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I understand some parents are cagy or wary of online tutoring. After all - schools teach face-to-face, don't they? But, have you noticed how online services are exploding and brick/mortar schools are slowly but steadily disappearing? The internet is no longer the future - it is here - now! Online tutoring brings multiple advantages for everybody. 1. Very, very flexible. The student can be anywhere. At school on lunch break - Overseas - Broken leg in bed - sorry. 2. Nobody needs to drive in crazy traffic and risk an accident. 3. The student has immediate access to my Mac with thousands of topics - explanations and worked solutions.  4. You get copies of the work we did together for review / better understanding. Smart phone or PC! No lost paper notes. 5. Online we share screens and audio in real-time just as if we were sitting at the same table. 6. Can cancel and reschedule at the last minute. In-person carries a 24-hour minimum. 7. Class... read more

Carol Dweck is one of the most famous learning theorists alive today. Though she has been studying mindsets for decades, she is perhaps best known for her (appropriately-titled) book, Mindset Her ideas have directly helped hundreds of thousands of readers learn and teach more effectively, and they have indirectly helped millions more by influencing the way we think about learning and intelligence today. When it comes to intelligence there have always essentially been two schools of thought. One claims intelligence is a relatively fixed quantity that is stable throughout our lifespan, while the other argues it is a malleable quality that can change depending on experience (i.e. a variation of the infamous Nature versus Nurture debate). Adherents to the first school often adopt "entity" theories of intelligence and pursue "performance goals," in which they are concerned with gaining favorable judgments of their competence, whereas adherents to the... read more

Since Banned Books Week happens in mid-September each year, I'd like to talk today about the problem with banning books. Last year, my Bring Your Own Book club's topic for September was to read a banned or challenged book. We had a great discussion during our meeting about common threads in all of the books we read, common reasons why books get challenged, and how that relates to the education system in general. One of the things that kept coming up was that often, the reason the book was challenged is the entire point of the book itself – of course it deals with that; that's the main theme of the book! Whether it's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Looking For Alaska depicting kids smoking, drinking, and doing drugs, or it's The Giver depicting a fundamentally broken society masquerading as a utopia (psst – that's the definition of the genre – it's a dystopia!), or even a gorgeous picture book called “And Tango Makes Three” telling a true story about a pair of male penguins who... read more

Well, okay, it's not incorrect, but it's flawed and by a mathematician's standards: morally wrong.   I'm sure at one point you boringly learned the order of operations. These are the set of rules that tell you whether you should do multiplication before division or addition before subtraction to get the correct answer on your math problem.  1) Parentheses (brackets) 2) Exponents x^x 3) Multiplication 2*2 4) Division 2/2 5) Addition 2+2 6) Subtraction 2-2 7) Get the right answer :)   Except, you don't always get the right answer.   For example: 8-2+1. Is it 5 because 8-3=5? Or is it 7 because 6+1=7?   Is 6/3/3 equal to 2/3 or 6/1?   The issue here is that focusing on the order of operations can lead to ambiguity and obscures the real beauty of mathematics.   A mathematician will tell you that 8-2+1 is actually 8+(-2)+1, which is unambiguously equal to... read more

1. Student engagement.  I always make sure that each student gets individual attention by engaging with him or her verbally, making sure they know that they are important to me and that I am monitoring them. 2. Asking students to restate what I have taught - in small amonts of information.  I often know that a student is listening, but restating what I have taught invites them to state it in their own words, thus solidifying their knowledge. 3.  Asking students to tell a personal story about themselves.  This is essential for second language learners speakers.  They are practicing speaking English about something they are intimately familiar with - themselves.   4. Using students errors in speaking to form my next grammar lesson.  Speaking is very informative for me as a teacher to know where to go next to help students to communicate clearly.  Often they can understand grammar that they cannot replicate in speech. 5. Humor is... read more

No one likes to mess up, but going to great lengths to avoid errors - even when the consequences of making an error are benign - is unlikely to help you learn. In fact, in her review of the literature, Janet Metcalfe makes a compelling argument that making errors while learning - so long as you receive corrective feedback - results in better outcomes than making no errors at all. Her findings are somewhat counterintuitive. If the goal is to perform flawlessly in high-stakes situations, shouldn't we pursue perfection in order to prepare for them? Early theorists feared that the commission of errors would make it harder to learn the correct response later on. One of the most famous psychologists of the 20th century, Albert Bandura, believed that only correct responses should be rewarded; errors, if they occurred, should be ignored. However, what Metcalfe's review of the literature suggests is that errors should be encouraged as part of an active exploratory learning process,... read more

