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WWTK: Online Resources

I've recently discovered several online resources that I find very helpful for the various subjects I tutor. Since my tutoring subjects break down into three broad categories (Math, English, and SAT Prep), I'll choose one from each category to discuss today.     SAT Prep For SAT preparation, you can't beat the College Board website ( There's no better way to prepare than to hear it directly from the test makers. In addition, twitter users can follow @SATQuestion to receive the official SAT Question of the Day on their feed each morning. Particularly now given the announcement of the impending redesign, staying connected to the College Board will keep you up to date on all the changes. There's a place on their website to sign up for email updates, so you'll never miss a thing!   Math Having recently started working with middle-school students, I found a sudden need for worksheets to practice with... read more

On behalf of Econ, I apologize for words making you question your abilities

Lately I've realized just how stressful economics can be, particularly for students with English as a second or third language. Trying to explain utility and utils to someone a few days ago, all I could think about was my own AP Econ professor, with his southern drawl, and a look he reserved for confused students.  Someone would ask a question. There'd be a pause. Wearing his varsity football coach jacket, he'd sigh, and make eye contact with whoever had asked the question. Then, it was more like he was looking at you for something in particular - did you really not understand the concept, or were you confused by how the word was being used? Different questions would require very different answers.    As a student who was frequently confused with the use of terms in a different context than I was used to, I hated that look. For the first month of classes, I was convinced he hated me, and that I was going to fail miserably. Every time we got a test or... read more

My 5th to 7th grade Mathematics teacher

WyzAnt wants to know: Which teacher from your past (or present) are you most "thankful" for and what lesson did they teach you? I am most "thankful" for my 5th, 6th and 7th grade Math teacher. She opened my mind and truly showed me what it means do think through and write up a rigorous mathematical proof. The key concepts I learned then, I still used up to the time I finished college.

Pringles, teacher in a can!

In my last semester in high school, I found out that I would not graduate on time with my classmates. In order for me to complete my diploma in the same year, I would have to attend summer school. Two weeks after classes ended in public school, I started my summer school class; Algebra 2. My teacher was a lady by the name of Mrs. Pringle. She was a short  in stature and was originally from North Carolina with a "islander" accent.    Every day that I had that class, I was a little reluctant to attending that course. I would miss a day here and there but not enough to put me in jeopardy of failing the course. About two weeks out from the end of the class, Mrs. Pringle addresses me in front of the entire class. "Terry, you are not going to pass my class, and you are not going to graduate!" According to her grade book,  if I missed one more day, I would fail her class. I took that statement as a challenge. From that day, I made... read more

Teachers That I Am Most Thankful For (WWTK)

Mr. Utz was my Algebra instructor at UAFS.  He taught me valuable lessons in Algebra that I am able to share with my TANF Literacy Initiative students who are striving for their GEDs and Career Readiness Certicates.   The other teacher from my past that I am thankful for is Mrs. Rhonda Grey.  She taught me lifelong lessons in English IV honors which are part of my everyday life in and out of the classroom .  -- (WWTK)


I am thankful to my Drexel Biomedical Engineering Professor of BMES122 and 123.  He taught me about having honor and being honest with your scientific work.  He instilled in us that what we do ca change the world and be a blessing or a hardship on another human life.  He had such a respect for Biomedical Engineers but also made us realize that there is a lot of responsibility in this job.  Even though it was a science class he taught me about ethics and that stands out a lot in my education. 

Don't be sorry!

Greetings, scholars! Usually I reserve my blog for sharing tech tips and practical advice, but the upcoming holiday has me reflecting on how thankful I am for the wonderful teachers I have had over the years. There's Dr. Galvin, who taught me how to think about discrete mathematics, helped me appreciate "vintage" math literature, and showed me the online encyclopedia of integer sequences. Of course there's Mr. Capello, my high school English teacher, who taught me to write with certainty and confidence, and more recently, Dr. Dubson, who generously shares his physics class via Coursera. The most important lesson in my education, though, came much earlier, back when I was a typical kid with a wandering mind and no love for math homework. In my elementary school years, my dad would often sit beside me, ensuring that I completed problems successfully and gently correcting me when I made inevitable mistakes. When I made a mistake, I would say, "Sorry... read more

