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Physical Exercise and Nutrition DO affect our brain performance and brain health.

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

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

How Expectations Matter

On September 17, 2012, Morning Edition (on National Public Radio, or "NPR") shared this article: "Teachers' Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform." I recommend it. Here's the link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/17/161159263/teachers-expectations-can-influence-how-students-perform#more. So, what are my expectations? That all can succeed, given sufficient support and guidance. 1. Students who believe they can't do something, after being shown and walked through examples, often can, when the tables are turned. Just ask an Algebra II student of mine who had to teach me quadratic equations to finally appreciate that he got it. 2. Students so afraid of failing that their minds freeze up and feel empty often suddenly know their subjects, when the tension and fear are broken by the surprise of a good laugh. 3. Perhaps most important of all, as suggested in the article, students are encouraged by the reflection of their own potential in... read more

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

The Best Way to Prepare for

The best way to learn and study for tests is to use technology. Websites like StudyIsland give you a chance to run through subject matter sample questions, at 10 or 15 or 20 at a time. Studies show that repeated scores averaging say 80%, result in a most probable 70% on the actual quiz, test, exam taken. The good news is you can practice online until you have command of the topic. As your average goes up so does your probable quiz, test, exam score go up. The bad news is that it costs to use Websites like StudyIsland. As a tutor I have my own access which I will let you use while I am tutoring you.

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

Practicing and Test Preparation

I was not taught how to practice piano until college. The time spent alone practicing is just as important as the lesson itself, as it connects one lesson to the next. Practicing without much of a plan, I found myself less prepared than I thought I was when I walked onstage for my recitals. Including practicing strategies in the lesson gives students the confidence they need to work on their own between lessons. From techniques I learned in college and my own research, I have developed a method that is adaptable for many subjects. While there are many effective methods of practicing, this one has been quite successful for my students and me, as it covers multiple problems that typically arise. I will use piano and test preparation as examples. Pre-Test Some form of baseline data reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the student and determines the focus of preparation and practice. Piano: Play through at a steady tempo, taking notes as soon as the section is... read more

Willpower (Part I)

In their book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney share an amazing amount of information about willpower, or self-control. One interesting point they make is that a number of studies have shown two particular lessons concerning human willpower: “1. You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. 2. You use the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks.” So your supply of willpower is fixed and is depleted by any number of activities – studying, exercising, dieting, being patient with others. What conclusions can we draw from this as it relates to studying and test preparation? First of all, if you are involved with a rigorous test prep program, do not also attempt to start a new sport, learn a new language, and begin writing a novel all at the same time! When people make big changes in their lives or undertake new projects, their efforts are undermined when they try to make... read more

Which Books to Get for AP or SAT or MCAT Practice?

I was asked this question recently by several mothers about which book (singular, not plural) they should get for their sons for their upcoming tests. To both of them I replied: "Get the Princeton Review edition of the book." And while I believe this to be the CORRECT answer, this answer unfortunately is misleading because what I actually want to say is, "Get ALL editions of the book." For example if there is a Barron's version, a Kaplan version, a Princeton Review version, etc. etc. of AP Chemistry, then I would advise the moms to get ALL of these books for their sons (assuming of course that they'll read them). The reason is because one book doesn't have enough practice problems. From experience, after reading the first test preparation book or textbook, the student will have a rather hazy outline of the subject material. Books 2-5 make the outline clearer. Most students don't begin to really understand the subject until around Book 7. And that's... read more

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.

Parents: On The Importance of Starting Your Child's SAT Prep Early

Summer is here for many Bay Area families, and for those with kids entering high school or even middle school, now can be a great time to get a head start on SAT practice. OK, sure, it's also a good time for water slides, beaches, friends, and all the things that make summer wonderful, but an hour or two spent getting familiar with test question format now can give your student an extra boost when it comes time for the real thing. It is this tutor's opinion that the PSAT is being given far too late to identify weaknesses and make appreciable differences in many students' scores. With increasing pressure to take APs and make good grades while being a stellar athlete or drama superstar, it becomes harder with each year of high school for kids to devote the proper amount of time to SAT practice. And, that's what doing well on the SAT boils down to: pattern recognition. With each completed practice test, problem set, and sample essay question answered, your child will "have... read more

Upcoming Test Dates

Summer is a good time to prep for the ACT. The pace can be regular but relaxed, there's time to cover all subject areas, and practice tests can be spaced out. You can get results from the September ACT just in time for most early decisions! Upcoming ACT Dates: September 8, 2012 (register by 8/17/12) October 27, 2012 (register by 9/21/12) December 8, 2012 (register by 11/2/12) Upcoming SAT Dates: October 6, 2012 (register by 9/14/12) November 3, 2012 (register by 10/5/12) December 1, 2012 (register by 11/6/12)

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

It is not too early to begin preparing for the SAT and ACT!

School is finally over. You are looking forward to some well earned rest and relaxation. You are not focused on the fall PSAT and the spring SAT and ACT. BIG MISTAKE! The summer before your junior year is the time to start preparing for the SAT and ACT. It is important to recognize that the single greatest advantage to early preparation is the repetitive nature of SAT and ACT questioning. The greatest predictor of score improvement on the SAT and ACT is practice. While it is important to learn the most efficient techniques for attacking questions, practice will ingrain these methods and good habits in a student so he or she can develop the necessary intuition to perform well. Only sufficient time and experience will allow a student to develop this intuition to the point where it becomes second nature. By beginning your SAT and ACT preparation early, you will avoid the last minute anxiety that besets many students who are forced to take the SAT and ACT 3, 4, or... 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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