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Vocabulary…vocabulary…vocabulary

As I am getting my own college bound Senior ready for applications, tests, and essays, I find myself realizing how important an extensive vocabulary can be to help with all the preparations.   For a student with a 504 Plan or an I.E.P., advanced vocabulary can be a real challenge on standardized tests.  For many students, so much time has been spent on study skills and reading for content, often higher level vocabulary is overlooked.  What can you do?  Look online for games that encourage vocabulary building skills.  Go to a site like Quizlet and look up words from the PSAT, SAT, or ACT to study.  There are games and flashcards already done, or you can make your own.   Try to learn a new word every day and use it!  It is a fun challenge and a great way to expand your knowledge.  Then, when you get into higher level readings, you have built a better base to help you understand the content and context of your readings.   Happy... read more

Back to School

As summer comes to an end, most students are trying to pack in the last bit of fun in the sun. If you haven't done much studying this summer, take advantage of your final moments of free time to read a book for fun (hopefully outside) or to play fun games that also challenge you to think.  If your back to school list/schedule shows you what books or subjects you'll be studying, take the time to find out what it is you will be learning about. For reading subjects, skim through the books or read online summaries. For math and science, explore the amazing online study tools available. This will help to prepare you for the year ahead and maybe even get you excited to learn.

Organization is Key!

As the return to school is quickly approaching, it is important to examine what makes a difference to a strong school year.  There are many things that will have an impact on the success of a student.  One of the most important things is organization.  Many students have a great deal of difficulty not only being organized, but truly understanding what it is to be organized.  Here a a few tips to get your year off to a great start. 1.  Assure that you have the proper school supplies:  While the list that teachers send home appear to be long and silly be assured that there is a purpose for those items.  Many times the items requested are there to aid the student in organizational success.  This applies to color coding notebooks and folders per subject to having post it notes available for the students.  2.  Planner:  I know that many schools provide them and many students neglect to use them.  This is not only... read more

Top 3 Ways to Start the School Year Strong

As summer break is winding down, many students look ahead to fall and one question is on their minds: how can I start this year strong? Well, trust me, your teachers are saying the same thing (yes, your teachers are people too). For teachers and students alike, fall is a time to start over and begin the year anew.   Chances are, you've grown as a person over the summer. I remember the fall of my junior year in high school, several students came back looking like completely different people because they had grown and changed so much over the summer. Be prepared for this. You may want to take a moment to put some effort into your own appearance, which brings me to tip #3:   3. Buy a back to school outfit (or two). Even if your budget is limited, Old Navy has some great stuff, even if it's just a few new pairs of socks or t-shirts. Or go for a few new outfits at your favorite store. Keeping your appearance neat the first week of school will make a great... read more

Geometry and Needed Catchy Sayings

When you have to recall your order of operations, you use Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. I have created two memorable sayings that will help when you have to suddenly recall the formulas for the circumference and/or the area of circles. The saying for area is Auntie's Pies R at 2o'clock or A=piR^2 and circumference is Cooks have Two Pies Ready or C=2piR.   A=PiR^2  and C=2PiR   Keep practicing. Be well.

Tutoring Before Start of School Year

An ideal time to obtain tutoring is the month prior to the beginning of the new school year.  Tutoring at this time begins to orient the student's mind to the discipline of schoolwork.   Important concepts can be reviewed and strengthened, and new concepts can be anticipated and prepared for.  The student can be reminded of certain principles of learning and of proper school behavior.  Their reading skills, math skills, English skills, and geography skills can be built up to give them a firm foundation to begin their new school year.  Parents, take advantage of the month prior to school starting to get tutoring, even once a week, for your student!

