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New sessions may bring a feeling of anxiety or uncertainty: will the new tutor be able to help me? Is it someone who I will be able to understand? Will they be able to answer my questions?   Here are some tips for clearing up the possible confusion to hopefully create a successful first encounter!   1) Be prepared to study: have on hand writing utensils, paper, textbooks as needed, and an open mind.   2) Have a list of the exact goals: both for that day, and your long term goals (what do you desire to accomplish through tutoring? How many sessions do you expect to have?)   3) Have a list of specific questions for your tutor: about their experience, methods, teaching philosophy, availability, fees. Also questions revolving around the subject matter at hand.    4) Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions! A good tutor, if they don't have the answer on hand, will be able to research, or guide your research to find... read more

Recently, I have encountered students and their parents who have the expectations that tutoring for the reading in ACT and the reading in SAT (and PSAT) is quite the same.  That can't be farther from the truth.  They are different animals, and require different approaches.  If a student wishes to be prepared for both, they need to be prepared to have separate lessons.   The ACT is really about construct.  In other words, this means how sentences are put together in terms of clauses, phrases, proper punctuation, etc.  Most students who read the sentences and passages aloud can usually distinguish which passages are improperly constructed, because they don't sound "right" to a native speaker.  Teaching this is about teaching confidence in one's abilities to speak their language properly.   The SAT, on the other hand, is a much more nuanced test.  Rarely does this test concern itself with proper and improper... read more

Hello fellow artists.  Today I would like to let you into the wonderful world of gouache.  This painter friendly medium is easy to use and gives wonderful rich coverage and and clear saturated colors. Gouache dries very quickly and because of this characteristic a painting can be modified without having to wait hours for it to dry. The most important thing about gouache is if the underlying layer is dry and you put another different color layer on top, it will not turn the new color to mud. It will blend, but the color on top will be the predominate color.     Give gouache a whirl, it is the unsung hero of the art world.  It can be used on traditional watercolor paper or illustration board or mixed media paper. It can also be used on mylar.  It is delicate, though, gouache paintings/illustrations should be framed under glass. It can be used in both fine art and commercial applications.  It is similar to watercolor in that it can be... read more

Only you can write you. Your faith, your tastes, your culture, your humor, your philosophy on life, or your world view comes through, unless you cater to the masses and worry about whether or not others will accept you. Acceptance that matters is acceptance that lasts. Or as CS Lewis puts it, "If it's not eternal, then it's eternally worthless," though he was not ready to say that, Oxford don or not, until such a point in his life when he decided what HIS stance was. Until then, we are all carried about by the wind, with no place to rest. Sometimes your own culture may have a majority of citizens that detest or oppose you. It is how you handle this that determines who you become. 90% of journals may not accept you because your writing and ideas are counter to theirs, so what you do is start your own journal, your own press. This is freedom of press. This is your right. It may surprise you what you discover. Be courageous. 

The most frustrating thing about meeting with a student who is struggling in class is when he or she can't tell me what their assignment is. I'm pretty good at explaining what the teacher probably wants, but I don't read minds! Give me a break and show up with the assignment sheet--ideally, at least two days before your first deadline.   What I have always loved about working one-on-one with students is that I'm not responsible for grading their work, so we can just focus on their writing and how to make it better.

The first session is really a time for the tutor to get to know the student. The tutor really needs some time to understand where the student struggles and what they can do. Make the first session fun. The student and the tutor should lay out their expectations and how they plan to achieve those goals.

I was recently privileged to come across this compilation of research into computerized tutoring, an article called "The Feeling of Learning," written by Annie Murphy Paul, on her information-packed blog about learning ( It demonstrates, in measurable ways, how learning is the result of an intricate emotional dance between teacher and learner. Moreover, it shows how very lucky students are that this technology already exists -- in the form of human tutors. A real, live tutor can arrive at a student's own home, on the student's schedule, complete with all the cognitive and emotional "software" necessary to teach or reinforce new skills effectively. Best of all, human tutors are invested in their students' success -- we genuinely care to see our students do well; no amount of "cyberjoy" can foster the depth of validation students feel when another human being says, "Nice work!"    From http://anniemurphypaul... read more

As the iPhone 6 is released, many people are being notified on their older models that iOS 8 is available for download. And as usual, many people are blindly clicking through the upgrade without stopping to understand what they're doing and why. Most are also disregarding any warnings to back up their data before performing the upgrade.   Here's a post I saw from just today. It's a response to a friend who had "issues" upgrading: "My friend lost pics of her recently deceased father..."   Please, don't walk around with irreplaceable pictures on your iPhone and nowhere else! You can't keep just one copy of valuable data on a single device that could easily end up in the toilet bowl tomorrow. The iPhone is a smartphone, but that's still a phone. It happens to have a good camera and some slick software, but would you walk around every waking hour with a digital camera that held every one of your pictures, and the only... read more

