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Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites:   Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used.   Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool site.... read more

As tutors, our work puts us in an odd position. While part of our income depends upon spending time serving students, serving students means that we help them improve until they no longer need our assistance. In this sense, we work to make ourselves unnecessary. Some people might speculate that we would be motivated therefore to work less efficiently, to drag things out & spend more time than necessary to achieve our students' goals.   I can't really speak for other tutors, but I'm idealistic enough to believe that all of us want our students to be as successful as possible, as efficiently as possible, and we want them (and, in the case of children, their parents) to feel satisfied that we are working hard to do what is best at every moment & that they are getting their money's worth. After all, our great reputations as tutors ensure that we will acquire other students in the future - some of whom will perhaps replace those students who have improved... read more

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

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

Prewriting often gets the short end of the stick with students rushing to get that paper written before its due date. Since many teachers don't require prewriting to be turned in with the paper, many students feel that it's a corner they can cut to save time and launch straight into writing a first draft. In reality, prewriting is actually a great time-saver, particularly when you don't exactly know what you're going to talk about. It helps you to organize your thoughts, as well as make sure your points are clear and your concept isn't too broad or too narrow. Prewriting is especially helpful in situations where you're given a very broad prompt – or even no prompt at all (as was the case with my IB World History term paper, whose prompt consisted of 'Write a paper about something from 20th century world history'!) Prewriting is usually defined broadly as anything you do before writing your paper, and can take many forms. This blog post will discuss a few of the most... read more

(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

As a former camp director (references available), and as a published writer and college English instructor, I can customize a reading and writing group to engage your teen. This will keep them in a safe environment, and they will be learning and practicing their writing and analytical skills.   I will design a custom plan and schedule for your needs. Why not contact another parent and see if their teens would be interested. We can select some appropriate books together, and I will design discussion questions and writing exercises for the workshop meetings. We can decide on public meeting places: libraries, coffee shops, etc.   Contact me here through WyzAnt and I will create a special package rate for my services, especially if you introduce additional students that might be interested. There is no obligation to discuss this idea. Please e-mail me if you have questions or to discuss further!     - Tim 

Can you believe 2014 is already 1/4 over? Wow! Besides freezing and shoveling snow, what  have you done so far this year?   It's never too late to learn! Maybe you always wanted to blog but didn't know how ...Or buy a new computer with your tax refund ...Or finally conquer your fear of public speaking   I CAN HELP!   I have expertise in all of these areas and would be happy to help you! Make 2014 YOUR Year! Here's to 8 more months of SUCCESS!

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. And let’s be honest – in most high school classrooms, students are essentially graded on their ability to keep track of, complete, and submit paperwork (i.e. homework), instead of their mastery of the material. (Not a good state of affairs, but... read more

Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites:   Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used.   Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool... read more

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

A Tutoring Session Preparation Checklist Classroom instruction and the time you spend with your professor or teaching assistant is the best source of information and learning. However, sometimes you need a little extra one-on-one time with an experienced writing tutor who will focus attention on your particular goals, strengths, and concerns. And if you’re on a college or graduate budget, you want to get the most out of every minute you spend with your private tutor. The great news is that you can help make your tutor more effective and get more out of every minute you have with him or her by preparing before your session and engaging your tutor during the session. I always ask my students to come to a tutoring session as prepared as possible. This helps them gather their thoughts and helps me quickly start helping them as soon as we start.   Here’s a handy checklist of things to consider and have ready to help your tutor be a “super” tutor: Bring the... read more

The past few years have allowed me the privilege of working with many talented students who are on a great trajectory for college through AP courses in high school. Simultaneously, I have tutored students who ended up in AP courses and were not adequately prepped and prepared for what would be expected of them during the school year. AP courses are to be enjoyed and valued as any college course. In the first instance above, my tutoring was helping students develop quality arguments surrounding history issues, exploring literary styles and analyzing the author's work and developing concise answers to biology explorations. In the second case, I actually had to help students learn to study (the 'extra' work which is not assigned homework) and develop writing which demonstrated collegiate level thinking. In order for more students  to excel in AP coursework as well as enjoying the class  during the academic year, they need to be prepared for the work load. This... read more

