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Read a book with a friend and then text your friend back and forth your reaction to the book chapter by chapter

An Educational State of Mind

The pressure can be high on kids to be productive in the summer, and to make the most of their free time.  One can understand where such expectations come from -- after all, summer is also prime time for the feared "achievement gap" to sneak in between kids who do nothing academically-stimulating, and those who continue their educational pursuits.  However, you don't have to go to an exotic summer camp to learn new things; you don't even have to leave your house.   What I suggest is not limited to the simple adage that reading a book will take you to new worlds (though that is absolutely true).  Rather, I encourage kids of all ages to see learning as a state of mind:  if you are looking to learn, then you can cultivate your mind almost anywhere, doing almost anything.  Books are in fact a great place to start:  try the thirty-second exercise of thinking of something which fascinates you and doing a google search for books... read more

Technology Overload

In 2014, every child that I have taught has been familiar with using a SmartPhone, an IPad, a laptop, etc...  This is the age of technology, and for students to compete with their international peers, they will have to learn how to navigate the Internet and various functions of the new-age portable computer-like devices.     However, I have found that the increase in the use of technology has created two major learning deficiencies amongst our young people.   Firstly, I have noticed that many young people expect to get the "answer" instantly.  They often do not want to use the strategies that have been provided; not because they do not work, but because it takes them longer to "get to the answer".     For example, when teaching phonetics, I use a tap-it-out method for decoding and blending phonemes.  One of my students absolutely HATES to tap it out because he wants to say the word correctly instantly... read more

Tackling Vocabulary Issues

In my experience tutoring students in both essay writing and test prep, one of the most difficult and tiresome challenges for both student and tutor is vocabulary improvement.  Because the ideal way to improve one's vocabulary includes reading a variety of sources over a long period of time, the optimal strategy for vocabulary improvement is often not available to students who have a very compressed schedule in which they must improve.  Many of my students have needed to show marked improvement in vocabulary within 2 weeks to a month, due to a looming deadline, so I have had to get creative to find efficient, effective techniques in vocabulary training.   One of the most important lessons when it comes to vocabulary is that multiple approaches are key.  Students should engage with the material using as many senses as possible.  This means not only reading a word and its definition silently, but also reading them aloud, hearing them read by... read more

Summer Reading

Most high school students have required summer reading for their upcoming Fall English class. Sometimes, students have a particular book (or even two books) they must read, while other times they may be offered a number of books from which to choose. When the entire class must read the same book, students can usually expect to discuss the book in class the first week of school, take a quiz, and write an in-class or take-home essay. These focused assignments pose a challenge but also present a great opportunity to create a favorable impression with the teacher. First impressions are especially important in English, a subject which, even with rubrics, involves subjective grading.   I work with students on their summer reading to be sure that they begin reading a few weeks in advance of school, annotate the book thoroughly, discuss the book effectively, and write a short essay. This work prepares students to meet the actual discussion and writing assignments set... read more

Avoid the "Summer Slide" by Becoming an Active Participant in the Media You Consume

It is all too tempting to throw the books out the window as soon as summer vacation hits. As a student, I understand that temptation but, as a teacher, I know that you're not doing your future-self any favors. The best, and most obvious, way to keep from losing everything you've just spent a whole school year learning is to read.   When it comes to school, reading is one of the most fundamental skills to have, because you're going to be reading things in every single class, at home, hanging out with friends, and so on. You're always reading directions, messages, and interesting information, so keep practicing that skill even when you're not in school. But the real value isn't just in reading the words on a sign or a menu or a text message: the real value (and a skill that even some adults haven't developed enough) is in thinking about what you're reading.   Netflix and movie stores are full of movies based on books. One good way to practice your... read more

Experienced, Fun, and Caring Elementary School Tutor!

