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All students should enjoy a healthy and joyful summer break. It's important to take breaks. But it's also important to hone your writing skills before the next school season begins in the fall.   I remember one of my writing teachers telling me a long time ago that the best way to learn how to write was to read. And he was right. In addition to practicing writing -- because writing is a practice -- I was always reading a book.   So during the summer, try to catch up on a few good, well-written books that are age appropriate for you. It doesn't have to be a boring read. It can be a fun read. A librarian can help you make some choices.    Notice the author's sentence and paragraph structure. Take note of what kind of language the author is using: is it formal or informal? Or pick up a newspaper. Or a quality magazine like National Geographic. I do not recommend blogs unless the content is edited and curated. Not every blogger is... read more

Happy mid-April!   Can you believe the school year is already winding down? Because the end of the year is upon us, I am looking for some summer tutoring experiences with any student who is looking to gain some success over the summer! I love working with students in the summer months. Sometimes I even bring popsicles :)   Whether you want to increase a reading level, work on some extra writing skills, or just practice some great studying techniques, I am sure we can find success.    Please contact me via my profile for information! Thanks! 

I understand that school is not always easy for everyone. Certain subjects can be daunting and I can help. I have spent many years working with students using the Cornell note taking system, and teaching students how to read a textbook effectively. There are many "games" that a student can be successful in while studying, while in class, and while doing homework or taking tests. After over 25 years as an educator, I promise that you will do better in school. 

As a former camp director (references available), and as a published writer and college English instructor, I can customize a reading and writing group to engage your teen this summer. This will keep them in a safe environment, and they will be learning and practicing their writing and analytical skills for future high school and college success. I will design a custom plan and schedule for your needs. Why not contact another parent and see if their teens would be interested. We can select some appropriate books together, and I will design discussion questions and writing exercises for the workshop meetings. We can decide on public meeting places: libraries, coffee shops, etc. Contact me here through WyzAnt and I will create a special package rate for my services, especially if you introduce additional students that might be interested. There is no obligation to discuss this idea. Please e-mail me if you have questions or to discuss further! -... read more

The reading comprehension sections of standardized testing can be intimidating. Here are a few tips to help you with them.      First of all, read the title of the passage, and all headings and summaries. These often give you an idea of what the passage covers.      Then, if your test allows, read the comprehension questions before you read the passage. When you read the questions first, your brain may notice the answers automatically as you read the passage. If you see the answer to a question while you're reading, underline the answer, and then keep reading. Do not stop reading to answer the questions until you reach the end of the passage. If you stop, you may lose the flow of the passage as a whole. Remember, you can always read it again once you understand the context.      If you cannot read the questions before you begin, then underline any important information and main ideas as you read. It may also be... read more

This is a question I find a lot of people grapple with, whether they be adults, teenagers or children. The love of reading, of transporting yourself into a different world, is a way to escape. Writing, whether it be an analytic essay or the next epic adventure, requires the ability to reach into your mind and actively confront yourself – and that is not an easy feat to manage. Part of being able to write is to have your thoughts organized in your mind. This actually may prove incredibly difficult for a reader to do. Our minds are often going all over the place at any given moment, reliving stories or day dreaming some of our own. Readers are dreamers so it makes sense that our thoughts naturally flow and are sometimes difficult to pin down. That’s okay – that’s what lists are for! In order to better organize your thoughts, start out simple. Make a list of what you really think about the subject you are about to write about. This works for anything, whether it be a... read more

I remember how nervous I was during every major test in my life. The SAT, AP Tests before undergraduate school. Then there was the dreaded GRE required for admission to graduate school. Fast forward: my master's degree test involved a full day of writing (with no notes or books). My doctoral exams involved a full day of writing, three times a week for one week (also with no notes or books). Talk about torture! And then there was the faculty review ... whew! But you know what? I needn't have been nervous and neither should you, because "testing" begins the minute you walk into the classroom door. If you pay attention in class, do your homework, stay focused (you can always "play" later), take good care of your mind and body -- exercise a little to relieve stress and stay healthy -- and create a peaceful environment in which to study a little bit every day during the school week, you should be able to retain information and write to the best of your... read more

Making Connections to Text will improve Reading Comprehension across any grade level and is a valuable took when it comes to reading and understanding fiction and non-fiction text/passages.    Children make personal connections with the text by using their schema (background knowledge). There are three main types of connections we make while reading text. 1. Text-to-Self :refers to connections made between the text and the reader's personal experience. 2.Text-to-Text: refers to connections made between a text being read to a text that was previously read. 3.Text-to-World: refers to connections made between a text being read and something that occurs in the world. It is important to activate children's schema (background knowledge) before, during, and after reading in order to foster creating these connections. I would recommend having students write down in a journal the different connections they make while... read more

The best advice I can give any student heading into the college admissions process is to read much and read often.   Chances are, you haven't read much of the printed word this summer. Now that it's August, it's the perfect time to pick up a book or a copy of the Times, or even check out a savvy pundit's blog.   Reading helps you brush up on skills you'll need for essay writing and the SAT: Critical reading & reading comprehension Grammar & usage Vocabulary   Besides improving these skills, reading helps you become a more well-rounded, informed, and conversant applicant.   Whether you're just beginning the application process or you just need an extra set of eyes on your essays, you'd do well to contact a professional tutor today.  

