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For parents who are trying to do any of the following: 1. Engage your child in reading 2. Increase your child's reading skills (fluency, comprehension, rhythm, expression, tempo, etc.) 3. Increase your child's language acquisition, vocabulary, grammar skills, and spelling skills This blog post is for you!!! There are some really unique ways to help your child become a "reader." I myself wasn't a "reader" until about the age of 10. Up to that point, though I loved books and collected books and asked for books for birthdays/holidays, I was not a reading self-starter. However, I loved being read TO! At the age of 6, I took a great interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. Not only, was I fascinated with the time period (late 1800's), I also found a kindred spirit of sorts in Laura. She stood up for things in which she believed strongly, she was stubborn, and she was short! I found a heroine that was very much like me! So... read more

Hello! Thank you for visiting my site! I have 8 years of language teaching experience. I taught for 7 years at Princeton University and 1 year at the University of Notre Dame. It is truly a joy for me to help people reach their academic and personal goals. Please contact me as soon as possible to inquire about scheduling a tutoring session with me. I specialize in language arts, particularly Spanish, French, and English. I also have experience tutoring people of all ages, and helping them prepare for standardized tests. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Best regards, Valerie

One of the more frustrating things about tutoring is when students or their parents want to treat tutoring like a quick fix. In other words, sometimes they want to meet the night before a test and cram for said test in hopes of getting a better grade. On the surface, this problem might work, but it treats the symptoms rather than the root of the problem. If you're going to take the time to invest in a tutor, then here are a couple of suggestions. First, try to catch the problem early. If you (or your child) is struggling in a subject, get help right away. Don't wait until you (or your child) feels that overwhelming feeling that comes when one is completely lost in information. The sooner a tutor can get involved, the better the tutor can help a student to stay on track. Work with your tutor to adopt a thorough approach to the subject. It is not enough to learn the facts of a subject, but also to learn the reasons behind those facts. If you want to do well in a subject,... read more

If you had asked my middle school students to describe our class routines, you might have thought I was their English teacher, not Social Studies. As a teacher and tutor, I’ve tried to pass on a legacy for the love of reading to my students. I often tell them, “If you can read, you can teach yourself anything.” In this article, I will give you some tips on how to get your children to read more, and more often. It’s Not Magic! Occasionally, parents visited my classroom to ask, “How do you do it?” They were usually referring to the success of my Friday Silent Reading routine. Each fall, I explained the importance of literacy to my students and said that practice is best way to improve reading skills. I told them that I expected them to bring a book of their choice to class every day, to read it if they finished all the day’s scheduled activities I’d given them, and that the first 20 minutes of class every Friday was reserved for sustained silent reading. Parents seemed... read more

Everyone knows that demonstrating the ability to think critically on tests and assignments and in writing is the way to your teacher’s or professor’s heart. But how do you do that when you don’t even know what critical thinking is? Although “critical thinking” is a much debated term, I would simply call it your ability to analyze a given issue or problem. Okay, great, you say ... so what the heck does that mean? Well ... it depends. There’s all sorts of different types of analysis. A math problem, for example, requires a different type of analysis from say the analysis of a world history essay prompt. Trying to figure out ... or analyze ... , the different reasons why your dog threw up on your favorite pair of sneakers is a bit different from trying to figure out why the author of novel chose to kill off the main character of the book you were just assigned to read. Although, I can see where my description of analysis above might frustrate those expecting a straightforward... read more

As the school year begins to wind down, I have noticed that many of the students I help have begun the journey of signing up for next years classes or, better yet, deciding where they will start the next chapter of their life in college. I began to reminisce on my Senior year of high school and how stressful that year was for me. It was so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the choices that (seemed to be) abruptly placed in front of me: what college should I go to? What should I major in? Should I choose a college close to home? Should I rush? Should I go to a college with all of my friends? Will I absolutely hate it? I ended up choosing the wrong college and transferred twice until I finally ended up a college that I love! I say all of this to jump into the idea of NOT stressing about this time of year. Yes, I did say not to stress. College is a time of change. That change, no matter how terrifying it may seem, will take you on a wonderful journey that no one can plan for. If... read more

