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Breaking up is easy

It can be overwhelming and anxiety-producing when you think about all the material you are supposed to know to do well on a test. A good way to stop the madness of negative stress, which can lead to procrastination is to break up what you need to study into smaller parts. It's super easy! If you have a test, for example, and it will cover 8 chapters, you should be thinking, "I have 1 week to be prepared, so I can study hard two chapters a night (minimum) or all every night and the night before the test I'll do just a great review of all the chapters." If you study too far in advance, you will not retain properly. If you study to close to test day, you will be cramming and will not retain properly. Break your information up into smaller chunks to make your brain happy and keep you from unnecessary negative stress. If you have 14 chapters to study, study 3-4 chapters a day/night. You get the picture. A solid week (5-6 days) is an excellent amount... read more

Flash cards are your Friend

It's Saturday afternoon and you have a test at the end of the week on Friday. Should you: 1. Sift through your paperwork? 2.Thumb through your textbook? 3. Wait to begin studying until Wednesday or Thursday? 4. Skip studying because you already know it all? 5. Skip studying because you know you'll fail anyway? The correct answer is....UGH!!! All of these really suck and should not be part of any student regimen. Each test you take can make a serious difference in your grade. Remember, your grade is your paycheck. Do you want to be paid a few dollars or do you want to be paid a couple hundred or thousand? The difference between an A and D (think: $1,000 or some chump change) is in your preparation. FLASH CARDS ARE YOUR FRIEND! They make all the data fit into small easy to review chunks and your brain loves chunks rather than entire mountains all at once. Make your brain happy and it will take care of you when you need it. How... read more

Need Help Focusing?

I am going to pass on a simple tip to you parents on how to get your child to focus when studying or doing homework.   Chewing gum!   I kid you not.  Chewing gum helps your brain focus and causes you to pay more attention to what you are reading or working on.   Special Education teachers have known this for years, but a recent study in the UK by Kate Morgan of Cardiff University was published in the British Journal of Psychology.  Previous research has shown that chewing gum can improve concentration in visual memory tasks. This study focused on the potential benefits of chewing gum during an audio memory task.  Kate Morgan, author of the study explained: "It's been well established by previous research that chewing gum can benefit some areas of cognition. In our study we focused on an audio task that involved short-term memory recall to see if chewing gum would improve concentration; especially in the latter... read more

The Best Way to Learn Math Facts is NOT Flashcards!

I have worked with students who had difficulty learning math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division) for years.  Let's face it, it's boring to sit and learn facts, especially with flashcards!  I remember sitting night after night with my mother, her flashing the problems to me over and over and they just wouldn't stick!  I would cry and get so frustrated and I just wanted it to be OVER!   You don't have to do that to your children.  Research states that the best way to teach these skills is through games.  There are a variety of math websites on the internet that can help your child learn their facts by playing fairly easy games.  Sometimes they are more challenging and time your child if they are a bit more advanced, or they initially teach them a fact family at one time.  Either way, playing games on a safe website is a much more effective way than using flashcards.  I can recommend some to you if you... read more

SAT PREPARATION- Testing Strategies, Vocabulary Improvement, and Language Mastery

Here is an overview of my 5 BEST TIPS for realizing your highest potential on the SAT:   Read and Write Daily- Do not read just fluffy stuff from internet sites or think that your emails constitute all the daily writing you need (join a writer's group and keep a journal).  Most importantly, read thoughtful, intelligent articles from reputable sources (like the Wall Street Journal) on a daily basis on topics that stimulate your thinking and challenge your vocabulary.  This is the best approach for long-term improvement in reading and writing. Study High-Frequency SAT Vocabulary Lists- There are many of these word lists obtainable on the Internet. The problem is that you may not retain the words using a crash-course study approach.  This won't be helpful for long term unless you pace your study of the words and see words in their context.  I recommend a 7 day study approach.  Study 30-50 words each day for two days in a row using... read more

