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Deborah M.

Your Wise Aunt at WyzAnt for writing, ACT, SAT, GRE, TOEFL, all ESL

Madison, WI (53702)

Travel radius
40 miles
Hourly fee
$60.00
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Deborah M. passed a background check on 3/27/14. The check was ordered by Deborah through First Advantage. For more information, please review the background check information page.

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Laughter is a natural partner of lasting learning. That's my underlying philosophy as a tutor.

I love being an aunt to far more young people than the children of my siblings. I believe in bringing an aunt's authoritative advantages of being both a non-parental yet safe and sensitive adult to my students.

My tutoring specialty - words - is founded in my master's degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as my professional writing and editing experience.

I wrote the restaurant guide for the Quest Twin Cities Yellow Pages from 2001-2003, working as an editor for educational book publishers 2001-2007, and serving as editor of the Professional Editors Network's monthly newsletter.

Together, we can score well on those standardized tests best known by their acronyms - PSAT, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GMAT, and GRE. See my blog for upcoming test dates!

Together, we can master those writing, reading, spelling, grammar, and organization barriers to academic and professional success. English is one of the toughest world languages to learn--even for native speakers.

I admire and enjoy working with ESL students of all ages in conversational English as well as English-language writing and reading. I particularly relish pairing up with those hoping to take home American college degrees.

I have studied two other languages, German in high school and French in college. I understand EFL-ESL students' perspective. I cannot imagine passing college classes taught in a foreign language. That takes courage and patience.

As needed, all of my lessons include coaching in professional email habits, file management, MS Word and Acrobat Reader, including Word and Acrobat editing tools.

The first 30 minutes of my first session with the student are FREE to allow us to relax and get acquainted. I'm looking forward to meeting you!

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Deborah’s subjects

ACT English

I'm certified to tutor the entire ACT test, but my strengths are ACT English, ACT Reading, and the ACT essay that, along with ACT English, contributes to a composite English score for students who write the essay.

I have worked as a scorer for hundreds of standardized state writing tests for high school and middle school. I can confidently coach to the highest score possible for the individual student.

One of my two ACT students who tested on June 9, 2012, moved from 18s on ACT reading and combined English to 21s (overall score 20).

The other, who was taking the ACT for the first time, reported an overall score of 33 with 34 in reading, 27 for composite English with 10--a 5 from each of two judges--of 6 points possible on the essay. (To avoid grade inflation, scorers are instructed to give out few 6s and only a few more 5s.)

An ACT student's English and reading scores both went up 3 points on the Sept. 8, 2012 test.

For the Oct. 27 test, an ACT student of mine moved up from an overall score of 21 to a 24. That includes a 4-point climb from 19 to 23 in English.

An ACT student and an ACT parent of mine who tested in February and October 2012 respectively, posted recommendations here on my WyzAnt Tutor Profile.

ACT Reading

Cultivating a passion for reading at an early age is the best preparation for this test. My gentle nudges for students preparing for this part of the ACT test help them score their best, however.

I'm certified to tutor the entire ACT test, but my strengths are ACT Reading, ACT English, and the ACT essay. The latter, along with ACT English, contributes to an ACT Composite English score for students who write the essay.

One of my two ACT students who tested on June 9, 2012, moved from 18s on ACT reading and combined English to 21s (overall score 20).

The other, who was taking the ACT for the first time, reported an overall score of 33 with 34 in reading, 27 for composite English with 10--a 5 from each of two judges--of 6 points possible on the essay. (To avoid grade inflation, scorers are instructed to give out few 6s and only a few more 5s.)

An ACT student's English and reading scores both went up 3 points on the Sept. 8, 2012 test.

An ACT parent whose student tested on October 27, 2012, posted a recommendation to my profile.

ACT Science

My test prep tools include several that can help students improve on the ACT science test. One of my students who tested on October 27, 2012, raised her science score from 21 to 25.

Adobe Photoshop

I completed three courses on Photoshop at New Horizons Computer Learning Center, Richfield, MN in 1998-9.

I occasionally used Photoshop while working as production editor for six years at Lerner Publishing Group (a family name, not a misspelling!) in Minneapolis.

But the bigger story is that I am an avid Photoshop hobbyist. I spend dozens of hours each month manipulating photos to create collages, posters, desktop wallpapers and greeting cards - not only for myself but for a great many others (I'm currently using the CS4 version).

Over the years, I've tutored others far too many times to count.

