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After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – “insert subject here” and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc. And let’s be honest – in most high school classrooms, students are essentially graded on their ability to keep track of, complete, and submit paperwork (i.e. homework), instead of their mastery of the material. (Not a good state of affairs, but it’s a topic... read more

Unless you are traveling in a spaceship and moving close to the speed of light, time passes at the same rate for everyone. The Earth takes approximately 24 hours to complete one full rotation on its axis, which has resulted in a day being 24 hours long. So why do some people seem to be able to accomplish so much more when we all have the same amount of time in our day? Simply, they have mastered good time management skills. I have summarized 3 Time Management tips that I have condensed from a number of different resources. Hopefully, these will help you finish more tasks and get you closer to accomplishing your goals. 1) Create a Prioritized To-Do List At the beginning of every day, take 15 minutes to consciously decide how you want to spend your time. This is also called making a plan for your day. Write down everything you need to do that day. This list should include steps needed to complete a S.M.A.R.T. goal, tasks or project items for work or school, errands,... read more

As human beings with limited time, energy, and resources, we naturally desire to get the most done with the least amount of work possible. From reading books and experimenting throughout the years, I have accumulated a collection of techniques that maximizes efficiency and has allowed me to achieve a 3.93 GPA while studying less than three hours a day. Below are some of these techniques. Although I have separated it in general and chemistry study tips sections, these study tips can be applied to every class you will ever take in high school & college. Furthermore, some of these tips, especially the blocking technique, will skyrocket your ability to get more done in less time not only in school, but in life in general. I hope these tips will benefit you as much as they have and continue to help me. General Study Tips 1. Study in purely focused block periods Our body functions in cycles. For example, our circadian rhythm dictates when we sleep. Likewise,... read more

As I held the crisp white letter with the university’s insignia in my hand, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I read the letter once more to ensure that I understood the cold words. If you do not improve academically within the next semester, you will be expelled from this institution. I stood at the mailboxes in my residence hall… suddenly awaken (rudely I would argue) from my cozy assumption that, “I am smart and that’s all that matters”.   Back in 2001 I didn’t realize that peacefully drifting as I did in high school would not serve me well in college. No matter how smart I really am I would not have made it in college by simply paying attention and doing my homework. Study skills are imperative for maximizing success potential. This is no major secret but sadly studies of freshmen reveal that my experience was not isolated. Many students may suffer a blow to their self-confidence when they encounter the more rigorous academic work of higher education . Even more... read more

This post is all about #mentoring. There is no excuse for any student to ever say, "I can't!" As a mentor, I lead my kids by example. I am back in college for the degree I always wanted to get but didn't. Someday, I will be an engineer! That just gets me excited to be alive and be a teacher. But, I'm 41. I old right? 25 years out of school? I can't do it.   Well, I hear enough of that from students. So, I prove to them: anything can be done if you put your mind to it! Now, in my 3rd semester of a 6 semester plan, I have a 4.0 GPA, I'm enrolled in 24 credit hours at 2 different colleges and I tutor 40-hours a week!   If I can go overtime, carry a job, help 20+ students a week with their homework and tests, and keep a 4.0. Anyone can, especially someone half my age, right? Yes, you can!   So, next time you thing it can't be done, just go out that door, put your nose in the books and do it. If Ted can do it you can too!

As a tutor, one of the most common problems I see in students are poor note taking skills. During a lecture in class, many students try to capture everything a teacher or professor is saying. In fact, the average professor lectures at about 180 words per minute and even the fastest typist would be able to keep up with this pace. At that, you are more focused on typing, than actually listening to a lecture and retain information.   Try these three tips when taking notes during your next class: Remove the fluff - Filler words like "the, a, an, this, etc" have no need in notes. Your notes need not be grammatically correct or contain full sentences. Instead aim for complete ideas. In the past, I have reduced notes from 2-3 pages down to 2-3 sentences sometimes less. Pay attention to time - A great note taking technique is to keep time in the margins. This will often lead to the areas that will be covered in exams. For instance, did your finance professor... read more

1.  Turn off the electronic devices - I would post links here that point to studies that support this, but is there really any need?  Every time you're tempted to just veg in front of the TV, read a book instead.  It's so easy to just read a book in a similar genre of what you were going to watch on tv.   2.  Eat healthy - More links could be posted on here, but I think this is also a given.  Eat lots of healthy fats from cold-pressed nut/seed/fruit oils and organic/pastured animals fats.  Be sure to watch your macronutrient ratios too!  Protein should generally account for 15-30% of your calories, fats at least 40%, and carbs as needed. 3.  Exercise - Even if you have to stay indoors to exercise, it's still worth it.  Remember to exercise a variety of muscles on all parts of your body.  Isolating one or two muscle groups can over-stress those muscles and result in injuries.