I am very excited about the opportunity to work with your child or children. I love to take students from where they are and bring them up from there!  I have over 10 years elementary teaching experience from prekindergarten to fifth grade!  I love working with math and reading with students. I love watching a child's eyes light up when they learn something new!  I always try to use different strategies with students to match their learning style.  I would love to add your child to my tutoring profile!  I have availability this summer and fall during the weekdays and can also on some weekends! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 

The Importance of Developing One's Vocabulary

While in our everyday speech we may speak casually, for a student who wants to develop his intellect as much as possible, vocabulary should continually be built upon.  Any time a student encounters a word that is unfamiliar, that student should write that word down, look up its definition, and use it in a sentence.  Keeping a vocabulary notebook is a super idea for any student, even adult students.  A good way to develop one's vocabulary speedily is to read certain authors who use lesser-known words.  An example of a current author is Charles Krauthammer who recently published "Things That Matter."  Even an educated person will find words in this series of essays that can be learned.  Never underestimate the power of a strong vocabulary!

A great tan and mind: staying sharp over summer break

Once school is over, students are ready to toss away their textbooks in exchange for a swimsuit and towel. Who can blame them? The summer is a time for having fun and relaxing after a long year of hard work. However, this often means going back to school in a bit of a lazy-haze. Without five days a week of educational stimulation, it is easy to forget all the history facts, and numerical equations. So, how can we stay sharp but not miss out on all the fun?   My advice:    1. Read. Reading will always be a great way to keep your mind sharp, no matter what the book's content. Read a magazine or a book about pirates. No matter what, you are engaged and using your brain.   2. Games. There are tons of card and board games that are both fun and engaging. For example, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, and Yahtzee. Put down the remote and invite some friends over for a game.   3. Make a goal. Pick one skill or topic you want to learn more... read more

"Reading Is Boring" Bookmark Turnaround

One of my tutoring students had a bookmark that said, "Reading is boring." Although M told me that wasn't REALLY what she thought, I didn't believe it. When we began tutoring together, M was not participating in class, lacked confidence in her comprehension of materials, and did not see why reading and writing mattered. As I am passionate about reading and writing, I was determined to turn this situation around.   We began with engaging with the writing viscerally as I encouraged her to experience what she was reading with her five senses. For example, if the character was eating dinner, we talked about what it would taste and look like. I find it's important to show students why reading and writing are relevant. We practiced punctuation and emphasis, and dramatized verbs with our voices. For example, what does anger sound like (louder, sharper)? Is sadness soft, halting? We talked about characters and plot lines, exploring M's opinions and overlapping... read more

Encourage readers by using affinities!

From an article I wrote for ' The Alternative' last year:   Have you ever considered a world where you couldn’t read? Not just books or newspapers, but menus, the labels on your medicine bottle, signs, subtitles or even the latest issue of your favourite magazine. Words permeate the world we live in. As a special educator, I started working with children who have learning difficulties in 2004 and the inaccessibility of a reluctant reader to the world of books, ideas and the company of visionary thinkers has both troubled and motivated me. As thinkers like Oprah Winfrey have shared, books can become the beacon of hope for those who live in hard, colourless and impoverished worlds. The lessons of tolerance, harmony, hope and possibilities exist within the pages of a book as do characters and settings of every hue. Books allow us to experience the catharsis and depth of our emotions through the life journeys of those we read about. Consider Rohan, a 11 year... read more

Tutoring is The Best - for Students, for Tutors!

Hi, I'm new to blogging but not new to tutoring. However, I am brand new to Wyzant. Being one-on-one with a student gives the two of us some of what just can't be accomplished in the classroom possible. A gradual understanding of the concepts and the regular opportunity to learn as is best for you. I can also tutor you without the distractions that tend to take precious time away from the enjoyment of grasping and achieving a great outcome. Contact me. I'd am ready now to work with You!!

Summer Learning: Let the Sun Shine!

