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My first grade student blew me away today. He not only read the word, 'interesting,' all by himself -- but he also knew exactly how many syllables it has!  After a full year tutoring, we have a great connection and each weekly session has its surprises.  I find I learn from my students, just as they learn from me.  Age does not seem to matter, each individual has his or her own personality and interests.   We read a book about bats today.  With terms like hibernation and echolocation, it was inevitable that we discussed a few definitions during the reading.  First graders can be quite inquisitive, and we were pressed for time.  So, I continued reading and before we finished, I learned something I did not know.  Of course, I knew the early American settlers once lived in 'colonies.'  Somehow, though, it never occurred to me that large groups of bats also live in colonies!  I also never thought about how the closeup photos in... read more

Back-to-School Smart Tips It’s FINALLY almost time for school again, and I know a lot of you are excited (I know I am!), but there some excellent pointers to keep in mind as school starts back up again. Before school starts: 1. Get a really good planner you like. Most students aren’t accustomed to using planners or don’t keep up with it. Planners, whether you know it or not, are just as important, if not more important than binders and pencils. I know that all through middle school, high school, and college, I would have been completely lost without my planner. Planners are EXCELLENT for writing down quiz dates, test dates, homework, and after-school activities. Some schools will sell planners and those can be excellent, but I also recommend looking around at Office Depot, Barnes and Noble, or Wal-Mart/Target for other general planners that organize by time and day. Weekly planners typically do not work well for people with full schedules, so try to stay away from those... read more

For someone who is new to the subject of Home Automation, the hardest choice they have to make is choosing the right controller.  There are several controllers on the market, and new ones are coming out every day. Some popular ones are: MiCasaVerde - Vera 3 and VeraLite – Homeseer - Both of these systems use the Z-Wave protocol in a wireless mesh network to communicate and control devices in your home. There are other systems out there based on the older X10 or the newer Insteon, but they either use the power lines in your home to communicate, or a hybrid of power line and radio signals to communicate. X10 – Insteon – No matter which system you use, each will have its own inherent strengths and weaknesses.  I recommend that you read up on each of the protocols, and decide for yourself which one you are willing to use.  I personally use a Vera 3 to... read more

Teacher’s Note to Self A teacher shows, points out, instructs, and trains. To teach is to present, to offer to view, to show the way, to direct, to conduct, to guide, to refer, to move toward a particular direction. Teachers identify what needs to be done, what ought to be achieved, and what is to be observed; teachers appoint, lead, and convey. Teachers provide explanations when necessary and know to hold off when they see that learning can take place on its own. Strong teachers recognize when students are in need, effective teachers respond to needs promptly, and persuasive teachers seek understanding by genuinely communicating with students. Observe the room…acknowledge the needy…promote the student as he or she works at his or her own pace by identifying a defined pace for which all should aim—know when to push, when to back-off…see the lost, the frustrated, the busy, the certain, the confident, and the insecure. Recognize the room and verbally reward the good you see…persuade... read more

Virtual education’s popularity is on the rise. Parents have a wide variety of schools to choose from if they decide to enroll their children in a virtual school. This can make choosing a virtual school that's right for your children difficult. This article summarizes five important things to consider when choosing a virtual school for your children. 1. Independent Study vs. Live Instruction First, review the school’s website and any literature they have to see whether they use a live, online learning environment or if students will learn content in an independent study setting. There are pros and cons to each. An exhaustive list is outside of the scope of this article. In my experience as a former virtual schoolteacher, high school students can handle independent study with the right amount of supervision from their parents, middle school students cannot. They need the structure that live, online classes provide. Live, online classes typically use the same virtual meeting... read more

Please let me know your experience, or any helpful information you may have regarding Parental Alienation in divorce (or post-divorce) cases. I am deeply concerned for the well-being of some children who may be victims of Parental Alienation. I have been told that this is a form of child abuse, since it can seriously impact a child's self-esteem. Research shows that children in divorce cases are under stress, and when one parent "vilifies" the other parent, it can cause emotional damage to the child, or children. If you can take a minute to comment or email me directly, I would greatly appreciate your assistance. Thanks in advance--I hope to hear from you soon.

