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Answering WyzAnt's question: What are my favorite outdoor educational activities?

As a literature teacher, my favorite activity ever (bonus that it's educational) is reading in a setting that lends itself well to the book you are reading. In the case of literature, the possibilities are only limited to what's available. One of my favorite memories from last summer was reading Dracula on a back lit Kindle at twilight in my front yard, while bats swooped around above me and the moon rose. Some other fantastic matches?              1. Secret Garden in a botanical garden, or sitting in the middle of your own garden at home or a friend's              2. Paradise Lost in the same setting, but maybe around eight or nine o'clock, in that last hour of readable light, when the light starts to fade and shadows grow longer and take over the landscape              3. Inferno (by Dante... read more

Things a good tutor should say and discuss with you:

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

Why would a group of parents want to have small group tutoring?

The most obvious answer is cost. If a tutor charges the same rate for one or four students, it becomes cheaper per hour as you increase students and share the costs with other families. It is often believed a tutor is best when working 1:1 with a student. In some instances it is well worth the time and money to have 1:1 tutoring and sometimes it is appropriate for students to study and do school work in small groups. What is not obvious is the dynamics of small group tutoring. In a variety of circumstances it is invaluable for students to learn how to study “what needs to be studied”. The acts of independence and self regulating behavior have far reaching benefits. Groups need to learn to share and take turns. This seems simple and yet there is the underlying tendency to allow the ‘smart one’ in the group to carry the burden of work. Assuming each student is in the class and has a different point of view/observation about what is happening in class, they should share... read more

Critical Thinking Skills: What Are They and How do I Get Them?

Everyone knows that demonstrating the ability to think critically on tests and assignments and in writing is the way to your teacher’s or professor’s heart. But how do you do that when you don’t even know what critical thinking is? Although “critical thinking” is a much debated term, I would simply call it your ability to analyze a given issue or problem. Okay, great, you say ... so what the heck does that mean? Well ... it depends. There’s all sorts of different types of analysis. A math problem, for example, requires a different type of analysis from say the analysis of a world history essay prompt. Trying to figure out ... or analyze ... , the different reasons why your dog threw up on your favorite pair of sneakers is a bit different from trying to figure out why the author of novel chose to kill off the main character of the book you were just assigned to read. Although, I can see where my description of analysis above might frustrate those expecting a straightforward... read more

AP Exams Are Just Around the Corner: Are You Prepared?

The 2013 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May: May 6 through 10 and May 13 through 17. Click on the following link for more precise dates: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/ap/about/dates For those taking the AP European History, AP US History, AP World History and AP English Language and Composition, the dreaded DBQ section is upon you! Are you ready? Rather than demonstrating extensive knowledge, a confident time management strategy is key to succeeding on this particular part of the test. Because there is so much to do in so little time, students without one may find frayed nerves and draw blanks in the examination room. Receiving a packet containing three-to-sixteen original document sources and an unfamiliar essay prompt question that requires those sources to be organized in response around a sound thesis is enough to make any high-school kid break into a cold sweat. But you don't have to worry, here are some quick tips for developing... read more

Making history interesting

At my regular tutoring job, my new AP US and world history students will sometimes tell me, in detail, just how much they loathe the subject of history. When I ask them why they feel that way, the answer is almost always the same - they've got a dull history teacher at school. This makes me sad. Ever since I could read, I've loved history, and now, twenty years and change later, it's still my favorite subject to read and write about. The old cliche "truth is stranger than fiction" really is true - history is full of amazing characters and unbelievable tales that even the most imaginative fiction author would be hard-pressed to come up with. But history doesn't have to be exciting! Find a sufficiently dull teacher and it can become the purest kind of torture. The teacher who emphasizes names and dates above all else - the teacher who reads straight off of prepared Powerpoint slides, never deviating from the textbook - these are the teachers who truly kill... read more

