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Many students are fortunate to have tentatively chosen a career path for themselves by the time they have begun high school.  If this path has included a STEM or health-related (i.e., pre-med, pharmacy, dentistry, physician's assistant) discipline, most have been guided along the math track sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus and sometimes even Calculus.  These should have been taken at a minimum pre-AP (or Honors) level.  Similarly, Chemistry should have commenced with pre-AP level and optionally progressed to AP to have enabled students to have been that much better-prepared for the rigors of college work.   At the college stage all higher-level health field-oriented students must take a year of both General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry in that order.  Nursing and physical therapy-bound students typically require less than this.   In any case, many college students take some of their Chemistry courses... read more

Several of my current Geometry students have commented on this very contrast.  This has prompted me to offer a few possible reasons.   First, Geometry requires a heavy reliance on explanations and justifications (particularly of the formal two-column proof variety) that involve stepwise, deductive reasoning.  For many, this is their first exposure to this type of thought process, basically absent in Algebra 1.   Second, a large part of Geometry involves 2-d and 3-d visualization abilities and the differences in appearance between shapes even when they are not positioned upright.  Still further, for a number of students, distinguishing the characteristic properties amongst the different shapes becomes a new challenge.   Third, in many cases Geometry entails the ability to form conjectures about observed properties of shapes, lines, line segments and angles even before the facts have been clearly established and stated... read more

I recently achieved 1000 HOUR status on my WyzAnt profile. This is a point at which to really reflect on the broad positive short- and long-term impacts that have been made on numerous, diverse students. First, there are the dual Math and Chemistry secondary school clients who have been consistently trained in how to become better critical thinkers. This will help them in future courses (math/science-related or not), be they at the secondary or college level, and even in their chosen career fields. Second, those exceptional high school AP Chemistry students have received a level of support that has boosted their confidence as they prepare for college majors in technically- or medically-related areas. And last, those college-level Intro, General, Organic, and Biochemistry students have gained fresh perspectives. They have also developed sharper critical thinking skills. In addition, they have seen how Chemistry is involved within our bodies and not just in laboratory... read more

As this 2012-2013 school year has come upon us, I started to reflect on a number of major tutoring successes I had the pleasure of experiencing over the 2011-2012 school year. In one such instance dating back to August, 2011, I began a long-term partnership with a high school senior who was taking AP Chemistry and desired the best possible course academic outcome. This student and I initially setup a regular once-a-week Saturday session schedule. Due to the developing rigors of the course, on par with what I have taught at the college-level, the frequency of meetings was subsequently expanded to include Monday evenings, as well. At each session both the tutor and student were prepared with appropriate resources, and the client always had a very clear sense of what was to be accomplished at each meeting. Communication was superb at all times. The student's grades continued to steadily increase such that by mid-spring 2012 the average had risen to a 100 (tops in the class... read more

This current summer season has been particularly productive in terms of successes achieved with students who either enrolled in fast-paced Organic I and II courses or desired a jump-start for Fall Organic I. A variety of concepts were dealt with, including nomenclature, acidity and basicity rankings, conformational analysis, stereochemistry, resonance stabilization, reaction mechanisms, functional groups, synthetic routes, and spectroscopic analysis (IR, C-13 and proton NMR, mass spectral). The frequent focal point for clarifying discussions was a list of core General Chemistry I and II topics that had immediate bearing on a particular O-Chem. topic. In other instances, molecular models proved to be invaluable in visualizing ideas that were difficult to grasp in two dimensions. The question arose from several students, particularly those with pre-med orientations, about why organic chemical knowledge would even be necessary for their chosen careers. First, virtually all... read more