See if there is one thing that I cannot stand, is seeing a student rush into a Stats class and stating that this class is remarkably easy because my friend said so. Too many times has a student come up to me and asked is statistics easy, and I reply "it most certainly is... for myself, because I studied my content for two years before retaking the course.". If you know that you are going to start a statistics class anywhere at any time your going to need the following items.   1. TI-83 or 84 preferably Now why one of these calculators? Students, if you are going to take a stats class be aware that there is a lot of data or numerical values that can be used to find the measures of central tendency and measures of dispersion. These calculators excel for data entry and double checking your answers on the very first test.    *If your teacher says you cannot use this calculator, then get its cheaper cousin. TI-30XII Hint there usually... read more

I am a firm believer that one does not truly know something until she can put it into a new format. You can take notes from a book or from lectures all day, every day, but until you can put the information into a new shape, you haven't actually learned anything. Make a concept map, put facts and vocabulary into tables or categories, write flash cards, and/or rearrange the information in a new outline. Go really crazy and write a song or a poem, draw a picture, even make something in 3D. What you do or make depends on your learning style, but it has to be something new. I also believe that you only know something if you can summarize it. If you know enough about a subject to condense it into something really compact, like a “cheat sheet,” then you’re doing pretty well. You can capture its meaning in much less space than a textbook chapter. I actually do make “cheat sheets” for most of my tests. I condense all of the information I need for the test onto just a few pages, which are... read more

As "winter" chugs along, you may be wondering what to do about those projects you didn't have time for, and getting a little tutoring for those academic subjects you're struggling with.  I'm available, particularly for those folks on the east-side of the Willamette.   Would love to help you get that paper written, improve your study skills, organize your work, interpret your teachers' feedback on returned assignments, or any other task you've been putting off for a "when I get to it" time.  Call me, Portlanders....operators are standing by!

Final exams are coming up and you are freaking out!   There are steps that you can take in order to help you prepare for the upcoming exam. Don't panic.   Do not wait until the night before to start studying.  Start going over the material weeks before the final.   Previous exams - use the midterm and any other exams to help you study material from earlier in the semester.  Problems that you saw on these exams may also show up on the final.   Practice finals - many professors sometimes hand out practice problems or practice finals in order to help you study.  Go over these problems and make sure you know how to solve every problem. Take a break from your study routine occasionally.  Your brain will thank you!

Ask any classroom full of students how they study, and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. There will probably be many similar answers, but most people have different methods, locations, and techniques that shortens their study time somehow. Sometimes shortcuts are a great thing- like a shortcut that avoids heavy traffic. The trick to using shortcuts with studying is knowing which ones work, and which ones don't! One of the best ways to ensure that your study time will be used effectively is to take notes during class. Ensuring that your notes make sense to YOU is really important. Your class notes should translate what your teacher is telling you into something that you can remember. For example: the definition of onomatopoeia is, 'the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.' If you have a long list of literary terms, the strange spelling of onomatopoeia might get lost with your other lit terms. Writing "sizzle" or "buzz"... read more

Lately I've realized just how stressful economics can be, particularly for students with English as a second or third language. Trying to explain utility and utils to someone a few days ago, all I could think about was my own AP Econ professor, with his southern drawl, and a look he reserved for confused students.  Someone would ask a question. There'd be a pause. Wearing his varsity football coach jacket, he'd sigh, and make eye contact with whoever had asked the question. Then, it was more like he was looking at you for something in particular - did you really not understand the concept, or were you confused by how the word was being used? Different questions would require very different answers.    As a student who was frequently confused with the use of terms in a different context than I was used to, I hated that look. For the first month of classes, I was convinced he hated me, and that I was going to fail miserably. Every time we got a test or quiz... read more

  I have spent nearly two years working entirely with students that struggled with mild to severe ADD. First, both students with ADD and those who teach them need to be knowledgeable of WHAT ADD is.     A few basics: 1). ADD is NOT simply being easily distracted, or lack of focus. For the student suffering with it, it feels as if there is a mental fog around everything they do. Tasks requiring long and acute attention are draining for the average joe, but can feel nearly impossible or even painful to an ADD/ADHD student.    2). ADD is caused by by under-stimulation to the areas in the brain responsible for thinking, solving, and task management. I often hear older students (17-18 yrs) say they are not allowed to drink coffee. Coffee couldn't be more appropriate, actually (if you are on medication, talk to a doctor before adding coffee to your routine). In fact the drugs used for ADD are heavy-duty stimulants that are chemical cousins to... read more