Read Like You're Talking

Do you hate to read out loud? A lot of people seem uncomfortable reading orally and are really bad at it but it is so fixable. You see, reading should be like talking, not reading. If you read the way you talk, you know, comfortably, with pauses and gestures and facial expressions and ups and downs in your voice, then your audience will want to listen to you. For those who are drawn to acting, pretend you are in character and the casting director yells, "Action." If you read like you're reading a script, you will not get the part. If drama isn't your thing, then imagine you are telling a funny or amazing or really sad story to your good friends or family. The thing as if you want to be heard. Here are some great tips to help retrain your brain from poor oral reading habits:   Open your mouth. Don't mumble or barely open your mouth to let the sounds escape. Hold your head up. Look up some... read more

Setting Goals for Student Success

A student's decision to pursue a program of study is a commitment to an overall goal and vision of success, which is getting a degree. The pursuit of a degree is both a rewarding and a challenging experience.  In today’s academic world, students must be adaptable in order to succeed. Classes are taught in a variety of formats, such as in-person, virtually, or a combination of both. Resources come in a variety of formats, through an array of channels. Navigating through a program of study can be cumbersome, and sometimes disappointing. As a result, we procrastinate, our studies go from being a top priority to a low priority in our already complicated everyday lives, and we begin to question our commitment to the pursuit of our dream. So, how to do we overcome this trend? We set goals. Why is setting goals so important? Because… • Goal setting is the best way to make sure that we are staying on track and holding ourselves accountable... read more

WyzAnt Wants to Know: Preparing to go back to school

Got this topic from WyzAnt this morning: How should students prepare to go back to school if they only have a few minutes to spare each day? Good question.  I think it's important to spend some time thinking about the big picture of the coming year and getting organized, so that you start out on the right foot.  I believe it's a very personal question, since as a student you have to decide what you want to get out of the coming school year as opposed to the previous one.  What areas did you feel you were lacking?  What are you most excited about?  What are you least excited about or most dreading? And why? Here's something that doesn't occur to a lot of people: what format are you learning in? I'm talking about two distinct things here – your supplies and setup, and the way you approach classes. Let's look at supplies and setup first. Think about your usual note-taking setup... read more

Your grades = Your pay

Would you ever work at a job really hard (you're not a volunteer) and be totally OK with not being paid or being paid really terribly? What if you worked really hard at a job with terrible equipment that may or may not work properly or may even be missing altogether but your supervisor still expected you to produce excellent results? Wouldn't this really tick you off? How long would you actually keep that job?   Being a student is the    exact     same      thing.  As a student, you are an employee and your paycheck is your grades. You have rights to earn the best grades possible and in order to do so, you must exercise your rights. This means you must be actively involved in your own performance and communication in each class (job) with each teacher (supervisor).   Here is my idea of a Student's Bill of Rightness: You have the right... read more

Read BEFORE you write

How many times have you started working on a questionnaire, test or worksheet only to realize half way through that you didn't need to do some of the work you've done or that you don't have the right book to finish the assignment. Here's a great way to avoid unnecessary work, wasting time or being unprepared to actually complete assignments correctly.   Read all of the assignment before you ever write a word. For example, if you have a lab to complete and you've been given a worksheet with questions you must fill-in as you go along in your experiment, read the whole worksheet first. Make sure you understand the questions. Make sure you have the proper materials or resources to actually complete the assignment. Sometimes, when you are completing a worksheet you actually have answers to some of the earlier questions later in the worksheet. Work with wisdom.    It's OK to skip around and answer what you do know and come back to what you must... read more

Online flashcards

Greetings, scholars!     Using flashcards is a tried-and-true method for rote memorization.  As a student, I had stacks of index cards with terms on one side and definitions on the other.  These cards proved the key to success in subjects like biology and psychology.  Flashcards also help in subjects like calculus and chemistry, although memorization is not a substitute for problem-solving practice.     For instant gratification, one can purchase pre-made flashcards for certain subjects (e.g. MCAT test pret, SAT vocabulary).  The commercial cards are nice, but buying cards means missing out on the learning that takes place while making them.     Today, technology has put a new twist on a classic learning tool.  I recommend the website and accompanying app, Study Blue (  Using the website, a student can create a set of online flashcards or browse through the existing... read more

