As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to talk to...
There are two "tricks" I have found to make history much simpler to learn. The first is to realize that time is always in motion and to track the cause/effect relationships throughout time (see "Time is a Flow"). The second is to apply emotions to history, and by that I mean to put yourself in the shoes of those before you.
For example, I am tutoring two students in American history, currently at the events leading up to and including the Declaration of Independence. So, put yourself in the colonists' shoes. WHY were the set of acts setup by Britain so awful? WHY did the colonists have no choice but to rebel? Well, if you pretend that you are a colonist, the answers start making sense:
You are being ruled by a monarchy across an entire ocean. At this point, you were probably born in America, so you have never even been to Britain. Yet, this king decides all of the laws for you and places taxes on items you use everyday... for what? To send more troops...
My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way.
Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is.
Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators...
• Explain why European exploration led to cultural clashes and interchange between the Europeans and the native peoples of the areas they conquered.
• Relate the events stemming from the Renaissance to the Age of Discovery.
• Analyze the impact that took place in Africa and the Americas due to slave trade.
• Explain the reasons why Europe was invested in South and Southeast Asia, and the impact of its involvement.
• Recognize the ways in which the Columbian Exchange advanced Europe's position in the global community, while decreasing the power of other nations.
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...
Alex made my day today. He passed the Global History and Geography Regents Exam!! Let me tell you a little bit about Alex. When I first met him, he came to tutoring two hours late. The next day an 11/2 late. He was on time on the third day, but by the next week it was back to being Alex. He did not show up for tutoring nor did he call. He would do assignments if he felt like it. There was always an excuse for something, but he would never take responsibility for his actions.
When I finally sat down with he and his mother and told them that at the rate Alex was going, he was not going to pass his Regents exams. He may have to repeat the grade or go to summer school. Alex became so angry and adamant. He kept saying repeatedly, that he was not going to repeat grade 10. So I looked at him and asked, "So what are you going to do about it?" "Because saying that you are not going to repeat and then you neither study nor do the assignments, is not saying much. I think that...
With the new school year approaching, I was thinking about a recent article I read about the nutritional value of school lunches. Then, I thought about Mayor Bloomberg's idea of banning extra large soft drinks in New York City. I remember the lunch lines (one hundred years ago) when I was in middle school. We all loved Friday because it was Pizza Day! On other days, there was meatballs and pasta. The cafeteria line had cookies and cakes, ice cream and all things that weren't especially good for you. As a kid, I never realized how important good nutrition and exercise was for kids. I recently started my own diet and became more health conscious. And, with tutoring so many athletes and sports minded students, I thought that these students would certainly be mindful of exercise and nutrition. But, many don't. And, that's my concern.
Parents are busy people. Between work, homework, laundry and keeping house, food plays a big role in family life. Now, most kids don't go to school hungry...
One of the best ways to improve your study skills in remembering the details of a historical event is to make up a silly or ridiculous visual in your mind. For example, if you are trying to remember that the American Civil War was fought between 1861 to 1865 and that the Confederacy's President was Jefferson Davis, while the Union's President was Abraham Lincoln, you can create a silly image in your head of Jefferson Davis riding a surfboard wearing a shirt with a "C" on it while racing Abraham Lincoln on another surfboard wearing a black top hat with an "U" on it. Picture Davis's surfboard having a cool graphic of the numbers "1861," while Lincoln's surfboard has "1865" printed on it. If you need to know more details for an essay question, you could add to the picture. You could have Davis holding a paper in his hand, which says "secession," and Lincoln could be holding a copy of "The Emancipation Proclamation" in his hand...
Many of my students have told me that Social Studies or History is their worst subject. When I ask why, they say they “just don’t get it”. I usually find out that they have a hard time connecting the dots. For example, they learn about the American Revolution but don’t understand how it connects to King George III and the Declaration of Independence. This article gives parents, tutors, and teachers some hints and tips for helping students connect the people, places, and events of history to improve their comprehension.
1. Use historical thinking skills. The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) is a UCLA - based organization dedicated to collaborating with schools and teachers to provide “engaging and exciting explorations of U.S. and World history.” (From the NCHS mission statement; use this link to visit their website: http://www.nchs.ucla.edu/.) One powerful tool they created is their list of five historical thinking skills teachers, parents, and tutors can use to...
As a literature teacher, my favorite activity ever (bonus that it's educational) is reading in a setting that lends itself well to the book you are reading. In the case of literature, the possibilities are only limited to what's available. One of my favorite memories from last summer was reading Dracula on a back lit Kindle at twilight in my front yard, while bats swooped around above me and the moon rose. Some other fantastic matches?
1. Secret Garden in a botanical garden, or sitting in the middle of your own garden at home or a friend's
2. Paradise Lost in the same setting, but maybe around eight or nine o'clock, in that last hour of readable light, when the light starts to fade and shadows grow longer and take over the landscape
3. Inferno (by Dante...
One of my pet peeves is how history is often taught. First off, history is about people and what happened, which is often rather exciting, not about dates. If you don't believe me that history can be exciting, just look at the #1 source for inspiration for video games (at least #1 when it comes to school subjects). Most strategy games are based on history and most others include history in their games (even if not our history *nods at Final Fantasy*).
My other gripe though is that history is broken into sections. While I certainly admit the world has gone through major events and that sections can be helpful, so often I see history learned entirely as those sections. Time is a flow. History flows one event into the next. If we do not teach our students the cause-and-effect relationships throughout history, how are we supposed to learn from our past mistakes (and successes)?
For example, I have a student who I am helping with history. He is studying world history from...
Oh no she didn't.
Oh yes she did!
