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Learning to Read

Learning to read (Common Core) (not approved) Gwen Roberts, WyzAnt Tutor In school, kindergartners will be working on the five pillars of reading: 1.Understanding the relationship between sounds and words (phonetics) 2.Reading fluency 4.Expanding vocabulary 5.Building knowledge Tutors of younger children should keep these five pillars in mind. The Alphabet Under the Common Core Standards kindergartners, are being asked to master the alphabet far beyond singing the ABCs. They need to develop a deep understanding of what the alphabet does: that it's the code for so much of the communicating and comprehending they'll do for the rest of their lives. Decoding involves phonic awareness and word recognition. By the end of the school year, kindergartners are expected to come away with a solid understanding of alphabet basics — not only familiarity with each letter but knowing that these letters come together to make words. Kindergartners need... read more

Is accelerating mathematics a good idea?

Many students' self esteem is tied to "being ahead in math" because they have received praise in the past. Some parents, teachers and administrators put pressure on students to take more higher math courses, to take Algebra in elementary or middle school and even to skip geometry in the rushed march to AP Calculus.   I believe this is a mistake! More often than not, hyper-acceleration undermines student learning. In this post, I will present some examples of hyper-acceleration, and try to explain why they are counter-productive. While some algebra is a must before high school, moving the entire Algebra 1 course down the grades is a serious mistake. It shuts the door in the face of many students, and promotes superficial rote learning for the rest. I have worked with many, many kids who "did well" in a traditional Algebra 1 in middle school, but in fact learned nothing. When being interviewed to decide on what course they should take... read more

They Say, I Say

For students who wish to write better papers (and who doesn't?) you can check the following book out. We use it in first year composition classes to teach incoming freshmen but I believe the book is also good for those of you who have junior high or high school kiddos at home that want to improve their writing. The information on the book is:    They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing - 2nd edition by Gerald Graff ISBN13: 978-0393933611 ISBN10: 039393361X   A savvy shopper can find this online for under ten dollars!    Get reading! :)

Who is Beth Cof?

Many of my students second guess themselves or tend to speculate. So I devised the Beth Cof strategy to help students eliminate wrong answers.   There are five possible answer choices on the SAT; four on the ACT. Therefore, it's crucial to be comfortable when choosing the right answer.   B stands for too broad. E stands for extreme answers. T stands for true for the passage as a whole but not for the lines in question, and H stands for half-right, half-wrong.   C stands for could be true but not enough info. O is off-topic, and F is factually true but not stated in the passage.   Students who applied this strategy tended to get the answer right. The only downside is it can be time-consuming, so don't use it for every single Critical Reading question. Be selective - and be right!

My Teaching Philosophy

Over the many years I have been tutoring, I have time and again found myself hating the teachers that assign the homework and tests my students have to work on. Of course, this doesn't happen every time, or even most times, but it happens often enough that it prompted me to write this.   The reason I dislike these teachers so much is not related to how much work they create for me (I love my work!) or how much they make my students suffer (they don't), but rather to the fact that I consider some of the things they do to be the mark of a bad teacher. A lazy teacher. A complacent teacher. A teacher more intent on getting a grade from their students that on actually teaching them. A teacher, in short, who should not call themselves 'teacher'.   Naturally, this led me to think about my own teaching style. If I have things to complain about in others, surely I know exactly what I'm doing? A little bit in horror, I realized I had never truly thought about... read more

Student teaching

I'm currently student teaching at a high school in Chicago, which is why I cannot take new students for a while. For those of you unfamiliar with student teaching, it's a ten week bootcamp for beginning teachers. You take over a current teacher's full classload and teach as a fulltime teacher, with all the responsibilities that come with it such as attending meetings and meeting parents, all the while being supervised both by the current teacher and a state-mandated supervisor.   What's been especially tough for me is two areas. First is lesson planning. In my tutoring sessions I always spend looots of time trying to think of the best lesson apt for that student. Then I implement it and see if it works. But because everything is one on one, I get feedback easily. Not in a class of 35. Not only do you have to teach a lesson to 35 individuals, you need to master the dynamics of class management, something that is not easy because it always changes with each class.... read more

Reach for the Resources!

My favorite resources are...wordreference.com, studyspanish.com, duolingo, spanishdict.com and easy readers by Blane Ray.  My students have enjoyed the realization that they can actually read Spanish...and understand it!!

Teachers are the problem when a child does not learn?

