A Brain is a Terrible Thing to Waste!

A brain is a terrible thing to waste!  So don’t let that happen.

Be A+ Student

Summer learning can help stop this critical loss.

Research dating back 100 years confirms the phenomenon often referred to as “summer slide.”

                       W. White, Reviews Before and After Vacation. American Education, 1906, 185-188

Research consistently shows that students (aka people) who continue to access learning material and opportunities over the summer months retain more of the foundation they gained during the school year.

Summer slide or summer loss affects all students but particularly those who are struggling in the first place.  Those who continue to learn over those long weeks show dramatic improvement in the retention of information and the ability to reason and complete math problems as well.

            “Differences in a child’s summer learning experiences during his or her       elementary school years can impact whether that child ultimately earns a high   school diploma and continues on to college”

                             Alexander, Entwistle, & Olson, 2007.

Not only can students slow or stop the summer loss, but they can learn new material to be better prepared for next year.

Imagine your child going back to class having kept the foundation from last year.

Walking proudly into school with the full knowledge that he or she is prepared to take on the challenges to come.

Over twenty years of tutoring children has taught me that their confidence and belief in themselves (that is honest belief – not bravado) provides the strongest impetus to improvement and success compared to anything else.

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But wait – There’s more!

You can be any age to learn something new, refresh your knowledge, or gain brain synapses – improving brain function.

Yes, students can “train their brain.”  Our brains are malleable – they can be adjusted.  The way our brain communicates is complex; however, in very simplified terms, the dendrites and axons make connections via synapses (small gaps) between them.  These synapses will grow and build when stimulated – in other words, when they are asked to do so through some kind of effort and performance!

Similar to your muscles, if you don’t exercise them – they weaken.

                                     If you don’t use it – you will lose it!

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How to avoid summer learning loss: 

       Read!

This cannot be overstated
Reading is so important.  The choice of reading material is less a factor than the act and the follow-up.
Don’t read “blindly” – engage yourself with the material by talking about what you’ve read with others, look to learn more about the topic, write about what you’ve read, comment or blog about it.  Use any method you like to make sure that you aren’t forgetting as fast as you are reading.
Also, remember the library – often free reading material of all kinds there!

       Write !

Write a journal.
Write about what you have been reading (see above).
Start a blog about your favorite topic.
Write letters (astonish your friends and the world!).
Write some poems.

        Visit!

Visit museums, zoos, landmarks, grandparents, science centers, etc.

Yes, visiting and discussing the new facts, ideas, theories, and so one can be very helpful. This kind of learning stimulates multiple styles of learning including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic / tactile.

Why grandma & grandpa?  Don’t forget the wisdom of the entire family.  I’m only using these as representatives.  Different points of view (acceptable to you or not) are important to develop stronger reasoning and decision making skills.  People’s stories provide a different kind of context to the learning process.

Parents

Ask for opinions and comments on T.V. shows or Internet/video games, etc.
NOTE:       Be sure to ask open questions not closed questions.
An open question invites more conversation, whereas a closed question generally elicits only a “yes” or “no” response.
Example:   
            Open question –   “What did you like about the main character?”
            Closed question – “Did you like the main character?”

Don’t be too quick to judge opinions (despite the lack of logic or maturity). It is just important to keep paying attention and engaging with material.  A great deal of learning comes from talking it out and hearing one’s own ideas aloud.  Self-correction tends to happen in stages.

Tutoring

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Of course – a couple hours of tutoring per week can also help retain past lessons and help to prepare for the next year!

Note:  This is not school!   Students often complete more in a couple of hours a              week than they did all week in the school year – leaving lots of time to                play, ponder, lie on the grass and look at the sky – etc.

Come see what a professional tutor and personalized program can do for you or your child!

In-person and online tutoring available.

www.tutoringcentral.com

 

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

Phone:  519 824 0982

Video for Summer Learning

References:

Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72, 167-180.
Borman, G.D. (2001). Summers are for learning. Principal, 80(3), 26-29.
White, W. (1906). Reviews before and after vacation. American Education, 185-188.

