Poetry is the absolute beauty of the human heart expressing emotion in a form that delights, and leaves the reader with a feeling of contentment in one spectrum, and a feeling of remorse in another. No other form of writing has the ability and power to inspire the emotion created through poetry. There are more than sixty different popular forms of poetry commonly used today. Many forms from the Old World, have been Americanized to suit the American style for writing. Interchanging Poetry is a narrative combining poetry with discussion, debate, dialog, or description; using the poetry to emphasize the narrative. It is a new form of poetry developing interchanging literary devices to enhance poetic discourse. Generally, writers will incorporate a poem into their article, publication, or book to make a point or site as a reference. This is common practice giving the author of the poetry proper credit. This is not a common practice with poets, who write... read more
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Virtual education’s popularity is on the rise. Parents have a wide variety of schools to choose from if they decide to enroll their children in a virtual school. This can make choosing a virtual school that's right for your children difficult. This article summarizes five important things to consider when choosing a virtual school for your children. 1. Independent Study vs. Live Instruction First, review the school’s website and any literature they have to see whether they use a live, online learning environment or if students will learn content in an independent study setting. There are pros and cons to each. An exhaustive list is outside of the scope of this article. In my experience as a former virtual schoolteacher, high school students can handle independent study with the right amount of supervision from their parents, middle school students cannot. They need the structure that live, online classes provide. Live, online classes typically use the same virtual... read more
If you had asked my middle school students to describe our class routines, you might have thought I was their English teacher, not Social Studies. As a teacher and tutor, I’ve tried to pass on a legacy for the love of reading to my students. I often tell them, “If you can read, you can teach yourself anything.” In this article, I will give you some tips on how to get your children to read more, and more often. It’s Not Magic! Occasionally, parents visited my classroom to ask, “How do you do it?” They were usually referring to the success of my Friday Silent Reading routine. Each fall, I explained the importance of literacy to my students and said that practice is best way to improve reading skills. I told them that I expected them to bring a book of their choice to class every day, to read it if they finished all the day’s scheduled activities I’d given them, and that the first 20 minutes of class every Friday was reserved for sustained silent reading. Parents... read more
The end of the school year is coming very fast! We need to ensure that our children and students are readily prepared for the tests that are coming. Through extra vocabulary practice, increased reading times, as well as checking for reading comprehension is very important. It's also important to start thinking about next year. If this had some rough spots, that could be avoided next year. We need to work together! If you child was specifically having issues in one subject area, we could take the summer time and ensure that they are more comfortable and even advanced in that subject area. Contact me ASAP if you are interested in having your student tutored this summer!
May is a busy month for schools. Standardized tests, field trips, and graduation planning takes center stage. Teachers meet with parents of struggling students as well as those who would benefit from summer enrichment classes to discuss summer school enrollment. This article will help parents/ guardians decide whether or not to enroll their child(ren) in summer school. A "Bad Rap" The words “summer school” tend to stir negative thoughts. Many parents and students falsely believe that going to summer school is a bad thing. Some cite teasing as a reason for not sending their child to summer school. Others think that their child will become overwhelmed without a summer break. In truth, research has shown that students who do not participate in any school – related activities during a two – month summer break can lose up to three months of the previous year’s learning! Teachers always include nearly a month’s worth of “re-teaching” (reviewing the previous year’s content)... read more
Professional athletes hire personal trainers and learn as much as possible about getting the most out of their bodies. They study things such as exercise’s effect on muscles, the vitamins and minerals they’ll need to rebuild muscle, and how much water they’ll need to drink to stay hydrated while working out. Students can use the same approach by learning about biopsychology and learning - related biopsychology research to get their brains in tiptop shape. This article will teach you a few things about biopsychology so you can get your brain ready for maximum learning. What is Your Brain Made Of? About 70% of our brain is made up of fatty acids. (The other 30% is made up of protein.) This is because the cell membranes of neurons, the cells that make up our brain, are created by a double layer of fatty acids. The cell membrane holds all the cell’s contents and gives neurons their shape. So, when you see a picture of your brain, you are looking at the cell membranes of... read more
Students sometimes feel like they’ve run a marathon when the first semester of school ends. Depending on individual circumstances, students may truly have put in more effort than usual this semester. Students who didn’t meet your (or their own) academic expectations may feel anxious about the end of winter/ Christmas break. This article lists four (4) things you can do as a parent (or that adult students can do themselves) to renew themselves and prepare to improve their second semester performance. Four Tips for a Better Second Semester Regardless of grade level, most students feel they can improve something about their first semester performance. Here are some tips to help your child (or yourself) prepare for academic success the second semester. 1. Write Long and Short – Term Goals: One of the best ways to improve performance is to create academic goals and write them down. I always have my students write a weekly academic goal in their journals. Their goals must... read more