Algebra 1

I was so delighted to master those Algebra 1 story problems that while still in high school I tutored other students in algebra. As I tutor test prep students for PSAT, SAT, and ACT math, I put myself through practice tests from time to time to stay fresh. I continue to score well.

For several weeks last spring (2011), I also scored standardized high school math test problems for various state public school systems around the country.

American History

My mother's fascination with Abraham Lincoln launched my lifelong passion for Civil War history. Viewing the movie Gone With The Wind and then reading the novel at the age of nine inflamed it--even though at that age I thought a mistress was another name for a wife.

Working as an editor for an educational publisher for six years, I was the in-house Civil War expert.

I also became an accidental expert on the Revolutionary War. Oh, and by the way, I completed an undergraduate major in history.

ASVAB

An ASVAB parent of mine posted a recommendation here on my WyzAnt Tutor Profile.

Desktop Publishing

I am an expert at formatting publications combining text and images in Quark Xpress. I am also first rate in formatting publications in MS Publisher and MS Word.

I studied these software packages at New Horizons Computer Learning Center, Richfield, MN in 1998-9.

I interned for an exciting nine months with a brilliant typesetter and prepress operator who knew the mathematical side of Quark Xpress in depth.

I went on to work as an in-house temporary graphic artist for EMC Paradigm in St. Paul, one of his clients.

Following that experience, I joined Lerner Publishing Group (a family name, not a misspelling!) in Minneapolis where I worked as a production editor for six years. In that capacity, I (1) selected images, (2) wrote captions and sidebars, (3) laid out pages to book series' specs (highly detailed specifications), and (4) circulated pages through the editorial, design, and marketing departments for signatures, and input changes from each.

I am currently the volunteer newsletter editor for the Professional Editors Network (PEN). In this role, my experience in page design is making communication with the production artist a proverbial snap.

English

I list my tutoring specialties as writing and reading. What I mean by "reading" is not only the business of grade school students who are learning to read, preparing themselves to read to learn other subjects in school and in life.

My excitement as a lifelong avid reader really blossomed with mastery of the kind of probative literary analysis I learned from an old-school high school English teacher. I remember the thrill of grasping the rich layers of meaning she taught us to find in an author's uses of symbols such as the letter "A" in _The_Scarlet_Letter_ by Nathaniel Hawthorne or the imagery in _The_Old_Man_and_the_Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

I had intended to take only one semester of English literature from this English teacher, but I ended up taking the second semester too--plus two semesters of American literature and a semester of World History from her.

I went on to complete quite a few literature classes as an undergrad at UW-Madison, even though my official undergraduate major was history. These included courses in Comparative Literature (World Literature at other universities) as well as English.

I also have a master's degree in journalism from Madison and more than six years of working as an editor for an educational publisher of nonfiction books and ancillary teaching materials for young people (K-12).

ESL/ESOL

Writing and reading American English are my tutoring specialties, and I have worked with ESL/ESOL students for more than 20 years, starting out as a volunteer conversation partner at Wisconsin English Second Language Institute (WESLI) in Madison, Wisconsin. My first two students were friends. One was from Italy and the other was from Japan. The Italian was auditing a class I was taking in grad school and the Japanese student came along. They were the kind of friends who seem to be, proverbially speaking, joined at the hip.

Near the end of their second semester at WESLI, we traveled to Wyoming for a whirlwind week covering Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, and Rocky Mountain National Park (in Colorado as we flew in and out of Denver International Airport). That was one long, long, LONG English lesson since English was the only language all three of us could speak!

On the vocabulary part of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), I tested in the 97th percentile. This means that among every 100 students, my vocabulary was bigger than that of 96 other students!

Completing my master’s degree in journalism (University of Wisconsin—Madison) in 1997, my career path included working as an editor for educational publisher (K-12) Lerner Publishing Group for six years from 2001 to 2007. (Lerner is a family name, not a misspelling of LEARNER!) My assigned books included world geography, history, and science books, and biographies (stories about famous people) for grade 3 and up (ages 9–16)--or for readers at the level typical for American children that age. Each is written and edited with meticulous attention to vocabulary and to avoiding a condescending tone of voice.

In addition to gaining familiarity with reading levels (for both grammar and vocabulary as well as content), copies of "my" books are great for ESL/ESOL tutoring.

Don't miss my Fun English Practice series on my tutor blog!

European History

In addition to completing an undergraduate history major at University of Wisconsin-Madison, I gained accidental expertise in Ancient Rome while working as an editor for an educational publisher for six years.

