I recently responded to a question on WyzAnt's “Answers” page from a very frustrated student asking why he should bother learning algebra. He wanted to know when he would ever need to use it in the “real world” because it was frustrating him to tears and “I'm tired of trying to find your x algebra, and I don't care y either!!!”
Now, despite that being a pretty awesome joke, I really felt for this kid. I hear this sort of complaint a lot from students who desperately want to just throw in the towel and skip math completely. But what bothered me even more were the responses already given by three or four other tutors. They were all valid points talking about life skills that require math, such as paying bills, applying for loans, etc., or else career fields that involve math such as computer science and physics. I hear these responses a lot too, and what bothers me is that those answers are clearly not what this poor student needed to hear. When you're that frustrated about...
read more

All my grade 8 & 9 students (10 students) passed the Algebra Core Regents exam. Only one student had to retake it in August and she passed with an 83%. In June she scored 53%. My two Trigonometry students passed the Regents, but only 2 out 4 students passed the Geometry Regents exams.

Hello, if you are a student frantically searching for help with a math problem, take a second here and I will repost answers to any MATH related questions you may have.

In the calculation below the mathematical symbols have been removed.
Using only +, -, x and / can you make it correct?
7 32 6 14 9 12 = 112
Best regards,
Gaurav

As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to talk to...
read more

The subject of Chemistry need not be complicated. My experience is teaching chemistry to nursing and engineering students some of which never had a chemistry course. The basic skills with units of measurement, conversion factors, as well as math background, are extremely important. The issue with conversion math is the area where most students have difficulty, since the math issue carries through to more advanced problem solving. I approach chemistry conversions with specific rules for each problem type. The units must be used with each step. The use of WEB resources and other books other than the student's text can also reinforce my approach to solving chemical problems, which can be used in between sessions with students.

As an experienced teacher of over 15 years, it's easy to recognize frustration in students. Some of that frustration is admittedly self-imposed, but let's face it; some is teacher/environment imposed. Not all students learn the same way. As a teacher and tutor, I modify my approach to meet the needs of individual students. This task can be quite daunting when you have a classroom full of 25, less than fully engaged pupils; however, when tutoring one on one or in a small group dynamic the task is quite masterfully attained.
I love teaching, I love seeing those "light bulb" moments. Successful teaching/tutoring is measured by student success and learning is gauged by how well mastery has been achieved. That's my goal.

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

There are several points in grade school that involve a critical shift in the thinking that is required in the school work. Parent's should be aware of these points as they navigate through the abyss of raising a school-aged child and supporting the child as he/she moves forward through the grades.
3rd Grade - The third grader is transitioning from whole number thinking into understanding the concepts of parts. They are exposed to fractions, decimals and percentages. This is a major paradigm shift. Students are also exposed to long division at this point. Supporting children in this phase requires an emphasis on helping the child conceptualize whole things being split into parts. In addition to homework support, tutoring, and supplementary work, parents should introduce cooking chores to children at this time, and make them follow a recipe that has precise measurements. Reading comprehension and writing is also an issue here...
read more

The first thing to do when teaching a frustrated student is to listen to, and acknowledge, their frustrations. Let him or her vent a little. If you're working with young children, they probably won't even realize or communicate that they are frustrated. Therefore, the first thing to do is say "you're very frustrated with learning ________ aren't you?" If you are in a group situation, take the student aside to talk to him or her about it so he or she doesn't become embarrassed.
One of the best things you can do when teaching frustrated students is to watch them one-on-one in academic action and observe every little detail when they think, write, and speak. Often, students are lacking very particular, previous basic skills. By watching them work, you can identify where they are going wrong and notice common patterns. For instance, I have tutored many algebra students whose frustration stemmed from an inability to deal with negative numbers. Once this problem was corrected,...
read more

Hello Wzyant Academic Community and welcome to my blog section! This is where I am available for
online chit-chat, educational assistance free of charge,
business discussions & arrangements, and more! I am always eager to help and love to talk turkey with all realms of academia, so don't be shy and feel free to ask many questions!!!
P.S. ∫∑∞√−±÷⁄∇¾φΩ

A question that I have heard many times from my own students and others is this: "When am I ever going to use this?" In this post and future posts, I'm going to address possible answers to this question, and I'm going to also take a look at what mathematics educators could learn from the question itself.
Let's look at the answer first. When I was in school myself, the most common response given by teachers was a list of careers that might apply the principles being studied. This is the same response that I tend to hear today.
There is some value in this response for a few of the students, but the overwhelming majority of students just won't be solving for x, taking the arcsine of a number, or integrating a function as part of their jobs. Even as a total math geek, I seldom use these skills in practical ways outside my tutoring relationships.
Can we come up with something better, that will apply to every student? I say that...
read more

Hello, Manhattan! As you may have noticed, I moved to Manhattan. I hope you would welcome me with more students. Please see my profile for more information. I only would like to add that I am flexible with my schedule. Thank you very much.
Alexei M.

