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I hate math.

It's true. I really do hate math, and have since time immemorial. We're just... not friends. It's not something that has ever come naturally to me.   "Well, wait a minute here. Aren't you primarily a math tutor??" You might be thinking this right about now, and if you're not, you should be. Because, yes, I am in fact primarily a math tutor, and have enjoyed a fair amount of success with my students. Clearly, this presents something of a conflict of interest with the previous statement.   The truth is, I tutor math BECAUSE I hate math. Here's my logic: I know what it's like. I know how it feels to (seemingly) be the only one to "not get it." I remember, all too clearly, late nights, tears, and lowered self-esteem over not feeling intelligent because of math assignments. And now, in adulthood, having gone up through Calculus II in college, I realize I CAN do it, I just didn't THINK I could. I didn't feel like I measured up, but it was... read more

Why I Read

I love to read. Reading takes you on all sorts of adventures and teaches you about the world around you. I could spend hours curled up with a good book. But lately I have started to think about WHY I read. Simply put, I read because it expands my knowledge, horizons, and especially my vocabulary. Ben Johnson, a British philosopher (among other things), once said, "Language most shows a man. Speak, that I may see thee." This is a succinct summation of how I feel on the subject: the words you choose, the speech patterns you employ, say more about your education* and thirst for knowledge than anything else you do. Therefore, I read to enhance my vocabulary. My vocabulary expands my speech. And hopefully someday my language will reflect the kind of person I strive to be. *Education can, of course, mean both formal academics as well as knowledge garnered through observation and life experience.

Spring Has Sprung

The weather is getting warmer. Trees are turning green. Birds are singing. Airborne pollen is abundant. Spring is here! As the weather becomes more reminiscent of summer with each passing day, it becomes increasingly difficult for students of all ages to pay attention to their studies. Elementary school students want to play outside and engage in sports activities. Middle school and high school students know that they are only weeks away from friends and late nights. High school seniors are closing in on their last months as high school students and Senioritis is beginning to take root. College students long to be outside after months of locking themselves indoors to study or work. In other words, this is a difficult time of year to be student. Add to that the complication of having this be the most important part of the year, academically speaking, and it's a recipe for disaster. This is the time of year that I call "down to the wire;"... read more

I have been thinking...

A lot lately about how to make learning interesting. What is the "je ne sais quoi" that grabs a student's attention and gives them passion about a favorite subject? Recently, I started a new position with a local plantation as a tour guide. It has caused me to reflect not only the information presented as, say, a teacher, tutor, or tour guide, but on how the material is presented. Excitement in delivery is half the battle. I have also come to another valuable conclusion during the course of my training: to engage one's audience, one should put themselves in the audience's shoes. In other words, I have begun considering such questions as: "what interested me the first time I took a tour?" "what sorts of things would I want to know if this were my first introduction to the subject?" "are these people familiar with the local culture, or should I give them background information first?" It occurred to me just recently that these... read more

Happy Halloween!

October is here, and Halloween is coming! Never mind wondering where the year's gone... Halloween is nearly upon us. Are you ready? At my house, Halloween is a big deal. Decorations, food, costumes, the whole 9 yards. We are gearing up to host our annual Halloween Mystery Party for the 6th year running. Sometimes holidays like this conflict with a student's study schedule. Okay, usually. Let's be honest. I've seen and tried many different reactions to this, including... study harder - ignore the holiday! Study less - it's a holiday! Skip studying - it's a holiday and one day won't matter. What's the best way to approach this sort of interruption to a study schedule? My answer is all of the above! Holidays are indeed meant to be fun. Go have fun! Shake out those muscles that are stiff from bending over textbooks. Unwind a little and do something that won't require you to regurgitate knowledge on a test. But, having fun also means your study time has to be applied... read more

On Multiple Choice

Most people that I know feel that multiple choice questions on a test are a double-edged sword. On one hand, the right answer is somewhere right in front of you; you just have to pick it. On the other hand, multiple choice questions will do everything within their power to confuse you and lead you away from that right answer. Here are a few of my strategies for getting it right: *50/50 - Does anyone watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire anymore? I know I don't, but I do remember it. So, for those of us who either watch or remember it, think about the 50/50 lifeline. They'd eliminate two wrong answers out of the four potential choices. This is a great place to start! Eliminate anything that you know to be blatantly wrong. If possible, I like to physically cross it out on my test (in pencil, in case I change my mind). That way, you know what you can ignore when selecting your answer. *Absolute words - This means words that are superlative or absolute, like "always,"... read more

