It’s my third time teaching this class, and I’m finally feeling like I’m getting the curriculum shaped into a form I like a lot.
I’m trying to create something more than just an SAT class: I blend in research-based study tips, plus I’m trying to get my students embarked on some good habits that they’ll need to succeed in college and in life:
- Studying with focus (which includes doing without cellphone and music)
- Studying consistently, over time (not cramming the day before the test)
- Keeping a Study Journal so as to plan, track progress, and stay motivated
- Practicing by writing (annotating, working math problems on paper) not by just looking over one’s notes (a very ineffective method)
- Quizzing and testing oneself as a study method, as well as to assess progress (good old-fashioned flash cards are a great learning method, because the brain learns best with quizzing and repetition).
After each class, I’ve been posting on my website my outline, notes and assignments.
I’ve also inserted links to many useful and free online videos, worksheets and interactive practice. My students use these posts for review or to catch up if they miss a class, and…
Anyone who wants to follow along at home each week is welcome to access all of these materials and use them as a FREE do-it-yourself SAT prep class!
We’ve had two classes so far (there will be six in all):
Session One (January 26)
Session Two (February 2)
I will post notes for the remaining classes after I teach them, on the following dates: Feb 9, 16, 23 and March 2. Just go to my website, www.LeighCousins.com, click on the “Tests” page, and visit the purple box.
A student who follows my notes and does the work ought to be well-prepared for the March 9 SAT or any other SAT this year. (Make sure and register soon for the March 9 exam!)
It would thrill me to have any or all of you …
Why don’t they listen to us?
Along with academic tutoring and test preparation, I teach study skills: how to study for a biology test, how to write a term paper, how to learn vocabulary words.
Parents are eager for these lessons, and also jaded.
- He knows this stuff already.
- Her teachers repeated this over and over all last year.
- I’ve already told him a thousand times!!!
At the first meeting of my new How to Talk to Your Kids class, parents took turns introducing themselves. Lo and behold, every parent had boys and only boys (except for one mom who also had a baby girl; she hastened to explain that her daughter was “easy” and it was her son she was concerned about).
Next time, I’ll call the class How to Talk to Your Sons.
The parents of boys report a common set of problems. Their sons are lazy. They procrastinate. They don’t talk and they don’t listen. They don’t ask for help and they resist advice.
The boys approach their studies with attitudes of defiance and bravado. They under-prepare for tests and then shrug off the poor grades. School is stupid, reading is boring and why do we have to learn this math, anyway? They seem immune to learning from their mistakes. They study even less for the next test, not more.
Of course, not all boys are like this, and plenty of girls fit the profile. Still, this constellation of typically male character traits and attitudes plays less and less well in our evolving economy and culture. David Brooks wrote:
To succeed today, you have to be able to sit still and focus attention in school at an early age. You have to be emotionally sensitive and aware of context. You have to communicate smoothly. For genetic and cultural reasons, many men stink at these tasks.
In elementary and high school, male academic performance is lagging. Boys earn three-quarters of the D’s and F’s. By college, men are clearly behind. Only 40 percent of bachelor’s degrees go to men, along with 40 percent of master’s degrees.
Thanks to their lower skills, men are dropping out of the labor force. In 1954, 96 percent of the American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today, that number is down to 80 percent.
Brooks was responding to Hannah Rosin’s new book, The End of Men, in which she suggests that men are suffering from a lack of adaptability.
Women, Rosin argues, are like immigrants who have moved to …
I’m sitting with 14-year-old Emma; we’re doing her algebra homework side by side. We started at the same time, but I’m on problem #3 and she’s already on #8.
Does that surprise you? After all, I’m the math tutor who has been doing this stuff for decades. And I’m not purposely trying to work slowly. Emma really is mentally faster than me.
I’m used to this by now. I work with many teens with super-high IQs who process information at lightening speed. Why on earth do they need a tutor?
Emma glances over at my paper. My work is in neat columns. All the steps are written out. Emma sees that her answers differ from mine on problems #1 and #3. She notices that she’s dropped a negative sign in problem #1. And she left out part of the equation in problem #3 because she didn’t bother to write it down; she was “doing it in her head.”
She goes back and fixes her errors; by now I’m on problem #6.
Scratch the surface of laziness and underneath you’ll find fear, confusion, frustration, lack of knowledge, lack of skills, anger, sadness…
And, often, just plain exhaustion.
Willpower is a limited resource, and the demands of the school day can drain a student of her ability to attend and persevere.
As if jolted by a cattle prod, my highly sensitive companion rears in her seat and wails. Ooooooohhhh Nooooooooo!!!! She trembles and her eyes well up.
Meanwhile, I just keep on driving. I’d been deep in our conversation, and the meaning of that inert, furry heap in the center of the roadway hasn’t yet registered in me.
So by now we’ve driven right past the dog and quite a distance beyond, and I still haven’t said a word or even slowed down, and my friend is choking on tears.
We’re easily a quarter of a mile away when I mutter We need to go back.
I turn the car around and return to where the dog still lies, and I pull over and step out and look both ways before walking out and dragging the dog’s body to the curb.
I’m so impressed with the Khan Academy videos, and I’ve been experimenting with ways to use them with my students….and with myself!
I stopped blogging because my routine had been disrupted. My morning writing time was no longer available, and that’s when my head was in “writing mode.”
I do, sometimes, when I know I’m going to have to teach a topic that lies at the outer boundary of my own expertise.
So, yes, I am feeling anxious right now, because this afternoon I’m going to have to help a student with some pretty sophisticated trigonometry (including those dreaded “ferris wheel” problems). It’s stuff I don’t do every day…and it’s hard!
Here’s how I’m coping: