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This was a really hard essay to write. Not because I couldn't figure out what to write about; I knew almost from the moment I read the prompt that I wanted to write about Dracula. On the contrary, it was hard because I had TOO MANY ideas for this essay – I had so many thoughts buzzing excitedly around in my head that my outlines kept coming out really scattered and disorganized. I went through, no joke, at least FOUR different outlines for this essay – and I refused to even start writing a draft until I'd sorted out what precisely was wrong with my outline, scrapped it for the third time, and started over from scratch. I went through several different organizational schemes, starting with one centered around a favorite Hitchcock quote about suspense that was a good idea, but ultimately, had no place in this particular essay. My outline eventually settled on the format that probably should have been obvious from the start – the one that related most closely to the prompt. My outline... read more

There are two types of children whose parents come to me for chess lessons: cerebral kids who have possibly already tried chess and have already beaten everyone in the household, and rambunctious, smart kids who need to learn focus. Sometimes, the same child has both characteristics.   Can learning chess change the very nature of a child? The answer is: No, not in any way that you would likely notice in the short-term. Learning chess is a wonderful tool for the tool box. He or she will use it as they will, either now or much later. And of course, most children, no matter how smart they are, wish to spend some of their day pursuing less obviously cerebral activities since they are children and that is their nature. Remaining fit and preparing to be an adult requires a certain amount of physical engagement. If you are a kitten, you play-hunt. Nature tells you to do that just in case you will not be a house cat all your life.   If a child is restless despite... read more

A lot of people ask me to improve their chess strategy, but is that the key to winning? What you need are both strategy (big picture) and tactics (small picture). Since everything keeps changing on the board and it is a long way to go to become a master chess player, tactics usually rule the day. When two possible tactical choices will give you equal results, then you look to which position you would prefer the pieces to be in that might result in a long-term gain. For example, pawns can never move backward. What will happen if my pawn is in that space later? Yes, I am another step closer to crossing the board and awarding myself a great piece at the other end, but am I leaving my king exposed to attack? (That consideration is an example of strategic thinking).   A great example of tactical play is use of the fork. Each player only gets one turn at a time. Yet there are multiple potential moves you can make, and you can use this knowledge to multiply the power of... read more

Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how you... read more

               Words In A Showcase Perplexed by how to help pupils improve their reading comprehension?  Studying for the reading specialist exam here in late 2018, I have been informed that the most fluent readers are so because their vocabularies are large.  So my thoughts turn to showcasing a 300+ page hardcover Dictionary and Thesaurus (in one binder) on a stand similar to a podium or even a china cabinet.  Knowing that a child might tear pages, move one step further and invest in a plexiglass case under a bright spotlight in museum style.  Keep it under lock and key because a mammoth size book is my idea for your home, school, or community center and not only costly if requiring replacement but could get the pupil a loss of privileges. Put a handheld magnifier with an LED on it in the possession of pupils to make small print tolerable.  Designate the responsibility of opening the dictionary case to those... read more

Teleconferencing has really taken off in recent years in a positive way in just about every field of business you can think of, even in medicine. I am actually surprised that with online tutoring being around for quite some time more people have not caught on to how advantageous it is to get 1-on-1 virtual help in academics can truly be. Here are 7 benefits you can experience with Online Tutoring: 1. Availability Geography isn’t a limitation for online tutors, and neither, generally, is time. If you’ve ever tried to deal with the restrictions of finding a tutor who is local, proficient in the subject you need help in, can provide good assessments and progress reporting, and can meet according to your schedule, you should be able to appreciate this immediately.  2. Selection When searching for online tutors you are much more likely to have a wider selection to choose from, which allows you to be more discerning. In addition, the broader selection also... read more

Well, okay, it's not incorrect, but it's flawed and by a mathematician's standards: morally wrong.   I'm sure at one point you boringly learned the order of operations. These are the set of rules that tell you whether you should do multiplication before division or addition before subtraction to get the correct answer on your math problem.  1) Parentheses (brackets) 2) Exponents x^x 3) Multiplication 2*2 4) Division 2/2 5) Addition 2+2 6) Subtraction 2-2 7) Get the right answer :)   Except, you don't always get the right answer.   For example: 8-2+1. Is it 5 because 8-3=5? Or is it 7 because 6+1=7?   Is 6/3/3 equal to 2/3 or 6/1?   The issue here is that focusing on the order of operations can lead to ambiguity and obscures the real beauty of mathematics.   A mathematician will tell you that 8-2+1 is actually 8+(-2)+1, which is unambiguously equal to... read more

The complaints against WyzAnt’s 40% commission demands a response. Suppose a tutor with 15 hours of work time through WyzAnt charges $40 an hour. Of that amount, WyzAnt will automatically deduct $16. This deduction is based on WyzAnt’s commission rate, which is 40% for the first 20 hours of work time. So the tutor is not earning $40 an hour; rather, the tutor is earning $24 an hour. According to a number of individuals, WyzAnt’s 40% commission rate is too high, way above average. Some folks, oddly enough, have even posted complaints on other websites. Why? Here's some food for thought. 1. Twenty-four dollars an hour is higher than any state’s hourly minimum wage. 2. You can create your website for tutors and charge a lower commission. 3. If you tutor for an hour you will be paid $24. 4. If you don’t tutor for an hour you will not be paid $24. 5. Twenty-four dollars is more than zero dollars. 6. You don’t have to stay with WyzAnt, but before you leave... read more

One of my clients purchased the rights to add animation to their listing of email clients. No problem, sort of. The animation program that had to be used was one called Animatron. I had never herd of the program but the client is, you guessed it, always right. Therefore, as part of my job to answer the needs of my client, I had a four day window to learn the program. New things happen and one must adapt quickly. The tip here is, understand that there are like things that appear in different computer programs, that make cross platform learning easier, than one might think at first glance.

