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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

-Meet at different locations, not just the library.  Use the food store to teach food vocabulary, use the bookstore to discuss literature or teach about books, etc.     -Play games..  Even for adults, games are a great drill.  The web has some fun games, but you can create your own based on other games that exist.     -Get to know your clients and their interests.  Use those interests in your lessons to "personalize" their lessons for them.     -Create lessons around real-life activities.  Perhaps teach students vocabulary for an activity they are already involved in.     -Do fun things-ilke a cooking lesson and teach around that.      

The majority of the students that I have often have the same problem -- they aren't grasping the information fast enough or they aren't really able to follow the lessons a teacher gives.   Sometimes, teachers aren't adaptive to every learning style for each student in their classroom.  However, know that each student has the capability to learn math on their own.  It is just necessary to have key characteristics to make it successful.   Every math student should have: patience motivation adaptability organizational skills open communication between themselves and their teacher (inside and outside the classroom) breaks!! :)   Study Tips Always try to study outside of your home or dorm room. In our minds, those are places that we relax at and it can be difficult to turn your mind off from the distractions to study. Public libraries, universities, coffee shops, and bookstores are the way to go. Some... read more

Not matter what age group and subject, these are my top 5 tips for making learning fun:   1. Start with a fun conversation about the day = this allows me to get the temperance of the student, we all have good days and bad days, this way I can tailor my lesson based on the student's current mood/mindset.   2. Incorporating laughter and jokes = students are more responsive to new information if they are in a good mood.   3. Role play = taking complex or difficult topics within a lesson and applying them to real life situations related to interests the student recognizes.   4. Have the student teach me what they just learned = shows me the levels of comprehension they got from the lessons of the day.   5. Ending the lesson with a motivational quote, song or video  = helps prepare them for their next day.

The art of tutoring involves just 2 things:  how fast you can identify a problem  and how well you can figure out how to teach a problem.     The largest problem a student will face, is lack of motivation.  Students run out of motivation for many reasons:  lack of rewards, tasks are too challenging, the pace of the classroom is too fast, or plain failure to achieve.     As a tutor, my number one goal is diagnostics:  not only diagnostic that effect learning goals, but also to find out what is zapping your child's natural curiosity and want for success.    Tutoring without redressing a motivation or confidence problem is throwing coal onto a dying fire.... you have to fan the flames! 

The word "yet" is very powerful. Because it conveys a sense of hope. It's a simple word. Try adding it to the end of the sentence about how bad things are and it turns the whole thing around. I haven't done this...yet I haven't made it...yet I haven't won...yet But guess what - it's not over...yet. The word yet gives us the strength to hold on for another day and swing even harder at the ball when we're on the third strike

1. I believe that a hard work ethic is indefinitely more valuable than pure genius. i admire those parents and students who are actively seeking out resources to better themselves. 2. I'm a huge lover of knowledge. If I'm tutoring you in math and you say you love history I will try to send you resources not only for the math I'm teaching you, but also the things that interest you. Learning shouldn't be a chore. 3. Tutoring isn't about me. It's about learning what fits your style. Some people like doing homework, and some people want a second lecture. It's all about finding what works for each individual client. 4. I want to see you succeed. If that means staying an extra thirty minutes because you need help, and I see that you're actively trying to understand I want to stay and help. 5.  Each student has dreams however big or small they may be. It may seem now that you don't need to know any math because you want to be a writer- but the skills... read more

Rather than droning on about each subject in math at this point, I'm going to make a shift. I'm currently engaged in a conversation with a friend, and my most recent reply to him expresses my opinion on how math is being taught today:   ...The beauty of math is something that I have seen most of my life, and it stands in my mind as one of my fundamental motivations for studying math. As a person with that emotional tie to math, I realize that many students would find it difficult to identify with my assertion that math is beautiful. As a result, I often take a stance that might be a little self-protective, and offer an answer that seems to be weaker but more universal. In short, some aspects of math are of universal benefit, such as the skill of basic calculation, or the benefits of mental exercise. There are some benefits that apply only to a portion of the population, such as the ability to factor polynomials, or to find missing sides of triangles... read more