While holding that job, I also worked on titles for such European nations as Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, and Turkey for a world geography series. These assignments compelled me to quickly acquire knowledge of the history of each.

Geography

My enthusiasm for geography itself, which I share generously with my students, has a quirky history. As I attribute my early and deep interest in American Civil War history to my mother's interest in Abraham Lincoln, I attribute my enduring interest in historical and cultural geography to her interest in the Mayans and the Incas of Central and South America and in Isla de Pascua (Easter Island)—a Polynesian island best know for its rows of 887 ancient, enormous stone heads called maoi.

My education in geography included my fifth grade report about Denmark. It's the only project I recall from my education before I started 7th grade.

While I was a college undergrad, one of my best friends to this day wrote her masters thesis and then her dissertation about the emigration of Norwegians from two parishes there to two counties in Wisconsin. I already knew enough to enjoy discussing with her the sub-specialties of urban, cultural, and historic geography related to her dissertation, including complex statistical reports.

A jewel among my classes in grad school at UW-Madison, where I completed a MA in journalism, was Mass Communication in Developing Nations. Animated discussions characterized the class. Topics included traveling educational puppet troupes disseminating birth control and AIDS information; how state control of newspapers, radio, and television stations affects development; and how the lack of electricity and excessive temperatures in Africa and southern Asia limit many peoples' access to modern media.

Even more fitting, as a production editor with educational publisher Lerner Publishing Group from 2001-7, I chose photos and fact-checked and wrote educational captions and sidebars for this publisher's Visual Geography series. These titles are the kind of library resource modern fifth-graders would turn to for their reports about an individual country. I remain possessive of the countries I investigated. My first was Kenya. Other titles to cross my desk were about Italy, Norway, Turkey, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Yemen, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Brazil, Argentina, North Korea, and South Korea.

Adding the topic of Koreans in America qualified me as an accidental expert on the Korea Peninsula. At Lerner I also gained accidental expertise on Ancient Rome.

One of my favorite tools for exploring geography are the many English-language newspapers available online.

My personal copies of my Lerner books also come off my shelves.

Family history is another winning topic in geography studies. Lerner's In America series is a tremendous resource. In addition to Koreans, I also handled the titles covering East Indians (blame Christopher Columbus for that title), Canadians, and Mexicans.

A series about Native American history and modern culture from Lerner is another excellent resource for tutoring. The nations treated in this series include the Cherokees, Creek, Chumash, Iroquois, Shoshones, Apaches, Choctaws, Lakotah, Ojibwe, Navajos and Seminoles.

(Disclaimer: I do not profit from sales of these books. I just love them.)

GMAT

I am a highly effective writing coach for those timed essays that you are dreading. I can quickly identify your writing level according to the GMAT essays' rubrics and show you the way to a higher score. I've worked as a standardized writing test scorer for several scoring seasons. I *KNOW* how scorers (and test designers) think!

I have a master's degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin-Madison and I have worked as a paid writer, copywriter, and editor since 10th grade. For evidence, read my WyzAnt blog, other subject descriptions, and student recommendations.

Government & Politics

My undergraduate history major included primarily political and social history classes at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More recently, working for a local educational publisher I was assigned several titles about Ancient Rome, including _Your_Travel_Guide_to_Ancient_Rome_ and _The_Colisseum_. All the stuff I learned about its many idiosyncratic emperors and the Roman Empire's embattled political boundaries as it grew and contracted again annoys the competition when I play trivia games.

Also while in this job title, I contributed to titles for African, Asian, and European nations for a world geography series. I had to quickly absorb extensive knowledge of the government, leadership, and political climate of each for such diverse nations as Norway, Sri Lanka, Laos, South Africa, Tanzania, Argentina, Brazil, and El Salvador.

Grammar

My meticulous grasp of American English grammar is central to my other profession as an editor.

I've worked as a paid proofreader or editor since I was in 10th grade. My first job was scoring spelling and grammar on student writing assignments for my 8th grade English teacher.

I recently worked for six years as an editor for a publisher of nonfiction books for young people. I continue to work as a freelance editor.

GRE

I have an interesting approach to preparing students to write their best essays for the GRE. For immediate comparative purposes, while the essay is still fresh in the student's mind, I provide an essay I have written to the same prompt and within the same time limit. (Dozens of writing prompts are available on the official GRE website.)

