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I was excited on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013. This was my third meeting with this student and I finally had a breakthrough with him. On the first meeting it was clear that he saw Algebra I almost as a foreign language. I began with one of the test packet, and had him do 10 questions and reviewed the questions he had done wrong. So this continued for a while, and of course sometimes he would say that he understood, but it was clear that he did not. Anyway, after reviewing the entire packet I began a teach and learn session, in which I picked a variety of topics and had him practice various equations. After which I gave him a quiz. He failed the quiz miserably, so of course he still did not understand. Anyway, I gave him another packet for homework. When I saw the student again, I reviewed with him, but still not much improvement, but at least he tried. I did the teach and learn session again, of which some of the questions were from the previous session, and I gave him the same... read more

The Summer session has just begun. The stress has already begun to set in, but this week I had a break through with a few of the students. So this is my second week with a student who I am tutoring for both Algebra I and Earth Science. So far he seems stronger in Earth Science but still needs much practice, before I can be very confident about his ability to pass the Regents exam in August. After the first session of Algebra, I walked away thinking about how am I going to get him ready by August 13th. I recommended an additional session to the parents, but so far they have said no. I did several practice examples, and made the second session mainly a teaching and learning session. Then I ended the session with a quiz, but he failed :(. So when I had to meet him again for Earth Science, my mind was swirling as to how I can help him, and will I at least be successful with this subject. When I checked the homework, there was a slight improvement but not enough to celebrate. So I came... read more

Hello Miss Gil, I received a 96% in Global History. I was so excited to hear these words from my student! At first she did not want to be tutored. Her father dropped her off at the Library. So I told her that if she did the practice test, and did well, she would never have to see me again. Well, she scored a 58%, and there were so many events and topics that she did not know. We scheduled 3 additional three hour sessions. By the last session, her essays had improved and her overall score was an 83%. I told her that I believe that she can score as much as a 95% on the Regents Exam. She laughed and said "Yeah right". Well she scored a 96% and I am very proud of her.

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

Professional athletes hire personal trainers and learn as much as possible about getting the most out of their bodies. They study things such as exercise’s effect on muscles, the vitamins and minerals they’ll need to rebuild muscle, and how much water they’ll need to drink to stay hydrated while working out. Students can use the same approach by learning about biopsychology and learning - related biopsychology research to get their brains in tiptop shape. This article will teach you a few things about biopsychology so you can get your brain ready for maximum learning. What is Your Brain Made Of? About 70% of our brain is made up of fatty acids. (The other 30% is made up of protein.) This is because the cell membranes of neurons, the cells that make up our brain, are created by a double layer of fatty acids. The cell membrane holds all the cell’s contents and gives neurons their shape. So, when you see a picture of your brain, you are looking at the cell membranes of millions... read more

Students sometimes feel like they’ve run a marathon when the first semester of school ends. Depending on individual circumstances, students may truly have put in more effort than usual this semester. Students who didn’t meet your (or their own) academic expectations may feel anxious about the end of winter/ Christmas break. This article lists four (4) things you can do as a parent (or that adult students can do themselves) to renew themselves and prepare to improve their second semester performance. Four Tips for a Better Second Semester Regardless of grade level, most students feel they can improve something about their first semester performance. Here are some tips to help your child (or yourself) prepare for academic success the second semester. 1. Write Long and Short – Term Goals: One of the best ways to improve performance is to create academic goals and write them down. I always have my students write a weekly academic goal in their journals. Their goals must have... read more

There is plenty of research about the “summer brain drain” – a reference to the amount of learning that children lose during their summer breaks. Some researchers believe students can lose as much as three months worth of last year’s learning over the summer. Several reasons are cited for this; one of them is the absence of regular reviews of material to reinforce what’s been learned. This article summarizes the “brain drain” phenomenon and how educators, parents, and families can help prevent this from happening. “Summer Brain Drain” Educational researchers have studied the “summer brain drain” phenomenon for years. Most of this research is related to the psychology of memory, forgetting, and biopsychology. There are many causes of “forgetting”, including something as simple as walking through a (virtual or real) doorway. (For an article on the “doorway forgetting effect”, see Dr. Ira E. Hyman Jr’s. article titled “Doorways Cause Forgetting: What did I come here for?” from... read more