The answer: Let them read what they like. Most kids have a preference. For instance, some children will not read chapter books, but they love non- fiction text with pictures and captions, great vocabulary, and scientific or historic content. Standards actually encourage this type of reading.  Some kid's love reading dictionaries, encyclopedias, magazines, and even religious stories. Video games have manuals and books on tips and strategies. Many include complex organization. Let them read!  Rarely, I have met a child who completely repels all literary content.      Watch what texts your child naturally gravitates towards; then feed that interest with diverse literary texts.     

In my experience tutoring students in both essay writing and test prep, one of the most difficult and tiresome challenges for both student and tutor is vocabulary improvement.  Because the ideal way to improve one's vocabulary includes reading a variety of sources over a long period of time, the optimal strategy for vocabulary improvement is often not available to students who have a very compressed schedule in which they must improve.  Many of my students have needed to show marked improvement in vocabulary within 2 weeks to a month, due to a looming deadline, so I have had to get creative to find efficient, effective techniques in vocabulary training.   One of the most important lessons when it comes to vocabulary is that multiple approaches are key.  Students should engage with the material using as many senses as possible.  This means not only reading a word and its definition silently, but also reading them aloud, hearing them read by someone else,... read more

It is all too tempting to throw the books out the window as soon as summer vacation hits. As a student, I understand that temptation but, as a teacher, I know that you're not doing your future-self any favors. The best, and most obvious, way to keep from losing everything you've just spent a whole school year learning is to read.   When it comes to school, reading is one of the most fundamental skills to have, because you're going to be reading things in every single class, at home, hanging out with friends, and so on. You're always reading directions, messages, and interesting information, so keep practicing that skill even when you're not in school. But the real value isn't just in reading the words on a sign or a menu or a text message: the real value (and a skill that even some adults haven't developed enough) is in thinking about what you're reading.   Netflix and movie stores are full of movies based on books. One good way to practice your reading... read more

When trying to help students build their reading comprehension you can do this by: modeling for them how to refer to the text in order to get answers to their questions, showing them how to make inferences on what they've read, and asking them lots of questions to get the students to think critically about the text. Also, encourage children to compare what they are reading to prior knowledge that they already have on the topic. For example, if you're going to have students read an educational article, have students complete a kwl chart: what do you already know about your topic? (Know), what do you hope to learn about your topic? (What you want to learn),and after students complete the reading, have them fill out the last section of the chart which would answer the question: what have you learned? This gets students to think critically about what they have read and build content knowledge.

Education subjects:   http://www.kutasoftware.com/freeige.html   https://www.khanacademy.org/   http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Testing/Testing-Materials/Practice-Tests-for-Grades-3-8-Achievement-Tests   http://grammar.about.com/od/tz/g/themeterm.htm   http://www.homespellingwords.com/   http://www.spelling-words-well.com/spelling-bee-lists.html     Computer programming subjects:   http://www.w3schools.com/

As a former camp director (references available), and as a published writer and college English instructor, I can customize a reading and writing group to engage your teen. This will keep them in a safe environment, and they will be learning and practicing their writing and analytical skills.   I will design a custom plan and schedule for your needs. Why not contact another parent and see if their teens would be interested. We can select some appropriate books together, and I will design discussion questions and writing exercises for the workshop meetings. We can decide on public meeting places: libraries, coffee shops, etc.   Contact me here through WyzAnt and I will create a special package rate for my services, especially if you introduce additional students that might be interested. There is no obligation to discuss this idea. Please e-mail me if you have questions or to discuss further!     - Tim 

After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – “insert subject here” and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc. And let’s be honest – in most high school classrooms, students are essentially graded on their ability to keep track of, complete, and submit paperwork (i.e. homework), instead of their mastery of the material. (Not a good state of affairs, but it’s a topic... read more

Many Reading SOL questions ask about a reading passage's main idea.  Normally, the very first sentence of the passage will state the main idea.  These highlighted words are frequently found in SOL reading questions.  Thoroughly understanding these words and how they signal that the reader ought to look for the key points or main idea, wil help the student understand the question and what he or she needs to find: Significant-important, often main idea or theme Best-clearest most accurate answer or example, there may be two answers that are good, but one is better or best Main idea-the most important thing, general theme, usually said in first sentence Theme- main or general idea/focus Best Heading-clearest, most important information, best title, best headline Most clearly-best answer, best evidence, clearest Main Focus- focus is what the passage is talking about or looking at; focus means to see, like... read more

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