Archives for Education

Education

Ratios Are Hard For Student Brains To Learn

Right now, algebra students are studying unit rates, proportions and dimensional analysis. Geometry students are working on similar figures and triangle proportionality theorems. All of these topics are hard for the same reason: They involve ratios, which may seem easy for adults but are actually deeply challenging for the learning brain to grasp. A ratio is the comparison of two numbers, usually using a fraction bar. If there are two dogs and three cats in a room, I could write that the ratio of dogs to cats is 2/3. Like so many things (reading, driving), ratios become second nature with enough practice, and people lose touch with how difficult they were to learn. And like reading and driving, ratios are hard for the brain because they involve simultaneity of thought. The brain is required to multi-task; it must think about the 2 dogs while at the same time thinking about the 3 cats.
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Education

Closing In On “Close Reading”

If you haven't heard this latest buzz phrase, you will soon. Standardized tests and schools alike are shifting their focus towards cultivating not just more reading, but reading that is deep, thoughtful, purposeful...close reading. This is good news, because close reading is one of the skills that well-prepared, informed, mentally active and employable adults need in order to thrive in our increasingly complex and sophisticated world.
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Education

Rounding Up Three More Usual Math Suspects

We tutors get an interesting perspective into students' math struggles. We find ourselves reteaching the same concepts over and over, to students from 5th through 12th grade.

The human brain has a hard time grasping and retaining certain kinds of information. Terminology is especially hard, which is why you will notice that my Usual Math Suspects List comprises mostly math words and the procedures these words are meant to trigger.

Parents need to realize...
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Education

Parents Should Supervise Their Older Kids’ Studying

Kids of all ages need support as they gradually develop good study habits.   Educators call it "scaffolding," the kind of adult guidance that keeps young learners on the right path until they've internalized good practices for themselves. Many parents assume that by the time students are in middle school, they should no longer need day-to-day homework supervision. Meanwhile, I find that even high school students do better when their parents are checking in with them regularly and specifically about their schoolwork. This helpful checklist was created by a local middle school principal, to show parents the ways they can lend support to their adolescent students:
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Education

Is Math Acceleration A Good Idea?

Way back when I was in school, Algebra I was considered a ninth grade course, and it was only a handful of "honors" kids who took it as eighth graders.

Since then, there's been a trend towards introducing algebra material to younger and younger students, in the hopes that by getting them primed earlier for algebraic thinking and giving them more years of algebra instruction, more students...
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Education

5 Ways To Get Support During Final Exams



It's best to study at the library!

High school students are facing final exams now, and many feel anxious, confused and isolated.

Exam preparation is your responsibility, but that doesn't mean you need to go it alone! The best exam preparation involves reaching out for support from other people and resources:

Let parents help. During stressful times, support from other people can be invaluable. Let your parents remind you to...
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Education

The Blood, Sweat and Tears of Middle School Math

Many middle school students struggle with math, often for the first time. Math becomes harder in middle school, and teacher expectations are higher. These changes are appropriate as kids mature; the achievement bar must be raised so that students' intellects are challenged to grow. The teacher who waters down instruction so that it's always easy and "fun" isn't doing students any favors.
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Education

ADHD Types I and II?

One of my students included this very interesting 9-minute TED talk in a psychology class project. The speaker proposes that, as with diabetes, there are now arguably two forms of ADHD. We could call the inborn variety ADHD Type I; Type II would be what one doctor calls "Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder", developed through excessive Internet use.
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