I also apply the same attention to detail in the student's writing that I give an author writing for publication. Identifying grammar, usage, and style areas to strengthen does double duty in preparing the student for the GRE Verbal too.

I can also promise the student's vocabulary will grow while working with me. I scored in the 97th percentile back when vocabulary was a separate test on the GRE. That means of 100 students, I have a larger test-ready vocabulary than 97 others--and I will use it!

Literature

I list my tutoring specialties as writing and reading. What I mean by "reading" is not only the business of grade school students who are learning to read, preparing themselves to read to learn other subjects in school and in life.

I am also referring to Literature. I aspire to setting students' imaginations on fire as did an old-style English teacher of mine in high school English Lit I, a class I took because I was already enchanted by Shakespeare. She instructed me in literary analysis of the themes and imagery in the works of such classic novelists as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edith Wharton, and Ernest Hemingway, and the poetry of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Blake, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

I ended up taking English Lit II, American Lit I and II, and a semester of World Literature from this inspiring teacher.

I went on to complete 12 credits in Comparative Literature (elsewhere known as world literature in translation) and 3 additional credits in English at UW-Madison, as an undergraduate. I also have a master's degree in journalism from Madison.

Macintosh

I have been working on the latest Macintosh operating systems since 1990. I started using it in grad school while I completed my masters in journalism. I've worked and played on Macs ever since.

I have ample experience in Windows operating systems to ably tutor those transitioning to Macs. I have actively tutored others on both OSs.

Need to know how to use the dock or the MS Entourage calendar for the Mac OS? Ask me. I can help you set up your Mac to serve your practical needs, such as file management, as well as aesthetic preferences.

Marketing

My master's degree in journalism from UW-Madison emphasized marketing and public relations. If I'd crossed the street to the business school sooner for that first marketing class, I might well now have a master's in marketing emphasizing communication, ie. journalism and public relations.

In my graduate studies I acquired a persistent mindset for constantly assessing TV, radio, and Internet advertising; product placement in movies, television, and Internet business and entertainment programming; point of sales (POS) displays and other B2B and consumer communication activities for efficacy, originality, and impact on a company's profit-loss bottom line. I enjoy introducing students to these aspects of marketing management in many enterprises as diverse as manufacturing, retail, hospitality, law, medicine, and international relations.

Microsoft Word

The Information Technology (IT) staff everywhere I have worked inevitably come to love me for being able to tutor others in many uses of MS Word. As you can imagine, many co-workers relied on me for quicker service than IT can provide--and delivered in plain language at that!

Photography

Photography has been a fruitful hobby of mine for more than twenty years. I've shot more than 200 rolls of film on a Minolta X570 camera with manual aperture and shutter speed, as well as hundreds of photos on a simpler digital camera.

The hobby evolved naturally from my passionate engagement in high school art classes, opportunities to travel through the Rocky Mountains and abroad to London, the challenges of photographing the children in my life, and my solemn responsibility to take excellent photos of my sisters' fabulous flower gardens because they are much too busy designing them document them.

It has always followed naturally from my enthusiasm for photography to coach others in improving theirs.

Praxis

The Minnesota Teacher Licensing Exam (MTLE) from Pearson has replaced Praxis from ETS in Minnesota. Since September 1, 2012, only MTLE basic skills passing scores have been accepted.

Since MTLE test-prep materials are quite limited, I successfully supplement them with suitable test-prep material from those other tests to strengthen my students' confidence and skill in taking the MTLE.

I also successfully tutor the verbal components of the PSAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL. Recommendations from a satisfied GRE student and a satisfied TOEFL student appear on my WyzAnt tutoring profile.

Proofreading

I've worked as a paid proofreader since I was in 10th grade. My first job was scoring spelling and grammar on student writing assignments for my 8th grade English teacher. I recently worked for six years as an editor for a publisher of nonfiction books for young people. I continue to work as a freelance editor. This includes daring to serve as the volunteer newsletter editor for the Professional Editors Network (PEN) - an act of pure hubris.

PSAT

I have worked as a scorer for hundreds of standardized state writing tests for high school and middle school around the United States. I can confidently coach to the highest score possible for the individual student.

As a tutor, I've developed a knack for diagnosing a student's weaknesses from their incorrect answers on practice tests and working with them to bulk up for better scores.

Psychology

Not content with my undergraduate major in history, I returned to college three semesters later to complete the equivalent of another major in psychology. Loved it!

