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Math Habits

I've been asking students the following question for years: "Why do you show so little work, and where are you completing the problem?" Most students I have worked with write less down than I do, and I have quite a bit of math under my belt. I still have not found the answer to this question. Some students say it’s because they don’t see the point, but they have been cheated if teachers have given them credit for answers without work. As math gets complicated there is more and more work that needs to be done, and if a student has bad habits of doing mental math, then this will be a hindrance to success. These are things that all students of higher mathematics should do: 1. Write the original problem down. When solving problems you want to make sure that you are staring at the actual problem. You don't want to look at your paper and then back to the book or sheet of paper that the problem is on. 2. Show your work just like your teacher does when they are... read more

Practice makes Perfect

I used to be a great math student. It would come naturally me, I never really had to "study" for the tests to get my A's. This all took a turn when I took PreCalculus in Highschool. I remember getting my first test back and seeing a 67/100. I was horrified! I was in shock! When my mother found out, she repeated her famous line "Practice makes Perfect!" She made me sit down with my textbook. She made me start from page 1 of the textbook. She told me to read every single word on the page including the captions under the pictures. She also made sure I did every single example problem and all the practice problems, yes all 97 of them (that was just for one section of the chapter). After doing this for 2 days. I took my next math test. When my teacher was handing back the test I prayed I at least would get a B! But I was in for a surprise...I received 93/100. My teacher was so happy with my improvement she had put smiley faces all over the page! I couldn't... read more

Have you tried Wolfram Alpha? What are you waiting for?

If you get stuck doing homework problems often, have a hard time doing your classwork, or sometimes you just can't follow your lecture notes try going to Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine that is designed to handle mathematical problems and computation, and scientific problems. It has its limitations but it is a really awesome tool that gives a lot of detail when you need it. Try it out for yourself. http://www.wolframalpha.com

The Best Math Books

Dear Students and fellow tutors, There are so many resources out there to help you succeed in math. In fact, are there too many? If you do an internet search on a math topic (linear equations, for example) are you overwhelmed by the response? How many hours will you waste looking at bad web sites? OK, stop wasting time and go to the library to check out these books by mathematician and actress Danika McKeller: Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss Hot X: Algebra Exposed! Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape These books are written especially for girls, (but I know a boy or two that have read them). I hope she continues to write books all the way through calculus. You are good at math, perhaps you just don't know it yet. Cornelia

Graphing Calculator - Curse and Blessing

Over the past couple of years, I have found myself more and more often recommending graphing calculators for Algebra 1 students. This wizard instrument, capable of far more than I myself know how to tap into, works well with my tutoring style. However, I have seen firsthand what the consequences can be when students learn to use them without guidance. So many times, I have worked with high school upperclassmen and college students who cannot perform basic operations with fractions, graph by hand, evaluate an expression by hand, or perform addition and subtract with positive and negative integers because they became reliant on their calculators before ever properly learning the skills. These students usually lack the time or motivation to go back and learn how to do the skills by hand. Their courses move along rapidly and they need to spend their tutoring time keeping pace with the more advanced ideas. This is particularly unfortunate because these are the same skills they... read more

Making math and science fun

Playing a math game. Following a recipe. Building a science project, robot, or electronic kit... These are some ways to use hands-on learning activities to make science and math more interesting. This summer, for example, I have been using some new modules that include electronics/science of electricity, automotive engine technology, solar energy labs, etc. for "gifted", "average", and "special needs" students. And everybody loved the new study lessons. Even the ADD/ADHD students (myself included) stayed interested during entire lessons. I think we need more of this sort of thing in the schools. What do you think? If hands-on learning can keep the attention of ADD/ADHD students, it can work for other students too! I enjoy watching students learn through interactive games that utilize technology. For example, we like to race the clock and fill in math and science puzzles. There are many active ways to make learning more interesting, and before... read more

New tutor to this site...