Hi: I get a lot of requests from parents to help their school-age children with their reading. It is important for parents to know that many public school classrooms today are over-crowded with sometimes 35 to 40 students per class. It is extremely difficult for teachers to give individual attention to any one student. That said, you can help your child to be a better reader at home without a lot of expense.  First, get a library card from your local library. Have the librarian show you where the 'Early Reader' books are kept. They are usually grouped together in the children's section. Next, the librarian can show you 'Leveled Readers' which are books, usually marked with a number, that are written for different levels. Example: Level 1 (first grade), Level 2 (second grade), Level 3 (third grade) and so on. Focus first on getting your child books that match their grade. Pick out about three books and it's ok to let your child pick.  Next, (here's the important part,)... read more

Folks, I have been out of the tutoring game for a few years for numerous reasons - moving, demands at my day job, grad school, all sorts of things.   Wait - grad school? Yes, I am pursuing an MBA at Fitchburg State University. It has been a long haul but I am in the final stretch and will graduate in May 2019. I hope to get back into tutoring after June. Yes, I need a break. A long week at the beach is in order.   Many apologies to the families and students who have contacted me over the last couple of years. I was unavailable but will be again soon.

My Cancellation Policy I value my time spent teaching, and your time spent learning. To facilitate the scheduling of lessons, I use the following cancellation policy: Cancellation Policy for Students: If a student wishes to cancel the lesson, she/he must provide notice at least 8-24 hours prior to the beginning of the lesson. If a student cancels the lesson between 8 and 4 hours in advance, a cancellation fee of up to 35% of the lesson cost may be assessed. If a student cancels the lesson between 4 and 2 hours in advance, a cancellation fee of up to 50% of the lesson cost may be assessed.   If a student cancels less than 2 hours in advance, a cancellation fee of up to 85% of the lesson cost may be assessed. If a student arrives to a lesson late, the lesson cost will include the time missed by the student. If a student arrives to a lesson more than 15 minutes late, I may consider the lesson cancelled without... read more

Welcome to the NEW Series 7        FINRA has introduced a new licensing structure for people entering finance. The new structure brings on new challenges and possibly an alternative method for evaluating new candidates. For the first time, the new Series 7 encompasses a prerequisite SIE exam that can be taken prior to being employed by a FINRA Broker-Dealer. This SIE exam tests your basic Securities Industry Knowledge and will have a passing score of 70%. Your score on this exam will most likely be a part of the application process and will be compared to other candidates. The “old “ way of studying for the Series 7 with just the goal of just passing and not worrying about your score is likely a thing of the past. You will need to have a more solid understanding of the material and the basic inner workings of Broker-Dealers. How well you do on the SIE should give the hiring manager an idea of how easily you will pass the Series 7 top off exam once you... read more

As a Language Arts tutor helping students prepare for and improve their scores on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and SAT, there are a strategies, study methods, tricks, and of course, loads of practice that I prescribe. Oftentimes, a student who's perfectly capable of getting a good score on these tests may lose out on precious points because of seemingly trivial oversights. Below are a few easy-to-implement steps that can safeguard a student's best score from being needlessly lowered: - Be regular in putting in study time. erratic and sporadic bursts of studying, followed by a lull, cause you to 'unlearn' important strategies that you may have picked up in the course of your studies. Put in regular hours of study to ensure that all the skills you learn are reinforced and become second nature to you. - Box it: loose sheets of paper, vocabulary words scribbled on random notepads, and textbooks strewn everywhere - having your study materials in... read more

In today's Writing Rundown, I want to leave the brainstorming process for a bit and discuss responding to a prompt. Take a look at the prompt I used for my last Literature Spotlight, “The Blanks Left Empty”: AP Literature Open-Ended Prompt, 1975, #2: Unlike the novelist, the writer of a play does not use his own voice and only rarely uses a narrator’s voice to guide the audience’s responses to character and action. Select a play you have read and write an essay in which you explain the techniques the playwright uses to guide his audience’s responses to the central characters and the action. You might consider the effect on the audience of things like setting, the use of comparable and contrasting characters, and the characters’ responses to each other. Support your argument with specific references to the play. Do not give a plot summary. Whew! That's a lot of information to sift through. Unfortunately, many high school and college-level writing prompts are as... read more

Writing often feels like you have to be a wordsmith and come up with your ideas clearly and expertly from the jump. This isn't true! If you're a college or high school student, I want you to know that writing well is a skill that takes time. Here are some tips that can help you get started with your essay. 1) Simple Language Is The Best Language.  Something that a lot of writing students do is “over-complicate” their sentences. Students make mistakes like creating really long sentences or using extremely flowery words. These are signs of a student who believes that this is what makes good writing. However, the reality is that the more concise your sentence is, the more powerful your point. This often leaves your sentences with simpler, clearer, and more basic language. If you find that you tend to do this in your own writing, it could be a sign that you may need someone to help flesh out what you’re really trying to say or get a deeper understanding of your... read more

You are playing a game involving three dice. You can choose to bet on any number from 1 to 6. I'll roll the three dice. If: - none shows your number, you lose $1 - one shows your number, you win $1 - two show your number, you win $3 - three show your number, you win $5 What is the expected value of this game?  Email your answer so as not to ruin the challenge for others. 

I am a tutor, a retired, currently certified State of Illinois teacher, K-9, with a current LBS-1 Illinois State teacher endorsement to teach special education.  I believe that I am responsible for the quality and effectiveness of the lessons that I prepare.  This commitment pledges me to hours of serious preparation of lessons that meet the educational needs of my students, offering them significant steps for attaining their goals through lessons designed to be interesting to the student, strengthening their enjoyment of the learning process.

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