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Hello! I wanted to share something with everybody which seems obvious to me, but I'm not sure everyone is on the same page. Have you ever had a terribly boring school teacher? I bet you have because we all have at some point! It doesn’t mean that these teachers are all uneducated in their subject, (although they might be…) it just means that either: A. They aren’t involved enough in their field to have passion for it or B. They don’t know how to transmit that passion to students effectively To be able to have fun or at least gain respect, understanding, or interest in a subject - the subject must be presented in an interesting way. It seems obvious when you put it that simply, but some or most teachers don’t care enough to even pretend to be excited, passionate or involved in their field. This makes learning from these teachers very difficult, especially if the students are self-sufficient learners. ——That is where... read more

My approach to each Physics Chapter: As I read the chapter I look for definitions - many times the text is in italics I work with 3 by 5 index cards and note the chapter and the definition of a new concept I also look for identified equations and write them on equation cards by chapter describing what the equation represents and the units I make unit cards which include the Physics term and the units and their equivalent in each unit system As I work through the chapter I read each sample question and try to do it without looking for the answer Then I check the answers and the methods used - sometimes my methods are different but the answers are the same This shows there are sometimes more than one approach to a problem When I finish a chapter I try the odd problems since they have answers in the back When I can not solve it I check the answer and try to work backwards. Unit analysis helps. Although... read more

On standardized tests and in your general academic life, you are going to run into long reading passages that at first may seem like a lot to tackle. Let's face it - a long block of unbroken text on a standardized test is not the most inspiring sight in the world!    An effective strategy for digging into these passages with the gusto required for high scoring is to underline and note-take with intensity. Underline the first sentence to get you going, then underline, circle, and mark up the passage to your heart's delight. Let the pencil be your anchor to the text.   In my many years of experience as a tutor, I've found that students don't mark up SAT Reading passages nearly enough. Marking up the text not only keeps you on task and prevents your mind from wandering, but also gives you a personal little "road map" to the text when it comes time to answer questions about what you've just read.   And hey, while we're here... read more

If your child has not succeeded in any school "reading pull out" programs or traditional reading tutoring, stop the torture!  Your child likely needs an Orton-Gillingham based reading program that is multi-sensory, systematic, and does not encourage guessing at words.  Please do not let your struggling reader stay involved in any program that encourages "guessing" at words.  This will only serve to confuse and frustrate your child more.  Rote memorization of spelling words is also not an effective strategy for a dyslexic student.  Contact me if you'd like tips or more direction on how to really help your child excel in reading/spelling and self-confidence.

1. Hopscotch Draw a hopscotch outline with chalk or tape and write the letters of a spelling word in the squares. Your child says the letters out loud as he hops. Erase one letter at a time until he can successfully spell the word without hopping, and then move onto the next spelling word. 2. Ball Toss Toss a ball back and forth to reinforce spelling in a fun way. Each time your child catches the ball, they say the next letter of the spelling word. 3. Hide and Seek Write their spelling words on note cards, and tape them in unusual places, such as on the back of cabinet doors, in your child's closet or in her pencil or jewelry box. When they find a word, they bring the card to you and spells the word. 4. Street Signs/Store Names   Have your child learn to read street signs and store names around your neighborhood. This will help them learn where they live, colors and sight words all at the same time! &nb...

I recently read an article which reported the favorite books of 50 celebrities (actors, musicians, politicians, etc). I noticed that several of them mentioned that they started out hating reading because it seemed to always reminded them of schoolwork and school until they made a special connection with a particular book. After that, reading became a joy!   I've long found this attitude surprising because I can't remember a time (after I learned to read, of course) when I didn't love to read. Weird, right? I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but I think I can explain why reading has just never felt like a chore:   1. My parents never placed restrictions on what my siblings and I could read.   This may seem like a terrible idea to parents wary of their children getting their hands on "Fifty Shades of Gray" and similar age-inappropriate material, and I can't blame them. While my parents did not place formal restrictions, they... read more

There are several points in grade school that involve a critical shift in the thinking that is required in the school work.  Parent's should be aware of these points as they navigate through the abyss of raising a school-aged child and supporting the child as he/she moves forward through the grades.   3rd Grade - The third grader is transitioning from whole number thinking into understanding the concepts of parts.  They are exposed to fractions, decimals and percentages.  This is a major paradigm shift.  Students are also exposed to long division at this point.  Supporting children in this phase requires an emphasis on helping the child conceptualize whole things being split into parts.  In addition to homework support, tutoring, and supplementary work, parents should introduce cooking chores to children at this time, and make them follow a recipe that has precise measurements.  Reading comprehension and writing is also an issue... read more