Hi, I'm a new tutor to this site. Within the past few days, I've been working on getting certified in as many subjects as possible. These are all of the subjects I'm certified to tutor in on the website. Most of the subjects are in math or science. Some are in English topics as well like in reading and writing, etc. I also am certified to tutor to prepare for a lot of standardized tests and a few common computer software programs people use. Please read my profile if you need a new tutor in the Hillsboro or Portland area! -Ann

The New School Year Is Upon Us!

The new school year beckons - be it middle or high school, college or post graduate study. Fall college visits, applications and essays are also just around the corner. Get a jump on what you or your child may need in terms of support for specific academic subjects, computer skills, standardized tests (SSAT, ISEE, PSAT, SAT, ACT, ASVAB, GRE, etc.). I look forward to continuing my track record of success with students to assist them in maximizing their potential and achievements. David

Prepping for the New School Year

A few things that I did as a child and which I have found help the students with whom I work prepare for the new school year are: reading many genres daily, doing crossword and other pencil-and-paper puzzles daily, reviewing the notes from the past year, and keeping a journal of all activities and daily occurrences. Subscribing to new journals and magazines in July also is great because by the time September rolls around, the student is anticipating an arrival and is anxious to share the contents of the publication/publications with peers.

Avoiding summer slump

The worst thing for a student can be summer vacations. The last thing on their minds is to keep up on what they learned throughout the previous school year. They want fun, freedom, excitement. None of these are often used by students to describe learning or school. However, it is important to their continued mental development that they maintain their level of understanding from school year to school year. Too much time is lost at the beginning of each school year trying to catch back up. This slipping backward can be avoided by doing simple skills every day during summer vacation. Math students should continue to work on math problems throughout the summer. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division can be done easily without pen or paper. A trip to the store or gas station can be a quick quiz for most elementary math students if a motivated parent or sibling is willing to ask them questions. Fun and entertaining math problems can be found online as well that can... read more

Science Teacher

I will be beginning my 12th year as a Middle School teacher. I've taught grades 6, 7, and 8. I've taught Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, and Life Science. In addition, I'm working my 2nd year as a summer camp instructor, in Broward County Florida, and tutor a middle school student in math. My goal as a student's tutor is not simply to teach the subject material, but to increase the student's confidence in the subject as well. I would love the opportunity to demonstrate my skills in working with your child. Thank you. Emil K.

Park Your Brain

Summertime ... swimming, reading, barbeques, hanging with friends. Summer jobs and going out after work. Yet for some, schoolwork and studying are a big part of our summer agenda. No matter what time of year you are studying, it is crucial to know when to stop and take a break. Forcing your attention past your limit will not be productive. If you can't summarize what you just read, you have read too long. If you are making more mistakes on your math homework, it's time to do something else. What's your ideal study session? It might be an hour or two, or it might be only 20 minutes. Stick to the length of time that works best for you. When you come back refreshed, you will learn more easily. Get into the slower summertime pace. When the fall comes, remember to stop studying and do something else, even if only for a few minutes. Your brain will thank you.

Virtual Tutoring

I enjoy virtual communication, so for the purpose of reaching a broader client base, gaining more control over schedule for both tutor and student, reducing travel times, coordinating meet spots, reducing meet/greet apprehension, changing session ability, increasing a tutoring group size and at the same time increasing total revenue by decreasing individual fees, to me, virtual makes good sense.

What does Algebra have to do with communications to or from alien civilizations?

