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If I had a dollar for every time a student in a math class has asked me "how do I use this in real life?" I'd have a paycheck. But, like it says in the song, "if I had a million dollars, I'd be rich." I'm asked this most often by Algebra 2 and Geometry students, so here are three things I can show them. (1) The Rule of 72. Which states, in probably over-simplified form: "If you take the number 72, and divide it by your interest rate, the result is the number of years it takes for the principal to double." That's a pretty good simulation of compound interest there, especially for rates around 15% or less. This way students can see how fast a credit-card balance can balloon up, without their having to fool around with the formulas. Once they get the idea, the formulas don't seem so bad. (2) The break-even point. This is a simulation of a system of two linear equations: - One is for the money a company brings in via sales. You assume... read more

Recently, after I tutored two of my favorite students to prepare them for upcoming tests in Pre-Algebra and Geometry respectively, I received positive reinforcement for the importance and value of customizing the tutoring approach, information, knowledge transfer, and tutoring style. After the first tutoring session, I was approached by three people as I was waiting for my next student: 1. An elementary school teacher – she complemented me on my knowledge and tutoring style, and asked me for my information to refer students to me for tutoring. 2. A parent seeking a tutor for their daughter – he complimented me on my tutoring style, my patience, and my problem solving ability, He said, “I saw how you tutored him and I want you to tutor my daughter the same way” He booked a tutoring session for the next day. 3. An adult student preparing for a standardized test – she worked at the café, came over and said that she saw me tutoring the student and saw how he was excited... read more

I invite all students who are faltering in Mathematics, from Algebra through Calculus, to get help as soon as possible. The right kind of skilled help, which gives you INSIGHT and thus understanding, can build your confidence and raise your level of achievement. That's what you want to do--because those who do not address these issues usually experience disappointment and failure, and the effects of failure have a significant impact on your life, such as lowering self-esteem and interfering with your plans for college and career. That's why I tutor--to help you. All of my customers experience marked improvement. I wish the same for you. Kenneth S.

A few keys to success in school (for people with or without A.D.D.): We need to concentrate on taking notes in classes, and possibly use a digital recorder to record some classes. (That makes a tremendous difference for many of my A.D.D. students, because they can "go back and listen" to things they missed when distractions occurred.) Examples of distractions include when other students are moving or making noises, worries or concerns**, being hungry, needing to go to the restroom, looking for a pen or pencil, or needing to sharpen a pencil, etc. There are many sources of distractions. Even **fear of failure** can be a distraction! What about memory problems? Actually all of us have trouble with remembering from time to time--it's part of being human, right? Heck, even computers have memory problems occasionally, so it seems that some degree of "forgetfulness" is basically a universal condition. Some good news for A.D.D. students: If we are able... read more

I've been working recently with a student who "presented" as a student struggling with physics. But in many ways, the physics is less of an issue than applying mathematics to the physics concepts. Their text is Glencoe's Physics Principles and Problems, which some reviewers describe as much as a math text as a science text. After helping with several chapters of homework, I would say that the problems at the end of each section or chapter tend to focus on those where mathematics can be applied to the physics, and that as a result if the tests are based upon those questions, the test will be as much a test of the student's understanding of the mathematics as their knowledge of the science. In many ways, it was the time consuming nature of the mathematics that was creating problems for the student. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in that the development of math allows for new models of science, or that scientific theories require mathematical descriptions of the phenomenon... read more

The reality is that the student may be “in over their head” and no amount of effort will get a satisfactory result. Or maybe the student does not have the time to overly focus on one course over the others even for a short time to recover from a failing grade. This is a difficult and even emotional decision but should at least be momentarily considered. Is this class a necessity? Is there the ability to drop it? If you feel recovery is possible or if there is no other open option then on to the Recovery Plan. Though I am calling this a recovery plan – this is also a “B+ to an A+” or C to a B+" plan! Strategic Thoughts 1) Understand how the final grade is arrived at in detail as this impacts strategy especially if one part is overly emphasized. Usually the “battle” is between homework and exams. Exams are usually the predominant part of the grade - so rally around the next exam, midterm or final. You need 7-14 days for this Mock Test plan below. If homework plays a predominant role,... read more