This is a question I find a lot of people grapple with, whether they be adults, teenagers or children. The love of reading, of transporting yourself into a different world, is a way to escape. Writing, whether it be an analytic essay or the next epic adventure, requires the ability to reach into your mind and actively confront yourself – and that is not an easy feat to manage. Part of being able to write is to have your thoughts organized in your mind. This actually may prove incredibly difficult for a reader to do. Our minds are often going all over the place at any given moment, reliving stories or day dreaming some of our own. Readers are dreamers so it makes sense that our thoughts naturally flow and are sometimes difficult to pin down. That’s okay – that’s what lists are for! In order to better organize your thoughts, start out simple. Make a list of what you really think about the subject you are about to write about. This works for anything, whether it... read more

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

An article on math education in the NY Times (July 23, 2014) wrote this about our teacher quality and resulting education: " In addition to misunderstanding math, American students also, on average, write weakly, read poorly, think unscientifically and grasp history only superficially." I would like to focus on my area of English: writing and reading. The article discussed teacher training and techniques to improve teaching results. I would like to add that for us tutors also, techniques to present our subjects are critical to help students. Some tutors are former or current professional teachers; others may be retired people from business, housewives earning extra money, college students, or even working professionals in various fields. It's fine to teach business skills to graduate students if you are an executive, swimming to children if you are a swimming coach, or history to high schoolers if your major is history. Yet, simply tutoring in your major field... read more

Hello everyone! Hola a todos!   Learning a second language like  Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means... read more

"Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words." In order for a student to be able to read words off the page they must understand how words are made up of individual sounds called phonemes. Phonemic awareness is not something that comes easy for all children but if a student has a strong foundation in their phonemic awareness it will propel them forward in reading and writing. Playing with words and their sounds, for example, substituting sounds, deleting sounds, and adding on sounds will help students build that foundation.    Examples: Subbing sounds: "Change the n in nap to c. What word do we get?" "cap"   Deleting sounds: "take away the s in slip. What word do we get?" "lip"   Adding on sounds: "Add a s to the beginning of mile. What word do we get? "smile"   Make sure you model... read more

A great new grammar book, "The Essentials of English Grammar in 90 Minutes" by Prof. Robert Hollander [Dover, $4.95] bridges the gap between basic grammar books (for both children and adults) and higher-level books such as the recommended "Essential English Grammar" by Philip Gucker, also from Dover Publications. This grammar book has almost no quizzes or charts, etc. but will give you an over-all picture of not only basic, but higher level grammar. Please see my Amazon Review of this nice little addition to the grammar teacher's and learner's bookshelf.

The following article takes well known anecdotal evidence and makes it much more real - as if it were a punch to the stomach or whack to the head. Do not let it intimidate you in the least. http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/why-your-sat-score-says-more-about-your-parents-than-about-you/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost The issue is not about the money…..and this is the key point! It is not the actual tangible money - it is the BEHAVIOR of how people think and what they do which makes the largest difference. The issue is about EXPOSURE. Money can allow for wealthy families to have their children gain MORE EXPOSURE OVER LONGER PERIODS OF TIME to the material within the SAT and ACT. In reality, anyone can gain more exposure over longer periods of time. The idea of last minute test prep and cramming for these exams is where most families have it all wrong - even those with money. It is about the number of times... read more

I have found that many students know the words because they understand it by using it. However, they often do not know how to read the word. Please check out this amazing site that will use videos in sentences to teach over 1,000 words.  There are so many ways this site can prepare your child for reading.   http://www.gcflearnfree.org/featured/learnenglish/simpleenglish   ESOL see below   http://www.gcflearnfree.org/learnenglish

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

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

The best advice I can give any student heading into the college admissions process is to read much and read often.   Chances are, you haven't read much of the printed word this summer. Now that it's August, it's the perfect time to pick up a book or a copy of the Times, or even check out a savvy pundit's blog.   Reading helps you brush up on skills you'll need for essay writing and the SAT: Critical reading & reading comprehension Grammar & usage Vocabulary   Besides improving these skills, reading helps you become a more well-rounded, informed, and conversant applicant.   Whether you're just beginning the application process or you just need an extra set of eyes on your essays, you'd do well to contact a professional tutor today.  

I recently came across this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, urging college professors to fight grade inflation in the Humanities. As a college-level Instructional Assistant, I see this all the time. Students feel that their grade in their Anthropology course should reflect only effort and completion, not the content and understanding. This a trend that is not seen in the STEM fields as readily. As a result, professors are pressured to do just that; grade distribution in nearly all humanities classrooms do not follow a standardized bell curve as they might in a science or math classroom.    This sort of behavior not only devalues the importance of the humanities in our society, but also puts our students at a disadvantage. The humanities (Reading, Writing, and the Social Sciences) not only teaches us valuable lessons about communication, and how to connect with other human beings, but allows as a venue to contextualize the STEM fields... read more

As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to... read more

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