There is plenty of research about the “summer brain drain” – a reference to the amount of learning that children lose during their summer breaks. Some researchers believe students can lose as much as three months worth of last year’s learning over the summer. Several reasons are cited for this; one of them is the absence of regular reviews of material to reinforce what’s been learned. This article summarizes the “brain drain” phenomenon and how educators, parents, and families can help prevent this from happening. “Summer Brain Drain” Educational researchers have studied the “summer brain drain” phenomenon for years. Most of this research is related to the psychology of memory, forgetting, and biopsychology. There are many causes of “forgetting”, including something as simple as walking through a (virtual or real) doorway. (For an article on the “doorway forgetting effect”, see Dr. Ira E. Hyman Jr’s. article titled “Doorways Cause Forgetting: What did I come here for... read more
Nearly all high school and college students have a research paper requirement. Many college students are likely facing imminent research paper deadlines as the semester ends. Writing research papers can cause a lot of anxiety. This article will teach you how to narrow your research topic, clarify your thesis statement, and sort and organize your research to help you simplify your final editing process. Editing for Both Quality and Quantity. One common issue is having a research paper that is either too long or too short. Narrowing and clarifying your topic will help you write a better thesis statement and help you use only your most important or interesting facts and information. A properly focused topic will help save time by helping you use more specific keywords and phrases for your Internet search. You’ll be able to collect the facts you need in no time. Narrowing Your Topic. Many teachers or professors give students a broad research paper topic. For example, your... read more
Your brain has “cheats” and shortcuts to make it work more efficiently, just like some video games! There are things students can do to “glitch” their brains so they soak up information like a sponge. All of these “cheats” are things we should do to keep our brains healthy to ensure they keep working at maximum capacity throughout our lives. This article lists four brain “cheats”, how they help students learn, and a brief explanation of why they work. Brain “Cheats” When I started playing video games in the 1980’s, gamers were nothing like they are today. The Internet (GASP!) didn’t exist. We couldn’t look up articles or videos on how to finish the hard sections of the video games we played. Some gamers did learn “cheats” anyway: ways to get advantages you could use to make it easier to finish all the levels. For example, the cheat for “Space Invaders” on the system I played had (Atari 2600!) was to hold down the “reset” button while turning your console on to get 99... read more
I taught my middle school students about memory at the beginning of each school year. I quizzed them about their memories over the next three to four weeks, then reduced the reviews to once every other week. My students commented, “Why do you keep quizzing us about memory? We already know this stuff.” My response was, “Exactly! That’s why I keep quizzing you.” Students of all ages use different learning techniques that teachers and parents have taught them. Each technique is based on memory related research. This article will help parents, teachers, tutors, and all students understand the four stages of memory and how to use this knowledge to improve the quality and quantity of learning. Four Stages of Memory Human memory is a four - stage process: input, encoding, rehearsal, and retrieval. A problem at any stage affects memory and learning. When I teach these stages to my students, I use a filing cabinet analogy. Here’s how the analogy goes: Think of your brain... read more
This article lists 10 websites I highly recommend for students and their parents. In parenthesis next to the URL is a label listing the site’s intended audience: parents, students, or home school parents. 1. Studystack: www.studystack.com (students, home school parents). My student’s test scores improved by 24% when I started using this website instead of study guides for tests. Studystack is a free web application that lets parents, teachers, or tutors create electronic flashcards (called “study stacks”) by typing a question into a box on the left and its answer in a box on the right. (I recommend creating about 20 study stacks at a time and then saving them.) Study Stack converts these into flashcards, games, and quizzes students can use to study. The games are easy and fun; my students loved logging on. Each study stack set has its own unique URL, so give students the specific name of the stack after saving it so they can find it. 2. Bubbl.us: https://bubbl.us (students,... read more
In a recent article titled “Tutors and Virtual Schools: How Can They Help?” (November 2, 2012) I summarized several ways tutors can help students improve their chances for virtual school success. As a former virtual – hybrid schoolteacher where students attended online classes three days a week and received face – to – face instruction from teachers the other two days, I noted several important factors that led to successful virtual school transitions. This article covers four of these areas to help parents make the virtual school decision. 1. Adult supervision. Adult supervision is key to virtual student success! Typically, a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult, signs a document stating they will serve as the student’s “learning coach” (or similar label). Learning coaches are responsible for making sure students attend online classes, complete daily assignments, turns in their completed work on time, and follows any written curriculum or pacing guides. Virtual students... read more
