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I have been using a planner since the beginning of my elementary education. Clearly, in Elementary school it was more of a way for my teacher to update my parents on my assignments, and I couldn't really understand the personal benefits of it yet. In high school, when my work load became more complicated by seven classes, which each had a different teacher, my planner became invaluable to me. It was during high school that I began color-coding my planner, which I have kept up to this day.   I am aware that many schools provide each student with a planner, but unfortunately many students neglect the usefulness of such a thing and they become merely a weight at the bottom of their book bag. If you ask your child/student why they didn't turn in this or that assignment and a common response is "I forgot," then it's time to talk to them about the magic of a planner. We are all human, and as such are subject to lapses in our memory. An organized planner is our tool... read more

I am pretty OCD about how I do things as a tutor. This includes being prepared. This also has got me thinking about what it means to be prepared as a tutor. I believe it involves two things. Those are being prepared physically by having the tools you need, and also knowing what you will cover in each lesson.   I started the concept of a tutoring bag about a year ago. I LOVE IT. It has all sorts of goodies in it from dry erase boards to pencils to graphing paper. I even have things that are outside of the box available just incase I need them. For example, I have simple dollar store games in my bag which often help my students who suffer from attention deficit problems. I never know what I am going to need but it allows me to be unconventional with my tutoring which has been a big asset. Also realistically, as much as we want our students to come prepared, SOMEONE is going to forget something!   I also lesson plan before my lessons. I commended tutors who can... read more

Starting a new semester?  Would you like this semester to look differently than previous semesters?  Get ahead of the game.    First, get a calendar or planner.  Use what works for you.  Some students like a print calendar or planner, others like to use an app on their phone or iPad, others feel comfortable with Google calendar.  Whatever you prefer, make sure you use your calendar every day. The first thing to put on your calendar is your schedule.  Actually mark your class times on your calendar.  You might use a different color for each class.  For instance, everything associated with math class might be written or typed in blue, everything for history might be in red, etc.  Using the same color, record any known due dates. Have a paper due in February?  Put it on the calendar.  Know when Spring Break is? Put it on the calendar.  Don't forget to put extra curricular activities, work hours, and tutoring... read more

Transitions! They can make or break your essay. You may have some great ideas that you write down, but if you don't connect them, it's hard for your reader to follow. People forget how your ideas are interrelated, and they therefore forget your main ideas.   The point here is: DON'T try to write without transitions. Here is a list of transitions to help you keep your ideas well-organized: first next then after after that afterward finally in conclusion in summary to start with in addition additionally second third moreover furthermore    

WWTK: What advice would you give students going back to school so they start the year strong? This is a great question, and one that I've answered before on this blog. In general, I'd say the most important thing for starting the new year strong is starting the new year ORGANIZED. Go back and look through your notebooks from the previous year, but not for content – look at them like a detective. What does your note-taking style say about you? Do you have spiral notebooks stuffed full of handouts with rumpled edges? Are your note pages just solid blocks of hurried scribbles that are all but impossible to read? Did you have to add extra notebooks halfway through the year?  And most importantly, how easy is it to find a specific piece of information in one of your notebooks? Take the opportunity while summer's still going strong to head to an office supplies store and wander around. Really look at all the organization solutions, and try to imagine yourself... read more

As the return to school is quickly approaching, it is important to examine what makes a difference to a strong school year.  There are many things that will have an impact on the success of a student.  One of the most important things is organization.  Many students have a great deal of difficulty not only being organized, but truly understanding what it is to be organized.  Here a a few tips to get your year off to a great start. 1.  Assure that you have the proper school supplies:  While the list that teachers send home appear to be long and silly be assured that there is a purpose for those items.  Many times the items requested are there to aid the student in organizational success.  This applies to color coding notebooks and folders per subject to having post it notes available for the students.  2.  Planner:  I know that many schools provide them and many students neglect to use them.  This is not only an important... read more

