EXPLANATION OF LINEAR SYSTEMS OF INEQUALITIES A system with regular lines (the ones with equals signs in them that you have done before) shows the single point where the two lines cross each other on the graph. The X and Y at that point are the two numbers that make the equal sign true. For instance, with the equations 3 = 5X +Y and 10 = 2X -Y, the answer is x = 7/13 and y = 4/13 because if you plug those numbers into both equations you get true statements, 3=3 and 10=10. The point (7/13, 4/13) is the point where the two lines cross each other. Inequalities, where you have "less than" or "greater than" signs work the same way. But, instead of getting a point where the equations are true, you get a whole area on the graph where they are true. So,... read more

In mathematics, different functions has different rules and I can see a lot of students are struggling with the rules for integers. So I'll kindly discuss the rules for each operation: + - * /   Addition   (-) + (-) = (-) Ex: -9+-8=-17   (+) + (+) = (+) Ex: 4+6=10   (+) + (-)  [Remember to always take the bigger number sign and and use the opposing operation, which is subtraction to solve the equation.] Ex: 5+-3=2   (-) + (+)  Ex: -9+8=-1 [Same rule follow as above]   Subtraction   (-) - (-)  Ex: -9-(-8) = -9+8 [When two negatives are next to each other you change to its opposing operation: addition and change the 8 into a positive integer.]   (+) - (+) = (+) [Unless the first integer is smaller than the second. Ex: 5-8 then you follow the rule stated... read more

All too often, I hear students complain "I hate math!", or "Math is too hard (or boring, or pointless, or !)" Too many kids these days from the entitlement generation (uh, that's my generation's kids - sorry friends, we've spoiled our kids like we were told to!) think that math is just for engineers, computer geeks, math nerds, or smart folks who are decidedly NOT COOL. While it is all too often true that those with natural mathematical ability are introverted, and that they may lack social skills that make it difficult to have a lot of popular friends, why does our culture (the schools, the media, television programs, video games, even some parents and teachers, too) keep this myth, this lie, alive? Because of ego. Basically, we can reduce the kind of petty, bullying behavior towards our brilliant colleagues by first acknowledging the problem, then taking logical (what else) steps to curb it. Once we remove the taunting by their peers, we should execute... read more

Purpose:  This series shares tips on how to identify, manage, and overcome Mathematics Negative Self Talk (NST).  We cannot avoid NST totally because the NST about Math skills in general is a widely accepted habit. So what is Mathematics NST anyway?  Mathematics NST is when we speak in our minds or to others about an inability to learn, do, and/or understand Mathematics in general.  Focus here is what we cannot do or have never done in Mathematics.  For example, "I hate Math."  "I  can't do Math!"  "This is too complicated!"  " I could never do Math!" "My parents aren't good at Math either." "What can we use Algebra for anyway?"  "The teacher is confusing me."  The NST phrases list is endless, but also popular in today’s culture. Downside of NST: NST in Math is simply a bad habit of thinking and attitude.  This habit limits learning... read more

As you may know, I am a big fan of the well-known author and brain specialist, Dr. Daniel Amen. He mentions in several of his books that Physical Exercise is good for the brain. I have read of research studies that showed a clear correlation between IMPROVEMENT in students' test scores in math and science, and their level of physical activity (for example, when math class followed PE class, the students had significantly higher scores). Maybe we should schedule PE before all math classes in our schools. What do you think about that idea? This morning I read an online article on the myhealthnewsdaily site, entitled "6 Foods That Are Good for Your Brain," and another article about how Physical Exercise helps maintain healthy brain in older adults too. The second article, "For a Healthy Brain, Physical Exercise Trumps Mental Workout" was found under Yahoo News. The remainder of this note is quoted from that article: Regular physical exercise appears... read more

Should I get a tutor? Will it help my child? These are some of the most common questions posed to tutors by parents of students struggling in school. Tutoring can be expensive and difficult to schedule so parents must decide whether the time and money will be well spent. Instead of relying on a crystal ball, use these factors to help make the decision. 1. Does the student spend an appropriate amount of time on homework and studies? While it can help with study skills, organization, and motivation, tutoring cannot be expected to keep the student on track unless you plan on having a session every night. If you can make sure the student puts in effort outside of tutoring, she will be more likely benefit from it. 2. Does the student have difficulty learning from the textbook? If this is the case, the student will probably respond to one-on-one instruction that is more personalized. A tutor will help bring the subject to life and engage the student. A good tutor will... read more

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle) This quote provokes me never to accept the status quo and always challenge assumptions. It is the thought that through education we never stop learning or seeking after truth and knowledge.

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

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!!