Hello, students and parents, and welcome to my tutoring blog! I hope to use this space to post tips, useful resources, and information about a variety of subjects and tests to help you in your educational pursuits. I will try to keep the posts organized by topic so that you can easily find whatever you need quickly! To start with, I'll tell you a little bit about myself! I've always loved school, so I believe it was natural for me to pursue a career in teaching. In face, in the second grade, we had to write our autobiographies, and I wrote that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. Here I am, close to 30 years later (yikes!) and I've fulfilled that dream! I studied Biology, English, and Education in college, and obtained a high school biology teaching license in Massachusetts where I grew up. I moved to Atlanta in 2000 to attend graduate school, and graduated in 2006 with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. I began to teach as an undergraduate in 1997, and haven't stopped - it is my... read more

The last article of this series taught readers how to create academic standards – based unit and lesson plans. The key to writing useful lesson and unit plans is creating clear goal and objective statements. This article teaches readers the similarities and differences between the two statements and gives three tips for creating clear, content – relevant goals and objectives. Similarities and Differences Both types of statements must relate to a manageable piece of content. Goals and objectives suffer when they encompass too much content. An example of a goal statement that is too large is, “Students will be able to write a novel”. There are many smaller steps students should accomplish before students can complete this goal. A better goal statement is, “Students will be able to list the parts of a novel”. You can creatively teach this to your child(ren) in one day. Goals and objectives are typically 15 words or less and do not include the word “and”. If you have written... read more

The most important asset that you have is yourself. Take advantage of it and remember that no matter what happens you’re going to do fine. In my experience, regardless of the situation, positive attitudes yield positive results. Just like most standardized tests, the PTCB has a variety of general knowledge questions. What most people don’t realize is that this test is basically broken up into three different sections: Law, Hospital, and Retail. Here’s the basic breakdown of what to expect from these different categories. Law: This is quite possibly both the easiest and the hardest section. Unfortunately laws are just one of those things either you know it or you don’t. Depending on how good you are at memorizing facts this can either help or hinder you. I can’t make you any promises; but, when I took the test this was the shortest section of the test. They only asked me like 10-12 questions of law which might sound like a lot to some, but remember my test was somewhere nearly 100... 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

The amount of pressure being placed upon students in the 21st century is increasing everyday. Pressures can include students who struggle with a learning disabilities, pressure to get into a good college, even poor teaching professionals who have lost their desire to teach our youth, which can lead to struggling in multiple academic subject areas. Put yourself into the shoes of a primary school student in the 21st century. Hormones are taking over and a plethora of emotions are showing their ugly faces. And your child probably has a glazed look every time you are trying to provide some guidance. As a parent, you must be pulling your hair out...right? This is the beautiful thing about having a tutor come to you! In a comfortable environment, and an outside perspective will open the door to a whole new world. I promise you will see the benefit sooner than you may think. So who is the right tutor for you? There are many tutors that offer their services in similar subjects. However,... read more

When deciding the next topic for my blog, I identified and disposed of numerous topics. I simply could not identify a topic on which I wanted to write. Finally, based upon an increasing number of dissertation coaching requests and a desire to inform doctoral candidates, I settled on the dissertation process. Having determined the topic, I then had to think of a title for the blog post. After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided on, “Crafting a Dissertation.” I chose this title because, like most works of art, the dissertation requires creativity, passion, and hard work. It truly is a work that must be carefully and painstakingly crafted. Throughout my musings on this topic, I will try to identify challenges met, hurdles cleared, and lessons learned. So, without further ado the first posting of…Crafting a Dissertation. The dissertation process can be, by turns, frightening, exciting, disheartening, and exhilarating. It is, I have decided, consistent preparation that determines... read more

In the first article of this series, I reviewed the steps that parents should take to make sure their child(ren) transition smoothly and legally from traditional schools to home schooling. This includes: researching and submitting necessary state department of education paperwork, creating a school year and school day schedule, choosing subjects and books/ materials, and setting learning goals. What’s next? This article explains how to plan each subject along with projects, quizzes, and tests to ensure your home school is successful. 1. Create a curriculum calendar. This is not the same as creating a school year or school day calendar. A curriculum calendar breaks down each subject you’ll teach so the material is spread evenly across your school year calendar. Use the school year learning goals you created along with the state or national subject standards for each class you’ll teach. Read the entire state or national standard before finalizing your curriculum calendar. You... read more