I was reading what another WyzAnt tutor said, and I realized that he and I have the same attitude towards tutoring: We cherish each and every student, and enjoy working with them, but we don’t necessarily want to build a long-term relationship with them. I compare this situation to birds learning to fly. They need help at first, but it is important for them to learn to be self-sufficient, and learn to handle the challenges on their own. My goal is to help you to get on track, fill in some "gaps," and then let you "fly" on your own, when you are ready. In the future, if more help is needed with a new challenge, I am always glad to help. As John from California said, "Many students were never taught the basic concepts behind their courses. Because of that, the entire course can be a struggle for them." That problem does not just happen out West. I have found that to be true here too. If you were never taught the basic concepts, we will work... read more

It's important to plan ahead - "get ahead of the game" whether planning for SAT/ACT or planning for this coming Fall, 2012. Most parents and students wait till they get an "unexpected bad grade" - then REACT. A tutor can help things turnaround at that point - but what about your other classes - do you ignore those to catch up? This is not a good situation. Pressure packed. If this happens to be the semester they are preparing and taking the SAT or ACT, or they have to prepare to take an AP exam - even more pressure. I am thinking primarily in terms of math/science. If your student can start a tough math or science course in the fall having already mastered several key fundamentals of that course, it will give them confidence, relieve stress, and move them to a higher level of understanding. Also plan ahead carefully in class selection. You want a strong high school resume, but not at the expense of a significant drop in grades. My own daughter took statistics... read more

Test Preparation – Best Practices Start this at least one week before the math, chemistry or physics exam. What does the test cover? Sounds simple but it is amazing that many students are not sure the night before an exam. Using major topic titles, your notes, instructors’ notes, pages in the book – describe fully what the upcoming test covers. If questions come up - NOW is the time to ask the instructor exactly what is covered. I encourage you to approach the instructor – let him/her know you are actively preparing. Ask them if they have a good source of extra problems to work to prepare. They will love that you are taking their class seriously. Don’t do this to impress them – be sincere – but be aware – this could be helpful in that they might be interested in helping you. They work very hard instructing you - you probably don’t realize how much work they do when they are not in front of you in class – so you “make their day” by your behavior. Even if a cheat... read more

Extra problems are the cure to your ills. Mastery... There is a book called Mastery, by George Leonard which speaks to how those who are the very best at what they do are not naturally gifted but rather they work very diligently – repeating their craft so much that it is engrained. It is the same for math. Don’t just do you assigned homework – do extra problems. Don’t just prepare for the test – find old tests by the same teacher or others and work them in a test-like environment. When I was in graduate school, there was a statistics class, and for whatever reason I was able to find this professor’s old exams – several of them for every test. In addition to working homework problems etc., before every test, I worked ALL the tests for that topic. I could have gotten an A blindfolded! One time, the test WAS IDENTICAL to a test I practiced EARLIER the same day. It was all I could do to not start laughing. But I felt no guilt - I WAS P-R-E-P-A-R-E-D and worked hard preparing... read more

SOH CAH TOA When working with Right Triangles in any Math and Science subject, especially Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Physics, many problems can be solved by remembering this Memory Jogger: Indian Chief SOH CAH TOA (sounds like soow caah towaah) Angle = A Sine A = Opposite/Hypotenuse Cosine A = Adjacent/Hypotenuse Tangent A = Opposite/Adjacent You can use these formulas to calculate and find missing angles or sides to solve various problems. Please contact me to help your student achieve the best grades possible in Math and Science. As a Chemical Engineer, I work on Math and Science problems all day, and tutor students in Math and Science in the evenings and weekends, including students from Elementary School to College Graduate School. I help students learn to see how Math and Science can be fun and useful in daily life, school, and career choices. All the best, John M.

I have found that many students fear math and business classes as the teacher/instructor knows only a single approach to the topic and additionally cannot show the relevance of the subject with real world examples. With over 20 years of classroom and tutoring experience in math and business topics and my experience in the business and education sectors, I have a huge variety of experiences to draw upon to solve problems and show day-to-day relevance. Learning needs to be fun to engage the student and success must be achieved with every learning situation. I truly enjoy "Turning Distress Into Success"! Larry D.

