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. Having been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia and working in Kenya, I know it is possible to be successful as the characteristics for succeeding are not specifically related to money. 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... read more
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Following are some of my 'go to' online resources. They help keep me up to date and also help me provide positive technology tools for my students. By sharing these, it is my hope that you find something here useful and interesting. Math Blaster The Free Dictionary Eutopia Reading Rainbow Teaching Resources We Are Teachers Starfall.com PBS.kids Happy Teaching! Sharon H.
Hello! To start my first blog post I wanted to say a little something about how much I love tutoring and the weather forecast for Southern California since my main passion is meteorology. Tutoring is something I started in the latter half of college once I started to take upper level math courses. I loved tutoring and wished I had a team of tutors to help me when I was struggling in some of my courses at the time. Sometimes teachers can only do so much or you cannot feel like you can approach them or ask them for questions. Tutors on the other hand are always eager to help students in their studies. It's more than just helping the student, you are creating a brighter future with every student you tutor. Additionally, each time you tutor you feel even better and learn each time you do it. It's both a learning and rewarding experience. Also, for those that live in Southern California (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, and even Big Bear)... read more
Come with me on a journey of division. I have here a bag of M&Ms, which you and I and two of your friends want to share equally. I'm going to pour the bag out on the table and split it into four equal piles. For this example, “one bag” is our whole, and the best number to represent that whole would be the number of M&Ms in the bag. Let's say there were 32. If I split those 32 M&Ms into four equal piles and asked you how many were in one pile, you could certainly just count them. But a quicker way would be to take that 32 and divide it by the number of piles I'd made, which in this case is 4. You'd probably write that as: 32 ÷ 4 = 8 So there are 8 candies in each pile. Seems easy enough with a large number of M&Ms, right? But what if there were less candies – what if our “whole” was less than the entire bag? Well, for a while we'd be okay – if there were 16, for example, we'd do the same thing and come up with piles of 4 instead of piles... read more
I've found that most students have little to no difficulty understanding the difference between parallel and perpendicular lines when only one plane is involved. Either they never touch, or they intersect at a 90 degree angle, or they just plain intersect. This concept is relatively easy to visualize because it is completely 2 dimensional. Where the difficulty lies, is visualizing these same types of lines when different planes are involved, since it is 3d. To help, I utilize flash cards, or small pieces of paper. Have students draw a series of lines on each flash cards, making sure there is at least a set of parallel lines, perpendicular lines, and intersecting lines on each, and give each line a name. Then move the flashcards in different ways, either stacking them or making parallel planes, and quiz them about the new relationships between the lines.
Let me guess… the question that is currently floating through your brain is as follows: what the heck is “math anxiety?” While it may sound bizarre and made up, math anxiety is an actual condition that is quite common amongst students. It is similar to other sorts of anxiety or fear a person might encounter when doing something that is personally terrifying such as public speaking, interacting with strangers, or being around scary animals. The symbols and the operations can feel overwhelming for some, and that can trigger a subsequent anxiety reaction that completely stifles one’s brain and prevents a person from properly absorbing any material. The Cause Of Math Anxiety Math anxiety is a learned reaction. Students who have negative experiences with math early on tend to have bad emotions and limiting beliefs tied to mathematics. Once these reactions and beliefs are established, students will subconsciously return to those bad feelings whenever mathematics... read more
So you just took a practice test and you’re devastated by your results. You thought you would net more points, but lo and behold, your score is painfully below your expectations. Your math score is especially poor, but you’ve never been good at math. What is a good plan of action? Let the math score linger at a subpar level while focusing all of your energy on the verbal portion, right? Wrong. First of all, even if you’ve historically done poorly in math, you can easily turn that around with a few months of devoted practice. Second, math is the area where you can see the most marked transformation as far as testing abilities. You can certainly improve your score in the verbal section, but the base of knowledge for both the writing and reading sections is far broader. The English language is highly complex, and it takes most of us a great many years before we learn and understand all the intricacies. Math, in comparison, is much simpler. The rules and terms are... read more