Picture it: The gentle rustling of papers flapping and pages turning, the scratching of pens on notebooks, the snoring of the kid next to you, and your professor lecturing at a speed that makes you wonder if she's going to combust. Odds are, somewhere in this scenario, if you are like me then you're lost and writing furiously trying to take some kind of notes before the slide changes for the 47th time. But there's a problem; the professor is moving faster than you write. Typically the best thing to do is to raise your hand and ask her to slow down. The next step however, comes the point of this Note. The best way to take notes is to take as few as possible! By this I mean why write two words when you can write half of one? It'll allow you to keep up with the professor and return your attention to the board or the slides. "But how do you do this word-cleaving Black Magic, Frank?" you ask? You don't need seven years at Hogwarts for it. It's simple: short hand. Try to develop... read more

The holidays are almost upon us - school will be out soon - and parents and students are looking at a 2-4 week hiatus from the regular routine of school work.  What happens to all of the knowledge and skills learned from school and tutoring during those weeks? Well, having been a high school principal for years, as well as a classroom teacher, my experience is that students often will not read on their own, review math on their own, or if in an AP class "read ahead" on their own.  If you have tutors in the educational profession, we also have that time off and our lesson times can be flexible - so instead of all of those late afternoon, early evening, or weekend appointments, most of us can now meet with our students in the morning or afternoon. So, what would your student gain from tutoring in the winter break? 1.  Weekly reinforcement of knowledge and skills  already... read more

So much stress, anxiety and wasted time can be completely avoided if you remember just 3 basic truths about  asking for something in life. It's a matter of simple mathematical probability really. You see, each time you ask someone for something, you have a 33.33333333333333333 (you get the point) percent chance of getting one of 3 responses: a "yes" a "no" or a "maybe" or something similar like "I don't know" or "perhaps" or "not now" or "next year," etc. For simplicity, it looks like this: When you ask for something you have a 33% chance of getting a "No" 33% chance of getting a "Yes" 33% chance of getting a "Maybe." What I find extraordinary is how many people ask for something with just one of these probabilities firmly set in their minds. They completely rule out that the other 2 are likely to... read more

For the first time in a while, I'm taking a course where the information I have to know is entirely based on memorization. In my experience, a liberal arts degree has requires hundreds of hours of writing (so I have that down pat!) , but its been a while since I've had to know the text almost verbatim. This is how I've taught myself the material: 1. Talk about it with friends. My boyfriend has an interest in the course material, so we discuss it conversationally. This allows me to really have a context for what I am learning.  2. I highlight! I know, I know, my pages are ruined. But color-coding the information helps me put it into note form, after I've read the chapter.  3. Read, then read it again. Yup. Definitely helpful, but not always fun.  4. Utilize all study guides. This may seem obvious, but for anything that doesn't have an outline, I make one, and I make note of information that could be asked in test form. And then I test... read more

I find that discovering my students' limitations and trying to make them realize what these are is a very beneficial technique for improving grades or test scores.  The limitations become the new focus of our attention and as we narrow the scope of our efforts much more is able to be accomplished.  Students may at first be unwilling to admit their shortcomings but after they realize how much progress can be made when light is shone on them, they become all the more eager to continue working with you.  I also use the experience of my own wrestling with limitations; often I find that my limitations are similar to other people's and that the skills I have learned in battling them are invaluable to others. 

Hello all, I found this article from Fox news very helpful. We might relate to it differently but at the end of the day, we may all agree that multitasking might not be as effective as it feels! Hope you enjoy it!   12 Reasons To Stop Multitasking   "We all do it: Texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, chatting on the phone while cooking dinner. In today's society, doing just one thing at a time seems downright luxurious, even wasteful. But chances are, you're not doing yourself (or your boss, or your friends and family) any favors by multitasking your way through the day.Research shows that it's not nearly as efficient as we like to believe, and can even be harmful to our health. Here are 12 reasons why you should stop everything you're doing—well, all but one thing—and rethink the way you work, socialize, and live your life. You're not really multitasking What you call multitasking is really task-switching,... read more

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