Hi there! This is my first blog post! I thought I would test this out before I post regularly... It comes with the tutor profile, so why not?! I just want to give my number one piece of advice which has been true for every standardized test I have come across, no matter what grade level. I wish I had known this or understood this concept when I was growing up - I was always a good student, but maybe I would've been better! Here is the scenario. You're faced with this gigantic passage and you see that it's something incredibly boring. Immediately, your brain shuts off as you attempt to crawl your way to the end of it. You also feel the pressure of the clock, so instead of reading the passage, you kind of end up skimming over it. Then there are all these questions and you have no idea where to begin because you didn't absorb a single thing you read, so in a panic, you start guessing, even if those guesses mean penalties (on certain tests). Sound like you? Here is the strategy:... read more

When working with a students’ reading levels and progress towards their comprehension, I am learning that you can’t do the same type of activities over and over again with them. They get bored and even though they may be struggling, they still want a challenge. You need to have them involved in engaging activities all the time. One of the second graders I work with on reading doesn’t mind reading different books as the main activity of her tutoring sessions – in fact, I think her parents prefer it. Well, that’s just not good enough; she needs more of a challenge with her reading so that she can grow and develop with her class. After each reading, or sometimes even after a chapter, we go through the events of what happened, then discuss the setting, the characters, the conflict, and so on. We now incorporate a vocabulary lesson. I pull out vocabulary words that she struggled with and clearly didn’t know as we were reading and make a list. She then defines the word and uses them... read more

Recently, as I've been working with students on reading, I noticed something interesting. Students tend to want to read the material quickly, whether or not the word is being read correctly.This presents in two different ways that I have noticed so far: If it is a new word, the letters and syllables might get read out of order. If it is a root word, verb or noun, they are already familiar with, the prefixes or suffixes may be read incorrectly. This made me wonder where the drive for speed was coming from. Was it a desire to sound natural? Was it the students' way of getting through the daunting task as quickly as possible? Whatever the reason, it was not helping the students become better readers or spellers. Spellers?! How does that apply to reading, you may ask? My answer is this: For visual learners, reading is a big part of spelling. When they see words, repeatedly, they can recall the images later on when they are trying to spell them. Therefore, when students are rushing... read more

Hello and welcome to my Blog page. As I jump into tutoring, I hope to fill this page with helpful tips and techniques that I pick up along the way. For example, a great way to study English is to read. The more a person reads, the more vocabulary, grammar, structure, etc. is picked up and translated into their own writing. Even if it is a small article each day, reading motivates the mind. This daily routine is especially important to English learners (ESL). Academic writings, such as articles, should be considered as a first choice in English aid. History and historical perspectives are also great teachers. To get inspired, watch a documentary online, write your own historical interpretation of a recent event, or be a news reporter for a day. For information on my endorsements and work experiences, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your consideration!

Hi Everyone! I am excited to to say that I met my first student. He was awesome! One thing I will do to help improve the lessons is to use the ideas in "Comprehension Going Forward: Where We Are and What's Next" which has one of my favorite authors in it. I hope that her ideas improve my ability to be effect. Also, I want to say that my student's family is so nice. I was honored to be accepted into their presence.

*Disclamer* I have been thinking for some time about what I can blog about that would be fairly unique among the many tutors on this site. Seeing that I work at a library and do large amounts of reading, I thought I could put my literary knowledge to good use and post book talks that I have written. My hope is that parents and children who are looking for reading ideas may find this blog entry somewhat useful. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain Genre: Adventure Reading Level: Grades 7-9 In this ageless classic, Mark Twain proves that, no matter what time period one comes from, boys will always be boys. Based on the places and people of his own childhood (“Most of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred,” claimed the author), Twain spins a tale about life through the eyes of a trouble-making, imaginative, cunning boy. Most young boys tend to get into mischief at one time or another, and Tom Sawyer is no exception. “He was not the Model... read more

To those of you looking for a tutor that has a range of possibilities, I dedicate this blog to you. Being a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, I know what it takes to use study skills to focus and remain organized in order to maintain a clean academic record. Graduating in only three years, I have had the opportunity to manage a schedule of work and school and internships, while studying and applying to law schools. Organization is one of my many skills that translates into my tutoring ability. I am currently a tutor. My focus has been editing, proofreading and college applications. However, I am a former kindergarten instructor. That opportunity fine tuned my patience, my understand that each student is an individual learner, and taught me how to approach difficult situations with younger children. I look forward to opportunities to come from this site, and look forward to your commentary. Many thanks, Davina

