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# Hooray for the "A"!!

Success Story…. In October I was contacted by a mom whose son, Xander, had just got a C on his first big Geometry test. He didn’t like the class, and so much was confusing to him. Yesterday I got a message from the mom that said Xander had earned a 98% on the Geometry final!! Now, I’m not going to take all the credit – I know this student worked hard and really earned that grade. In fact, I barely worked with him during the last month since the STAR testing in May until the final study guide was provided. This was possible because we had already worked together to make sure he understood each concept before moving on to the next one. I know I helped lay a solid foundation with Xander. He did his homework (I prefer to call it practice) and I helped him make the connections on the parts that he did not understand. I also worked ahead with him to establish understanding of upcoming concepts. I showed him the importance of checking his work so that he fixes... read more

# What's that Function?

Beginning Calculus? Or taking it again? Some of the foundations of calculus seem so basic to teachers that they don’t always do a good job of explaining them. Here’s a problem I came across on one of my student’s online courses…. it looks a lot like a derivative, (for those of you repeating) but not exactly. Since we aren’t taking a limit, the power rule does not apply. The idea here is to make sure you understand the basic calculations of functions. given f(x) = 1/2 x^2 and the fraction: [f(a+h) - f(a)]/h Simplify. Are you thinking, “Huh, what???” Remember that functions like f(x) means that you substitute the x for something. We are used to seeing the x substituted with a number, so f(2) = ½ (2)^2 However, in this case they substitute "x" with a variable (a) and with a sum of variables (a+h). It looks more confusing than it has to, if we look at each piece separately. Let’s take the f(a) first (even though... read more

# An All-Star Team

On WyzAnt, students (or their parents) are given an opportunity to “Rate the Lesson” and I’ve been recently asked by a few parents what that means and how important it is to me. When I go to a restaurant and get a card that asks us to rate our meal and server, I may not check “excellent” if it doesn’t measure up to my idea of perfect, and I think that “Very Good” is just fine. As a tutor, however, I strive to always be a 5-star tutor, because that’s what I would want if I were hiring a tutor for my kids. When I get a 4-star rating, I want to understand why, but I’m not always sure where it comes from – but I guess I can’t “knock their socks off” every time. On one occasion I was rated as “average” because the student said the session went “okay, not great.” This was due to the student’s own lack of preparation and interest in success, not mine. Perhaps because I encouraged the student to work harder and could not wave a magic wand to make them understand everything... read more

# Success in Learning - a lesson in tutoring

It’s that time of year when students start to panic about finals! It's a busy season for tutors but it can be challenging as well. With my regular students we feel confident and on-track for the end of the year. For students looking for "last-minute help" I hope they look to tutors for what we do best – help guide students to make the connections between what they have learned and what they need to really excel. On a few occasions I’ve been asked to tutor a student who clearly is not prepared – mentally or physically – to learn. In my last post I spoke of Jordan – although he was struggling and even failing his statistics class, he made the effort to learn the material and practice the problems needed to do well on the test. That was I student I knew I could help. However, earlier this year I had another stats student who wanted a “crash course” of what seemed to be the entire semester in just a few days, even ensuring that I would be available before we started.... read more

# Why I teach

I was really pleased to receive this message this week from the mother of one of my students. "Karen-Leigh, we would like to thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Jordan. We know that your efforts have made a huge difference in Jordan’s understanding of Stats, and with his self-confidence. I believe at some point he “gave up” on the class, and might have failed the course. He currently has a D+ (69%), and we hope he can bring that up to a “C”, once the free response section of the Final exam has been graded. Jordan says he thought he may have done better on the actual AP Exam, so we have asked him to ask his teacher if she will boost points for a stronger score on the actual exam. (His other AP teacher does this.)" I started working with Jordan about a month ago, as he was looking head-on to an oncoming AP exam train that he felt was sure to wipe him out. My own in-depth stats knowledge was a bit rusty at the beginning, but with proper tools (sample problems... read more