Be Careful With Fans

In recent months, I’ve felt the need, as one who has made a study of the laws of physics, to educate the general public and dispel myths that abound in society today. Today, I’d like to talk about fans. This is a topic of great personal significance to me in that, growing up, my parents wouldn’t turn the air conditioning on unless the temperature inside the house got up into the 80’s (about 27-29 Celsius). Instead, we were told to just turn the fan on. Knowing what I know now, I can say that that wasn’t the best of ideas. To find out why I say that, let’s look at a fan from the standpoint of thermodynamics*. When you turn a fan on, you bring in a steady flow of energy into whatever room the fan occupies. Friction guarantees that, given enough time, all of this energy will be turned into heat. What this means is that, unless the energy is allowed to escape, then it will just continue to build up, heating the room. The good news is that the electrical energy brought into... read more

Ready! Set! Go!

Going back to school is an exciting time of year!!!  New friends, new clothes, new supplies, new teachers.  The beginning of the year marks a new beginning, period.  This is the time to think back to last year.  What did you learn?  What mistakes did you make? What can you do better?  Make some goals for this new year!!! This is your time to start all over.  The past does not matter.  What do you want for your education?  For your career?  For your future?  Create an image in your mind of what you want.  Once you visualize your goals being achieved, write them down.  What are your goals? What can you do this year to get closer to reaching your goals?   Once you have your goals in mind and what you are going to do this year to reach them, focus on a few small strategies to help you achieve your success.  A few small steps that will give you big results are: 1. Be ready to learn by being organized... read more

ASVAB Tutors

To all the other ASVAB Tutors,   I would like to know if you have any advice to offer to us new tutors? I would appreciate the assistance.

Great Resource for learning English and foreign languages

Duolingo is a free website and mobile app for language learning. Lessons include translating sentences, identifying objects, repeating words and much more. It is a useful tool that I have been having a lot of fun with lately. I recommend to check it out if you are studying English as a second language, foreign languages, or you enjoy learning in your free time. 

ESL and You: The Basics

What is ESL?   ESL stands for English as a Second Language. While this has been the standard acronym for years, there are other acronyms that are associated with this particular field.    ELL - English Language Learner - This refers to students in ESL programs. Generally, it is an umbrella abbreviation for any learner of English whose native language is not English.    TEFL - Teachers of English as a Foreign Language - This refers to instructors who teach ELLs. You will commonly see this abbreviation used more than others. See also TESL and TESOL.   TESL - Teachers of English as a Second Language - Refers to ESL instructors.   TESOL - Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages - Refers to ESL instructors.    ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages - This actually refers to the English language itself; not the instructor.  Now that we have the basic acronyms out of... read more

WHY BOTHER TELLING ANYBODY ANYTHING?

Where are you? Bottom of a mountain? Half-way up? Probably don't need a boost or a climbing partner. What's so grand about a very large rock?   I've been there. It's pretty neat. You can see the stars through daytime blue. You can see things in colors and sizes not even the best climbers have seen yet. What's the big thing? Ice freezes your wrists and thighs, it's hard to talk to each other through the wool covering your mouth, a lot of people have died up here. Well, let me tell you... I've climbed a lot in a lot of different countries, but from this mountain, I found the sun. The sun is not round, it is a war, orange fire, flares of white yellow.   That's it, actually. Didn't really find anything else here. Chicken soup. An interesting rock. A flag bent over in a drift. But the sun at altitude bears you backwards, breathless. If from this high mountain, you could see the sun as it is, alive, piercing, shuddering with temperature, what's... read more

Make yourself a good tutor

An article on math education in the NY Times (July 23, 2014) wrote this about our teacher quality and resulting education: " In addition to misunderstanding math, American students also, on average, write weakly, read poorly, think unscientifically and grasp history only superficially." I would like to focus on my area of English: writing and reading. The article discussed teacher training and techniques to improve teaching results. I would like to add that for us tutors also, techniques to present our subjects are critical to help students. Some tutors are former or current professional teachers; others may be retired people from business, housewives earning extra money, college students, or even working professionals in various fields. It's fine to teach business skills to graduate students if you are an executive, swimming to children if you are a swimming coach, or history to high schoolers if your major is history. Yet, simply tutoring in your major field... read more

Twitter? On-line Tutoring? Short Sessions? Yes, Yes, Yes!

