Experience is the cultivator of inspiration. It is difficult to achieve anything without inspiration derived from experience.
Experience is the cultivator of inspiration. It is difficult to achieve anything without inspiration derived from experience.
"It matters not why you write, or how you write, or when you write, because no matter what you write, someone will love it."
I have edited 3 magazines intermittently from 1972. At present I am assistant editor for an on-line magazine coming out of London, England. I published my home study piano course in 1991 that has an enrollment of 200 students. I have one book now at the publishers and hopefully another should be ready for publication in the New Year.
Sometimes I work with students who perform well during our lessons, but who struggle when it comes to actually taking the test. It turns out the reason for this might be genetic. When we experience stress, our prefrontal cortex is flooded with dopamine. Some of us are coded with a gene that slowly removes the dopamine, while others have a variant that rapidly removes it. The prefrontal cortex is critical for planning and decision-making, and it performs best when an optimal level of dopamine is maintained. Normally, on many cognitive tests, people with the slow variant of the gene perform better. But in stressful, high-stakes situations the opposite happens: those with the fast variant do better. Thus people with the slow variant have been dubbed Worriers, and those with the fast variant, Warriors. However, being a Worrier does not mean you will inevitably be a victim of chronic underperformance in stressful situations. In one of the studies... read more
Writing is an essential skill your students should develop. It will be important regardless of the professions they aspire to have in the future. However, teaching students how to write can be a problem. Alyssa Stevenson, Content Strategist at EdugeeksClub advises educators, "Pupils all hate writing assignments, so you’ll have to find a way to make this skill attractive to them." Below are 10 apps to help you out in making learning a lot easier: 1. Kid in Story Book Maker Developed by Locomotive Labs, this tool makes your childhood dream of being in a storybook a reality! Kid in Story Book Maker lets you take a picture for the background and allows you to insert an additional picture of the user. You then get to create a narration for your own story. 2. Write about this This app encourages kids and adults alike to harness their writing skills by providing a wide range of colorful and engaging photos to write about. Each photo has 3 levels of prompts... read more
Here's a method that is helping students lock in those AR, ER, and IR verbs! So, you nod your head a lot and smile while your instructor explains how to conjugate verbs but you really, really aren't getting how they work at all! Sound familiar? Although you might be puzzled, there’s actually a reason that Spanish verbs have different endings for each tense. Well, are you ready to learn? First of all, why do we even need to change the ending of the verbs in Spanish? Answer: so that people know who in the world we are talking about! In English, we have those wonderful pronouns like “I, you, he, she, it, we, and they” tell us what or who we are talking about. We pretty much use them all the time - yep, can't live without them. The good news is, we also have them in Spanish! The difference is that in Spanish we have the choice to use them or not. We have choices people, choices! When we change the ending of the verb in Spanish that's how we know who or what... read more
It is very good that you are thinking about teaching your child about essays, as they are going to have to do a lot of them when they get to college and university. And, even though the education system puts emphasis on knowledge, the fact is that they are judged on how well they display and express that knowledge, and that is often done via the essay. So, starting them fairly young is important, but you must also remember that they are not yet to the standards of Niccollo Machiavelli or Jane Austen. So, be gentle with your essay lessons. Do not be too harsh with your child The last thing you want to do is make writing a nasty or negative experience for your child. If they experience anything negative then it will impact your child for the rest of his or her life, and you will probably end up visiting him or her in prison when he/she reaches thirty, so that you can look at his/her newest prison tattoo. Start by giving them enjoyable writing experiences This... read more
To everyone who may not know please begin to gather your tax documents for 2015 and begin the process of submitting the FAFSA (even if you think that you may make too much money for your college student to receive free student aid!) Submit the FAFSA as quickly as possible so that your college students do not miss out on the potential free money for their college education.