I most recently achieved 500 HOUR status on my WyzAnt profile. This hallmark wasn't even on the radar screen back in April, 2011, when I began with my very first tutoring clients. Persistence, high-level energy, reliability, and finesse in nurturing long-term relationships with the students all combined to produce this special milestone. The overwhelming majority of the students who partnered with me from early in the school year and for 7 months or longer on a regular basis earned A's in either a math class (such as Algebra 2) or advanced chemistry (pre-AP, AP, or EARLY COLLEGE HS DUAL CREDIT). Naturally, these levels of achievement brought me a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction. Where will things progress from this point? To adopt the exact mind-set from the concluding words of my high school valedictory address, "OUR LIMIT IS THE SKY." As long as I continue to be totally dedicated to the academic and personal successes of my secondary (both public... read more

As this current 2011-2012 school year is rapidly drawing to a close, it is instructive to reflect on how tutor preparedness, particularly when having dealt with long-term clients, has proven to be highly beneficial. On numerous occasions, having had at hand backup textbooks, lecture notes, assorted visuals, test banks, and even graph paper has enabled students to have more effectively mastered challenging concepts. For example, students have found themselves solving additional chemistry problems ranging from levels 1 through 5 in difficulty from a college-level test compendium and in preparation for upcoming semester AP Chemistry exams. In addition, if students have had no current material to cover at a session, the next chapter(many times from a college text) in the course syllabus was previewed and appropriate problems were attempted. Yes, as has been noted in a previous blog post, both student and tutor preparedness at EVERY session are required for enhanced student... read more

First Lady Michelle Obama took her "Healthy Eating" message to the students of the Dallas Independent School District on Friday, February 10, 2012. Before leaving the Dallas event she gave the students one more message for not only controlling childhood obesity but also increasing their brainpower in the classroom: "It's important to eat right, it's important to get your exercise, but it's more important to be a good student-that all of these things add up. It is very hard to focus at school if you don't have good fuel in your body. And that is the truth." I concur entirely with the First Lady and based upon the early-appearing statements in my profile, this nutritional thinking also extends beyond the classroom and comes into play during the actual tutoring sessions. Now, who doesn't want to reach the highest level of achievement possible by using all available means?

As this new academic year approaches, begin your studies successfully by providing your brain with the proper dietary nutrition needed to enhance concentration, thinking ability, and recall. A very small molecule, nitric oxide (NO), is produced in the body from the amino acids arginine and citrulline and also from the bioflavonoid antioxidants known as anthocyanins and catechins. Both categories are provided in ample amounts in many of the types of foods emphasized in my factsheets "The Maximum Mental Health Diet". WyzAnt clients receive a complimentary copy of this information at the first tutoring session. I follow these recommendations, myself, and have observed positive results daily for years. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and arteries, thereby enhancing blood flow to both the heart and the brain. When the proper nutrients (including the right fatty acids and antioxidants) are delivered more easily to the brain, it IS going to function more efficiently... read more

The first part of the above title is more than just an arbitrary phrase. It gets right to the core of defining my very approach (as stated in my profile) toward successful tutoring in these subjects. One would not set out on a long road trip from a familiar starting point to an unfamiliar locale without having first mapped out an accurate and sequentially-detailed route. Likewise, this tends to be the case when solving many problems in both math and the various chemistries. A few specific examples will illustrate this idea. In algebra students are called upon to solve many different types of equations where a series of operations that are performed in the proper succession lead to an answer which must be checked for validity. In word problems lacking a figure students must correctly construct and accurately label a diagram before proceeding further. In geometry, 2-column proofs require establishing the appropriate starting point (the given information) and then accurately... read more

Based upon the academic performances of many math and chemistry clients over the years and leading right up to the present, the following factors have been vital for my students to have substantially bolstered their achievement levels by the end of their particular courses of study: 1) Both the tutor and the students approached every session with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. 2) Students were prepared at each session with adequate resources and a clear sense of what they wanted to accomplish. 3) The tutor was also prepared with backup resources(alternate textbooks, notes, appropriate visuals). 4) The tutor would model difficult concepts in writing through accurately-constructed, correctly-sequenced steps. 5) Students would be provided ample opportunities from their resources for guided practice on key concepts. 6) Students would attempt additional problems between session meetings and report any unclear ideas at the next session. 7) Parents, other... read more

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