Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow, is a story about the American dream. Set in New York during the “period of Ragtime” between the turn of the 20th century and the beginning of World War I,
Ragtime tells the story of three different families struggling to find their place in this new America.
Doctorow makes use of an unusual writing style in Ragtime. He eschews the use of quotation marks and...
“What advice would you give students to prepare for their first session with a new tutor?”
This is a great question! Overall, I think the most important piece of advice I can give is to put some thought into exactly what you want to get out of your tutoring sessions. Many people come to tutoring simply because their grades (or test scores) are low,
and they're hoping that private...
Four years ago, I came up with this math trick. Take a look at it, and at the end I'll show you why it works!
Let's play a game. I’m going to let you make up a math problem, and I will be able to tell you the answer from here. I can’t see what you’re doing, I’m not even in the same room as you, but I will still be able to tell you the correct answer.
Well, the new school year has started, and that means SAT test dates are fast approaching. In fact, the first one is this coming weekend. To anyone taking the SAT on Saturday, good luck! Remember to get a good night's sleep on Friday!
If you are thinking about applying to college in the next few years, it might be time to schedule an SAT date! Remember, you can retake the test as many...
Computerized spell-check can be a handy time-saver when writing papers, and many students swear by it. However amazing it may be, though, spell-check is still just a computer program, and as such should not be considered a substitute for proofreading with
human eyes. As evidence, here are three common mistakes that spell-check won't catch.
Spell-check uses a dictionary...
We recently passed the 30th anniversary of "the 2 Sigma Problem," which is the problem of achieving the effectiveness of personalized, one-on-one instruction at a large scale. As a tutor, how do you help multiple students at the
same time while retaining the benefits of personalized tutoring?
To me, one of the major benefits of personalized tutoring is that the tutor has...
Suppose I place you at one end of a long, empty room. Your task is to get to the door at the other end of the room. Simple, right? But what if I told you that this simple task is actually mathematically impossible?
Think about it – in order to traverse the whole room, you first have to get to the halfway point, right? You'll have to travel one-half of the way there. And before you can...
WWTK: What advice would you give students going back to school so they start the year strong?
This is a great question, and one that I've answered before on this blog. In general, I'd say the most important thing for starting the new year strong is starting the new year ORGANIZED. Go back and look through your notebooks from the previous year, but not
for content – look at them...
ALERT: This week's Literature Spotlight contains spoilers for The Hunger Games trilogy. Read at your own risk!
This week my Bring Your Own Book club met for tea, and our topic for the month was Dystopias. I had offered to host this month, because dystopia is one of my absolute favorite genres. As I sat listening to the others recount various dystopian tales,
I was struck by a...
“Students often want to know how they'll use a subject "in the real world." Pick one of your subjects and tell us why it's important outside of the classroom.”
As it happens I wrote an article on this very topic as it relates to Algebra a few months back. You can check out that article
here. So since I've already answered this in relation to math, I'll discuss another of...
There's a famous (and probably apocryphal) story about the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss that goes something like this:
Gauss was 9 years old, and sitting in his math class. He was a genius even at this young age, and as such was incredibly bored in his class and would always goof off and get into trouble. One day his teacher wanted to punish him for goofing off, and told him...
Also, you have two different equations there. If you wanted to factor the first one (the one with 13 in it) you'd need to find two numbers that multiply together to give 40 AND add together to get 13. When I look for that combination, I find 8 and 5. So
one of your factors is (x+8) and the...
Bram Stoker's Dracula is a novel told in epistolary form – meaning the story is told entirely through documents, in this case journal entries and newspaper clippings. Epistolary is a very effective technique for writing certain types of stories,
and one that I feel is generally under-appreciated. In Dracula the epistolary form is used brilliantly to enhance the sense of mystery and suspense...
This past weekend I went to see the long-awaited movie adaptation of John Green's bestselling novel “The Fault in Our Stars.” I'm a big fan of alternate-medium depictions of various art forms (movies based on books, theater, or games, books that expand
upon a movie or TV show, etc.) and I love to think about the ways in which a story is adapted for a new medium. Movies, TV, books, and live...
There's no such thing as the square root of a negative number. Right?
Since squaring a number is defined as multiplying it by itself, and multiplying a negative times a negative gives a positive, all squares should be positive. Right?
So any number you want to take the square root of should be positive to begin with. Right?
So what if it's not?
What do you do...
Nobody likes doing homework in the summer. It's just a fact of life. My advice to students who want to stay sharp during the summer is to inject fun into your work and work into your fun. Find a way to connect your personal fun time back to the subjects
you're learning in school. The best way to accomplish this, in my opinion, is to look for school skills in unusual contexts. If you're interested...
It takes practice to find your writing style, whether it be in fiction, research papers, or analytical essays. The best piece of writing is both grammatically correct and organized, but also contains the essence of the person who's writing it. When I correct
students' papers, I try to avoid suggesting alternate sentences in their entirety, since a paper written by you shouldn't sound like one...
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a novel about guilt, morality and emotion. Throughout the novel many characters espouse the idea of reason and willpower over emotion – that if you have sufficient mental faculties you can prevent
emotion from getting in the way of your actions and behave truly rationally. The student Raskolnikov believes this with all his heart when he sets out...
This week's Math Journey builds on the material in
The Function Machine. If you have not yet read that journey, I suggest you do so now.
In The Function Machine we discussed why graphing a function is possible at all on a conceptual level – essentially, since every x value of a function has a corresponding y value, we can plot those corresponding values as an ordered
pair on a coordinate...
I hear a lot about math teachers from my students, and while every teacher is unique, some comments are repeated over and over. By far the most common one I hear is that their teacher didn't really explain something, or was incapable of elaborating when
questioned and simply repeated the same lecture again. As a tutor, my first priority is to make sure the student understands the material,...