As a student who is preparing for a first meeting with a new tutor, it is crucial that you have any relevant school work from the previous and current years on hand to discuss with the tutor.  If you are preparing to meet a standardized prep test tutor, you will want to have some writing samples, and all practice tests and scores available for the tutor to study.  The tutor will want to analyze your results in order to pinpoint the kinds of questions missed.  This has nothing to do with your intelligence - but it has everything to do with how well you understand and can deal with  these types of questions on a standardized exam that is meant to test the grammar, vocabulary, writing,  reading comprehension and quantitative skills of hundreds of thousands of students in the United States.  Be ready to talk about any prior practice or real tests you have taken.  Jot down notes the night before so that you can think back to the difficult... read more

Chemistry, in my opinion, is the most widely applied subject in the educational system. You can apply chemistry when you're cooking, cleaning, filling up your car, brewing beer or wine, welding, dating (carbon and speed dating), and thousands of industrial processes. I once heard from one of my chemistry professors, Dr. Chad Morris, "Chemistry is applied physics, and physics is applied math." Therefore physics, chemistry, and math all work in harmony.   You probably apply chemistry every day and don't realize it. When you make coffee in the morning, ever wondered about the chemistry involved in making a cup of joe? You have to first grind the roasted coffee beans to expose the caffeine and flavor compounds housed within the beans. You then have to filter hot water through the grinds to extract the much needed caffeine and flavors. Water works as a solvent to dissolve the polar caffeine and flavor molecules which pass through the coffee filter and into your... read more

The advice I would give to the first session for a student with a new tutor is be prepared with paper, pencils, books if possible, and what is you goal to take away from the tutoring sessions.  Be very patient learning the material because it takes time and good practice with math.  Math requires understanding and technique.   

You might have heard of the following problem.     As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks, every sack had seven cats, every cat had seven kitts. Kitts, cats, sacks, wives, how many were going to St. Ives?   This is a rather good problem and a rather old problem.  In fact some of the hieroglyphics found on papyrus more than 3000 years old are believed to represent a very similar problem!   I think this problem, while amusing, is a little big ambiguous and slightly alarming.  Is the toothed, clawed, furry and wild-haired army en route to St.Ives like the narrator or is the narrator passing them while they are in their their home?   Can we assume the man meets the army head on as they are returning from St.Ives?   Is the man travelling with his entourage or is just meeting them on his way to St.Ives?  What kind of person carries 7 cats and 49 kittens in a sack?  What... read more

I remember how nervous I was during every major test in my life. The SAT, AP Tests before undergraduate school. Then there was the dreaded GRE required for admission to graduate school. Fast forward: my master's degree test involved a full day of writing (with no notes or books). My doctoral exams involved a full day of writing, three times a week for one week (also with no notes or books). Talk about torture! And then there was the faculty review ... whew! But you know what? I needn't have been nervous and neither should you, because "testing" begins the minute you walk into the classroom door. If you pay attention in class, do your homework, stay focused (you can always "play" later), take good care of your mind and body -- exercise a little to relieve stress and stay healthy -- and create a peaceful environment in which to study a little bit every day during the school week, you should be able to retain information and write to the best... read more

When anticipating meeting a new tutor, one thing to keep in mind is to be yourself.  Everyone is anxious with an initial meeting, therefore it is better to be as relaxed as you possibly can to alleviate anxiety that sometimes comes when meeting new people.  Getting acclimated with each other is also an important step. Finding that "comfort" level is important to all parties involved, and produces a better outcome. It is also essential for the tutor, the student, and the parent/s to be well prepared for the lesson.  This helps alleviate any apprehension during the first time visit.  With all of these things in mind, a new comfort level will develop which will help develop an environment conducive to learning.

The answer is “Yes” you can learn Cryptography from these videos, but honestly you are going to need a real degree to do the real stuff. You can find out that number theory and probability theory are used. Their video says, “a lock is only as strong as its weakest point” and suggests that conceptually codes may be reduced to fingerprints. I learned its called Frequency Analysis when you count repetitions, presumably with the purpose of breaking a code. It helps if you have some practice. I have some through my classes and standardized tests. There is believe it or not some code braking on tests like The SAT and the SHSAT. On The SAT it was an advanced problem. I used the following technique to solve the SAT problem: serially shift and algebraically move, decode from a latin alphabet to a numerical one. This is problem 16 page 418 from ISBN-13: 978-0-87447-852-5, The College Board’s The Official SAT Study Guide: A four-digit integer, WXYZ, in which... read more

For the first lesson please make sure that you really know what you are having problems with.  In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, everybody is supposed to cover the same material within a specific window of time.  Your class might be a week, or week and a half ahead or behind, so it is important that you are aware where you are at.  In addition, make sure that you have the textbook, or workbook, available and a calculator, if you are 7th grade and up!!! And most importantly, make sure you get some rest and be ready to RUMBLE !!! :)

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