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# Prealgebra Blogs

## Favorite educational quote

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle) This quote provokes me never to accept the status quo and always challenge assumptions. It is the thought that through education we never stop learning or seeking after truth and knowledge.

## Should I hire a Tutor? - Advice for Parents

Should I get a tutor? Will it help my child? These are some of the most common questions posed to tutors by parents of students struggling in school. Tutoring can be expensive and difficult to schedule so parents must decide whether the time and money will be well spent. Instead of relying on a crystal ball, use these factors to help make the decision. 1. Does the student spend an appropriate amount of time on homework and studies? While it can help with study skills, organization, and motivation, tutoring cannot be expected to keep the student on track unless you plan on having a session every night. If you can make sure the student puts in effort outside of tutoring, she will be more likely benefit from it. 2. Does the student have difficulty learning from the textbook? If this is the case, the student will probably respond to one-on-one instruction that is more personalized. A tutor will help bring the subject to life and engage the student. A good tutor will... read more

## Math - Check your work!!

Whenever you complete a math problem, it is paramount to go back and double check your work. Remember, no one is perfect and mistakes will be made from time to time. The first step is to always ask yourself "Does this answer make sense"? For example, if you're working on a geometry problem and you're trying to calculate an angle of a polygon, and you determine the answer is 110°, look at the angle and ask "Does this answer makes sense, does this angle look like it's greater than a right angle or a 90° angle"? If not, you know you've made an error and can go back to find the mistake. You can do it!!

## Advice to my younger self- the student

IF I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to be a better student, be more successful in school, life, etc, I would definitely tell myself that being involved in everything comes at a cost. It is better to find a few things that you like to do, do them well and often, than feeling stressed because there is so much on your plate at one time. Being a 'Jack of all Trades' it is natural for me to dip my toes in different waters- all at the same time, but that does not mean that I can give 100% to any of them at that time. While I was able to get good grades (A- average) while in school, I was impressed by how much better I did- and felt about my work- the few times that I scaled back on my activities. Another piece of advice that I wish that I could bestow upon my younger self would be to learn how to speak up in a group setting when someone is not fulfilling their part of an agreement. Now, this said, the best way to do this would be in a tactful... read more

## Physical Exercise and Nutrition DO affect our brain performance and brain health.

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

## 5 Things I've Learned From My Favorite Students

1. No one was born to lose. The best of my students understand this principle like the backs of their hands. No, there is no inherent genetic formula or organic compound you can use to get an A in a class. We are all products of our hardwork and investments. Whoever decides to put in excellent work will definitely reap excellent results. 2. Always aim for gold. Have you heard that there is a pot of gold lying somewhere at the end of the rainbow? It's true! Okay, I'm just joking, but my best students always aim for the gold. The very best. As, not Bs, or Cs, or Ds. Just the very best. The one thing people don't think they are capable of achieving is the best. The top of the class. Or the valedictorian. 3. Never settle for less. My best students are innovative, inquisitive thinkers. They tend to think outside the box, never settling for "just what they got from class." They love to use real life examples and explore how theory comes alive in their personal... read more

## Solving Math Word Problems

Math students often become nervous when approaching word problems, because mathematical symbols are buried in the sentences as words – I call these “math words” – and these math words have to be discovered in the text and arranged into equations before any calculation can be done! Never fear – there are some easy ways to translate math words into mathematical symbols so you can solve these tricky problems quickly. Word problems generally use specific words and phrases that correspond to the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. When you see these words and phrases, simply replace them with the operator symbols and you will begin to see potential equations appear. Here are some of these clues: Addition: increased by, more than, combined (with), together (with), totaling, total of, sum, added to Subtraction: decreased by, minus, less, less than, fewer than, faster than, difference between, difference of Multiplication:... read more

## I am in need of some students.

Hi,   I would be honored in having the opportunity of working with students and parents. The education and success of students are very important to me and I would love to do what I can to help. I am a math and education major with an Associate's of Arts and Teaching Degree from Lee College and I am seeking a teaching career. I live in the Baytown area and I am not able to provide my own transportation due to the fact that I have a disability which prevents me from driving, so I can only rely on public transportation and I am limited to how far I can travel. Therefor, communication is much needed. I am available until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone needing a private tutor, please contact me. I would be happy to help you at any time.

