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Holidlay Tutoring

During the School Holidays such as Spring Break, an ideal time presents itself for some special tutoring sessions for students who need some extra help with their school work.  There is no pressure from school assignments or tests, only the opportunity to advance in reading, math, vocabulary work, or geography.  Too few parents recognize this opportunity for their children to make educational advances.  It would also occupy the children during a time of unusual excitement -- holidays.  Tutoring would be a calming as well as educational experience during any holiday season off from school. 

January Blast-off!

It's mid-January now.  Time to stop vacationing and get down to business, isn't it?     For students, that would mean things like learning the vocabulary and terminology of every subject they are studying, whether required by their instructor or not.  Learning the terminology -- how to spell the words, and what their meaning is in the context of that subject -- that is one way to truly and thoroughly learn a subject -- not just sit back and wait for the instructor to tell you what to do. Take the reins of your own education!  Start by learning the terminology and meanings of the words that apply to each subject.  Can you use those words in a sentence of our own making?  Can you discuss those words with others in the field?   Students, take charge of your own learning.  Motivate yourself!  Do not wait for others to inspire you.  Start by thoroughly mastering the terminology.  I'll bet your test scores will...

Continually Grow

Every day, take a bit of time to read or study.  Maybe 30 to 60 minutes.  Read something that interests you, or better yet, read something you are totally unfamiliar with -- to expand your mind and expand your interests.  An interesting person is interested in things and interested in other people.  Stretch yourself to become interested in others outside of yourself.  Start in small ways, and work up to bigger things as you gain confidence.  Think about become a leader in your life in some area.  Think about learning more about a topic that you are interested in.  It could be space travel, fashion, child care, nursing, chemistry, world history, cooking, or teaching.  Or many other areas of life that could interest you.  Challenge yourself to grow a little more each day.  If you encounter setbacks, rest a day or two, then start over again to challenge yourself.  Never give up.  Keep on growing.

Winter BreakTips

Getting too wrapped up in the holidays is a way not to keep your brain sharp.  Today we tend to make the period from Hallowe'en through New Years one long holiday.  Of course, we have a holiday spirit in this time period, but we, as students, should also recognize that there will be some free time during this holiday time and that we ought to utilize some of that free time to study a subject that we might not have done so well in, or to study something in anticipation of a subject we will be taking soon.  Take a bit of quiet study time to build your mental structure by reading or studying or working some math problems. Everything you learn and take as part of your mental structure will help you both now and in the future.   Delve into a topic that you find interesting and learn more about it.  Become an expert in that subject.  Read a book over the holidays.  Challenge yourself to do that. Become active as an intellectual rather than... 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.  

ACT Test Preparation

In preparing to take and excel on the ACT Test, it is very important and very advisable for the student to obtain and prepare from an ACT Study Guide, as opposed to going in and taking the ACT test "cold" with little or no preparation.     Study Guides offer many hints and strategies which, if the student will take a little time to learn those techniques, he or she will assuredly gain points on the ACT test.  Study Guides also offer practice tests with answers so a student can check to see if their answers are correct, or if not, why not.  All of that constitutes a learning experience.   The ACT test does not measure a student's calculating ability, rather, their thinking ability and reasoning ability. For example, by examining the 5 answer choices on any particular question, probably at least 2 and possibly 3 or 4 answer choices can be ruled out for not making sense in relation to the question being asked or the data being presented... read more

Mastering a Subject

The most important thing in mastering a subject is to know all the vocabulary and terminology involved in that subject and to be able to express oneself using that terminology.  I have been encouraging every student I deal with to make their own vocabulary list, with the word, a brief definition, and a sentence of their own creation.  Some students do this, others neglect this advice.  Next, one must think about the subject -- that means spend some time thinking over the ideas in that subject, and how they relate to other subjects.  Another thing is to work a lot of problems such as in math, geometry, physics, chemistry, or answer a lot of questions such as in history, or to practice speaking or listening to a foreign language when studying another language.  What I am suggesting is that a student who wishes to succeed and excel must go beyond teacher assignments.  The student must take charge of their own learning.  The student must keep... read more