Math can be a puzzling and often frustrating subject for students. Some pupils seem to effortlessly pluck A+’s from the heavens, while others grind away to earn average grades at best. Why the discrepancy? Are some brains simply predisposed to math success, while others are hopelessly misaligned? Of course not. If I believed that, I wouldn’t be teaching math. So what’s the deal? Why the blaring gap in math performance? One key factor is learning styles. Despite what your folks might say, people learn in different ways. Some students naturally thrive in standard Prussian style classroom settings; others, however, only truly soar in different environments that are better tailored to their particular strengths. If a student is struggling in math at school, it could be because the standard curriculum is not in sync with his/her learning style. This article will (1) run through the seven learning styles, (2) explain how to identify where students fit on the learning style spectrum,... read more
Finding an excellent tutor can make a tremendous impact on a child’s ability to succeed academically. While some kids are able to independently digest in class lectures and textbook explanations, others benefit greatly from an additional system of support. Parsing through the material after school with a guiding hand can fully illuminate subjects that are otherwise difficult to grasp. Translation: with the right set of mentors, all students can develop into confident adults with healthy GPAs. Most parents are well versed in the art of finding a nicely fitting academic institution, but very few are aware of the highly nuanced process for vetting a tutor. Here are six key components that parents should evaluate when searching for a tutor: 1. Experience Tutoring Or Teaching – it goes without saying that experience is critical in any field. It is particularly important in teaching, however, because there are a wide variety of students and respective learning styles. Some... read more
A new student of mine came to me with a difficult problem: “how can I go from an ‘A’ to an ‘A+?’” Now, I know what you’re thinking… she needs to get a grip. An “A” is an excellent grade, right? Certainly. But my student yearns to jump to the honors mathematics section, which is only reachable via an “A+.” So now that I’ve established that this is a totally valid request, how do I make it happen? How can someone, who is already achieving a high level of success, bridge that final gap to test taking perfection? Here are six ways an “A” student can modify their routine to grab the highly coveted and often elusive “A+.” 1. Master Mental Math – yes indeed, mental math will come in handy here. For most students struggling to nab that 100%, speed (or lack thereof) is often the culprit. One of the key reasons why students can’t get through an exam quickly is because their mental arithmetic is lagging. They spend an unnecessary amount of time either writing out arithmetic... read more
I am studying stoichiometry with a student right now. It can be confusing sometimes to think about the two or three steps required to reach your final answer. We ran into a problem that required converting weight to moles of reactants, converting moles of reactants to moles of product using mole ratio, converting moles of product back to weight, and then finally calculating the percent yield. Anybody can get lost in this soup. Take the time to write down the units at each and every step. If your units don't add up, then you know that you didn't do the problem right. When you're down and they're counting When your secrets all found out When your troubles take to mounting When the map you have leads you to doubt When there's no information And the compass turns to nowhere that you know well Let your units be your pilot Let your units guide you They will guide you well
Assumptions make up the basic fabric of Mathematics. Every problem in mathematics makes assumptions. As a student, when you see a problem on a test or in homework, the first thing you need to do is figure out what assumptions the question writer has in mind. It may be that a problem has multiple solutions, and knowing the assumptions will allow you a better chance to answer the question in the correct context. Many people who are trained in teaching write questions for the ACT or SAT make commonly accepted assumptions without realizing it. They do this because they don't have sufficient training in Mathematics and Logic to understand what assumptions they are making. Teachers often lack training, and many homework problems make unstated assumptions which confuse students and cause them to fear Mathematics. In my opinion, a student's fear of Mathematics is often a fear of being tricked by unwarranted assumptions. As a Mathematics tutor, I see... read more
It's true. I really do hate math, and have since time immemorial. We're just... not friends. It's not something that has ever come naturally to me. "Well, wait a minute here. Aren't you primarily a math tutor??" You might be thinking this right about now, and if you're not, you should be. Because, yes, I am in fact primarily a math tutor, and have enjoyed a fair amount of success with my students. Clearly, this presents something of a conflict of interest with the previous statement. The truth is, I tutor math BECAUSE I hate math. Here's my logic: I know what it's like. I know how it feels to (seemingly) be the only one to "not get it." I remember, all too clearly, late nights, tears, and lowered self-esteem over not feeling intelligent because of math assignments. And now, in adulthood, having gone up through Calculus II in college, I realize I CAN do it, I just didn't THINK I could. I didn't feel like I measured up, but it was just perception borne of frustration... read more
“When are we ever going to use this?” It’s a question that has plagued math classes for years beyond count. The answer to the question depends largely on what is meant by, “this.” If it’s mathematics that is being referenced, then the answer is most likely to be never. If, however, “this,” is taken to mean step by step problem solving, then the answer is a resounding, every day. Consider the following. Recently, I’ve been volunteering at an elementary school teaching algebra to fifth graders. The main problem that I’m seeing is not that they don’t understand the mathematics behind the problems. The problem is that that they haven’t yet learned to approach the problems with a systematic approach. When faced with a new problem, they stumble around with a guess and check approach until they find an answer that works. Contrast that with an experience that I had the other day. My mother-in-law was talking about music time with her class. The students were gathered... read more