 

 

 

 

Exam Time

Tips for Doing Well on Exams

Test yourself before the examination.

You should practise the information you have been learning. You may work in a group, but make sure the group isn’t just a social gathering in which very little “study” is accomplished.
By self-testing you will be able to monitor how well you have mastered the material. It is much better to find out what you don’t know before the exam. You will have time to brush up on weak areas or information you have forgotten.

Find out as much as you can about the exam.

  • What kind of exam will it be: multiple choice, true/false, short answer, essay?
  • What material will be on the exam?
  • What is the relative importance of different topics on the exam?
  • What is the time limit for the exam?
  • If the teacher doesn’t automatically give you this information, ask him/her. Usually teachers are receptive to students who want to know how to prepare.

Try to predict what might be stressed on the exam.
If the teacher has stressed certain areas in class, these are probably going to be on the exam and likely to count for more marks.

Learn the teacher’s testing habits.
Looking back at a teacher’s previous tests and exams will give you an idea of his/her general format and the kinds of questions he/she usually asks.
Some teachers tend to look for details while others look for the “big picture” or general themes and ideas – knowing what a teacher is looking for can reduce the amount of preparation time, but – even better – can increase the accuracy of your preparation.

During review, ask yourself questions you think might be on the test.
If you have used SQ3R and solid note-taking tips, you will know the key points and major ideas of the course. With some practice, you will be able to predict many of the questions that will actually be on the test. Preparing to answer these questions beforehand will put you miles ahead – answering the same or similar questions on the exam will be easy!!

Prepare for the type of test questions you expect.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle before the test.
• get a good night’s sleep
• eat breakfast (if the exam is in the afternoon – eat lunch)
Your mind will work better if you take care of your body.  They are not exclusively separate entities.

If you really must cram for the exam, do it intelligently.
Pick out the most important parts of your notes or text for study.
Scan and survey for general information.
Note: Try to break yourself of this habit of procrastination and cramming for next time – use the tools you have at your disposal now to schedule and follow through with a PLAN to reach goals.

Be anti-social right before an exam.
Do not discuss the exam with other nervous students just before the exam.  This will make you second-guess yourself and increase anxiety.

Becoming “Test-Wise”

These strategies help you to work smarter not harder.

Making it or breaking it in the first five minutes.
• Put your name on the test papers or answer sheets.
• Read and understand the general directions.
• Don’t skip over the directions – listen to instructor’s additional directions (if any) – underline any key words in the directions.

Do you need to answer all of the questions or is there a choice?
How are you supposed to record my answers? – pencil, pen, on the test sheet / separate sheet or booklet – special pencil for computer scoring?

Survey the entire test.
• How many questions are there?
• How many pages, and are they all there?
• Are their different weights given to different sections or questions? (Knowing this will help you divide your time appropriately –giving more time to the heavily weighted sections.)

Jot down initial thoughts.
As you survey, you may want to jot down key terms or ideas that pop into your mind. You will be able to use them in your more thorough answer later.

Plan how you will spend your time during the exam.
Portion out your time according to the worth of different exam sections.

REMEMBER: Always leave a few minutes at the end to review your work and ensure you haven’t made any silly mistakes – especially important for essay type answers.  You might be surprised at what you find!

If you need further information on any of the topics here or more study tips, please contact me.

Come join me for some personal tutoring, online lessons, more study tips, or sign on to the mailing list at:

L.T.L. Tutoring Central

Let’s Keep Learning!

Email:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

YouTube: Tutoring Central (click on videos to see everything)

Happy 2017 Everyone!

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday.

I know my wife and I did.  We had the BIG Christmas dinner on the 26th with about thirty or so guests.

The two turkeys, ham, and other goodies all went over quite well.

We had our live tree upstairs

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and our little mini-tree down as per usual.