Nearly all high school and college students have a research paper requirement. Many college students are likely facing imminent research paper deadlines as the semester ends. Writing research papers can cause a lot of anxiety. This article will teach you how to narrow your research topic, clarify your thesis statement, and sort and organize your research to help you simplify your final editing process. Editing for Both Quality and Quantity. One common issue is having a research paper that is either too long or too short. Narrowing and clarifying your topic will help you write a better thesis statement and help you use only your most important or interesting facts and information. A properly focused topic will help save time by helping you use more specific keywords and phrases for your Internet search. You’ll be able to collect the facts you need in no time. Narrowing Your Topic. Many teachers or professors give students a broad research paper topic. For example, your high... read more

I taught my middle school students about memory at the beginning of each school year. I quizzed them about their memories over the next three to four weeks, then reduced the reviews to once every other week. My students commented, “Why do you keep quizzing us about memory? We already know this stuff.” My response was, “Exactly! That’s why I keep quizzing you.” Students of all ages use different learning techniques that teachers and parents have taught them. Each technique is based on memory related research. This article will help parents, teachers, tutors, and all students understand the four stages of memory and how to use this knowledge to improve the quality and quantity of learning. Four Stages of Memory Human memory is a four - stage process: input, encoding, rehearsal, and retrieval. A problem at any stage affects memory and learning. When I teach these stages to my students, I use a filing cabinet analogy. Here’s how the analogy goes: Think of your brain as... read more

The equation below is used for Covalent Bonds, Molecular geometry, electron geometry, and structural formulas to figure the number of bonds in a molecule. N-A = S equation to figure the number of bonds in a molecule N = needed: the sum of the number of valence electrons needed by each atom (2 for hydrogen, 8 for all other atoms) A = available: the sum of the number of valence electrons available for each atom S = shared: the number of electrons shared in the molecule S/2 = the number of covalent bonds in the molecule If you need any help with these concepts, please contact me for tutoring. Thank you very much, John M.

Once you decide that you or your child needs tutoring, how much tutoring time do you really need? There are so many things occupying your time that you want to pinpoint exactly how many hours a week you need. You may not know how to judge you/ your child’s needs. This article gives you four tips to help you decide how much tutoring you need. 1. Grades and test scores. K – 12 students take standardized tests – sometimes more than one each year – that can tell you about how well your child is doing in school. Collect any score reports you have and review the remarks and the charts. This is especially helpful if you have more than one year’s worth. Compare the charts from several years’ worth of score reports. Is your child improving, or are scores going down each year? Are they staying the same? Declining scores indicates students are not keeping up with classmates academically. While their scores might be consistent, students should be earning higher scores to be performing “at... read more

Teachers, like most professionals, know the value of working as a team to meet the educational needs of a diverse student population. Many middle schools organize their faculty into smaller teaching teams and set aside common planning time for teams to meet and discuss teaching strategies for their assigned students. This article shows parents how to change the way they think about their child’s education and consider all teachers, tutors, coaches, and group leaders as part of a Learning Team. Team Teaching Team teaching is a combination of philosophical ideas and instructional practices. It was created to help elementary students bridge the gap between elementary school and high school, where students have multiple teachers and a much larger peer group. Team teaching reduces student’s anxiety by dividing faculty into two to four teacher teams to reduce student’s stress related to changing classes throughout the day. Studies show this is the main source of worry for 6th graders... read more

Ever wonder what happens during tutoring sessions? If you’ve never hired a tutor, you may not know what tutors can do to help. This article will take some of the fear out of the tutor hiring process by helping you understand what you should and should not expect from tutoring sessions. What Tutors Can Do. In a previous article, I listed several basic things tutors should do (see my article titled “Are you getting your money’s worth from tutoring?” from November 5, 2012). Some examples are gather student’s academic background information and have a long – term plan with goals for their students. But, what services can tutors provide? How much is “too much to ask”? The short answer is that tutors can help students, professionals, and military candidates learn knowledge and skills they do not have. However, this definition includes many possibilities. Will tutors help my child with their homework? Will they also teach or re-teach material they should have learned in earlier... read more