Study Vocabulary

The most important part of preparation to go back to school is to keep a list of vocabulary words related to each subject, define those words, and use them in a sentence.  Doing this one thing will almost ensure a student of making good grades in the school year.  This is because many tests at elementary and high school level are vocabulary questions, such as matching, fill in the blank, or define.  If a student is not very familiar with the vocabulary of a subject, that student cannot hope for more than an "average" grade.  However, if a student will apply himself and learn relevant vocabulary, he will excel.     For example, in social studies, what is meant by "latitude" and "longitude"?   In science, what is meant by "density" and "atomic structure"?   In math, what is meant by "place value" or "least common multiple"?   In reading, what is... read more

Vocabulary Instruction

I am writing to advocate for the study of vocabulary in each and every subject. This should begin at grade 1 and continue through grade 12. There ought to be a separate "Vocabulary Class" where words, their origins, their derivations, their meanings ought to be taught. Students should be required to do exercises with words on hand-in and graded papers, daily. If we neglect the study of words, of vocabulary, of the terminology related to a course of study, we sentence the students to do less than 100% in a class. If the student does not understand the vocabulary of a course, he does not understand much about the course and cannot do well on a test. Students should be taught how to keep a record of new words they come across in any course, including math courses. After all, if you don't understand that a "difference" is the answer in a subtraction problem, you will not be able to solve word problems involving differences. Of if you don't realize... read more

Tutoring Before the Start of the New School Year

It would be most helpful if parents would schedule their children for tutoring once a week in the month prior to school opening in August. This would help their children get their minds focused on the school subjects, let them brush up on math skills, reading and vocabulary skills, English skills and some science and social studies skills, such as map reading, or chart or graph reading. In light of the poor economy in America right now, I feel that parents ought to not take long driving vacations due to the high cost of travel, and should rather learn to be happy at home, and teach their children to be satisfied or to entertain themselves. Also some time could be devoted to school preparation through weekly tutoring. This would be a better use of time than traveling miles on the road, paying high gasoline costs, risking danger of accidents, and coming home exhausted. Parents need to use more common sense these days and teach their children to do the same. I am finding many... read more

Summer Slump Survival Guide for Students

1. Read a book that was not an assigned book -- a book of your own choosing. 2. Become more orderly and disciplined about all aspects of your life, your room, your home, your yard, your friends... 3. Study some math -- maybe from a new workbook obtained from a school supply store or from another local store. Do one page a day. 4. Make at least one new friend by your being friendly to them. You initiate the friendship. 5. Resolve to respect your new Fall teachers coming up this next school year. Resolve to complete all assignments on time and to the best of your ability.

Studying Geometry

The study of geometry trains the mind. It disciplines the mind. It demands memory work. It demands attention and the focus of one's attention. It builds upon simpler ideas, dovetailing them into more complex ideas. In doing so, it builds a cognitive structure within the student's brain. It is like building a large tower from a simple set of tinker toys. And even if one never becomes an architect, a bridge builder, a city planner, or other person who might use geometric principles in their occupation, geometry is still a valuable study for the way in which it builds and helps to discipline the mind of the student. Be open to learning new subjects and do not demand to know "How will I ever use this?" It is being used as you study and progress through the course, to build your intellectual base and strengthen your mind.

Missing Factor Problems in Math

The type of problem that has a missing factor (missing-factor problems) has a certain way to be solved. The path to solution can be expressed in a 12-word sentence which young students can count out on their fingers: "To find a missing factor, divide the product by the known factor." Twelve little words which are not hard to commit to memory. Why is this important? This is important because very many word problems can be solved by setting up an equation into a missing factor problem. Working with this skill puts some emphasis on vocabulary in math -- because the student must recognize which number is actually the "product" and which number actually is the "known factor." The "unknown factor" would be represented by a blank in the equation. One takes the product and divides it by the known factor to arrive at the unknown factor. Students should be taught this skill from about grade 3 or 4, certainly by grades 5 and 6, and by grades 7... read more

Subjects that Seem Boring to a Student

As we go through our educational cycle and study various subjects, we may feel more interested in some subjects than in others. However, we all need to "talk to ourselves" a bit and tell ourselves that any subject contains interesting material. Sometimes we just need to view something from a different perspective. Or realize that there might be elements of a subject we've never thought about before. After all, that is how we progress in knowledge, we open ourselves up to new areas of study we may never have ventured into before. All subjects are interesting in some way. Many subjects are fascinating in many ways. It is childish to say, "I'm bored." All of us should be eager to learn and eager to open our minds to new material. All of this helps us grow as intelligent beings.