Yesterday was a Great Day

What a way to start off the New Year! First I met with a student for US History and Living Environment. She is taking the Regents exams in three weeks. When I first met with her, Cee had a fear of taking exams, and was very nervous. She struggled with understanding both subjects; the Historical Events and dates, as well as the vocabulary words for Biology. Her next struggles were understanding and answering the document based questions for US History and the short responses for LE. Now she answers them much more confidently and accurately, and has even improved in writing her document based and thematic essays for US History. I am so proud of her and is certain that she will pass both Regents exams. Then I met with my grade 4 student for Math, English Language Art and Science. He has gone from scoring 31% to 83% on his practice science exam. He is much more confident with doing Math and ELA assignments. I am so proud of him. Then it was on to my grade 6 Math student. When... read more

Research Papers: Narrowing Your Topic for Your Final Draft

Nearly all high school and college students have a research paper requirement. Many college students are likely facing imminent research paper deadlines as the semester ends. Writing research papers can cause a lot of anxiety. This article will teach you how to narrow your research topic, clarify your thesis statement, and sort and organize your research to help you simplify your final editing process. Editing for Both Quality and Quantity. One common issue is having a research paper that is either too long or too short. Narrowing and clarifying your topic will help you write a better thesis statement and help you use only your most important or interesting facts and information. A properly focused topic will help save time by helping you use more specific keywords and phrases for your Internet search. You’ll be able to collect the facts you need in no time. Narrowing Your Topic. Many teachers or professors give students a broad research paper topic. For example, your... read more

It's Christmas!

It's ChristmasTime! Can you believe another year will soon be over? As we reflect on this years events and look forward to a bright new year, keep your childs' education in mind. There are so many opportunities we all need to take advantage of. There are so many educational games, cards, books, and even dvd's that would make great stocking stuffers, events to broaden your childs' mind and time spent just talking. And of course, your weekly tutoring sessions! During this free time between the holidays, I will be available and ready to work around your busy Christmas and New Years schedules. They have been working hard, but the long haul will be coming in January. Let's not slack now. Keep them sharp and ready for new challenges. Call, text, email, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you. As always, I am looking forward to working with you and your child in the coming New Year. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Helping Students “Get” History

Many of my students have told me that Social Studies or History is their worst subject. When I ask why, they say they “just don’t get it”. I usually find out that they have a hard time connecting the dots. For example, they learn about the American Revolution but don’t understand how it connects to King George III and the Declaration of Independence. This article gives parents, tutors, and teachers some hints and tips for helping students connect the people, places, and events of history to improve their comprehension. 1. Use historical thinking skills. The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) is a UCLA - based organization dedicated to collaborating with schools and teachers to provide “engaging and exciting explorations of U.S. and World history.” (From the NCHS mission statement; use this link to visit their website: http://www.nchs.ucla.edu/.) One powerful tool they created is their list of five historical thinking skills teachers, parents, and tutors can... read more

Getting started on homework

As you know, all teachers (and tutors!) were once students. So they know all the pitfalls that can cause a student to not get their homework done. The reason can be social - maybe the student wants to get his or her work done but the distraction of all the social media is too much to resist. The reason can also be academic - maybe the subject is difficult, such as challenging concepts or perhaps they're faced with an assignment that didn't get explained well enough to be done independently. Or sometimes it's the dreaded PROCRASTINATION. That can be the worst of all reasons to not get work done because the longer you procrastinate, the more the work piles up and then the student becomes "paralyzed", overwhelmed by the mountain of work that has accumulated. When procrastination has gotten the better of you, the important thing is to not let yourself be so overwhelmed that you don't do the work at all. Here's what you do: PRIORITIZE AND GET STARTED! It is a simple... read more