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

Probably the hardest thing about doing word problems is taking the words and translating them into a workable mathematical equation. For this reason many students fear and hate doing them. It can be confusing to know where to start and how to go about figuring out the answer. However, there are ways of breaking down a word problem that makes it clearer and easier to solve. The following is a list of helpful hints and strategies in tackling these challenging word problems. 1. Remember that when you are doing a word problem you are looking to convert the words into an equation, so read through the entire problem first. Don’t try to solve the problem when you’ve only read one sentence. It’s important to completely read the problem in order to get the whole picture and effectively translate and solve the problem. 2. Go back to the beginning. Reread the first sentence. Write down what you know and what you don’t know. Use variables to stand for the unknowns and clearly label... read more

Math students often become nervous when approaching word problems, because mathematical symbols are buried in the sentences as words – I call these “math words” – and these math words have to be discovered in the text and arranged into equations before any calculation can be done! Never fear – there are some easy ways to translate math words into mathematical symbols so you can solve these tricky problems quickly. Word problems generally use specific words and phrases that correspond to the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. When you see these words and phrases, simply replace them with the operator symbols and you will begin to see potential equations appear. Here are some of these clues: Addition: increased by, more than, combined (with), together (with), totaling, total of, sum, added to Subtraction: decreased by, minus, less, less than, fewer than, faster than, difference between, difference of Multiplication:... read more

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

When interviewing a prospective tutor, parents should ask about the tutor's skills and experience, and find out if the tutor truly enjoys teaching. When the tutor feels enthusiastic about the subject, and communicates well, the student has an opportunity to learn to enjoy the subject too. I recommend for parents to observe the first lesson to see the tutor's skills in action, and watch/listen carefully to future lessons when possible, to make sure the tutor has an encouraging, supportive attitude at all times. (Tutors should welcome and respond positively to the child's questions, and NEVER make the child feel "stupid," no matter what.) It is most important to have a safe and quiet place for studying, without distractions. I like to find a quiet table at a library, and work with students there. I welcome suggestions from parents, and I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching skills.

Greetings, scholars! One of my dad's favorite sayings is, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." The website Coursera is an example of why that saying needs the word "probably". The idea of taking real college courses from top-notch instructors at prestigious schools for free sounds impossible, yet students around the world are doing just that. When I first heard of Coursera, I was skeptical. To try it out, I enrolled in some basic undergraduate courses so that I could see how they stacked up against the classes I took at KU and Emporia State University. I am currently taking precalculus at UC Irvine, organic chemistry at Illinois, and calculus at The Ohio State University. All three classes are superlative. The video lectures give me new insights into familiar concepts, and the online quizzes motivate me to practice my skills and keep them sharp and up-to-date. Best of all, they haven't cost me a dime, and I can attend class... read more

The Four Ones Problem Use the digit "1" exactly 4 times, no other numbers, and any number of standard symbols from arithmetic or algebra to make a formula that equals 5. (There may be more than one formula that works.) For example: 0 = 1 – 1 + 1 - 1 1 = 1 * 1 * 1 * 1 2 = (1 + 1) / 1 / 1 Extra Credit: What is the SMALLEST whole number that CANNOT be calculated this way?

One of the reasons we get these migraines over integers is that, at least up to the point that we as students were actually introduced to operations with negative numbers, we had been taught (correctly) that addition is an operation that describes combination and subtraction describes extraction. We know, for instance, that adding values is like combining collections of objects, and subtracting values is like removing a collection of objects from another collection. Then we get to integer math, at which point we are asked, judging by present-day treatments in textbooks, to understand the idea that we should be able to, for example, add a "negative collection" to another "negative collection." Or we must throw away and disregard as ridiculous all that "collection" talk. Mathematics is always described as a beautifully and rigorously universal subject in every detail--when an idea is laid down and proven in mathematics, it applies everywhere... read more

Hi,   I would be honored in having the opportunity of working with students and parents. The education and success of students are very important to me and I would love to do what I can to help. I am a math and education major with an Associate's of Arts and Teaching Degree from Lee College and I am seeking a teaching career. I live in the Baytown area and I am not able to provide my own transportation due to the fact that I have a disability which prevents me from driving, so I can only rely on public transportation and I am limited to how far I can travel. Therefor, communication is much needed. I am available until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone needing a private tutor, please contact me. I would be happy to help you at any time.

When working with fractions, I find it effective to require students to convert each fraction that we work with to its decimal equivalent, to convert that decimal equivalent back into the original fraction, to convert that decimal into its percentage equivalent, to work a simple percentage problem using that percentage and finally to work the same problem using the initial fraction.   This comprehensive method helps students to see the relationships between fractions, decimals and percentages in a holistic way and to promote the necessary skills in each element.  

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.

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