Howdy, dear readers!   If you are reading this, you probably found me through WyzAnt.  Fantastic!  WyzAnt has connected me with great students, and I'm happy to continue my partnership with WyzAnt.  What you might not know is that there are lots of ways to work with me to get the study help you need.  If you need a little help, consider on-line tutoring for 15 or 30 minutes.  If you send me the question in advance, I can offer a short tutoring session for specific inquiries.  If you are a registered WyzAnt student (with payment information on file), I can connect you to my Twitter account and my other on-line resources.  Billing can be done through WyzAnt.  Easy, right?   Academic success is as much about your habits and discipline as it is about having the right resources to help you succeed.  Let me help you by sharing my knowledge and resources.   Happy learning!    

Practicing for IELTS Speaking

Practicing for the speaking part of the IELTS English proficiency exam is daunting, to say the least. There are so many elements of a good speech that you have to remember to score the necessary band to get into your English-speaking university of choice. If you are not sure where to start, take a look at these tips: 1.) Don’t worry so much about your speed. More important are your abilities to speak without grammatical mistakes and to have few pauses or hesitancies in your speaking. Pronunciation is also negatively affected by speaking too quickly. So slow down, and concentrate on making yourself understood. 2.) Choose your higher-level vocabulary carefully. Many students end up sounding like they are living 150 years ago because their vocabularies are so formal. Choose a few (about three or four) words that are higher-level in your interview to use. Don’t overdo it. 3.) Use transitions. The flow of ideas from one part of the speaking prompt to another... read more

Don't forget the Humanities!

I recently came across this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, urging college professors to fight grade inflation in the Humanities. As a college-level Instructional Assistant, I see this all the time. Students feel that their grade in their Anthropology course should reflect only effort and completion, not the content and understanding. This a trend that is not seen in the STEM fields as readily. As a result, professors are pressured to do just that; grade distribution in nearly all humanities classrooms do not follow a standardized bell curve as they might in a science or math classroom.    This sort of behavior not only devalues the importance of the humanities in our society, but also puts our students at a disadvantage. The humanities (Reading, Writing, and the Social Sciences) not only teaches us valuable lessons about communication, and how to connect with other human beings, but allows as a venue to contextualize the STEM fields... read more

The Fascinating Arabic Language

With its elegant script, right-to-left orientation and ancient origins, the Arabic language holds a fascination for many. Here is a brief introduction:   The Arabic script The Arabic ‘alphabet’ contains 28 letters but, unlike English, there are actually two different orders that they are presented in. One is termed the abjad, and is similar to Hebrew, with each character representing both a letter and a number. The hija order puts characters that look the same together, and is used when ordering phonebooks and directories. Spoken Arabic: Language or languages? Spoken – or colloquial – Arabic varies so much between regions that there are legitimate grounds to classify each ‘dialect’ as a different Arabic language in its own right. The most widely recognized is the Egyptian language, spoken by 52 million Egyptians as a first language and a further 24 million as a second language. The popularity of the Egyptian language is fueled... read more

Learning is a Lifestyle

In my experience as an educator, certain factors are more intimately tied to academic success than others. The all-too-common assumption often made by those struggling in the classroom is that some students are born intelligent, while others are not. This assumption generally takes it for granted that intelligence is some innate property, with the unfortunate effect that those who feel they are less intelligent often feel discouraged and are tempted to give up. If you have struggled with the temptation to accept a failing or barely passing grade, then I hope I can offer you ways to improve! While it is true that different individuals possess different levels of intelligence, I have not found intelligence to be anything like the most important determinant of success. The reason that intelligence alone is insufficient for long term success is that just because a person has a quick mind, or can understand difficult material faster than the average person does not mean that she... read more

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