Writing History

Well, for my first blog, I'd like to discuss the tricks of writing a quality history paper. First of all, there is an excellent guide for new and experienced writers called Writing History by William Kelleher Storey. This book walks students through every stage of the writing process, from narrowing down topics to revising drafts. I recommend this book to any student interested in history, especially those considering on pursing history studies in college. The first trick I can offer to students is to pick a broad topic of interest when preparing to write a paper. As you research the topic, you will be able to narrow down a more specific topic that interests you. For example, if you are instructed to write a paper on a certain aspect of World War I, start by doing a quick reading of major World War I events. Through this reading, you might find that Hitler's use of concentration camps interest you. Now that you have a general topic, you might try a second general reading to... read more

Exercise and Eating Well for the New School Year -- Develop Good Habits for This School Year

With the new school year approaching, I was thinking about a recent article I read about the nutritional value of school lunches. Then, I thought about Mayor Bloomberg's idea of banning extra large soft drinks in New York City. I remember the lunch lines (one hundred years ago) when I was in middle school. We all loved Friday because it was Pizza Day! On other days, there was meatballs and pasta. The cafeteria line had cookies and cakes, ice cream and all things that weren't especially good for you. As a kid, I never realized how important good nutrition and exercise was for kids. I recently started my own diet and became more health conscious. And, with tutoring so many athletes and sports minded students, I thought that these students would certainly be mindful of exercise and nutrition. But, many don't. And, that's my concern. Parents are busy people. Between work, homework, laundry and keeping house, food plays a big role in family life. Now, most kids don't go to... read more

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.

A Student Made my Day

Alex made my day today. He passed the Global History and Geography Regents Exam!! Let me tell you a little bit about Alex. When I first met him, he came to tutoring two hours late. The next day an 11/2 late. He was on time on the third day, but by the next week it was back to being Alex. He did not show up for tutoring nor did he call. He would do assignments if he felt like it. There was always an excuse for something, but he would never take responsibility for his actions. When I finally sat down with he and his mother and told them that at the rate Alex was going, he was not going to pass his Regents exams. He may have to repeat the grade or go to summer school. Alex became so angry and adamant. He kept saying repeatedly, that he was not going to repeat grade 10. So I looked at him and asked, "So what are you going to do about it?" "Because saying that you are not going to repeat and then you neither study nor do the assignments, is not saying much. I think... read more

SPED and Regular Education K-12

I am so excited that I found WyzAnt!! It has been wonderful! I have met so many new people and love helping work with my students to see them advance! I worked in the public schools for 7 years and loved every minute of it when I had my SPED Resource Room for Learning Disabled, Dyslexic, and ADD/ADHD students. I got to see so many young people better themselves and get passed that learning barrier to advance and become great students that even went on to college. That is what I am about!! I want my students to have the best opportunities that are out there! Just because your child may need a tutor, that does not mean that they will not surpass your ideas or their ideas for their future!! I have very HIGH expectations for my students and love to challenge them to surpass those goals to go on to new heights. Looking forward to working with more students! WyzAnt is terrific!

Your help

I have several areas of knowledge beyond the listed subjects. To be brief, I am available on weekends and after school hours, but usually tutor in a library or Starbucks. At home tutoring is okay as well, but sometimes I may be able to arrange to do this at a child's school, if I work there on that day as a substitute teacher.

Fun English Practice 1: A Simple Christmas Call-And-Response Song

(STUDENTS: Remember to write new words in your vocabulary journal. Do not worry if you cannot find any. I said it is a simple song!) INTRODUCTION A CALL AND RESPONSE SONG is sung by two or more people. One SOLOIST sings the "call." It may be a question, but not always. Everyone else sings a "response" after the call. If the call is a question, the response will be the answer. In our Christmas song "Must Be Santa", singers sing only a few lines this way. ALL sing the other parts of the song. (For more fun, people can take turns being the SOLOIST!) The YouTube MITCH MILLER video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42_vCV2_gf0 includes art that will help you understand some of these words. (You can sing along with it too!) A list of hard words and holiday terms appears after the LYRICS to the song. ------------------------------------- MUST BE SANTA (COMPOSERS: Hal Moore and Bill Hendricks) CALL: Who's got a beard that's long... read more

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