I remember a public service announcement about reading from my childhood. I don’t remember the images, but the message said, “Reading is fundamental.” Growing up in a book – filled home with a family of readers and frequent library trips, I naively thought everyone knew this. I was saddened to learn that not everyone loved to escape into fictional worlds of words as much as we did. This article gives parents five tips for helping their kids learn to enjoy reading and become lifelong readers. 1. Let kids make their own reading choices. Young children enjoy the bonding experience that comes from hearing their parents read stories aloud. Just about anything will do – as long as it’s read somewhat dramatically. They will sit and listen intently. However, pre – teens and teenagers want independence. Parents can use this to their advantage to help get their older children to enjoy reading. This does not mean parents should let their children read inappropriate material. Provide... read more
Once you decide that you or your child needs tutoring, how much tutoring time do you really need? There are so many things occupying your time that you want to pinpoint exactly how many hours a week you need. You may not know how to judge you/ your child’s needs. This article gives you four tips to help you decide how much tutoring you need. 1. Grades and test scores. K – 12 students take standardized tests – sometimes more than one each year – that can tell you about how well your child is doing in school. Collect any score reports you have and review the remarks and the charts. This is especially helpful if you have more than one year’s worth. Compare the charts from several years’ worth of score reports. Is your child improving, or are scores going down each year? Are they staying the same? Declining scores indicates students are not keeping up with classmates academically. While their scores might be consistent, students should be earning higher scores to be performing... read more
Teachers, like most professionals, know the value of working as a team to meet the educational needs of a diverse student population. Many middle schools organize their faculty into smaller teaching teams and set aside common planning time for teams to meet and discuss teaching strategies for their assigned students. This article shows parents how to change the way they think about their child’s education and consider all teachers, tutors, coaches, and group leaders as part of a Learning Team. Team Teaching Team teaching is a combination of philosophical ideas and instructional practices. It was created to help elementary students bridge the gap between elementary school and high school, where students have multiple teachers and a much larger peer group. Team teaching reduces student’s anxiety by dividing faculty into two to four teacher teams to reduce student’s stress related to changing classes throughout the day. Studies show this is the main source of worry for 6th... read more
Ever wonder what happens during tutoring sessions? If you’ve never hired a tutor, you may not know what tutors can do to help. This article will take some of the fear out of the tutor hiring process by helping you understand what you should and should not expect from tutoring sessions. What Tutors Can Do. In a previous article, I listed several basic things tutors should do (see my article titled “Are you getting your money’s worth from tutoring?” from November 5, 2012). Some examples are gather student’s academic background information and have a long – term plan with goals for their students. But, what services can tutors provide? How much is “too much to ask”? The short answer is that tutors can help students, professionals, and military candidates learn knowledge and skills they do not have. However, this definition includes many possibilities. Will tutors help my child with their homework? Will they also teach or re-teach material they should have learned... read more
Families hire tutors for a variety of reasons. In general, though, tutors help students and professionals learn some skill or information. So, how do you know whether you are getting your money’s worth from tutoring? Here are five areas you can use to grade your tutor. 1. Communication. Tutors should communicate a lot! Tutors should conduct a background interview before starting lessons. They should gather information about student strengths and weaknesses, academic background, learning styles, and schedule information at a minimum. You can feel confident that they know what they’re doing if they do this. They understand that you need to know their students before teaching them anything. They may also use the information to write a learning plan listing several long – term goals for the student. Tutors should also talk with parents or adult students after each lesson. They should meet with parents at the end of the session to summarize student progress and preview... read more
Parents with students attending virtual schools face different obstacles compared to those with students in traditional "brick and mortar" schools. Stressors range from increased responsibility for their child's education to how to plan a daily schedule for their kids. This article discusses the current virtual school trends, their differences from "brick and mortar" schools, and how tutors can help relieve some stress for virtual school parents. Virtual K – 12 schools are growing exponentially across the United States. Tutors can play a critical role in ensuring student’s academic success during the transition from “brick and mortar” schools to the virtual learning environment. They can also provide on – going support to students and their families by providing daily instruction in a few subjects, or by becoming full time learning coaches. This article will help both current virtual school parents and those considering a switch to this system in making the tutoring decision... read more
The above-referenced subjects include different-aged PreK-College student needs I have experienced at the beginning of each school year since Fall 2010, when I first began tutoring in earnest via WyzAnt, instead of substituting daily for lesser pay in 18 area elementaries in our school district. I am not including higher math (Grade 7 and above) in my math tutoring experience. I also have helped adults with ESL/ESOL, general and academic reading/writing/comprehension/test preparation as well as public speaking for different-sized audiences, sometimes at-the-last-minute before "the big presentation day".