As summer break is winding down, many students look ahead to fall and one question is on their minds: how can I start this year strong? Well, trust me, your teachers are saying the same thing (yes, your teachers are people too). For teachers and students alike, fall is a time to start over and begin the year anew.   Chances are, you've grown as a person over the summer. I remember the fall of my junior year in high school, several students came back looking like completely different people because they had grown and changed so much over the summer. Be prepared for this. You may want to take a moment to put some effort into your own appearance, which brings me to tip #3:   3. Buy a back to school outfit (or two). Even if your budget is limited, Old Navy has some great stuff, even if it's just a few new pairs of socks or t-shirts. Or go for a few new outfits at your favorite store. Keeping your appearance neat the first week of school will make a great impression... read more

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

Going back to school can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very scary. Stepping through those doors after a long summer break can sometimes feel like tearing through a large rubber balloon. Well, pat yourself on the back. You made it through the first week.  Some of you learned all your subjects, teacher's names, and your classroom numbers.  Some are sitting at home wondering about the blur they have in their head that was the first week of school.  If you are in the first group pat yourself on the head, you are probably an organized individual. If you are in the second group maybe you need to drag out that backpack and look through it for that white piece of paper that is your schedule to look at.  Sit down and make a list of all your teachers and their room numbers.  If you are still confused as to where to go each period, then have your parents help you find the school map that is probably at the bottom of that same backpack.  Use the school map to... read more

The summer has its fair share of distractions: beaches, barbecues, sunny days and getaways. And all the while August beckons, the season marches on, slowly slips away and school approaches. With such distractions, difficult many students find it to focus on the long year ahead; and if any of them are as I was, the school year is a thought best left to the week before that deceptively distant day. So how, now, to avoid getting tripped up at the beginning of the year and instead hit the ground running without selling summer short? I say it begins at the end of the previous school year. Those May days can drag on toward the end, even more so in June if final exams are studied for and taken. Use those hours spent cleaning out lockers and book bags to begin taking stock of what you have, what you need, and what you want next year while your thoughts are fresh. As much as we all, when that final bell rings, want to drop everything and dash home singing "School's Out for the Summer,"... read more

I love using Google Calendar. I wish I had used it more effectively during college and graduate school. It would not have been as seamless as it is today without a smartphone. When I moved to Ohio, my old cellphone was dying. The screen had died after falling repeatedly from my desk or bed back in Brooklyn; I suspect that it also did not like the occasional and sudden exposure to rain. So, I used some of my savings to get a Droid X. While fiddling impatiently with my brand new toy, I came across the app and remembered how fruitlessly I had tried keeping a personal agenda in booklet form. I would always forget where I left it, and it would end up as scrap paper for some formula derivation. After a few uses while I established a new student base, the calendar app became more appealing. I learned quickly to keep track of all of my appointments on the calendar app. My events automatically synced with my online calendar, and I setup reminders (via text messages) for tutoring sessions,... read more

Glazed eyes. Yawns. Fidgeting. All of these are signs that a speaker has lost his or her audience. Nothing is guaranteed to produce more nervousness than an audience that can’t wait for you to pronounce your last sentence. How will an outline help you? An outline adds structure. It is the skeleton that supports the body of your speech. You know where you are going and it is easier to take your audience along with you. How does one prepare an outline? Begin by establishing your theme. What do you want your audience to carry away with them? What idea do you want them to remember, what conclusion do you want them to reach? Stated in one sentence, this is the destination you want to arrive at with your audience. Now choose your main points. These can be as few as two, for a short discussion, or as many as five. But no more than five. Remember our first paragraph? What does your audience already know? Don’t bore them with old news, excite them with something fresh. Above... read more

I have found that many of my students have poor study habits, and think that completing a homework assignment is studying. I am constantly reminding them that there is a significant differentiation between the two terms. Studying is more in-depth and it calls for many metacognitive interactions. When studying try to do one or more of the following, (all if applicable). 1. Make visual connections to images, pictures, or drawings 2. Make emotional connections and tie them to a past, or current event that you or someone you know of can relate to. 3. Use different memorization techniques. 4. Know the vocabulary words that you are reading. Often times, simple sentences are difficult to comprehend because you are unfamiliar with the words. 5. Try recording yourself and playing back the audio. Sometimes you brain can process the information and transfer it to long-term memory if heard aloud. 6. Also try taking notes, and using graphic organizers. 7. Do not attempt... read more

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