I recently sent this as advice to one of my clients having trouble with linear systems of inequalities. I thought I would share it here on my blog for students, parents, and tutors who have use for it.
EXPLANATION OF LINEAR SYSTEMS OF INEQUALITIES
A system with regular lines (the ones with equals signs in them that you have done before) shows the single point where the two lines cross each other on the graph. The X and Y at that point are the two numbers that make the equal sign true. For instance, with the equations 3 = 5X +Y and 10 = 2X -Y, the answer is x = 7/13 and y = 4/13 because if you plug those numbers into both equations you get true statements, 3=3 and 10=10. The point (7/13, 4/13) is the point where the two lines cross each other. Inequalities, where you have "less than" or "greater than" signs work the same way. But, instead of getting a point where the equations are true, you get a whole area on the graph where they are true. So, the answer...
read more

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

I have been working with a few students who are ready to learn math much, MUCH faster than allowed by the traditional classroom model in which math is taught over 6 to 8 years. Based on this experience I believe that many students as young as 4th grade and as old as 8th grade (when starting in the program) can master math in 2 years from simple addition through the first semester of Calculus, with Arithmetic, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Probability, Statistics, and Trigonometry in between.
This is significantly faster than the traditional approach and is enabled by a combination of one-on-one teaching and coaching and a variety of media that I assign to students to complete in between our sessions. This is a "leveraged blended learning" approach that makes use of online software, selected games, and selected videos with guided notes that I have created that ensure that students pick up the key points of the videos, and which we discuss later. The result...
read more

With the school year winding down, arranging for summer break Math time starts!
Why Math?
Consider:
1) Not practicing newly acquired math skills will allow for knowledge to erode
2) Not practicing previously acquired math skills will expedite knowledge erosion
3) Not having other non-math course work will allow for
- focusing on math remedial work, or
- getting a jump on next year’s math academic growth.
Math needs are the same per subject, whether the learning setting is for advanced placement, over-age/under-educated, middle school, high school, or Veterans. BUT, the instructional approach should be different. Differentiating the approach to each student’s situation addresses learning styles (do we not all have different learning styles, which, if catered to, maximize results?).
Also, a subtle,...
read more

Reading Formulas can make or break how a student comprehends their formula when alone - outside the presence of the teacher, instructor, tutor, or parent.
Formula for Area of Circle: A = π * r^2
Ineffective ways to read the area of a circle formula are as follows:
Area is π times the radius squared.
Area is π times the radius of the circle squared.
Area of a circle is π times the radius squared.
A equals π times r squared.
>>>> Why are these ways NOT effective ways to read this formula? <<<<<
1. Students will recall and repeat what they hear their educators say.
2. If students recall letters (A) versus words (Area of a Circle) they will not realize the connection with word problems.
3. Half way reading the formula (radius versus radius of a circle) creates empty pockets or disconnects in...
read more

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a parent/business owner who hires/places tutors for high end families in my area. It was a wonderful opportunity as once again I heard the mantra, "Parents just want the grades to go up." I asked what this meant, how I could measure it (quantitatively and anecdotally) and if this was indeed proof of my skills as a tutor or a momentary 'save' on a reversal of fortune. This parent does not use Wyzant. I was hard pressed to accept from this parent the reason I wasn't being contacted by high end parents for tutoring was my lack of guaranteeing grades would go up, a promise I can not make in good faith as there are too many factors involved. Honesty and integrity should be important, not my sales ability.
In my years as a teacher and tutor, I have found once I have parents on board, the rest is EASY. Parents are the elephant in the room and I can run myself ragged (knowing full well very little if anything changes without parental...
read more

One of the reasons students of math struggle at test time is that they fail to quickly identify "problem types". Let's say you're taking an Algebra exam and you see something of the form 4x2 + 8x -5 = 18 and are required to solve it. You should either be thinking about factoring the equation or if that doesn't work easily, using the quadratic formula. Typically, once a student identifies the problem type, he or she is 80% of the way there. Then it's usually just standard arithmetic (watch your sign changes + or - ).
Solving math problems is really a process in itself and involves: assessment, identifying the problem type, looking for other complexities, i.e. there may be several steps along the way, doing the actual arithmetic and finally checking your answer for logic. Does it make sense that Fred took 16 hours to reach Chicago from New York? If it doesn't, go back and look at your problem -- you probably missed something.
Be disciplined in your approach...
read more