Student Enthusiasm

There is no substitute for the impetus a student can gain from having some personal enthusiasm for learning. A student can gain this enthusiasm by telling himself how important an education is going to be in life, as well as how interesting any topic can be if we put ourselves into it. Too many students are drifting along without much personal drive. Reasons for this might be varied, but it is the wise student who pulls himself out of lethargy and gets into his studies. As a tutor, it is a bright spot when a student comes to me well motivated, asking questions, seeking more information, wanting to do a problem over to get it right, asking about the process, and conversing with me about the subject. This type of attitude in a student makes for a vibrant, interesting, intellectual tutoring session where both the student and the tutor come away mentally refreshed.

The Importance of Terminology and Vocabulary

In mathematics, as in any other subject, a student should keep a list of new vocabulary terms. These should be looked up, defined,written down in a notebook, and understood if a student is to actually progress in knowledge. Many students won't do more than is assigned by the instructor, and a teacher will not always assign the keeping of a vocabulary list. The student needs to take that upon himself and keep a list of any new terms, even in a course like mathematics. Terms such as "addend," "sum," difference," subtrahend," "quotient," numerator," "percent," "linear equation," "quadratic equation," and so on -- there are many terms in mathematics that need to be well understood. The instructor may introduce these terms, but the student needs to write them down and think about their meaning. So keeping a vocabulary list, whether assigned or not, is crucial in any course.

Get Serious, Get Smart

I am hearing a lot about school or classroom discipline. Should the teacher take responsibility for the discipline of the class? Should the school principal be the person to administer discipline? These questions skirt the issue. The STUDENT must acquire discipline, self-discipline. Where will that come from? Number One: From the parents and from the home. Number Two: From earliest teachers instilling study and learning habits and discipline into the student. In the end, it is the student who will need to have discipline and learn discipline if he or she is to learn and advance in knowledge. We live in a world where things are given to us and handed to us, but that cannot continue indefinitely, and eventually, every single person enrolled in school now will need to acquire self-discipline in a very real and serious way. Pre-K is not too early to start, and Senior in High School or even Freshman or Sophomore in college is not too late to instill discipline.

Studying to Prepare for a Major Test

When a student is going to sit for a major exam such as the GRE, ACT, Compass, or others, it is imperative that the student make preparation for that test a major priority in their life for the time being. Careful preparation and study will definitely lead to higher scores, and contrariwise, slipshod and hurried cramming will not get the job done. Acquiring a high score will require thinking, concentration, note taking, problem working, reading, choosing among possible answers choices, and an understanding of how each major test is set up. Should the student guess or not guess at an answer? Should the student answer EVERY question, or is it okay to leave some blank? How will writing exercises be scored? These questions are answered in the Study Guides which have been prepared for each exam, and students should avail themselves of a Study Guide as soon as possible, and then read it from the beginning. It will be tempting to just take the sample tests in the Study Guide. However,... read more

Discussing History with Students

It is so helpful to the tutor to have recently read some background information about history in order to make it more interesting to the student. If the tutor can talk to the student and tell him things he didn't know before, or give him ways to remember things in history, it can make learning much easier. Also, to incorporate math into history, every time a date comes up in discussion or reading, the tutor should ask, "Now, how long ago was that?" or maybe "How old was he when he died?" This makes the student think first about what arithmetic process he needs to use to find out, and then to set up the algorithm correctly. Often, when asked how long ago something occurred students will set it up like this: 1886 - 2012 instead of 2012 - 1886.

The Color Wheel

Working with an outline of the Color Wheel which shows the primary and secondary colors can be very fascinating and relaxing for students, even high school students. When they realize that there are only 3 primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, and that other colors are made by a mixture of these 3 colors, and they see this on a color wheel which they actually color themselves with colored pencils, the students' minds expand a bit, and this is very important. Such an activity can be used when a student seems uninterested in another topic, or when the hour is nearly over, or even at the beginning of the session, to "get things started." A furtherance of the color wheel would be to draw a picture using only the 3 primary colors, or to use only complimentary colors. A lot can be taught to the student about color and about art and how to produce a pleasing art project by using the simple color wheel.

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