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Hi y'all!   I'm excited about the opportunity to tutor and get support you on the path of knowledge.  I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.   Here's to growing, learning, and bettering ourselves!   Jon

The Power Of Willpower: Five Tips To Strengthen Your Discipline

Willpower is unique to humanity. It is the keystone characteristic that is directly responsible for our technological advancement over the last several hundred thousand years. Willpower can be defined as the capacity to restrain our impulses and resist temptation in order to maximize our long-term success. It is the expulsion of energy to fight off innate survival based urges to exponentially increase future advantages and benefits. It is the driving force behind all civilizations, and it is what prods humankind forward to learn and grow. When we turn down a bite of cheesecake, step away from a mind numbing reality sitcom, or push off a nap to get some work done, the credit goes to willpower. It is this ghost like aura of control and discipline that we rely on to extend our existence and maximize our accomplishments. When we watch highly successful individuals exercise routinely, read voraciously, and work tirelessly, we are impressed with their ability to resist... read more

Ellen's Choice: How I Feel About the SAT Redesign

A few weeks ago I posted an article about the impending SAT redesign and the changes that have been announced. I mentioned at the end of that article that I'd be posting another one soon with my thoughts on the redesign, once I'd had time to think more about them. Well, this is that article. Overall, I think the motivation for the redesign is good – that the College Board's heart is in the right place and they're acknowledging some of the very real problems that the current SAT has. I'm very happy with their partnership with Khan Academy as well. I'm happy to hear that they acknowledge that students really do need some kind of prep help for the SAT, and that if they're going to force every student who wants to apply to college to take it, they should be offering free prep help for everyone who wants it. Not everyone can afford a private tutor, and money should not be a limiting factor in every student's ability to thoroughly prepare for the test. (That said, I am... read more

Taking a test

I have recently begun teaching my students about how to take a test. One hint: it's not a book that you have to read cover to cover. Go throughout the whole test and find something that you can answer without hesitation. This will give you a burst of confidence to complete the exam successfully.

Cancellation Policy, Late Policy & Travel Radius

Cancellation Policy   I allow students to cancel lessons up to 8 hours in advance, with no additional charge. Cancellations between 2-8 hours in advance will be a small $5 fee. Cancellations between 15 minutes and 2 hours before the lesson will be a $10 fee. Cancellations any later than 15 minutes than the scheduled start time of the lesson will result in a full lesson charge.   Late Policy   The lesson will be charged from the agreed start time of the lesson, even if the student is late. If the tutor is late, the lesson will not be charged until tutoring begins. (However, it is very very unusual that I am ever late!)   Travel Radius   To keep my tutoring prices down, I have chosen to tutor within a four mile travel radius, which covers a good portion of the Valencia. Some areas of Newhall and Saugus are also possible. Canyon Country is out of my radius, however many students choose to meet in a location within... read more

Working with a Tutor to Prepare for Your Standardized Test

Having worked with hundreds of test-takers on standardized exams over the years, I have tutored students of all abilities and levels of commitment to their studies. Most students want to know how many hours of tutoring are necessary to achieve the results they desire. While there is no single number of hours uniformly required for all students, for all exams, I do recommend as a rule of thumb that you spend as many hours working on your own as you have spent working with your tutor. To maximize the benefit of working with a tutor for a standardized test, it is necessary to implement, and then practice, the strategies you've learned on your own. Ideally, a student matches the time spent studying independently hour for hour with the time spent tutoring (similarly, university courses typically advise a minimum of one hour of study for every hour spent in class). It is to your advantage to meet with your tutor frequently, and early, enough that the tools you acquire to succeed... read more

Why is German one of the most important languages today?