*Disclamer* I have been thinking for some time about what I can blog about that would be fairly unique among the many tutors on this site. Seeing that I work at a library and do large amounts of reading, I thought I could put my literary knowledge to good use and post book talks that I have written. My hope is that parents and children who are looking for reading ideas may find this blog entry somewhat useful. The Adventure of the Speckled Band By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Genre: Mystery Reading Level: Grades 7-9 It is early in the morning when a frightened young woman, named Helen Stoner, arrives at 221 Baker Street, home to Sherlock Holmes and his associate Dr. Watson. Fearing that her life might be in danger, she hires the great detective to discover who it is that might want to kill her. Whoever, this person is, the woman concludes, they are responsible for the mysterious death of her twin sister two years earlier. The only clues she can provide for Holmes... read more

*Disclamer* I have been thinking for some time about what I can blog about that would be fairly unique among the many tutors on this site. Seeing that I work at a library and do large amounts of reading, I thought I could put my literary knowledge to good use and post book talks that I have written. My hope is that parents and children who are looking for reading ideas may find this blog entry somewhat useful. Across Five Aprils By Irene Hunt Genre: Historical Fiction Reading Level: Grades 7-9 “It was the saddest and most cruel April of the five. It had held out an almost unbelievable joy and had then struck out in fury at those whose hands were outstretched. Jethro had learned to accept the whims of fate...One accepted the good or the evil with humility, for life was a mystery, and questions were not for the lowly. But on the last Sunday of that April...rage mingled with grief in his heart. “Why did it happen? Why-why-did it have to happen?” (Hunt, 204-5) It... read more

*Disclamer* I have been thinking for some time about what I can blog about that would be fairly unique among the many tutors on this site. Seeing that I work at a library and do large amounts of reading, I thought I could put my literary knowledge to good use and post book talks that I have written. My hope is that parents and children who are looking for reading ideas may find this blog entry somewhat useful. Abner and Me By Dan Gutman Genre: Historical Fiction Reading Level: Grades 5 and up The time-traveling baseball adventures of Joseph “Stosh” Stoshack continue as the young ballplayer seeks to uncover the truth about who the inventor of baseball really is. Like many baseball enthusiasts, Stosh grew up with the legend of Abner Doubleday, and how he had drawn up the rules for the game in Cooperstown, NY during the 1840s. Wishing to meet Doubleday, Stosh finds a picture of the proclaimed father of baseball, and plans his trip to the past. There is a catch,... read more

As you know, all teachers (and tutors!) were once students. So they know all the pitfalls that can cause a student to not get their homework done. The reason can be social - maybe the student wants to get his or her work done but the distraction of all the social media is too much to resist. The reason can also be academic - maybe the subject is difficult, such as challenging concepts or perhaps they're faced with an assignment that didn't get explained well enough to be done independently. Or sometimes it's the dreaded PROCRASTINATION. That can be the worst of all reasons to not get work done because the longer you procrastinate, the more the work piles up and then the student becomes "paralyzed", overwhelmed by the mountain of work that has accumulated. When procrastination has gotten the better of you, the important thing is to not let yourself be so overwhelmed that you don't do the work at all. Here's what you do: PRIORITIZE AND GET STARTED! It is a simple phrase... read more

"One afternoon while working around his yard, a man spotted a cocoon. Looking closely, he noticed that something was struggling to get through a very small hole in the cocoon. He sat and watched for several minutes before he was certain that what he was seeing was a butterfly attempting to get through the hole in the cocoon. As he watched, the insect inside the cocoon pushed and twisted, but could not squeeze its way through the hole since the hole was smaller than the body of the butterfly. Intending to help the butterfly emerge, the man took his pocketknife and very carefully cut the hole larger so the butterfly could pass through the opening. The butterfly emerged easily with no effort at all. However, the butterfly had a body that was far too big to permit its undeveloped wings to lift it. The man waited with hope that the butterfly would continue to transform but this never happened. The butterfly needed to struggle to squeeze its body through the small opening. In the struggle,... read more

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