WYZANT WANTS TO KNOW: What are your tips to stay motivated through finals and the end of the school year?   I'd have to say that one of my motivational tips is maintaining two calendars, Make a countdown calendar that only includes the days between today and the absolute last deadline you have, whether it's a final exam or the last day a final paper is due; whatever's latest. Tell yourself that you only have to be strong and focused for these last few days. Everyday cross one day off of the calendar, knowing that you only have to keep pushing through x more days and you're allowed to give out/pass out/what have you on the other side of that last day. Make (or buy) a 24 hour calendar schedule for each of those days. This is the calendar you work with everyday. Now, the thought to have everyday. Write it down. Read it to yourself at the start of each day: "Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think... read more

We all know what the end of the year feels like: the weather gets nicer and nicer, the students get antsy, and even we end up with a bit of Spring Fever.    Taking a cue from a organizational strategy that I teach my students, I use a check-list with boxes I can check off to help me see that we are still moving forward and to stay on track.    With students, I have them make a list with a small empty square next to it of everything they need to accomplish for the week such as, study flashcards each day (5 boxes), do math drill page (one box to check). As they accomplish each task, they check the box.    Now, I do the same for myself to stay motivated. My list includes things that I have to do, as well as small things that help me stay sane along the way. For example it might include: Create weekly lesson plan Submit lessons to WyzAnt Take daily 20 minute walk Get a pedicure Ask one student to submit feedback   In... read more

     Under Harmer’s theory, affect, agency, achievement, attitude, and activities are all crucial aspects of motivation. To focus on improving affect positivity, teachers can try to minimize their time spent as controllers, introduce more colorful (and carefully chosen colors of) classroom decorations, and aim for more activities and class discussions on topics that the students find interesting independent of their language learning.        To improve motivation with activities, teachers should attempt to strike a balance between challenge and exhaustion. Very simple activities will not motivate the students, and will cause affect to decrease if used after students have proclaimed them to be “too easy” or if used frequently/repetitively.        To improve motivation via achievement, teachers must first determine what kind of achievement is important to their students. In some classrooms,... read more

This afternoon I found myself contemplating a concept discussed in one of my students' papers this week: servant leadership.   According to my student's work, a servant leader is one who always puts the needs of the student first. S/he does not make decisions based upon his/her agenda of personal interests, but rather s/he bases her pedagogical decisions on the students' passions, interests and goals. In the ideal world, this leads to highly motivated students who belong to a community of engaged peers who support each other in the learning process. Great! Let's do it.   But I asked my student some questions. For example, how do you create a culture like this in your classroom to begin with? And what do you do if, despite your best efforts, students remain unmotivated? And keep in mind: unmotivated can mean a lot of different things. An unmotivated student might be one who is just not interested in the subject and therefore sees no point in doing the work... read more

Many of the students I tutor have the skills it takes to succeed, but their confidence or motivation is low. I find that the best way to see results, for the benefit of myself, the students, and the parents, is to provide that student with the tools to understand what it feels like to succeed, and therefore to be confident. Although parents usually have the best intentions, the children may just need to hear the same advice from a peer, or a tutor. Having a new face recommending the same concepts will reinforce the idea, and the student will not resist the idea. Through hiring a tutor, the stress of overseeing a child's behavior, homework completion, peer relations, and school succeed should be alleviated. Although all skill improvement takes time, there will be guaranteed results if the tutor and student see eye-to-eye, and if the student really is motivated -- no matter how far below the surface -- then grades will improve quite quickly!

    It is quite challenging for the teacher to help the student/s to understand and learn a subject that he or she finds hard.  I do believe that constant review of the subject, dedication, patience and  perseverance to learn plus creativity and resourcefulness (with the guidance of the teacher) make learning  easier. Student/s plays an important role; he/she has to be self-motivated.  This motivation is his/her inspiration.  “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine perspiration.”           

The explosive reactions I get from students of all ages really help me appreciate why I got into this field to begin with. With other fields making so much more money, and in shorter times, it's easy to think about what you "could" be doing. But when that child or adult really "gets it", and totally blows you away with their next answer, it's like striking gold - yeah, it's that good.

With the new school year starting, I thought I'd write a blog post to talk about what I think are the most important things students should be doing to start the year off on the right foot. If anything, September is the time when students are either excited to come back or are dreading it, but being prepared will help any student have a successful year.    The most important thing a student should do before the year starts is to set a goal. I have all the students I work with look at their schedules and think about what classes they think will be the most challenging for them. They then create a goal for how they might want to do, say get a B in Geometry or a A- in English. They should try to make it a SMART goal too: it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Every week or two, they should come back to their goal and think about whether they've made any progress on it. And if they don't achieve their goal, at least they were working on something,... read more

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