The complaints against WyzAnt’s 40% commission demands a response. Suppose a tutor with 15 hours of work time through WyzAnt charges $40 an hour. Of that amount, WyzAnt will automatically deduct $16. This deduction is based on WyzAnt’s commission rate, which is 40% for the first 20 hours of work time. So the tutor is not earning $40 an hour; rather, the tutor is earning $24 an hour. According to a number of individuals, WyzAnt’s 40% commission rate is too high, way above average. Some folks, oddly enough, have even posted complaints on other websites. Why? Here's some food for thought. 1. Twenty-four dollars an hour is higher than any state’s hourly minimum wage. 2. You can create your website for tutors and charge a lower commission. 3. If you tutor for an hour you will be paid $24. 4. If you don’t tutor for an hour you will not be paid $24. 5. Twenty-four dollars is more than zero dollars. 6. You don’t have to stay with WyzAnt, but before you leave... read more

Thank you for the opportunity to help you or your child achieve learning goals in English and writing. Helping others develop enthusiasm for learning as well as content-based understanding is my motivation. I am glad to be of service. I also rely on tutoring income to help meet my responsibilities. For that reason, I believe it is important to have policies around scheduling and cancellations. Scheduling I schedule students on a first-come, first-served basis, and, normally, I have students who choose to keep a regular appointment or two each week. However, I also have some students who schedule as needed. Those students need to be flexible as my availability may shift from week to week. All appointments are a minimum of one hour in length. To schedule an appointment please contact me at John.Turnbull@wyzant.com.  Cancellations If you must cancel an appointment, please contact me at least six hours prior to your scheduled lesson. Appointments cancelled after... read more

I mentioned this problem from one of my earliest blog posts with one of my students last week, so I thought I'd bring it back as this week's Math Journey.  Enjoy!   ~   The SAT messes with your head. Don't feel embarrassed, it messes with everyone's head. It's designed to. The SAT is a test of your critical reasoning skills, meaning it's actually far more about logic and figuring out the correct course of action than it is about actually knowing the material. This is nowhere more evident than on the Math section. The SAT Math trips up so many students because they expect it to behave like a math test. The truth is, the SAT Math is about figuring out how to answer each problem using as little actual math as possible. It's all about working quickly, and the questions are structured such that they conceal the quick logic and context-based route behind the facade of a more complicated math question. They're trying to psych you out; to make you... read more

In mathematics, word problems have been known to pose challenges for elementary school students, middle school students and even some high school students. In addition, a vast majority of students also have difficulties with solving problems with fractions. If we mix a word problem with a problem with fractions, then we end up getting an even tougher problem to solve. How can we expect those students who have not yet mastered language to make meaning of word problems? Let's dive right into a math word problem which will illustrate this.    Problem: Tashira has a piece of lace material that is 3/5 yard long. She used 2/3 of the material to make a quilt. How much did she use to make the quilt?   When a student reads this problem one of the questions she/he may ask is, "Where do I start?" The student may have difficulty with translating the word problem into its mathematical representation. The next difficulty is that if the student decides... read more

  For those of you who may have purchased Apple's spiffy $79 external CD/DVD burner (or Superdrive as they call it), it may not have worked when you plugged it into your older Mac. A lot of times a person's built-in optical drive fails, and they see the new external at the Apple Store. They naturally grab one assuming it'll work because they'll be using it with a Mac. Hopefully there's a "Genius" selling it to them who's going to ask which Mac they plan on using it with. I'd think probably not. It turns out it's only the fairly newer Macs that support it. When you plug it in, your older Mac might very well inform you that "This Apple External CD/DVD drive is not compatible with this Mac. Please go to Apple Support to read more." What they show you is a compatibility matrix that seems to makes no sense. I haven't compared every spec of every Mac they list, but 2009 seems to be the general cutoff.   Perhaps Apple requires USB 3, and... read more

