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In mathematics, word problems have been know 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 most fluent readers, it can be hard to imagine how the sight word "have" can be tricky for emerging readers. Yet many parents drilling the Dolch sight words find "have" is misread over and over again, made to rhyme with "gave" and "behave". The child is likely making this mistake because he or she is diligently applying the guidance that a silent final E makes the preceding vowel say its name. And for many English speakers, that's the only purpose known for a silent final E. But, that only explains half of the words with a silent final E and has nothing to do with why there is a silent final E in "have". So, why is there a silent final E in "have"? Check out rule #3 in the list posted here: https://www.logicofenglish.com/resources/spelling-rules. Rule 3 states that English words do not end in I, U, V, or J. The silent final E in "have" is there to prevent the word from ending in V, just as... read more

There are many posts every year from parents who seek either for a tutor or for a teacher to make sure their kids would pass the test. B&N has very good curriculum books full of educational material to practice for the test. Those books are rightly called the "Complete Curriculum." All what the parents should do is to select a grade level. Those books go as high as up to the 5th grade.    While the math problems are easy to follow, for both reading and writing I am offering my help.   Alexei M.

Have you ever wondered what spelling bee champs know about spelling? I have, and my research led me straight to the 31 spelling rules as taught in the Logic of English method. These simple yet powerful rules explain 98% of English words when coupled with 74 phonograms. While that may not be enough to win an elite spelling bee, its a huge step forward for everyday literacy. The 31 rules are posted here: https://www.logicofenglish.com/resources/spelling-rules. While most are remarkably simple, they are quite powerful. Consider how the very first rule explains the answers to these tricky word equations: picnic + ing = picnicking notice + able = noticeable Rule 1 states that "C always softens to /s/ when followed by E, I, or Y. Otherwise, C says /k/." Thus, picnicking gets its K because without it, the word would say /picnising/. Likewise, noticeable retains its E because without it, the word would say /notikable/. I'd love... read more

English is widely regarded as being full of exceptions, and often logical/literal learners struggle with the ways in which it is commonly taught. Fortunately, though, there is logic to our language, and methods have been developed that carefully distill it into a limited number of spelling rules and phonograms. These concepts are quite simple to learn but very powerful in application, transforming English from a confusing jumble of exceptions to a deliciously rich and robust code. An introduction to these concepts is posted at https://youtu.be/4ilthoEG39M?t=19m59s. The entire video is informative and inspirational, but if you’re pressed for time and want to sample some of the real meat of the content, jump ahead to the 20 minute mark and watch for about 8 minutes. I'd love to hear what you think. Is this content helpful? Did you learn anything new? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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

Times are definitely changing in the world of education. Today, as with all things twenty-first century, there are no limits to a student's education. This is absolutely exciting since so many 'schools without walls' have adopted various technologies during the past few years to enable students excel academically. As an advanced tutor, it makes me dance in my shoes. Universities such as Harvard, Princeton, and MIT have posted several free virtual lectures for the average student on education applications via android devices, iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Today, I want to introduce some fantastic techniques to approach tutoring that will benefit the student who cannot meet physically with a tutor, or maybe a student who is in a town on one end of the United States while their tutor is at the opposite end of the map. Yes, tutoring can now be employed with the use of fantastic applications such as Skype and Scribblar. Skype: This is a tool by which a tutor can see his/her student... 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

1. Hopscotch Draw a hopscotch outline with chalk or tape and write the letters of a spelling word in the squares. Your child says the letters out loud as he hops. Erase one letter at a time until he can successfully spell the word without hopping, and then move onto the next spelling word. 2. Ball Toss Toss a ball back and forth to reinforce spelling in a fun way. Each time your child catches the ball, they say the next letter of the spelling word. 3. Hide and Seek Write their spelling words on note cards, and tape them in unusual places, such as on the back of cabinet doors, in your child's closet or in her pencil or jewelry box. When they find a word, they bring the card to you and spells the word. 4. Street Signs/Store Names   Have your child learn to read street signs and store names around your neighborhood. This will help them learn where they live, colors and sight words all at the same time!  ...

I tutor a lot of "little learners:" students K-6.  In order to keep my costs of materials and resources low but maximize the expanse of my creative lessons, I recently signed up for a membership to my local public children's library.  Although I do not have any children of my own, I stop in once a week to pick up several books for my students to use during our lessons.  They love having a new book brought to them each week "just for them" and I appreciate not having to break the bank to bring new and exciting topics and activities to my students!  Memberships are usually free, so there is no reason why tutors of elementary age children should not take advantage of borrowing books/lesson ideas from their local libraries!

A great new grammar book, "The Essentials of English Grammar in 90 Minutes" by Prof. Robert Hollander [Dover, $4.95] bridges the gap between basic grammar books (for both children and adults) and higher-level books such as the recommended "Essential English Grammar" by Philip Gucker, also from Dover Publications. This grammar book has almost no quizzes or charts, etc. but will give you an over-all picture of not only basic, but higher level grammar. Please see my Amazon Review of this nice little addition to the grammar teacher's and learner's bookshelf.

