Archives for School


Tests Are Valuable Learning Tools

When students get a test back, they typically glance at the grade and then stuff the test in their backpack, never to think about it again (unless, of course, the test has a refrigerator-worthy high score).

Meanwhile, teachers invest time and effort making careful corrections and thoughtful comments. This feedback is meant to help kids learn and improve. Reviewing test results with students and helping kids digest the information is an important part of what we tutors do, and parents can do the same.
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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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Notes From My Habits Class For Students

I just finished teaching Making and Breaking Habits, a class I designed for my local community college, targeted towards high school and college students.

We had such wonderful discussions, and at the end of each session I jotted down the notes from the board:

What are habits? Things we do a lot, without thinking, on auto-pilot.

Why do we need habits? Most of what we do is automatic. It would be a big problem if...
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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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Getting a Handle on Academic Anxiety

Do math tutors ever suffer math anxiety?

Sometimes I feel anxious when I'm going to have to tutor a topic that is hard for me. (Yes, even tutors and teachers find certain topics difficult!)

Here's how I cope:

I begin reviewing well in advance. Cramming makes me even more anxious, so I start reviewing early, when the pressure is off.
I use multiple sources. I like watching the videos on Khan Academy because I can just let them roll while I passively absorb some of the material. And I can watch as many times as I want (I "get" more with every viewing). I also read my textbook. Multiple explanations of the same material helps me understand it better.
I go for understanding, not just rote learning. If I can really wrap my brain around this stuff and "own it," I'm going to feel much more confident than if I just learn to plug numbers into some formulas.
I take breaks. This allows the material I just studied to sink in, and it gives me a chance to settle down and let my anxiety level come back to normal.
I deal with my anxiety. When I feel anxiety rising, I stop studying and take some slow, deep breaths. Or I stretch, or take a walk to the mailbox.
I take care of myself. I drink plenty of water, and I eat healthy foods to fuel my brain. Skipping meals can dull thinking and produce headaches, while sugary foods can cause energy spikes and crashes that make anxiety worse.

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For Efficient Studying, Clear the Decks!

I hear more and more students complaining about the hours they're spending on homework, and how long they study for tests (but then they still don't do well).

The culprit is almost always multi-tasking.

Human brains are simply not built to do more than one thing at a time. This is true for young people just as much as for adults.

These very same students will insist that texting, listening to music, and watching TV help them study. But what's really happening is
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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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