Title 1 provides academic assistance to selected students who are failing or are at risk of failing to meet the State’s challenging content and student performance standards in reading and mathematics. The challenge lies in pinpointing where each student is struggling and providing support to each student individually. You cannot simply help in general terms, you must be specific and goal oriented. I have found that most importantly, the classroom environment has to allow for every student to be comfortable in trying out new things, making mistakes, learning from them and from other students. In my Title 1 classes, although I am the teacher, I encourage the students to explain their thought process when solving problems. Other students will agree or understand a different approach, which is more efficient than just hearing my methods. The board has now become their scratch paper and they use it constantly to work out problems together, which is better... read more
Dazzling pocket PCs are aplenty for the children of today. Kids roll into the classroom with iPhones, Blackberries, and various Android devices capable of supporting myriad complex applications. We are living in a wonderful age where handheld computers help us tremendously and continuously. Alongside all of the fancy apps (that allow us to manage everything from our finances to our fantasy football teams) is a standard utility application that accompanies every smartphone: the basic calculator. Need to carry out some quick arithmetic to figure out how much money you owe your buddy? Pull out your phone and type away. It’s that simple. So why the heck do kids need to memorize the multiplication table? Because it is still crucial to a successful math career and a promising life thereafter. Don’t believe me? Here are four reasons why mental math is still tremendously important and absolutely foundational. 1. Confidence Is Key You have likely heard people utter... read more
By far, one of the most difficult concepts in elementary mathematics is fractions...and it is all our fault. One of the major misconceptions among many education systems was that early exposure to fractions would help students learn them. This meant attempting to introduce fractions before students could even multiply or divide. You have no idea the trauma this has had among decades of students. Education systems created self-induced math anxiety. For years I had to address what I can only describe as fraction PTSD. I had talented Algebra students immediately clam up if the problem had a fraction. Now as a teacher I of course did my job and we spent time trying to get ourselves comfortable with fractions but in the back of my mind I knew I was using valuable class time to address an issue that simply shouldn't even rear it's ugly head in Algebra. But every year it was there. Students were crying, parents were crying, and teachers were crying over the fraction crisis... read more
I ran across this article as I was preparing for the Winter Session. It exemplifies my approach to education: pursuing STEAM and STEM topics from a place of passion and discipline. My years of Performance Arts Education truly make a difference in my tutoring sessions. I was definitely pleased with the talents my students have brought to the table! Great to read a bio that explains how far it can take them. Partnering Math and Dance Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office MIT senior Kirin Sinha was just 3 years old when she took her first dance class. Unlike other girls who sign up for tap dancing or ballet to channel a gregarious personality, Sinha, by her own account, was painfully shy, and dance was a way for her to come out of her shell. She soon found that she didn’t mind the spotlight. That first dance class led to many more; in grade school, Sinha started performing competitively, and later professionally, in classical Indian dance. Around... read more
Here are some of my favorite resources that cover multiple subject areas in a single resource. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores. (All grades) www.wyzant.com/resources/answers - homework help from real tutors and teachers (All grades) http://www.wyzant.com/resources/lessons - lessons and tutorials from real tutors and teachers (Varies) FactMonster.com – Formulas, practice, and basic information for chapter reviews or previews. (PreK-8, 12) SheppardSoftware.com – Math, Language Arts, Science, Health and History games, + SAT vocab flash cards (K-8) Softschools.com – Flashcards, practice lessons, and general guidance in all core subjects (K-6) Eduplace.com – Online textbook-based lessons and practice for elementary school students- a GREAT resource if you’ve left your textbook at school or if you need more worksheets to practice with... read more
Here are some of my favorite Math resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores. As a note, college-level math textbooks are often helpful for high school math students. Why is that? Isn't that a little counter-intuitive? Yes, it would appear that way! However, many college-level math textbooks are written with the idea that many college students may not have taken a math class in a year or more, so they are written with more detailed explanations. This can be particularly helpful for high school students taking Algebra, Geometry, and Trig. I have a collection of college-level math books that I purchased at a local used bookstore. The most expensive used math book I own cost $26 used. Books that focus on standardized test prep (such as the SAT, AP, or GED prep) can be helpful for all core subjects, as they summarize key ideas more succinctly than 'normal' textbooks. These... read more