A student needed to draw a circle with a 2" diameter, then draw the following angles: 100°, 120º, and 140º. She had her compass but didn't have her protractor.   First she drew the circle, then she drew 2 perpendicular diameters. Since a circle encompasses 360º, each quadrant comprising 90º. We drew the 120º angle first using an entire 90º quadrant plus 1/3 of the adjacent quadrant, erasing the unneeded line, which leaves 60º in that second quadrant.   Then we found the circumference of the circle (C=πD, or 3.14x2"=6.28"). Next we found 1/4 of the circumference (6.28"/4=1.57"). We wanted to be able find the arc length in 10º increments, so we divided the arc of one quadrant by 9 (1.57"/9=0.174"). We converted this into 1/16ths of an inch by multiplying by 16 (0.174"x16=2.79 sixteenths of an inch).   Getting back to our angles, we measured the 100º angle next by taking our remaining 60º and adding 40º of... read more

I am a new tutor so a few days ago when l received a response to one of my first applications, l was very excited. This "student" requested that we talk on phone to finalize the arrangements for date and time.   I told him since l was home on spring break, he could call me on my land line but he wrote back requesting my cell telling him that when l am at home reception is very poor on my cell phone.  He kept insisting on getting my cellphone instead, l was puzzled why.  I never heard back from him.   A day later l got an email from Wyzant that they had determined this not to be a true student inquiry.   I have not figured out yet what this fake student was after.   Can anyone tell me?   Just be aware. Christine M.

Consider reducing a matrix to row-echelon form. Pretend we have a pivot (the entry we want to set to 1) equal to 3 and another entry in the same column with an entry equal to 5. We can make the pivot equal to 1 by multiplying every entry in its row by 1/3. But the result is that the problem with the other rows explode into a mess of fractions. Most people accept that and continue working with fractions throughout the entire process. A simple way to prevent the fraction problem is to replace the row containing the pivot with itself multiplied by 3 and subtract it from the row with a 5 in its column, multiplied by 2. This gives 10-9=1 for the pivot and it is a perfectly legal operation as long as we set the pivot row as a linear combination of itself and any other row.

Has anyone noticed the profusion (glut) of a questions coming in that are written exclusively in (what I think is) Chinese? (Resources/Answers)   This looks to me like an attack intended to disturb the normal function and use of the WyzAnt site. 

I had three students test last week and each scored a GT above the 110 level (the desired level for your choice of MOS)-Two received 112 and one was 118. The students worked hard and continued to reach for that goal. They all started in the 90's and over the course of four weeks, their scores were improved drastically. Come work with me to see how I can help you reach your goal!

You've purchased the latest and greatest of new digital cameras and have just come back from spending the day enjoying all those new features and taking great photos using Camera Raw. But when you insert the memory card and go to Import Dialog in Lightroom, all your thumbnails say, "Preview Unavailable For This File."   What's wrong?    Don't worry, it's not you. It's the Adobe Camera Raw Plug-In (ACR). Adobe updates the ACR plug-in on a regular basis, but never quite fast enough to keep up with every camera manufacturer's changes to their version of camera raw. So what happens is, Lightroom cannot yet read or see these new camera raw files.    What to do?   It's tricky, but not rocket science. Until Lightroom gets an updated version out that includes your new camera, you can download the Adobe DNG converter from the Adobe website that (hopefully!) includes your camera. The link is here - http://helpx.adobe... read more

Let's derive the equation sin2x + cos2x=1 from the pythagorean formula.   A right triangle with angle x will have a leg that is adjacent to angle x and it will have a leg that is opposite to angle x.  There will also be a hypotenuse.   From trigonometry, a right triangle with a given angle x,  can defined as follows: adjacent/hypotenuse=cosx opposite/hypotenuse=sinx   Following is the pythagorean identity for our right triangle: adjacent2 + opposite2=hypotenuse2   If we divide the above equation by hypotenuse2, we have:   (adjacent2 + opposite2=hypotenuse2)/hypotenuse2 or  adjacent2/hypotenuse2 + opposite2/hypotenuse2=1   Substitute in sinx and cosx into the above equation:   cos2x+sin2x=1   Can you derive the other two Pythagorean trigonometric identities?   cot2x + 1=csc2x tan2x  + 1=sec2x   Hint:... read more

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