Parents consider home schooling their child(ren) for a number of reasons. Some may be dissatisfied with the curriculum offered by local public and private schools. Others may travel a lot and want their children to experience other countries and cultures. Whatever your reason for considering home schooling, this series of articles will teach you basic steps to take to begin home schooling your child(ren). Today’s article teaches you six important first steps to ensuring a successful and legal transition from traditional school settings to home school. 1. Review state home schooling laws. The first step you should take is to research your state’s home school related education. These regulations are easily found on the internet by entering “home school” in the search box on your state’s department of education website. This will tell you everything you need to know about needed documentation, deadlines, how to withdraw your child(ren) from public school to begin home schooling, and... read more

College - bound high school seniors are facing a deadline they may not know about: the FAFSA application. It’s easy to understand how students can overlook it with all their high school work and graduation requirements on their minds. But, failing to turn the form in can make them ineligible for college financial aid next year. This article will teach high school seniors basic facts and tips to make filling out their FAFSA easy! 1. What Does the FAFSA Determine? The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines you/ your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC) to your college education. In other words, how much college tuition and room and board fees you/ your family can afford to pay and still maintain their current standard of living. In some cases, the Student Aid Report (or “SAR”) you receive will state that you/ your family’s EFC is $0. This simply means you will probably be eligible for more financial aid. It does not mean that you are eligible for “$0 financial... read more

Recently I was asked to relate my favorite education quote. Admittedly, I had a hard time choosing. Education is nuanced. Thousands of teaching and learning quotes are relevant and memorable. After re-reading several of my favorite education quotes, I chose this one as my favorite: “Education is light, lack of it darkness.” (Russian proverb.) Teachers, parents, students, and tutors will all find relevance in this quote. Telling you about my favorite teacher will help explain why I think this quote is so appropriate. My favorite teacher was a middle school teacher named Mr. Z; that’s what we all called him anyway. He was an English teacher (now retired) and sponsor of the school’s Chess team. I never had him for English; instead, I was in his homeroom and Chess club. I didn’t have to have him for English to know he was excellent at teaching that, too. I’d known Mr. Z. since my family moved to the city where I grew up. He was the sponsor of the city’s Chess club. We learned... read more

Many high school seniors are starting to think about their freshmen year of college. Some may have already been accepted and are already thinking about their summer visit and freshmen orientation. In their excitement, they may be forgetting the most important part of the visit, filling out their fall schedules. This article gives you five tips to remember when making your fall schedule this summer. 1. Know Yourself. Most college orientation programs include a graphic demonstration of how many of you won’t be back for a second semester. I remember the demonstration at my orientation. Freshmen attended a mandatory convocation in the arena where one college counselor pointed out that one-third to one-half of us wouldn’t be back due to poor grades. Then, he asked several sections – a thousand or so of us – to stand saying that was 1/3 of us. This many students wouldn’t be back. Several more sections stood and he added that this represented the number that would be on academic probation... read more

One question I just received on a different blog was how to handle the 4-star ratings that come up. No matter how good you are, someone will not be satisfied. I personally have received two 4-stars here on WyzAnt, one when I was just starting out, and one just today. For the 4-star early on, it was from a weekly student who only rated the very first meeting as a 4-star. When I learned it was him (either WyzAnt didn't let us see ratings back when I began or I just hadn't figured out how), I approached him about it at the end of our next meeting. One thing I've learned in life is to ask questions instead, so I simply inquired as to why the first lesson was a 4-star to him. He thought back and couldn't really remember why; the session had gone well to him, and he couldn't remember anything in particular that went wrong; he simply thought that 4-stars was still "good". When I explained to him that it wasn't really how things worked on WyzAnt, how only 5-stars is "good"... read more

Some schools have strict policies about Christmas gift giving. These include dollar limits, “acceptable” gifts, or a “no gifts, please” policy. Parents often become anxious if their child’s school allows Christmas gifts for its teachers. Some may worry about how others might perceive the gift. Others may worry about what teachers will think if they don’t give their child’s teachers a gift. This article will give you some insight into teacher’s thoughts about student gifts and provide a few tips on gifts teachers need and will use quickly. What Teachers are Saying About Christmas Gifts First, let me say that this article is based on my personal experiences at schools where I’ve taught. This includes Catholic, virtual - hybrid charter, and public schools – a wide variety to be sure. It is based on conversations I’ve had with other teachers over the years. One universal sentiment is that teachers don’t care whether or not students give them Christmas gifts. That is to say,... 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

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