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The general form for quadratic equations is:   Ax2+Bx+C   If A=1, you have x2+Bx+C=0, and the following procedure always works. If A ≠ 1, then Step 1 of both Scenarios below will always apply, but not Step 2.   The general form of the factors in this case will look like:   (x + D)*(x + E)   where D and E are factors of C whose sum is B.   In order to find D and E, its important to know whether they are positive or negative first. We find this out by using a simple procedure.   Scenario #1: Step 1: If C is negative: We know that D is positive and E is negative (or vice versa, it doesn't really matter which order you choose).   Step 2: If B is positive, we know that the factor of C with the larger absolute value will be the positive number. If B is negative, we know that the factor of C with the larger absolute value will be the negative... read more

But there's always MORE math! That's what I told one of my students a month ago, and I meant it. I've dealt with math in every role from student, to teacher, to tutor and I can honestly say that the more I learn, the more I'm sure that I've barely scratched the surface of what's out there. A scary thought considering I've been educated in the subject for nearly 25 years. So what is a high school student to do these days with so much scary math out there?   I have one piece of advice: focus. That does NOT mean fixating on every minor detail you come across in order to then extract meaning from each individual piece of information and then put it all together at the end. That's not focusing, that's suffering. Nobody learns the ABC's all at once. Neither should you attempt to do it with math.   In order to focus, it helps to (temporarily) ignore the minor details and devote your attention to "the big picture." You want to quickly identify and... read more

In figures: the average earnings bonus for an American who learns German is 3.8%. This means an extra $128,000 in your retirement account. Sounds like spending your spare time with Kafka, Goethe and Heidegger is a real bargain! I'll be there to help you! Read more here

Five Ways to Make Tutoring Lessons Fun!   Give students a writing assignment that will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and allow them to listen to their i-pods while composing. Music makes life fun! Movies are fun too, so one tutoring lesson idea is to ask students to write a review of their all-time favorite movies. This allows students to use prior knowledge while they improve writing skills, but it also gives them the chance to write about something that is fun and interesting to them! Ask local businesses to participate in offering coupons for students who show progress in their tutorial sessions. Bring candy prizes for correct answers. Encourage students to tweet or otherwise share on social media what types of topics they are studying in tutorial sessions.

I have a love-hate relationship with grammar.  The only reason I have a degree in History instead of English is due to my distaste for grammar... and yet, in my free time, I giggle over grammar and spelling blogs on tumblr.     Exhibit A: This blog takes everything from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer and deconstructs it into sense (and nonsense).    Reasoning With Vampires   While I appreciate the humor, it is a bit awkward to consider the things people use to fill their time.  I digress.   I suppose the disgruntlement with grammar could be due to the cut-and-dry aspect of it- either you are grammatically correct or incorrect.  Much like numbers in math, commas cannot be thrown about willy-nilly.  Unless you are e. e. cummings, punctuation and capitalization is integral to deciphering meaning.     In the end, writing is much like any other hobby or activity: after mastering... read more

Vocabulary is a big deal.  We get tested on it on standardized tests, teachers write in big, bold red markers that we need to expand our word choice, friends say we use "like" and "thing" too often...    But how does one improve their vocabulary?   There is the old-school way, which is intense and not very effective: read a dictionary and hope that some of the words slip into your mind and out of your mouth (or pen).     However, for the modern, efficient, and discerning English-speaker, I have gathered up a few tips and online resources to help kick-start a boost to your vocabulary.     Tips to Increase Vocabulary   1.  Read.  Read a variety of literature, from magazines and newspapers to blogs to comics.  Read the advertisements on the way to work.  Read the ingredients label on your snack or drink.  Read a book.  Read an ebook.  Seriously, just... read more

Hello, Peggy and Jake!     Sorry that we had to miss this week's session, but hopefully both of you are staying warm, and that you are feeling better, Jake!    The last time we met, we worked on developing a strong outline for a persuasive essay.  Over the last week, you were supposed to gather information supporting the fact that Minecraft was the best video game ever, as well as finishing your essay outline.  Using the outline guidelines, as well as the resources at the bottom of the page, you should make as complete of an outline as you can.  Add in outside sources (at least three, one per body paragraph); these sources can be quotes, statistics, or other facts.  Make sure that you write so that a non-gamer can understand what you are explaining.     Make sure that you are using clean sheets of paper, that there are no spelling errors that you can catch, and that it is as edited as possible.  Try... read more

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to stop in my humble tutoring blog!    My name is Michelle, and it's nice to meet you (in a figurative sense, at least!).  I am a substitute teacher with a background in special education and history, with an emphasis on grades 6-12.  Aside from tutoring, I also work at a chocolate shop on a part-time basis.  I definitely keep myself busy, but at least I'm never bored!   The purpose of this blog is to post supplementary links and assignments for the students I tutor, as well as to compile interesting websites for others to use.  I will always cite my sources, and would ask for the courtesy of others giving credit where it is due if my own work or lesson plans are borrowed.   That being said, let me finish with a quirky quote I heard once:   "Knowledge is power.  Power corrupts.  So study hard- be evil." -attributed to either Mark Twain...