Reading

It takes a carefully selected progression of reading material to assist a beginning reader, including English Second Language (ESL) learners, in making the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. While this is true for readers of all ages and skill levels, I learned about it by less-usual means as an editor of nonfiction books for K-12 students.

Typically, I will ask a student to read aloud, listen and respond affirmatively first, then with suggestions for improvement such as correcting pronunciation of difficult words. A bonus in this approach is that it helps reduce the gaps between individuals' reading vocabulary and listening vocabulary.

For the students who are at their best on the move, reading aloud can be accomplished from any number of postures (for example, lying face up or down, sitting backward on a chair with the back on the seat and legs on the chair back, standing on one foot, attempting handstands) and means of self-locomotion around the room. I get motion sickness myself when I try to read while walking, but walking and even dancing, spinning slowly, or hopping serves some students well.

I will also ask more experienced readers, nearing the brink of reading to learn, to read silently for a specified time to see if and how much faster they can read silently that way. This allows me to coach these students in strategies to read faster while retaining full comprehension.

I enjoy working with ESL/ESOL adults wishing to improve their American English literacy as well as helping young people learn to read.

SAT Reading

Cultivating a passion for reading at an early age is the best preparation for this test. My gentle nudges for students preparing for this part of the SAT test help them score their best, however.

SAT Writing

I have worked as a scorer for hundreds of standardized writing tests for high school and middle school around the United States. I can confidently coach to the highest score possible for the individual student.

Spelling

I scored in the 98th percentile on the Graduate Record Exam's (GRE) vocabulary component. I can spell all those big words too.

As one friend proclaims, "Don't play Scrabble with Deborah. She knows ALL the words!"

Study Skills

Study skills? I have about 27 years of formal education. (True though that 10 of those were part time.) My lowest GPA was 3.5 (A family crisis during one semester, in grad school prevented me from completing the final.) I'd say it's reasonable to claim that I've got solid study habits, tips, and tricks to suit every student's need.

I am also certified to tutor a breadth of academic subjects about which few tutors can boast. In tutoring those subjects, as well as the standardized college admissions subjects, one of my foci is always study skills. No amount of content review matters without the means to retain and interpret the information. Otherwise all the student has is bald rote memorization. To fail to teach study skills with each of my subjects is like putting gas in a car without turning the key in the ignition, releasing the brake, and touching the gas pedal. Like the car, the student can't go anywhere academically or professionally.

Most simply stated, my breadth of certifications makes me an ideal generic study skills tutor.

TOEFL

I see the world seated across the table from me when I tutor ESL students for TOEFL and subsequently for ESL help in their university studies. Each of you are shining ambassadors for your home country.

I am a highly effective writing coach for those writing and speaking sections that you are dreading and for the other sections too. I've worked as a standardized writing test scorer for several scoring seasons. I *KNOW* how scorers (and test designers) think!

I have a master's degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin-Madison and I have worked as a paid writer, copywriter, and editor since 10th grade. For evidence, read my WyzAnt blog and my other subject descriptions, especially the one for ESL/ESOL.

Vocabulary

I scored in the 98th percentile on the Graduate Record Exam's (GRE) vocabulary component. A close friend warns others, "Don't play Scrabble with Deborah. She knows ALL the words." Too funny!

World History

In addition to completing an undergraduate history major at University of Wisconsin-Madison, I gained accidental expertise in Ancient Rome while working as an editor for an educational publisher for six years.

Also while in this job title, I contributed to titles for African, Asian, and European nations for a world geography series. These assignments required me to quickly acquire knowledge of the history of each. These world history excursions continue to be a joy!

Writing

I bring decades of experience as an editor to my students.

I have also worked as a scorer for hundreds of standardized state writing tests for high school and middle school around the United States. I can confidently coach to the highest score possible for the individual student.

Read all subject qualifications »

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Education

University of Wisconsin, Madison (History)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (Master's)

Great Tutor Deborah tutored my son for several weeks prior to taking the ACT. She was punctual and always kept me informed of how things were going. My son went in to the test very confident and prepared. He did much better in all areas especially his reading score which jumped from a 21 to a 27. Deborah also worked with him in science and his science score improved 3 points as well. We were very pleased ...

— Michelle from Milton, WI on 10/27/13);

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $60.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

The first 30 minutes of my first session with a student is FREE. Cancellation Fee: $60 if a session is not cancelled at least 24 hours before the lesson, $120 if no cancellation attempt.

Travel policy

Deborah will travel within 40 miles of Madison, WI 53703.

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