Parents with students attending virtual schools face different obstacles compared to those with students in traditional "brick and mortar" schools. Stressors range from increased responsibility for their child's education to how to plan a daily schedule for their kids. This article discusses the current virtual school trends, their differences from "brick and mortar" schools, and how tutors can help relieve some stress for virtual school parents. Virtual K – 12 schools are growing exponentially across the United States. Tutors can play a critical role in ensuring student’s academic success during the transition from “brick and mortar” schools to the virtual learning environment. They can also provide on – going support to students and their families by providing daily instruction in a few subjects, or by becoming full time learning coaches. This article will help both current virtual school parents and those considering a switch to this system in making the... read more

As you may know, I am a big fan of the well-known author and brain specialist, Dr. Daniel Amen. He mentions in several of his books that Physical Exercise is good for the brain. I have read of research studies that showed a clear correlation between IMPROVEMENT in students' test scores in math and science, and their level of physical activity (for example, when math class followed PE class, the students had significantly higher scores). Maybe we should schedule PE before all math classes in our schools. What do you think about that idea? This morning I read an online article on the myhealthnewsdaily site, entitled "6 Foods That Are Good for Your Brain," and another article about how Physical Exercise helps maintain healthy brain in older adults too. The second article, "For a Healthy Brain, Physical Exercise Trumps Mental Workout" was found under Yahoo News. The remainder of this note is quoted from that article: Regular physical exercise appears to... read more

I was asked this question recently by several mothers about which book (singular, not plural) they should get for their sons for their upcoming tests. To both of them I replied: "Get the Princeton Review edition of the book." And while I believe this to be the CORRECT answer, this answer unfortunately is misleading because what I actually want to say is, "Get ALL editions of the book." For example if there is a Barron's version, a Kaplan version, a Princeton Review version, etc. etc. of AP Chemistry, then I would advise the moms to get ALL of these books for their sons (assuming of course that they'll read them). The reason is because one book doesn't have enough practice problems. From experience, after reading the first test preparation book or textbook, the student will have a rather hazy outline of the subject material. Books 2-5 make the outline clearer. Most students don't begin to really understand the subject until around Book 7. And that's the reason... read more

Some students forget their skills and knowledge of subjects during the summer because they do not practice and receive tutoring. Other students maintain or increase their skill and knowledge during the summer by practicing and receiving tutoring on their subjects(s). To help maintain skill and knowledge level, many parents and students are having me provide tutoring during the summer for one or both of the following reasons: 1. tutoring for reviewing current subjects for practice and maintenance or enhancement of knowledge and skill levels 2. tutoring on upcoming subjects for learning so that when the student starts back after the summer, not only are they still at an enhanced skill and knowledge level for current subjects, but they can master the upcoming subjects from the beginning because they have received a preview and practice during the summer. Starting on May 30, the parents are having me tutor their student(s) in various subjects on one the following frequencies:... read more

Recently, after I tutored two of my favorite students to prepare them for upcoming tests in Pre-Algebra and Geometry respectively, I received positive reinforcement for the importance and value of customizing the tutoring approach, information, knowledge transfer, and tutoring style. After the first tutoring session, I was approached by three people as I was waiting for my next student: 1. An elementary school teacher – she complemented me on my knowledge and tutoring style, and asked me for my information to refer students to me for tutoring. 2. A parent seeking a tutor for their daughter – he complimented me on my tutoring style, my patience, and my problem solving ability, He said, “I saw how you tutored him and I want you to tutor my daughter the same way” He booked a tutoring session for the next day. 3. An adult student preparing for a standardized test – she worked at the café, came over and said that she saw me tutoring the student and saw how he was excited... read more

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