More than most people who do not understand a little bit about algebra would ever guess; so I am going to answer the above question in this blog. Introduction and background My degree is in Engineering Physics and I have always been fascinated by space and astronomy and communications. I was a licensed amateur radio operator at 17 and my amateur radio knowledge of the frequency spectrum coupled with my degree in physics guided me in my investigation into the possibilities of interstellar space communications using simple algebra! So let start with the basic algebra (ten minutes at most). Definitions: x = distance units (meters, miles, kilometers it does not make any difference in algebra as long as one uses consistent units) t = time (seconds, hours, days, years) Velocity = x/t e.g. (x meters/t sec) That is all the algebra you need to know! Here is all the Physics needed: The velocity of light has a special name c which replaces v; therefore... read more

The Secret Life of a Tutor

Sundays are days to be lazy, to hang out with friends, to read books or swim in pools or play outside. Today is an exceptionally hot Sunday in early June. Since I got up, I've been holed up in my home office, working on tutoring. Even though I've spent the past nine or so hours (with breaks for shrimp tacos, diet Coke, and ice cream) working, I haven't actually had any students today. I realized that not many people are aware of the "behind the scenes" of tutoring (well, at least of good tutoring), and it's gotten me to think a bit about the concept of having an "hourly rate." Realizing that mine is one of the higher rates on WyzAnt, I thought I'd share a bit of the "secret life of a (good) tutor," so you might have a better idea of what you're getting for your money. Although I work very hard during our tutoring sessions to make them as productive and educational as possible, it's everything I do when you aren't around that helps me do that... read more

Don't Just Memorize

Flash cards -- highlighting -- writing down definitions. Do you do all that and still have low test scores? Often, straight memorization is not enough to really learn the subject well. For example, in biology you may learn that proteins are formed from peptide chains. You may also learn that a polymer is a chemical compound that has repeated units. But if an exam question refers to a "polypeptide," you might not realize that it was talking about a protein. The key here is to make associations. What are polymers? What type of biological compounds can be classed as polymers? "Poly" means "many." So, a polypeptide would be "many peptides." What compound is composed of many peptides? A protein, of course. This type of reasoning is not developed by straight memorization. You need to reach for the meaning. Make lists, tables, or diagrams; look up words; make links and associations. Write definitions in your own words only. Don't guess... read more

What does that REALLY mean?

As a classroom teacher, I had parents/guardians say that they could not help their students because they didn't understand the math that their student was doing. I thought that I would try to help bridge a connection between the parents/guardians and students with the topic, "What does that REALLY mean?" So when I was in school there were math concepts, skills and strategies that were referred to differently than they are today. For instance, when subtracting 2 two digit numbers, we would "borrow" from the tens column and add to the ones place to be able to solve some problems. That same action is now referred to as "regrouping". Regrouping is used to assist students in addition, subtraction and multiplication, depending upon the problem. If there are any other terms that you are unsure of how to address/apply, just send them to me. We will try to assist.

What to Do in High School to Save Money Later in College or University

You might already assume that I will be talking about how to get a scholarship or a grant for a college or the university, but this is not the purpose of this blog post. What could save you a lot of money down the road when your kid is ready to go to the college or a university? First of all, most of the higher education schools require an assessment test for math and English. The results of these tests determine what level of math or English your child will get placed into. For example, a high school graduate wants to become an engineer. After getting admitted to the university, the student takes a math placement test and gets enrolled into a trigonometry class. How is it going to affect the student and parents, who will pay for the tuition? Most of the schools require engineering students to take Calculus I, II, III and Differential Equations in the first two years. If the student is enrolled in the trigonometry the first semester then it will take him or her three years... read more

Maintain skill and knowledge during the summer, start to master upcoming subjects

Some students forget their skills and knowledge of subjects during the summer because they do not practice and receive tutoring. Other students maintain or increase their skill and knowledge during the summer by practicing and receiving tutoring on their subjects(s). To help maintain skill and knowledge level, many parents and students are having me provide tutoring during the summer for one or both of the following reasons: 1. tutoring for reviewing current subjects for practice and maintenance or enhancement of knowledge and skill levels 2. tutoring on upcoming subjects for learning so that when the student starts back after the summer, not only are they still at an enhanced skill and knowledge level for current subjects, but they can master the upcoming subjects from the beginning because they have received a preview and practice during the summer. Starting on May 30, the parents are having me tutor their student(s) in various subjects on one the following... read more

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