Why is German one of the most important languages today? 46 million Americans claim German ancestors, making it the largest heritage group in the United States.  100 million European Union (EU) residents speak German as their native language, making German the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe. Another 31 percent of EU residents speak German as a second language. Germany has the fourth strongest economy in the world (after the U.S., China and Japan). German exports constitute the largest share of total world trade (even ahead of the U.S.). Germany is the second most important import market in the world, and the third most important import partner of the United States. There are 1,200 German-owned companies in the United States, some of the largest of which are active in the state of Oregon (DaimlerChrysler, Freightliner, Wacker Chemie, Siltronic, Adidas, Reebok and SolarWorld AG). In today’s world, knowing other languages is... read more

Educational Resource Websites

The internet is full of useful information, but sometimes it can feel daunting trying to sift through all the websites. Teachers do create their own materials, but often get resources from others or just need some creative inspiration. Why recreate the wheel? Below are a few useful websites that I like to use. I will continue to add to the list as I come across more. Enjoy!   1) Common Core State Standards Literacy eHandbook (K-5th): 2) Mac App Store-Education: 3) American Literature: 4) Making Learning Fun (Early Childhood): 5) Printable calendars, lessons, etc...: 6) Preschool & Kindergarten Readiness: 7) K12 Reading: 8) Fact Monster-Online Almanac, Dictionary, Encyclopedia,... read more

Writing resources are literally at your fingertips

Learning to write (better) with someone to guide you is wonderful. When you you're ready to supplement tutoring or classroom instruction, you will find that the products of many generous people await you at no charge if you're willing to dig in. Here are some of my favorites:   The Chicago Manual Online offers a free subscription to a funny, practical Q&A service. Worth every minute if you have grammar and usage questions or need ammunition to explain something to colleagues, or, tactfully, to teachers. Copyblogger is a smorgasbord blog, with some simple advice on how to write tight marketing copy. Most of the tips are useful for tight academic copy, too. This link is for tips on ruthless editing, but there are others on persuasion, dumb grammar mistakes, etc. An easy reference. Geoff Nunberg (University of California, Berkeley)... read more

Learning Spanish can be a blast!

I am a Spanish Native speaking person, I've being teaching since 1986, first English as a second Language and now Spanish as a second language.   Learning Spanish is fun. Spanish is a very versatile language, it is known to be a Roman Language, means it has it's roots from Latin. Did you know that English and Spanish have the same roots? And even though their grammar structure and the pronunciation of the words are different, they have many, many similarities. Languages evolved just like humans do and in every country you will find so many differences that it doesn't matter if you speak Spanish in Spain, you are going to see that Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela are so different that you might want them to speak to you slowly.   A language has not only the grammar structure, spelling, pronunciation, but it has so many modals and expressions that are so different from one an other. That is what makes Spanish so versatile.    It is not... read more

Tutoring Online? Anyone tried it?

Hello,    Recently, I had the opportunity to tutor a student through Skype.  I was such a great experience, I wanted to try to promote more online tutoring sessions with students.  I have been looking around and researching different online tutoring platforms that would allow more interaction between myself and my students.  I don't feel like I am finding exactly what I need.      This is really a two part Blog      A) Does anyone have any experience with tutoring online and could suggest any online platforms that are really conducive to student learning?     B) I find that there is a lot of resistance to online tutoring, do you have any suggestions for getting students more on board with online tutoring?  

American Sign Language Blog

Hello my name is Tracy O. and I am fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). My favorite online resource(s)   is, and signsavy. The books I recommend for any student of the language to use are as follows:   For Hearing People only by Linda Levitan Publisher: Deaf Life Press   A Place of Their Own By John Vickrey Van Cleve (Author), Barry A. Crouch (Author)   Dvd's that I recommend are:   Through Deaf Eyes Audism Unveiled See what I mean   Hope this will be helpful for anyone who wants to learn more about deaf culture and community.

Math Resources

For find math materials, I use a variety of websites: 1) One of the most famous math resources, Khan Academy, is great for most subjects. They have sample problems, but also have videos to walk you through math processes. 2) Math Aids - great for math worksheets of varying levels 3) Common Core Sheets - has math resources by topic 4) Pinterest - make your lessons more interesting! People are so creative, even when teaching math!

Print, Script, or Ten Finger Typing?