Summer learning can be fun!  With my tutoring clients, we make learning fun and interesting.     First, I always have something interesting or unusual going on in my office.  I have a cat who loves to play fetch, an experiment with seedlings, and caterpillars becoming butterflies.  These unusual items often inspire writing or reading interests.     Second, we make lemonade and sit outside to do our work!  Switching up our scenery is sometimes just the trick to get learning focused and interesting.  Cool lemonade and a nice shady spot on a hot day really help reluctant learners focus.   Third, I always make the last five to ten minutes of the lesson a game or fun time.  That could mean playing a quick game of chess, or just reading a book aloud for fun.  Sometimes, we draw pictures that coincide with our writing project.     Summer learning can certainly be a fun experience.  Don't... read more

The Habit Of Reading: Why It's Important And How To Develop It

Of all the important academic exercises, none are as critical to your success as routine reading. Throughout your education, teachers will assign mounds of textbook reading in social studies, English, the sciences, and beyond. While it is imperative that you take your assignments seriously and blast through your requisite reading, that is simply the bare minimum. Your eventual goal should be to read as a pastime. Reading shouldn’t solely be an activity guided by obligation, but one prompted by an organic desire. You all know what it’s like to be driven by desire. It’s all encompassing, automatic, and thoughtless. For example, some of you likely possess a powerful sweet tooth, causing you to gravitate towards cookies and chocolates whenever there is an opportunity to indulge. Others are might be fans of video games, eager to squeeze in playtime whenever and wherever possible. The interesting thing about these activities is that you don’t need to actively tell yourself... read more

Tutoring that Works

Engaging students in learning is one of the many goals that tutors face. We must adapt to meet changing learning needs, styles, interests and delivery formats. The sage on the stage paradigm, where the tutor provided all the knowledge to a passive student, is outdated. Today's students have more need for a guide on the side, who understands that the challenges they face, is willing to experiment with alternative tutoring methods, and acknowledge that engagement and feedback are crucial to a successful learning experience. One such tutoring methodology that has shown great promise both in the classroom and in structured tutoring sessions is problem-based learning (PBL). This concept has gained national recognition as a way for students to learn by confronting a problem related to the subject or the class material. This means that rather than the rigid and very traditional didactic approach, where a tutor simply “re-teaches” material covered in class through direction... read more

Amazing Apps for Struggling Readers!

Being a struggling reader can affect a child's entire school experience. Everyday functioning in the content areas as well as confidence levels and enthusiasm towards school take a big hit for many students who experience reading difficulties. Part of my practice as a special education teacher and tutor who works with struggling readers is to turn reading into something that can be fun and rewarding, rather than laborious and confidence-killing. I've found that one of the biggest motivators for my struggling readers is to incorporate technology into acquiring and practicing reading skills.   I've recently experienced great success through a new federally funded program for individual's with print disabilities called Book Share. Through this program, students can download hundreds of thousands of texts for free. I have all of my eligible students signed up for this program. Then we open the downloaded books on the iPad through an app called Voice Dream. There is... read more

Tutors wait! Why study skills should make up part (maybe most) of every session

(This is actually a modified version of an article I posted a while back - Parents wait! Why a study skills tutor is what your child REALLY needs. But I think tutors should consider this idea of study skills even more than parents should.) After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – insert subject here and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc... read more

Pre-School: What is Learning Readiness?

Learning readiness refers to the process by which children under the age of 6 prepare for direct instruction in reading and math. Prior to the age of 6, it is developmentally inappropriate for most children to receive any kind of direct instruction in reading or math. Instead, children should be exposed to rich vocabulary (through songs and stories) and build social skills as well as fine and gross motor abilities.    According to child development specialists, “Learning progress may actually be slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduce formalized learning experiences too early for a child’s developmental status.” —Rebecca Marcon, Developmental Psychologist   Furthermore, "Early learning programs that are appropriate for a child’s developmental level provide opportunities to learn through play and hands-on exploration. Through this type of learning, children test new knowledge in a relaxed setting and then naturally... read more

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