Favorite Language Learning Websites

Just to share some great resources! - flashcards (with pictures and audio) available through a downloadable program (or online through "List Central" - user-created content) - a language-learning community, language courses - flashcards with audio and pictures, user-created content - a language-learning community, podcasts, tutors, built-in dictionary - language information, useful phrases (often with audio), links to other resources - basics of several languages, flashcards, learning games - a language-learning community - language courses and translation practice - a great blog! - a language-learning community, language courses with audio/pictures/examples of vocabulary usage    

Quick review

Students can practice skills quickly using flash cards for vocabulary, sight words, addition, subtraction, counting, patterns, multiplication, and division. All you need is 5-10 minutes a day. 

How do I manage reading assignments?

So, your teacher has assigned a book or chapter readings. How do you manage reading along with all the other assignments you've been given and still get all the reading done on time? I have a simple formula to help ensure you will complete all reading comfortably and avoid cramming the night before!   Count the number of pages you must read and write that number down. Count the number of days until the reading assignment is due and write it down. Divide the number of days into the number of pages and this is how many pages you should read each day/night in order to be ready for the due date. This is a fantastic way to pace and discipline yourself and totally avoid cramming, which is the enemy in learning. If you follow this formula, you will always complete reading assignments on time and without increasing unhealthy stress. Happy reading!    

Start Early

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!    I always loved going back to school.  Since I am going back to school this fall as a graduate student I thought I would share a few tips.  If you would like more tips you will have to schedule a session.    My two words to sum everything up is start early!   -Do not wait until the night before a big project to start it.    -Act like a Pro athlete! I can guarantee they put hours into practicing their sport.  They did not show up on game day and hope they would win the game.    -Do school work first before taking a break - turning on the tv or hanging out with friends right after school may seem like a great idea.  That time is precious because a student may remember something from the day to help them on the homework.    -Practice like it is a test.  If your teacher does not let you use a calculator do not use it on... read more

Help! My Child Is Behind In School And I Don't Know What To Do!

As the smell of new boxes of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils fills the isle at the market, parents might be thinking “Help! My child is behind in school and I don’t know what to do. How can you start out behind?” This realization brings a feeling of failure before the new school year has even begun. Although the education system in America has many problems, one of which is constantly allowing students to be promoted to the next grade regardless of their failing to meet the standards required to be promoted, there are many things that parents can do at home to help their child succeed and grow as much as possible. 1) Read, read, read everything in sight! Children of all ages need to hear fluent adults reading to them on a regular basis. This helps them to develop expressiveness in reading, fluency and accuracy, increase vocabulary, and better understand figurative language. It also greatly influences a child when they see that their parents or guardians... read more

New School Year!

With the new school year starting, I thought I'd write a blog post to talk about what I think are the most important things students should be doing to start the year off on the right foot. If anything, September is the time when students are either excited to come back or are dreading it, but being prepared will help any student have a successful year.    The most important thing a student should do before the year starts is to set a goal. I have all the students I work with look at their schedules and think about what classes they think will be the most challenging for them. They then create a goal for how they might want to do, say get a B in Geometry or a A- in English. They should try to make it a SMART goal too: it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Every week or two, they should come back to their goal and think about whether they've made any progress on it. And if they don't achieve their goal, at least they were working... read more

Ser vs. Estar: To be or To be??....What is the difference!!??

Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how... read more

A tool that creates focus and curiosity. Find it in your kitchen!

This works for: Procrastinators The constantly distracted (who isn't these days?)  Approaching those tasks we don't want to do... You can help your child or your student, and it will work for you just as well! You'll need to try it for yourself to experience the effects, since it works opposite to common sense. This magical tool is the egg timer from your kitchen (or the timer app on your smart phone.) How to use a timer to create focus: Step 1 – Set the timer to 5 minutes. Tell yourself that you are going to work on your task, and your task only until the timer rings. 5 minutes is surely not too long to not answer a phone call or a message, to not go and get a glass of water, to not stare at the tree swaying in the wind outside your window. You may think that 5 minutes is not enough to get anything done, but bear with me. Step 2 – When the timer rings, drop what you are doing, even if you feel the need to continue... read more

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