After several months of carrying some pretty heavy textbooks around with me, I recently decided to switch to a Kindle Fire and start using electronic textbooks. Although there are times when a good old-fashioned book really cannot be replaced, I'm very pleased with the weight of my tutoring bag now, and my students seem to be enjoying the switch as well.   I'm able to download textbooks for free in some cases ("Boundless" publishing), and I also have several different dictionaries and other reference books a tap away! Any other books I might find helpful for my students? Just a few clicks away. This also frees up my paper textbooks to loan to my students in-between sessions. Using a Kindle gives me the added benefit of being able to load educational applications to use for practice and reinforcement. Since we are in the 'computer testing' age, this also gives my students some extra practice in preparing for computerized exams. I'm sure you'll notice... read more

Why does learning have to be boring?  Most kids struggle in school because they are unmotivated, not engaged, and embarrassed.  Unmotivated because they haven't found the connection to what they are learning about and their own lives.  Not engaged-well, unfortunately most schools are set up in a traditional setting with desks and books; and a lot of students don't learn in that setting.  Embarrassed- many are confused or struggling and are afraid to ask for help because of their peers.     I've created a way for students to learn in fun and engaging ways!  With a little competition, and a simple game such as Connect Four, my students start spelling words they never thought they could spell!  Playing Jenga was never so serious until there was a challenging task to meet if and when that tower falls!    As well as being a certified elementary school teacher, I'm also a certified personal trainer.  ... read more

Greetings! Today's post is about learning styles. One of the most important things that helps teachers provide better instruction is the knowledge of a student’s learning style. My belief is based upon the teachings of noted educational theorist, Dr. Howard Gardner. Dr. Gardner posits that there are “multiple intelligences,” that define our individual learning styles and complement each other (by working together) through our learning processes. His 1983 book, Frames of Mind, detailed his initial findings in this area. In my educational practice, I attempt to identify my students' learning styles by doing extensive diagnostic testing in the very beginning. In my tutoring classes this may consist of having students to write a paragraph or two in the target language we are studying or work some basic math problems. Diagnostics also include inquiring about student preferences, because students generally do better in the areas that they like. After diagnostics, I set a plan that... read more

The answer: Let them read what they like. Most kids have a preference. For instance, some children will not read chapter books, but they love non- fiction text with pictures and captions, great vocabulary, and scientific or historic content. Standards actually encourage this type of reading.  Some kid's love reading dictionaries, encyclopedias, magazines, and even religious stories. Video games have manuals and books on tips and strategies. Many include complex organization. Let them read!  Rarely, I have met a child who completely repels all literary content.      Watch what texts your child naturally gravitates towards; then feed that interest with diverse literary texts.     

When working with children (especially 7 and below) it can be vital to their memory retention to take a break every thirty minutes. I have had great success with my younger students who become stir crazy after half an hour of reading by leaving the study are and going outside or in a space where we wont bother others and doing some physical activities. Since time is a concern it is important to only do this for ten minutes or so. Sometimes we run and play tag, or we will do some jumping jacks, or just do some silly dancing. When the student returns they are feeling a little more refreshed, lighthearted, and ready to continue. That being said, it is very important to make it clear that the activity is is only supposed to be for a few minutes then it's right back to studying. I hope this helps! Miss Jessica

Should I get a tutor? Will it help my child? These are some of the most common questions posed to tutors by parents of students struggling in school. Tutoring can be expensive and difficult to schedule so parents must decide whether the time and money will be well spent. Instead of relying on a crystal ball, use these factors to help make the decision. 1. Does the student spend an appropriate amount of time on homework and studies? While it can help with study skills, organization, and motivation, tutoring cannot be expected to keep the student on track unless you plan on having a session every night. If you can make sure the student puts in effort outside of tutoring, she will be more likely benefit from it. 2. Does the student have difficulty learning from the textbook? If this is the case, the student will probably respond to one-on-one instruction that is more personalized. A tutor will help bring the subject to life and engage the student. A good tutor will explain... read more

May is a busy month for schools. Standardized tests, field trips, and graduation planning takes center stage. Teachers meet with parents of struggling students as well as those who would benefit from summer enrichment classes to discuss summer school enrollment. This article will help parents/ guardians decide whether or not to enroll their child(ren) in summer school. A "Bad Rap" The words “summer school” tend to stir negative thoughts. Many parents and students falsely believe that going to summer school is a bad thing. Some cite teasing as a reason for not sending their child to summer school. Others think that their child will become overwhelmed without a summer break. In truth, research has shown that students who do not participate in any school – related activities during a two – month summer break can lose up to three months of the previous year’s learning! Teachers always include nearly a month’s worth of “re-teaching” (reviewing the previous year’s content)... read more

The first two articles in this series covered how to prepare to home school your child(ren). If you’re following along, you’re probably asking yourself the most logical question: how do I know what to teach every day and how do I teach it? The simple answer is, “By pre-planning using unit and daily lesson plans.” This article explains unit and lesson plans, why they’re important to home schooling parents, and how to write each of these plans. What are unit and lesson plans? In part two of this series, I defined curriculum as “what is taught”. While that’s true, this definition can also be used for unit and lesson plans. Unit and lesson plans are written as a series of step - by - step instructions that explain exactly what you will teach, how you will teach it, the state or national academic standards that say you must teach it, and a list of books and materials you will need to teach the lesson successfully. Both lesson and unit plans state how you will check (or “assess”)... read more

One of the reasons we get these migraines over integers is that, at least up to the point that we as students were actually introduced to operations with negative numbers, we had been taught (correctly) that addition is an operation that describes combination and subtraction describes extraction. We know, for instance, that adding values is like combining collections of objects, and subtracting values is like removing a collection of objects from another collection. Then we get to integer math, at which point we are asked, judging by present-day treatments in textbooks, to understand the idea that we should be able to, for example, add a "negative collection" to another "negative collection." Or we must throw away and disregard as ridiculous all that "collection" talk. Mathematics is always described as a beautifully and rigorously universal subject in every detail--when an idea is laid down and proven in mathematics, it applies everywhere and... read more

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