Test Preparation Skills

Here are my top 10 test preparation skills. I think everyone should have these in their arsenal whenever they sit down to take a test! 1 - Slow down! It's not a race. Most mistakes I make on tests are stupid mistakes, and I'd bet I'm not alone. Just remember... it's far better to go SLOW and know everything you did was right, even if you don't finish all the way - than to go fast, get all the way through, and get everything wrong! 2 - Go easy on yourself. If you've studied, you know it. Trust that! If you don't know it, or don't see the solution right away, take a breath, walk away (figuratively, of course), and be patient with yourself. If you try to chide yourself into figuring it out faster or better, you'll only wind up flustered by the end. 3 - Be confident. If you know the material, don't sweat it! If you know you didn't study, or are shaky on some concepts, be confident in what you DO know and shake off the rest. Better luck and better studying next time. Why... read more

On Memorization

Throughout the course of my own education, and now as a semi-educator myself, I have picked up various handy ways to assist with memorization. The first and probably best "memory assistant" is music. It doesn't have to be good, or really even "musical." But putting whatever you're trying to memorize to music is vastly helpful! In high school, I memorized the presidents of the United States (in chronological order) by putting them to a song. I can still sing it to this day. I can also recite the alphabet backwards by simply putting a tune to it. The best thing to do is write out the words to your song, then sing it repeatedly - taking away a few of the written words each time. You (or whoever you're helping) won't forget it! Similarly, rhymes are very helpful too! Remember the old favorite "i before e, except after c, or when sounding like 'ay,' as in neighbor or weigh"? I'll bet you do... because it rhymes! Lastly, mnemonic devices... read more

Motivation

WyzAnt has asked... "how do you keep a student motivated during summer months?"   My answer? Keep them learning without letting them know what's going on!   Museums Interesting facts Good books Even - to my chagrin - educational TV shows can be useful Nature walks Gardening   What child would guess these things are actually part of their greater education?

On Math....

As I child, I had what seemed like an endless battle with math. I hated it. Whether straight-up arithmetic or cleverly buried in the depths of a word problem, all math homework questions were, to me, created equally evil. The worst part of it is this: I was, in fact, rather capable of quite complicated math. At one point I found myself belonging to a 5th-grade math class while still as 2nd-grader. So the problem was not that I wasn't smart enough. The problem was that I didn't LIKE it. It didn't come easily. It was frustrating and time-consuming. As an adult, I realize these problems could have been relatively easily rectified. I wound up studying as far as college-level Calculus II before I ceased taking math classes. I fought an uphill battle all the way. I look back on my experiences and realize - those moments of clarity in math classes, and therefore the concepts I remember most to this day - were the immediate result of someone bothering to slow down and explain... read more

Branching Out

Did you know I don't just tutor in my spare time? I am also a princess party host! You're probably wondering what that is. Long story short? I visit parties and other events in character as Rapunzel. I either run the party while I'm there or just hang out as part of the festivities. Of course, at all times I remain in character as the princess Rapunzel - long hair and all. It's great fun! Part of why I do this is because I believe every girl is a princess! It doesn't matter what she wears or where she's from. The other reason is that dressing up never stops being fun. When I lived in Utah, I worked with Pirate and Princess Parties of Utah. Now that I have moved to NOLA, I am pleased to say I've gone into business for myself doing freelance parties. And I have good news... I have officially booked my first freelance party since arriving in Louisiana! Happy studying and happy tutoring! ~Karli

So far......

So far, as a WyzAnt tutor, I have had two different students. Both of them have been fairly long-term investments. They could not have been more dissimilar from each other! One was a high school graduate, just starting to take his own initiative. The other is an elementary school student who is bright but gets frustrated with herself easily. I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced so many degrees of the spectrum! Has anyone else noticed how fun it is to see the light turn on in your students' eyes when you hit on the "perfect" explanation for a particular concept? And, of course, it is always rewarding when that test comes back with a higher grade, or with a score exceeding the goal. In short, so far I love being a tutor! I try to teach in the way I wish I could've had someone explain things to me. Thanks to my students for learning and growing with me!

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