First off, I think that if learning isn't fun or engaging, it will not be successful. With that being said, here are my five tips for helping create a more interactive, less stifled learning experience.   Tip One- Learning doesn't only occur inside of the classroom. Museums, parks, libraries and many other places can be great spots to talk a student who doesn't respond well to the typical classroom setting.   Tip Two- Incorporate passions pertaining to that particular student. When a subject becomes relatable, it becomes easier to understand.   Tip Three- Identify the students strengths, and merge them with their hobbies and interests. If a student likes baseball, figure out how baseball can help him or her understand probabilities, statistics and more.   Tip Four- Make a game out of the lesson plan. Many lessons can be turned into game-show type trivia games that are more engaging than a regular lecture or a handwritten assignment... read more

I had not realized it, but I flipped the classroom even before that term became popular in articles. Most likely this came about because I, as a student, found learning to be much more natural and exciting when I'd been on field trips, or seen/done experiments. Therefore, as the person leading the learning, I prefer to use leading questions and exercises that help the student(s) to find the correct answer through activities and thoughtful processes. The process of doing things themselves, experimenting and feeling comfortable in asking questions, leads to educational empowerment -- one of the greatest tools for any student.   Examples of Empowerment   I tutored a student trying to enter a Master In Arts program while the student worked on a paper about ancient masks, comparing a Meso American mask to an Asian mask. His difficulties arose in creating a sensible outline that would work well for the reader. I had the student visualize two exhibits he... read more

Some basic tips for students preparing for the SAT exams.    If your goal is to score high on the exams (and who doesn't want to score high) then you must start preparing early and spend the time. The preparation must be organized into a daily study schedule with a detailed list of tasks. A high score on the SAT translates directly into money in your financial aid package in college.   How to organize the preparation: 1. Study time should be scheduled for the time when you are most alert. For most people, this is the morning hours and it is entirely possible to study an hour before the start of the school day - if you go to sleep early. 2. Cut back or eliminate other social activities to properly prepare for the SAT 3. Purchase a preparatory book (used from Amazon is ideal) and use that book to organize a daily schedule for studying 4. Read printed material that you DON'T like - especially newspapers like the New York Times, Washington... read more

In any given primary or secondary class, you will find the teacher instructing a traditional subject, such as math or English. Nowadays, other kinds of curriculum are gaining notice because they enable students to explore their affective domains more readily. One such curriculum is the teaching of happiness and behavior that leads to a feeling of joy. Happiness curriculum should be explored by school districts, especially by those which take pride in improving school culture.   As an educator, I know that a happy student is more engaged in the process of learning than a sad one. Teachers can easily apply lessons based on performance objectives that focus on the acquisition of happiness. For instance, an art teacher who is showing the class how to make collages can help students to design pictures that reflect their own feelings of happiness.  Other teachers can use happiness curriculum to tie students' social practices to the joy and satisfaction they experience... read more

  For those of you who may have purchased Apple's spiffy $79 external CD/DVD burner (or Superdrive as they call it), it may not have worked when you plugged it into your older Mac. A lot of times a person's built-in optical drive fails, and they see the new external at the Apple Store. They naturally grab one assuming it'll work because they'll be using it with a Mac. Hopefully there's a "Genius" selling it to them who's going to ask which Mac they plan on using it with. I'd think probably not. It turns out it's only the fairly newer Macs that support it. When you plug it in, your older Mac might very well inform you that "This Apple External CD/DVD drive is not compatible with this Mac. Please go to Apple Support to read more." What they show you is a compatibility matrix that seems to makes no sense. I haven't compared every spec of every Mac they list, but 2009 seems to be the general cutoff.   Perhaps Apple requires USB... read more

1. Have a sense of humor about learning. I like to use humor in my tutoring, to keep students engaged and interested in the material. I've found that it's easy to zone out during a lesson, and the classes I've retained the most information from myself have been ones where the teacher employed humor. In a writing class, a teacher explained the importance of context to spelling with the quip “You need to remember which witch is which, or you'll suddenly have a lady with a black hat appear in your paper.” My high-school calculus teacher helped us remember the SOH-CAH-TOA trig function sequence by telling us a long joke about a native american who stubbed his toe and was advised by the village elder to “Soak-a-toe-a.” And later on, in a materials science class in college, our professor explained the molecular physics properties of a certain material with a joke about coal trying to rob aluminum by saying “This is a stick-up. Give me all your oxygen,” and the aluminum... read more

#1. You must lose some battles before you can win the war.-“Timing” you have 2 minutes for every quant question (37 Quant Q’s total) and about 90 seconds for each verbal question (41 Verbal Q’s total.)  There will be a clock on your screen that counts down how many minutes you have left for that particular section. While verbal can be a bit more confusing due to the reading comprehension passages, Quant/Math questions are clear-cut.  How do you get keep pace?  Set some mile-markers by memorizing the ones I’ve listed below.  At each minute, you should ideally be at the question listed.  If you’re too slow, speed up a little bit, but not too much.  If you’re too fast, take a deep breath.   75 minutes-37 Questions 60 minutes- Question 7 45 minutes- Question 15 30 minutes- Question 23 15 minutes -Question 30 10 minutes-Question 33 5 minutes- Question 35 2 minutes-Question 37   #2. Don’t be Late-... read more

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