## Vocabulary Part 1

When I was studying to be a teacher, one of the classes I had to take was Literacy in Secondary Education. Since the word literacy is associated to reading and writing by most, it would strike many as a surprise that Math teachers have to take courses on literacy. However, literacy is the most practical and crucial aspect of ANY academic discipline, simply because it involves the ability to read and write in said subject. For mathematics, it could not be anymore important. If you cannot understand the words that I am using, then it is almost as if we were communicating to each other in different languages. So whatever subject you are studying, I suggest you learn its vocabulary. As the helpful tutor that I am, I will share a list of vocabulary terms that was distributed in my literacy class to all of you so that you can check your own vocabulary. Keep in mind that this is considered to be the Mathematics vocab that one should know by the time they finish high school... read more

## Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

When working with fractions, I find it effective to require students to convert each fraction that we work with to its decimal equivalent, to convert that decimal equivalent back into the original fraction, to convert that decimal into its percentage equivalent, to work a simple percentage problem using that percentage and finally to work the same problem using the initial fraction.   This comprehensive method helps students to see the relationships between fractions, decimals and percentages in a holistic way and to promote the necessary skills in each element.

## Suggestions for finding the BEST tutor for your child or student.

When interviewing a prospective tutor, parents should ask about the tutor's skills and experience, and find out if the tutor truly enjoys teaching. When the tutor feels enthusiastic about the subject, and communicates well, the student has an opportunity to learn to enjoy the subject too. I recommend for parents to observe the first lesson to see the tutor's skills in action, and watch/listen carefully to future lessons when possible, to make sure the tutor has an encouraging, supportive attitude at all times. (Tutors should welcome and respond positively to the child's questions, and NEVER make the child feel "stupid," no matter what.) It is most important to have a safe and quiet place for studying, without distractions. I like to find a quiet table at a library, and work with students there. I welcome suggestions from parents, and I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching skills.

## Free college classes!

Greetings, scholars! One of my dad's favorite sayings is, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." The website Coursera is an example of why that saying needs the word "probably". The idea of taking real college courses from top-notch instructors at prestigious schools for free sounds impossible, yet students around the world are doing just that. When I first heard of Coursera, I was skeptical. To try it out, I enrolled in some basic undergraduate courses so that I could see how they stacked up against the classes I took at KU and Emporia State University. I am currently taking precalculus at UC Irvine, organic chemistry at Illinois, and calculus at The Ohio State University. All three classes are superlative. The video lectures give me new insights into familiar concepts, and the online quizzes motivate me to practice my skills and keep them sharp and up-to-date. Best of all, they haven't cost me a dime, and I can attend class... read more

## Turning Distress into Success

I have found that many students fear math and business classes as the teacher/instructor knows only a single approach to the topic and additionally cannot show the relevance of the subject with real world examples. With over 20 years of classroom and tutoring experience in math and business topics and my experience in the business and education sectors, I have a huge variety of experiences to draw upon to solve problems and show day-to-day relevance. Learning needs to be fun to engage the student and success must be achieved with every learning situation. I truly enjoy "Turning Distress Into Success"! Larry D.

## Success vs. Stress, including Fear of Failure and Memory Problems

A few keys to success in school (for people with or without A.D.D.): We need to concentrate on taking notes in classes, and possibly use a digital recorder to record some classes. (That makes a tremendous difference for many of my A.D.D. students, because they can "go back and listen" to things they missed when distractions occurred.) Examples of distractions include when other students are moving or making noises, worries or concerns**, being hungry, needing to go to the restroom, looking for a pen or pencil, or needing to sharpen a pencil, etc. There are many sources of distractions. Even **fear of failure** can be a distraction! What about memory problems? Actually all of us have trouble with remembering from time to time--it's part of being human, right? Heck, even computers have memory problems occasionally, so it seems that some degree of "forgetfulness" is basically a universal condition. Some good news for A.D.D. students: If we are... read more