I was thankful for my physics teacher

My physics teacher really got me interested in engineering and dynamics. He made the course very fun with many experiments and demonstrations. The class itself was very open and free. It was more of a discussion-type setting between students, and the teacher assisted when no one else knew what to do. It prepared me for my career by introducing me to physics and free-thinking. It was also very helpful because in my career, problems are solved in a similar manner as they were in that class. If I didn't know the answer the first step is to involve my peers. If they don't know, then I have to take it to my manager or tech. advisor.   That class really gave me insight to what college and engineering would be like.

Influential Teachers

There are several teachers that were the "most influential". From Fr. Joe Murphy, OSB who taught History at St. Gregory's College ("Holy Cats!"), Mr. Homer Jones ("The Constitution says what the Supreme Court says it says") and many more who taught me to love learning. They were the key, and foundation, to what education should be. It is a love affair with learning and they shared this intimacy with their students.

I am most thankful for:

Linda Sherwood was my 9th and 11th grade Spanish teacher.  We were her first class to ever teach.  She was so kind and amazing.  Following in her footsteps I went on to be an exchange student, major in Spanish, become a high school teacher, and later an ESL instructor. 

Caring About Your Student Can Make all the Difference

When my son Bryon was in elementary school, he had lots of trouble learning how to read. This baffled and upset me because his older brother had been reading since Kindergarten. I knew that I should never compare my children and I knew that just because Bryon was not a good reader did not mean he was in any way less intelligent than his brother. Still, it began to break my heart when I would peer through the half-closed door of a classroom after school and see him struggle with each word. He was stuck in a classroom when the rest of his friends were outside playing. The final straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, was when I saw the teacher who was tasked with tutoring Bryon lose he r temper with him and smacked his head with her hand!     I immediately withdrew him from that tutoring scenario, reported the teacher and searched for a more humane reading program. It came in the form of a family friend who was a university professor and did... read more

The teacher who helped me

I am most thankful for my third grade teacher, Ms. Ruth Hempen.  She took time to find out who I was and showed that she valued me.  She involved her students as active participants in the learning process. 

Valuable Voices: A Teacher's Most Important Lesson

I remember the moment clearly even now: Mrs S., brandishing the loose-leaf pages in front of my fourth-grade classroom, her wild-eyed look at odds with her precise hair and immaculate apple-printed skirt. I remember how I had quietly slipped the papers into tray of finished homework, how I had felt somehow embarrassed by the inked words. I remember her words: "Julie is going to be a famous writer someday!" And I remember the feeling: elation, pride, and a stark wonder that someone believed in me this much.   Now, years later--after a college degree in Creative Writing and a few published pieces in literary journals--I think back on the powerful impact that Mrs. S. had on my writing. I was an extraordinarily shy student. English had been my second language, and I had been shuffled through ESL classes all throughout my early elementary school years. But for me, English was not a hardship—it was a refuge. I lost myself in books, and found myself in paper and... read more

Mastering the Practice Room

Often for music students the practice room can be a place of transcendent accomplishment as well as massive frustration. I have practice until my fingers bled, until I got exactly what I wanted, only to come back the next day and feel as if none of that work had showed up. I have also had breakthrough moments where everything seemed to fall into place, music and the world suddenly made sense as if my eyes had been opened and I was seeing in color for the first time. The truth about the practice room is this: Practice takes practice. The practice room (especially for those looking to go into music education) is like a scientist's lab. You have to be critical of not just what you're doing (did I play that note too loud? How is the clarity of my articulation?) but also WHY you you are doing it. You have to analyze why you are in the practice room, what are your goals and how are you going to reach them? It's exactly what a school teacher does to plan their lessons and that's... read more

Hands-on math and science education for the "theoretically" challenged (like me)