Last night, I taught a student how to structure a paper on the impact of global trade routes using the structure of the movie Dirty Dancing as a guide for the paper. Some may say this was definitely an alternative teaching method, but it got the student excited and she understood the structure of the paper and what she needed to do.
The assignment for the paper was to set up what global trade looked like around 1450, how global trade started happening and what were the results of global trade. I could tell this student was not super excited this paper, but I realized that this paper could be structured just like one of her favorite movies. Once we found a few movies we both love (Forrest Gump, Clueless (please don't judge) and Dirty Dancing), we decided which one had a similar structure to the assignment of the paper and went from there.
Here's how the paper should be structured and the parallels to the movie:
Set up --...
The most obvious answer is cost. If a tutor charges the same rate for one or four students, it becomes cheaper per hour as you increase students and share the costs with other families. It is often believed a tutor is best when working 1:1 with a student. In some instances it is well worth the time and money to have 1:1 tutoring and sometimes it is appropriate for students to study and do school work in small groups.
What is not obvious is the dynamics of small group tutoring. In a variety of circumstances it is invaluable for students to learn how to study “what needs to be studied”. The acts of independence and self regulating behavior have far reaching benefits.
Groups need to learn to share and take turns. This seems simple and yet there is the underlying tendency to allow the ‘smart one’ in the group to carry the burden of work. Assuming each student is in the class and has a different point of view/observation about what is happening in class, they should share their...
I'm sure we all remember school days in our past, subjects we loved, those we dreaded, and those that never made much of an impression on our youthful souls. Always a lover of literature, reading, and writing, for some reason throughout elementary and high school days, I loathed history. And then in college, I had an epiphany when I not only had professors that brought it alive and made it real, but inspired me to take a degree in the subject and actually be nominated into the honorary Phi Alpha Theta history fraternity for outstanding scholarship.
In grad school, though, I majored in gifted counseling and education, my minor was once again, history. And now I tutor the subject, loving every minute. As we all gain experience and learn from it, I hope, so too do we find ways of incorporating that experience into our teaching and sharing with others. And here I am beginning a new venture with WyzAnt and starting amazingly, by tutoring a subject I truly love: of course, history....
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...
The 2013 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May: May 6 through 10 and May 13 through 17. Click on the following link for more precise dates:
For those taking the AP European History, AP US History, AP World History and AP English Language and Composition, the dreaded DBQ section is upon you! Are you ready?
Rather than demonstrating extensive knowledge, a confident time management strategy is key to succeeding on this particular part of the test. Because there is so much to do in so little time, students without one may find frayed nerves and draw blanks in the examination room. Receiving a packet containing three-to-sixteen original document sources and an unfamiliar essay prompt question that requires those sources to be organized in response around a sound thesis is enough to make any high-school kid break into a cold sweat.
But you don't have to worry, here are some quick tips for developing...
At my regular tutoring job, my new AP US and world history students will sometimes tell me, in detail, just how much they loathe the subject of history. When I ask them why they feel that way, the answer is almost always the same - they've got a dull history teacher at school.
This makes me sad. Ever since I could read, I've loved history, and now, twenty years and change later, it's still my favorite subject to read and write about. The old cliche "truth is stranger than fiction" really is true - history is full of amazing characters and unbelievable tales that even the most imaginative fiction author would be hard-pressed to come up with.
But history doesn't have to be exciting! Find a sufficiently dull teacher and it can become the purest kind of torture. The teacher who emphasizes names and dates above all else - the teacher who reads straight off of prepared Powerpoint slides, never deviating from the textbook - these are the teachers who truly kill the subject...
What a way to start off the New Year! First I met with a student for US History and Living Environment. She is taking the Regents exams in three weeks. When I first met with her, Cee had a fear of taking exams, and was very nervous. She struggled with understanding both subjects; the Historical Events and dates, as well as the vocabulary words for Biology. Her next struggles were understanding and answering the document based questions for US History and the short responses for LE. Now she answers them much more confidently and accurately, and has even improved in writing her document based and thematic essays for US History. I am so proud of her and is certain that she will pass both Regents exams.
Then I met with my grade 4 student for Math, English Language Art and Science. He has gone from scoring 31% to 83% on his practice science exam. He is much more confident with doing Math and ELA assignments. I am so proud of him. Then it was on to my grade 6 Math student.
Nearly all high school and college students have a research paper requirement. Many college students are likely facing imminent research paper deadlines as the semester ends. Writing research papers can cause a lot of anxiety. This article will teach you how to narrow your research topic, clarify your thesis statement, and sort and organize your research to help you simplify your final editing process.
Editing for Both Quality and Quantity. One common issue is having a research paper that is either too long or too short. Narrowing and clarifying your topic will help you write a better thesis statement and help you use only your most important or interesting facts and information. A properly focused topic will help save time by helping you use more specific keywords and phrases for your Internet search. You’ll be able to collect the facts you need in no time.
Narrowing Your Topic. Many teachers or professors give students a broad research paper topic. For example, your high...
Can you believe another year will soon be over? As we reflect on this years events and look forward to a bright new year, keep your childs' education in mind. There are so many opportunities we all need to take advantage of.
There are so many educational games, cards, books, and even dvd's that would make great stocking stuffers, events to broaden your childs' mind and time spent just talking. And of course, your weekly tutoring sessions!
During this free time between the holidays, I will be available and ready to work around your busy Christmas and New Years schedules. They have been working hard, but the long haul will be coming in January. Let's not slack now. Keep them sharp and ready for new challenges.
Call, text, email, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you. As always, I am looking forward to working with you and your child in the coming New Year.
Happy Holidays to everyone!