## Teaching to Learning Styles

Greetings! Today's post is about learning styles. One of the most important things that helps teachers provide better instruction is the knowledge of a student’s learning style. My belief is based upon the teachings of noted educational theorist, Dr. Howard Gardner. Dr. Gardner posits that there are “multiple intelligences,” that define our individual learning styles and complement each other (by working together) through our learning processes. His 1983 book, Frames of Mind, detailed his initial findings in this area. In my educational practice, I attempt to identify my students' learning styles by doing extensive diagnostic testing in the very beginning. In my tutoring classes this may consist of having students to write a paragraph or two in the target language we are studying or work some basic math problems. Diagnostics also include inquiring about student preferences, because students generally do better in the areas that they like. After diagnostics, I set a plan... read more

## Math Instructor and Tutor

Greetings! I am a very enthusiastic individual when it comes to math!  Within my 10+ years of teaching math, I have experienced much success with students.  I've been rated a highly effective teacher due to most students showing growth on FCAT.  A very high percentage moved up 1 or 2 levels on this high stakes test.  The small percentage of students that didn't move up a level still showed a considerable amount of growth within the same level.  I credit this to my high level of expertise in the field along with the interpersonal relationships that I have with students.  I look forward to working with you and helping you develop a love for math!

## Proving Proportions

DEFINITIONS When given two ratios (in the form x:y) or two relations (in the form of fractions), if the ratios of each element are the same they're said to be proportionate. Example: 3/6 and 1/2 are proportionate because 3 out 6 is the same as 1 out of two (half). PROVING PROPORTIONALITY When given two fractions to prove as proportionate, such as 1 and 3 2 6 you solve through cross-multiplication. Cross multiplication involves multiplying the numerator (number on top) by the denominator (number on bottom) of the other fraction, and then comparing the results. If the values are the same, the fractions are proportionate. The set-up above will be set-up as such: 1 * 6 ? 2 * 3 (6) = (6). Because both values are the same, these fractions are proportionate. Example 2: 3/2 and 18/8 The cross-multiplication... read more

## Frustration: a Part of the Learning Process

Although learning is an awesome thing, it can be a difficult and frustrating journey for many students. This difficulty, however, is often times quite normal although most feel it means that a child may not be able to learn or that he/she is so frustrated that learning is no longer taking place. This is where the experienced tutor steps in; for frustration in learning is a part of the learning itself. I have taught and tutored many students and have seen first hand how this frustration can leave some students, and their parents, feeling helpless and hopeless. But there is ALWAYS Hope!!! What they have failed to realize is that as the brain learns difficult concepts, it can only take in parts at a time, little parts at a time. So although it may seem no learning is taking place, it actually is, just in smaller segments. In fact, the most frustration comes right before a new concept is achieved. This is when most give up. Had they stayed focused for perhaps one or two more... read more

## Be Like Water...

Humans have a tremendous capacity to learn and adapt. However, we consistently build barriers that hinder our natural ability to change and grow. Many people, regardless of age, perceive themselves as not being talented enough to excel at math and science. They view math and science as the realms in which only scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and geniuses truly soar. Nothing could be further than the truth. Sure, possessing a natural affinity towards these subjects helps. Yet, a supposed lack of talent does not prevent you from learning. The path may be more arduous. The journey may be longer. Nevertheless, you possess within you the fire to endure. Willpower, dedication, self belief, and an open mind can compensate for any lack of ability. Bruce Lee was a legendary martial artist, actor, and philosopher who continues to inspire millions with the sheer intensity which he pursued his endeavors. Frail, sickly, and small as a child, Bruce Lee overcame many physical... read more

## My Summer Continuing Education

Each summer I have a few students who work on both math and reading to keep the 'flow' and/or prep for the upcoming year. These students and their parents are completely committed to the idea of always learning as opposed to the idea of only learning in the classroom or merely learning during the school year... in essence, the parents are setting the foundation for lifelong learning. I would never ask a student to do work which I would not be willing to do myself or work through with them in tutoring. To this end, I have the opportunity to do reading AND catch up on my practice. This summer I am reading 'The Joy of X-A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity' by Steven Strogatz at Cornell University. I LOVE this book! It is almost as good as being in a lecture or small gathering and has helped me explore how I think about math and how to share these ideas with my students. One of my students recommended 'Hoot' by Carl Hiassen and it is on my list for the library... read more