         After 30 years of tutoring special education children, I have decided that all problems are mine, not the child's. Thus, I analyze what has already been provided in detail to determine what does and does not work. For example, children have different learning styles that are not rigid, but flexible. Each of us may be good at a tactile sport but not efficient at a sport requiring gross motor skills. Or a student may read silently better than aloud, yet prefer to read aloud to younger siblings. Another child may draw a concept better than listening to a teacher's lecture. Learning by both visual and auditory processing may be best for others, who do not prefer writing.          I was consistently talking with a student about his needs who listened attentively, yet was not making progress. I switched to a visual approach, placing my directions on 3 x 5 cards taped to his folders and some on his desk, and the shift... read more

My favorite Websites for learning English as a second language

When I think about learning English as a second language, there are several tools I like to use. Some of them are linked with vocabulary acquisition, some of them are related to grammar, some of them are for writing.   I usually browse the internet whenever I need help, but we need to be really careful with the information we find online; some of them may be wrong.   The website I browse the most and refer to all of the students I see at the writing center is the Purdue Owl. This site provides grammar, style, and format help. I usually use this site to help writers with their research paper, since it provides very accurate citation  explanations from both APA and MLA format. This website also provides grammar rules, including punctuation rules. Purdue Owl is a modern reference book. For vocabulary and reading I usually use Voa News - Learning English. This website provides current news in two levels of English and you will also have... read more

First Tutorial Session Elementary Math Completed

I am new to this organization and I just completed my first tutorial session for math 5th grade.  My student is preparing for the CRCT proficiency tests which will be in a couple of weeks.  At first I was really kinda nervous like you are the first day of school when you teach in a regular classroom setting.  I found the process easy and I was already tutoring students independently.  I think I'm going to like this! QueenV in the house!   Victoria

2013 College Admissions for My Clients

This was another banner year for my client admits: Amherst, University of Alabama, Arcadia University, Art Institute of Chicago, Barnard, Coastal Carolina University, Columbia College Chicago, University of Delaware, Drexel University (multiple admissions), Fordham University, Guilford College (multiple admissions), Hofstra University, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (multiple admissions), Ithaca College, Johnson & Wales University,LIM College, Loyola University Maryland, University of Maine, Marist College (prestigious freshman year in Florence program), University of Maryland-College Park (multiple admissions, including honors college), University of Baltimore County (all honors and Meyerhoff winner), University of Maine, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Massachusetts-Boston, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, McDaniel College, Miami University -- Oxford, University of Miami (multiple admissions), University of Florida, New York University... read more

NIC and State Board of Cosmetology Test

Why most people have a hard time on there first try to pass the State Board Exam?  Nerves has been the number one answer that seems to come up when asked that question.  Answer:  It's extremely important to prepare for exam day; be on time, to figure everything out.  Its a fact that being on time is 90 percent of the stress reduction. 

The perfect language textbook: the quest is ongoing

In my growing experiences in tutoring and from my time teaching at UVA, I have a greater appreciation for the painstaking labor required to publish a language textbook. I am also fascinated by the paradox that regardless of the plethora of choices out there for each language, every book has its strengths that somehow make other areas of it weaker. For example, a book that is strong on grammar exercises would often spend its energy focusing on grammatical accuracy but would contain less communicative/conversational practice. There was one book that I have encountered that tried to do it all, even including pronunciation- yet somehow in trying to "do it all", nothing was truly given in too much depth. My solution as a tutor? Bring a stack of different textbooks with me and switch between them according to the needs of my client! ;) It's tough to make a resource, and in the end though none is perfect, they can all work together as a "team" to help strengthen... read more

Writing Rundown: Prewriting Techniques

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

Preventing Silly Mistakes On The SAT And ACT

The “silly mistake” is quite possibly the most mischievous and irksome of the math demons. It is a sly beast that lurks in the deepest recesses of your mind, emerging only periodically to sully your scores in a most disturbing way. Because of its crafty nature, it is able to lull you into the false belief that your thorough understanding of mathematic concepts will keep you safe from its clutches. But, as I’m sure you know, “silly mistakes” afflict even the most soundly prepared students. What exactly constitutes a “silly mistake?” Here are some common examples for standardized tests: Misreading the question (or failing to read the entire instructions) Filling in the wrong bubble on your answer sheet Making a slight arithmetic error Incorrectly copying down the original problem Turning a negative number into a positive number (or vice versa) I don’t care who you are, what your educational background is, or where you go to school… you have been... read more

Holidlay Tutoring

During the School Holidays such as Spring Break, an ideal time presents itself for some special tutoring sessions for students who need some extra help with their school work.  There is no pressure from school assignments or tests, only the opportunity to advance in reading, math, vocabulary work, or geography.  Too few parents recognize this opportunity for their children to make educational advances.  It would also occupy the children during a time of unusual excitement -- holidays.  Tutoring would be a calming as well as educational experience during any holiday season off from school. 

5 Tips to Make Your Tutoring Dollars Go Farther

Before we get to the 5 Tips to Help Make Your Tutoring Dollars Go Farther, let me set them up for a minute. Trust me, they'll make more sense if I do.   I'm a "bad news first" kind of guy. I'd rather receive the bad news first so that I can better appreciate the good news that follows. And I like to give the bad news first to get it out of the way and move on to the more helpful good news. The bad news: You have probably already paid for a class and books, and now you are looking at spending money on tutoring too. Well, here's the good news: Tutoring really is an investment in yourself! And your WyzAnt tutor wants to help you succeed as much as you do.   Tutoring is a partnership. It's two people--you and your tutor--looking at a situation and working together to overcome it. "I need to pass my Calc final." "I have a paper due." "I'm taking the SAT next month and I need help."   Whatever... read more

Tutors wait! Why study skills should make up part (maybe most) of every session

(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

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