The Economist recently published an article with some surprising research findings about stress. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not always bad, nor is it the amount of stress that matters. Rather, the key determinant of its impact on performance and health is largely psychological. In one study, researchers divided a set of GRE test takers into two groups. Saliva samples were taken to establish baseline stress levels for all participants. Then one group was told that stress during practice exams is natural and can improve performance, while the other group just took the test. Saliva samples were taken at the end of the exam, and the results from both groups indicated similar levels of stress. BUT, the group that had learned stress can be helpful scored higher on the practice test (and, several months later, on the actual GRE) than those who just took the test. Even more impressively, in 2012 a group of researchers scoured through... read more
Over the years, I have noticed that many students do not like to take their practice test scores at face value. When students get scores below their goal, the temptation to rationalize is strong. "On Test Day, I will take it much more seriously, so I'm sure my result will be higher." "I was distracted during XYZ sections, so my score on those isn't as accurate as it could be." "I only really focused on the Math sections, that's why I didn't do as well on the others." "I made a lot of careless mistakes." I'm not saying these are excuses - it's possible they are accurate explanations - but even still, thinking this way will not serve you well. For starters, if you're not taking your practice tests as seriously as you would the actual test, that's a problem. The whole point of practice tests is to prepare you for the real thing, so you should treat them as if they are the actual test. Furthermore,... read more
I can't speak for every tutor, but I know that if you work with me I have certain expectations of you in order to ensure that you will see the greatest possible improvement in your score. Luckily, they are really quite simple, and adhering to them makes a huge difference. I've attached a PDF version to summarize my Top 5 Test Prep Essentials that you can download, but I will review each of them below too. For starters, I may be stating the obvious, but you absolutely must complete all homework assignments. All my assignments are tailored to your current performance and designed to help you achieve your goal score. Many students aspire to achieve dramatic improvements, and I fully believe such improvements are possible. BUT, in order to achieve such goals, it is imperative that you complete every homework assignment. If there is a notable gap between your current score and your goal score, that is perfectly ok, but it makes the homework that much more important... read more
Ellen's Rules for Effective Time Management, Part 2 3. Know when it’s time to take breaks. Spending a good chunk of time on one subject is good; it helps you settle into a rhythm and lets your brain get into the correct frame of reference for the subject. But there exists a horizon beyond which no progress can or will be made. It’s the point at which your brain has become over-saturated with the current material, and if you continue on you’ll just end up working yourself into circles of frustration. In paper writing, it’s the point at which anything you wrote would make sense to you regardless because you’ve been reading the same few paragraphs to yourself for hours. In math, it’s the point at which you will just end up confusing yourself more and more as you try desperately to work it out. When that moment arrives, you know it’s time to take your break. 4. TAKE BREAKS. I don’t care how much work you have, there’s always enough time for a fifteen-minute break... read more
What's Your Mindset? It May Shape Your Future! Successful students: "I go to tutoring and I practice a lot. I do many extra problems before each test. I am ultimately responsible for my own learning and success. I need to spend as much time as I need until I can work through all of the problems that will be on my test. The material is hard, but that means I need to dedicate more time and energy to learn it." Advanced: "My teacher doesn't teach well at all, but that's okay with me. I have my textbook and can check out additional books on the subject matter to study myself. I don't even need my teacher. Everything I need can be found in either the library or on the internet (KhanAcademy.org, PurpleMath.com, etc.)." Unsuccessful students: "I go to tutoring, but I don't like to practice and work on additional problems, especially if I have to do them all by myself. I blame my teacher and tutor. They suck and demand too much from me. I... read more
I used to teach engineers how to write. I loved it, but it was challenge; engineers are infamous for arguing a point into the ground. Whenever I taught them Plain Language and urged them to use it, the hair would bristle on the backs of their necks. Generally, the course of events to follow went something like this. They say: • Using Plain Language would be writing down to their readers • Making their writing understandable wasn’t necessary, because their audiences already understood the subject matter • Writing technical documents has always been done this way • This wasn’t the way they were taught to write After which, I stand in front of them. I look at them. I finally speak. I say, “Your teachers were wrong.” And, just short of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, all hell breaks loose. (Did I mention that engineers love to argue?) Nevertheless, I continue. “It’s all because of a bunch of ancient Roman rhetoricians... read more