Today's success prescription: Check your energy level. Energy is key to effective studying. Some causes of tiredness may be inadequate sleep, hunger, poor diet, thirst, or overwork. Other health problems may also be the cause; if fatigue is a chronic condition not solved by taking care of the factors mentioned above, you should consult your physician. This will be a short post, but it's just a reminder that you don't always have to blame yourself if studying is going by slowly. Often a health factor is the cause.

1. No one was born to lose. The best of my students understand this principle like the backs of their hands. No, there is no inherent genetic formula or organic compound you can use to get an A in a class. We are all products of our hardwork and investments. Whoever decides to put in excellent work will definitely reap excellent results. 2. Always aim for gold. Have you heard that there is a pot of gold lying somewhere at the end of the rainbow? It's true! Okay, I'm just joking, but my best students always aim for the gold. The very best. As, not Bs, or Cs, or Ds. Just the very best. The one thing people don't think they are capable of achieving is the best. The top of the class. Or the valedictorian. 3. Never settle for less. My best students are innovative, inquisitive thinkers. They tend to think outside the box, never settling for "just what they got from class." They love to use real life examples and explore how theory comes alive in their personal experiences... read more

I'm new to this site and can't wait to help you. Got questions? I got answers! Whether you need some simple study skills and techniques or if you have very specific problems in a subject, I can help. Let me show you how all these subjects work together and are not isolated disciplines that you're never going to use. I'll show you the relevance of each subject and how they're all integrated. Learning is so much fun when you understand why you need to know.

Effective strategies to understand and remember geometry terms include the following: 1. First try to understand the word before memorizing the definition. If you do not understand the definition, you will not remember it for very long. 2. Write out the definitions of geometry words in your own words. 3. Draw pictures depicting the geometry terms. This technique is especially helpful to visual learners. 4. For auditory learners, consider saying the definitions of the terms in your own words out loud. 5. For each type of math problem involving a geometry term, do more than one practice problem. The more problems you work on, the more likely you will understand and remember the geometry term.

Whenever you complete a math problem, it is paramount to go back and double check your work. Remember, no one is perfect and mistakes will be made from time to time. The first step is to always ask yourself "Does this answer make sense"? For example, if you're working on a geometry problem and you're trying to calculate an angle of a polygon, and you determine the answer is 110°, look at the angle and ask "Does this answer makes sense, does this angle look like it's greater than a right angle or a 90° angle"? If not, you know you've made an error and can go back to find the mistake. You can do it!!

I wanted to take a moment to share a recent "success story". Recently, a Student contacted me because he needed to pass a formal standardized exam, known as the "Praxis I". The Praxis tests are used by State Governments and Colleges of Education to ensure they bring only quality students into their programs to be trained as educators. My Student had unfortunately previously failed all 3 components of the Praxis test, and was now "under the gun", since a second failing score would have resulted in his expulsion from his School. In my home State, students must achieve a combined Praxis I Score of at least 522 to be eligible for School. The passing score for the Reading test is 176, the Writing test 173, and the Math test 173. The minimum score on each test is 150, and the maximum score is 190. It should be noted that this is a fairly difficult exam series; the median scores (175-179) are barely above the minimum passing scores (173-176). My Student,... read more

OK, so I'm a math geek, but actually very down-to-earth and not much of a blogger. My students like that I'm friendly, approachable, and explain in plain English using tangible objects when possible. For example, when teaching the calculation of volumes generated by revolving curves around a line, I've used a glass vase to illustrate; for cylindrical shells, a roll of toilet paper got the idea across. For Trig, 'sketch, look, and count' go much further than memorizing the gazillion rules your textbook makes you think you need to memorize. Exponents? Easy--think of asking for a certain number of copies when you print. Do the same thing with the algebra expression, only multiply those copies. Yup, plain analogies make the concepts way clearer and less intimidating. No, I don't eat math for breakfast and love dogs, cats, and doing arts & crafts. But I am very experienced at teaching math and my students tend to stick with me as long as they need help. Being too humble to brag,... read more

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