My first WyzAnt tutoring student was actually signed up to learn handwriting, both print and script. Back then, only "writing" was offered, so it was assumed to include all aspects. Handwriting, now, is listed under "elementary education", however, back in the day, it was considered a proper business class skill. The better one's handwriting, the higher one was expected to be or to rise in the business world, where power and finance were located. I grew up in the shadow of that historical approach, inspired by a mother with beautiful script.  It led to some backlash among peers, once I entered the world of medicine, moreso among surgeons in general, but the nurses and other support staff loved how they could quickly, clearly and accurately read my patient care notes and orders.  Some twelve years ago, ethical leaders in the medical world began promoting legible writing to decrease patient care errors. Those who knew me used... read more

Classroom, Home, and Tests – Different Experiences, Different Skills

Yesterday, I helped a new student understand some of the difficulties she is experiencing, and I wanted to share this here. The Classroom: Studying in class is like taking a guided tour. If you trust your guide (the teacher,) you can follow into unknown territory, with an open mind. As you are exposed to new things you can ask questions, experience new activities, and be guided out of trouble if you get lost. In the classroom, your responsibility is to follow the teacher’s guidance, and notice when you lose track. (You will lose track. We all do. The only question is when!) Some examples from my students, of how they know they’re lost:  I’m singing a song in my head I’m thinking about my sandwich It seems as if the teacher in talking in a foreign language I’m beating myself up – “I’m a looser”, “I’ll never get it”   So this is the First Classroom Skill: Am I following the lesson, or am I in my head? The Second Classroom Skill:... read more

Tutoring Reading

The ability to read well is the most basic of academic pursuits. A person’s reading ability will determine both the progress of their academic endeavors and the level of education which he or she is able to attain. Accordingly, the ability to read well will also largely determine one’s level of employment and the position they attain in life. Today’s technological market place demands a high level of reading ability. The ability to read well means reading with understanding or comprehension. Reading with comprehension is a multi-dimensional task that requires considerably more than the ability to pronounce words. While it is true that the most fundamental aspect of reading requires that one can pronounce word properly, reading with comprehension requires an understanding of grammar and sentence construction, a knowledge and understanding of the function of the various forms of punctuation, and an appropriate vocabulary as well as the ability to pronounce words... read more

First 'meet and greet' session free

I personally will usually drop the first 15 or so minutes off the first session to allow for some 'meet and greet' time but I often travel 20-40 miles to meet students and I also do not have the finances or the schedule (as I am still a student, too!) to be able to drop a full session. 

Reading Your Way to an Exceptional Vocabulary

As students prepare for standardized tests for college admission, "Vocabulary" suddenly becomes an important subject.  Both the Writing and Critical Reading sections of the SAT reward a strong vocabulary. I try to emphasize to students that having a college (adult) level vocabulary will continue to reward them far beyond a one-day test.     Studying SAT related vocabulary books is certainly worthwhile in the weeks before a test day, but I would like to reach out also to students who are still a few years away from college entrance concerns. The best way to build a rich and useful vocabulary is to read books, magazines, and newspapers that are well-written (e-books and online sources definitely count!) When you read great writing you will not only improve your vocabulary but also your writing and your critical thinking.     Your reading can and should be varied.  Admittedly, I do love literature that has been relevant to... read more

Mathematical Journeys: Undoing the Unknown Exponent

This journey is heavily inspired by the youtube mathematician Vi Hart, whose videos describing mathematical concepts through doodling in a notebook were the inspiration for much of my mathematical journeys series. I'll put a link to her video on this topic at the end of the journey, and I highly encourage everyone to go check her out. Let's talk exponents. But to do that, first we should talk about multiplication. Multiplication is a shortcut for adding a bunch of the same number together. If I gave you: 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = ? You could just add them normally, treating each of those 5's as a size-5 step along the number line. But since each of these addition steps is the same size, a faster way to figure out the result would be to determine two things: the size of the step, and how many steps we have. Then we can multiply the size of step (in this case, 5) by the number of steps. In this case, we have a total of 6 size-5... read more

Embedding line breaks in Java literal Strings

When creating output from a Java program, you can control where line breaks occur in the text that you output by using the println method, which puts a line break at the end of whatever text is being output by the call.   However, you may need to insert line breaks into strings that you are creating, such as in the toString method of a class. How do you do it?   First, note that when creating String literals, you can insert a variety of special characters using escape sequences.   An escape sequence is a sequence of characters, starting with a backslash ("\"). When the reader that is constructing your string encounters a backslash, it checks the subsequent character(s), and interprets the sequence as instructions to insert a specific character described by the sequence.    For example, since string constants are delimited by double quote characters, if you want to embed a double quote character in a string... read more

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