Students are often frustrated when trying to learn a foreign language because they can't organize the material like they are used to doing in other subjects. Language is fluid and we are able to finally understand foreign words when we let go and allow the right side of our brains to take over. Much of understanding is intuitive and contextual, so give yourself permission to guess what is being said or written. The key is to think through the words and let them come alive in your brain, so you can use them later. That's how you learned your native tongue. Grammar should be a supplement to your language acquisition, not the main player. I always recommend online courses with pictures, sound and familiar scenes between actors...like a play on stage, but in German. You know the German word Kindergarten because you have heard it so many times in the context of your life. That is how you can learn new German words....find a program... read more
Oscar Wilde, no slouch in the arena of writing and wit, said that. Writing and thinking aren’t mutually exclusive activities. When we write we exercise our ability to think In a study conducted at Central Washington University, WA, researchers compared the critical thinking performance of students who took classes that focused on writing, as opposed to students enrolled in courses that used the traditional quiz-based education principles. According to the results, the writing group made a substantial improvement in their analytical thinking skills, whereas the non-writing group did not. Another example of the connection between writing and thinking is the case history of New Dorp, a high school in Staten Island. The school was facing closure because of the students’ poor performance. In 2007, with a dropout rate of 4 out of 10, the school was ranked as one of the 2,000 lowest-performing high schools in the U.S. Faced with the prospect of closing the school,... read more
I recently had the experience of arranging to meet a new client's high-school student for their first time using online tutoring with me. We had already exchanged messages on the platform we intended to use in an attempt to ensure everything was ready for that night's session when the student would be ready. However, we encountered some problems! Although we were both logged into the video-conferencing application, and had earlier exchanged IMs through the application, neither of us appeared to be online to the other! After trying the usual restart-the application, restart-the-machine first trouble-shooting steps, to no avail I asked the client to try checking their application for any available updates. Well, evidently there must have been some updates that hadn't run for quite some time (or perhaps an antivirus program or firewall interfered with the update process, or perhaps the operating system was out-of-date too, or ... could have been any number of... read more
Sometimes the same procedure shows up in two different contexts. This is especially common in the fields of math and science, as science employs in real-world application many of the techniques we learn in their abstract form in math class. For some reason, the principle as shown in a high-school science class is often much harder for students to understand than it was in the math class. (My personal theory is that science teachers are applying the concept in a way that changes how they explain how it works, and they probably have not collaborated with the student's math teacher to ensure they're reinforcing the same terminology.) Last week one of my students ran into this phenomenon in her own work; a concept from last year's math class showed up in her physics class. To help her understand it, we went back to the original math concept and talked about proportions. The science homework she was struggling with was the old chestnut about unit conversions; rows and rows of fractions... read more
Tardiness and Cancellation Policy No-Shows/Cancellations: 1) If the student gives between 1 and 3 hours notice of cancellation before the lesson, I reserve the right to charge 50% my rate for the lesson length. 2) If the student gives less than 1 hour notice of cancellation, I reserve the right to charge for the entire lesson at the full rate. 3) If I, the tutor, miss a lesson without more than 1 hours notice of cancellation, the student reserves the right to request the next lesson of equivalent length for no fee. Tardies: 1) If a student is more than 15 minutes late, I will charge for the length of the actual lesson plus a 50% rate for every minute late to the nearest 5 minute mark. Exceptions will be made for students who provide reasonable advanced notice of tardiness (determined at my discretion). 2) If I, the tutor, am more than 15 minutes late without reasonable prior notice, the student reserves the right to request 50% rate for the length of... read more