Pretend you are Christopher Columbus, writing to the King and Queen of Spain to beg them to finance your trip to the Americas. Explain to them what you need, why it is necessary, what you hope to gain. In Spanish this requires the use of the subjunctive! I have often struggled with finding a fun activity to get students to practice writing the subjunctive in context, and came across this idea the other day. I used it this past weekend with a student who found it a fun yet challenging task.   One piece of advice I would say is to have a mini word bank of phrases that might be useful for them, as this was the only real obstacle to my student's success!

Handwriting difficulty can be caused by poor fine motor skills, sensory difficulty or a learning disability such as dyslexia or dysgraphia. Here are a few suggestions for helping those children. Strengthen hand muscles • Touch the thumb of each hand to each finger in turn, index finger to pinkie, and back. • Touch the tip of each finger in progression to the palm. The thumb is the easiest. • Open and close a tight fist. • Do chair hand pushups by sitting on a chair with your palms on the chair fingers forward then pushing down lifting the body slightly. • Play with clay to strengthen the hand muscles. • Punch holes with a hand held hole-puncher. Practice hand-eye coordination • Play with Lagos, fitting the blocks together. • Color inside the lines in coloring books. • Draw a line from the entrance to the center of a paper maze • Fill-in missing sections of pictures following dotted lines and later with no lines. Form letters... read more

                                                   We Have Recognized Our Salvation                                              By Carol E. December 31, 2013 Doctor, I got a miracle from you but I knew that it is Jesus, He is close to you. There is healing that the Lord does and when you learn to heal the Lord is there     with you and me too I thank you for calling the Lord to you, asking our Lord to favor me, as I need     healing I thank the Lord for... read more

Happy 2014! (it's still going on...right?)   May you be knee-deep in some exciting learning curve right now, or at least riding the waves of change as to how to tackle what curriculum at which you are staring.    Caveat: I'm stating the obvious.    Writing is a bloodletting experience. The interwebs (<poetic license) offers ZILLIONS of quotes from iconic writers attesting to the frenzied frustration, the aching brains, and the haunting blankness of ghostly-white pages.  (Ingredients for a nervous breakdown...I get it...)   Yet, WRITING RESOURCES abound thanks to technology. No longer must one wade through the pages of the OED or a lesser dictionary.      I BEG YOU: Students & Parents make THE DICTIONARY & THE THESAURUS - your NEW YEAR'S BFFs!  Webster, Roget, www.dictionary.com, www.theasurus.com...   I don't care where you seek out some alternative... read more

My students at the University of Wisconsin told me that they found the acronym MEAL to be helpful to them when they were writing in-class essays.  MEAL is a way to remember how to structure your paragraphs if you are stuck or if the writing process does not happen organically for you.   M - Main Idea - Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence introducing what the paragraph will discuss E - Evidence - What facts, quotations, artifacts, articles, etc. do you have to support your main idea? A - Analysis - You cannot just present the evidence, you must tell the reader why your evidence supports your topic L - Link - How does this paragraph support your overall thesis?

For practice over the winter holidays, try the following resources: Vocabulary practice Quizlet Create your own vocabulary lists with pictures. Writing You Can't Write English Under Pressure A stressful game to check your knowledge of spelling and word order. Listening Voice of America, "Stories about People" Hundreds of MP3 files and transcripts about famous people.   Speaking / pronunciation American English Pronunciation Practice Audio files for practicing pronunciation, especially difficult word pairs.   Grammar English Video Video English lessons on assorted grammar and vocabulary topics, including English slang. For example, try this video on the English meanings of "John."   For Spanish-speakers Spanishdict.com, Aprender inglés gratis Different levels, different English topics offered in Spanish.

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