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
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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
Unless you or your child attends a year – round school, summer vacation begins sometime in the next week or so. College students have read more pages than they thought humanly possible, taken many exams, written research papers, and stayed up way too late over the past 10 months. Parents of school – aged children have helped with homework, gone to parent/ teacher conferences, E-mailed teachers, and maybe volunteered for one activity too many. This article will help you understand the importance of continuing your/ your child’s learning over the summer and lists several suggestions on how to make the fall back - to - school transition much easier! Suffer No Setbacks Educational researchers agree that students need to continue their education over the summer or they stand to lose up to three (3) months worth of the previous year’s learning. Think about that for a minute. It’s like going to class from March to May for no reason! Unless you keep learning over the summer,... read more
Hi math students :) When preparing for a mathematics tutoring session, try to have the following things at hand... Textbook (online or e-text) Syllabus, assignment, tips/hints/suggestions, answer sheet/key Class notes Pencils, pens, erasers, paper (graph paper, ruler, protractor) All necessary formulas, laws, tables, constants, etc. Calculator that you will use on tests Do I really need my calculator? I can do most of my work in my head. Having your calculator is just as important as paper and a pencil in most cases. You'll be using it on your test and if you don't know how to input what you want, you won't do very well. Have your tutor teach you about your calculator's functions beforehand. Learn how to check your simple math and how to input exponents, logarithms, or trigonometric functions before your test. Why do I need my book, notes, or answer key? Isn't the tutor supposed to know everything? Yes :), but even the most experienced tutor... read more
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... read more
In the United States, standardized test scores show that Math is one of the subjects students struggle with the most. State and federal grants are available to fund new and existing Math - focused programs with the goal of helping students improve their performance on these tests. Parents can lend a hand by making Math matter in the young people’s lives. This article lists five activities parents can do with their children to help them understand the importance of Math skills and improve their Math comprehension. 1. “Everyday Math”. This isn’t the same as the Math method many schools teach. Instead, by this I am referring to the chances you - as an adult – have to use Math in your everyday life. This might be the hardest of the five activities because you probably use more Math than you realize. For example, has your child ever asked you, “How much longer ‘til we’re there?” on a long car trip? I’m sure they have! Help them do the mental Math to figure out how long it will... 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
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
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... read more
As you may know, I am a big fan of the well-known author and brain specialist, Dr. Daniel Amen. He mentions in several of his books that Physical Exercise is good for the brain. I have read of research studies that showed a clear correlation between IMPROVEMENT in students' test scores in math and science, and their level of physical activity (for example, when math class followed PE class, the students had significantly higher scores). Maybe we should schedule PE before all math classes in our schools. What do you think about that idea? This morning I read an online article on the myhealthnewsdaily site, entitled "6 Foods That Are Good for Your Brain," and another article about how Physical Exercise helps maintain healthy brain in older adults too. The second article, "For a Healthy Brain, Physical Exercise Trumps Mental Workout" was found under Yahoo News. The remainder of this note is quoted from that article: Regular physical exercise appears... read more
A few things that I did as a child and which I have found help the students with whom I work prepare for the new school year are: reading many genres daily, doing crossword and other pencil-and-paper puzzles daily, reviewing the notes from the past year, and keeping a journal of all activities and daily occurrences. Subscribing to new journals and magazines in July also is great because by the time September rolls around, the student is anticipating an arrival and is anxious to share the contents of the publication/publications with peers.
I will be beginning my 12th year as a Middle School teacher. I've taught grades 6, 7, and 8. I've taught Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, and Life Science. In addition, I'm working my 2nd year as a summer camp instructor, in Broward County Florida, and tutor a middle school student in math. My goal as a student's tutor is not simply to teach the subject material, but to increase the student's confidence in the subject as well. I would love the opportunity to demonstrate my skills in working with your child. Thank you. Emil K.
Most Important: Customizing the tutoring and approach to the student's learning style, needs, learning objectives, questions.
Recently, after I tutored two of my favorite students to prepare them for upcoming tests in Pre-Algebra and Geometry respectively, I received positive reinforcement for the importance and value of customizing the tutoring approach, information, knowledge transfer, and tutoring style. After the first tutoring session, I was approached by three people as I was waiting for my next student: 1. An elementary school teacher – she complemented me on my knowledge and tutoring style, and asked me for my information to refer students to me for tutoring. 2. A parent seeking a tutor for their daughter – he complimented me on my tutoring style, my patience, and my problem solving ability, He said, “I saw how you tutored him and I want you to tutor my daughter the same way” He booked a tutoring session for the next day. 3. An adult student preparing for a standardized test – she worked at the café, came over and said that she saw me tutoring the student and saw how he was excited... read more