I strongly believe that difficulty with a certain subject does NOT mean that you or your child are not cut out for a particular field. If you're interested in something, understanding will eventually come to you. The trick is to help it out.   The visit to Q's lab was always my favorite part of a James Bond movie. In elementary school, I wanted to be an inventor (which I believed had a much more concrete job description than it really does, definitely involving power tools and Tesla coils). As I grew up, I set my heart on engineering. But I was not one of those kids who loved school. Science and math did not come easily to me. I struggled for a long time to maintain a B average in STEM courses. Theorems and lemmas went in one ear and out the other, no matter how hard I tried to memorize them. Unfortunately, I wanted to be an engineer anyway.   It took me a while--until my 20s--to realize that my problem wasn't a neurological deficiency... read more

How I mastered a challenging subject

I mastered a challenging subject by making myself fall in love with that subject.  By falling in love with the subject, you will seek to find ways during your day to get with that subject, to read and study into that subject, to work problems or write definitions.   This is because by nature we avoid what we dislike.  So first off, a student must adjust his mental thinking from "hating the subject" to "really liking the subject" by just realizing that he needs more information about the subject which he can get by studying more into that subject.   Also, appreciate the value of learning new material, whether it seems important to you or not, because all new learning expands the brain, at the very least.     So if you are required to take a class you're not all that interested in, get yourself interested.  Once you are "into it" you won't be able to keep yourself away from it.  

WWTK how I mastered a difficult subject.

I had difficulty with phonics throughout school. I learned to read by sight ("Dick and Jane") and was a very good reader. I could not spell because I tried, unsuccessfully, to "sound out" words. I had problems learning French once we went to a Language Lab and put on earphones and was no longer able to see the teacher's face for lessons. I remember listening to phonics records and working with teachers throughout elementary school, none of which worked.    I learned phonics once I decided to start teaching. I taught myself through pictures and information on the use of voice or breath, the position of the tongue, and where in the mouth each sound is produced. The information is the same that speech therapists use. Once I could see and feel the sound, I could finally begin to discriminate between the sounds I heard and then use the information for decoding difficult unfamiliar words, spelling, and learning the sounds of Spanish.    As... read more

How I beat Algebra

 I disliked Algebra...a lot.  It was heartbreaking to fail.  I had never failed anything before and I felt like a, well, failure. Practicing everyday didn't seem to improve my skills.  Back then there was no Khan academy to turn to.  There were books to read and my teacher to stay after with for extra tutoring.  Mr. B worked tirelessly to make me understand how numbers could become letters.  I made the letters things in my mind.  A became apples and ants.  B became bulbs.  Finally, the letters took shape.  As things, they were no longer valueless place holders.  They were zebras and x-rays and cups that all needed to be multiplied and subtracted.  I ended Mr. B's class with an A.  Both of my own children have A's in algebra now, following my own instruction.  Mr. B would be so proud.  So many shiny apples and bubbles!!!

Mastering a Subject or Concept

Mastering a subject is not such a difficult task if the interest is there. One of the ways we learn to read, at least learn to effectively read, is by reading something that grabs our attention. Rarely do you find a child that enjoys reading when they started with something that wasn't of interest to them. When I was a child, I loved the Hardy Boys and read virtually all the books in that series. I wasn't interested in Nancy Drew, however, even though the plots could have been interchangeable. By the same token, as an adult, I try to find aspects of a task, concept or subject which interests me so that I can easily focus. If the subject is a challenge, often that in and of itself creates the point of focus.

How Does One Master What They Do?

As I think about how my own passion for my practice became an art form, I also begin to explore what I consider to be my mastery, as posed by this question by WyzAnt: How did you master a subject or concept that challenged you in school?   I then thought about why I like art. I believe art is limitless because it is freeing, it allows us not to think in binaries but to put it in a large grey scale. It allows us to put into perspective something that we have discovered to be a passion or interest greater than what we have known it to be before provoking it.   I went into school believing that I found what I was interested couldn't be found in it. It's true. I discovered I loved poetry. I loved conceptual writing, which is a little like weird internet poetry but more directed towards looking at writing as an art. In other words, writing that in itself can indicate a relation with something else outside of it. For example, the font, weight, colors... read more

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