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Tuesday, January 3rd I started back tutoring with regular classes.

Remember to date everything with 2017 now!

I  hope everyone has a very prosperous 2017.  I know I am planning lots of great things for the tutoring business and will keep you informed.

Let me know what you are up to and what goals you have for this year.

Ron

Book Learning / Hands-on Learning

You can be BOTH.

Yes, I have this discussion over and over with my students.

Every so often, students challenge me to explain why they should bother learning from a book (or any text information) when they are going to be working “hands-on” anyway.

There is this pervasive idea in society that if you are a “book learner” you can’t possibly fix your own car or cook a decent meal, or even build a bookcase for your own books!

Alternatively, if you are a “hands-on” learner, you can’t learn anything from books or from writing – so why bother!

I totally disagree.

Why limit yourself.

Most true “hands-on” learners have learned a lot from books or other text information.  Many of them are very good at writing down directions or explanations as well.  Also, they continue to look for new information either in books, online blogs, or other places.  Of course, they use videos, pictures, and other available resources, but they don’t completely ignore text information.

Many “book learners” are very good at repairing things or creating with their hands.  There are many artists who are voracious book readers.  They don’t limit themselves unless they, too, have bought into the myth that one can’t cross over that invisible line.

I suggest to my students to be open to all learning experiences.  You can learn how to do something directly from a person in the field.  Then, you can look for more information to confirm or find alternative ways to approach the same task, making decisions yourself about what works best.

You might even find a combination of techniques that works better not only for yourself but also for others.

Book learners, if you have been reading about a particularly interesting topic or just come across something in a novel – like making cheese, you could access a professional in that field to try doing it yourself.

I know, I know, I hear you groaning and thinking that this is not true.  We all know bookworms who seem to have difficulty doing anything with their hands other than turning pages – or clicking a mouse.   The truth is that if you never actually try anything else than you will be clumsy and awkward (and probably embarrassed) until you’ve tried it over and over and over and over…..

Here is a related statement that is going to make you yell at me:  “Children are not that great at using electronic devices.”

Well, they aren’t automatically.  Why are they so good at video games, social media, texting, etc?  Because they are constantly practising (i.e., doing), spending hours and hours trying and retrying.  If you spent the same amount of time on any exercise or task, you would become a professional as well.

You CAN be both a book learner and a hands-on learner.  You might lean one way or another.  We all have preferences, but there is no need to limit yourself.

Jump into any learning opportunity that interests you with no fear!

A small video on the same topic:  Video

Ronald J. Johnson

www.tutoringcentral.com

 

Listening is Good Too!

Many teachers and educators spend a lot of time focusing on reading, writing, taking notes, etc.  All of these skills are admirable focus areas, but listening seems to have been lost in the mix.

Listening is a great skill to practise for both students and teachers.

As a tutor, I need to listen to my students.  I need to truly hear (not just listen) their problems and what they feel might be solutions.  NOTE:  I don’t always have to agree, but I need to be aware and genuinely listening.

Not only does listening help me understand more about the academic (and other) issues that a particular student might be facing, but it also builds a much more solid and genuine rapport with that same student.  If students believe that you are engaged and willing to acknowledge their thoughts – take them into serious consideration – they feel valued and are far more likely to listen to you!

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Of course, students need to develop their listening skills as well.  Not everything they say is a stellar thought.  Not every story needs to be explored ad nauseam.  This, however, is simply another learning opportunity to teach students to self-regulate their comments when appropriate, weeding out the dross and getting to the essential components of what they want to say.

Often, students will tell me that they don’t understand a particular concept.  As I am explaining how to approach the task, they start talking – and often not even about the task at hand!  This is the fragmented world we seem to live in now.  It is important to get the student back on track and listening to the entire explanation.  Without focusing on the task fully and listening all the way through, he or she will be jumping into the assignment without the necessary tools.

When I redirect their attention and inform them that they must be quiet and listen to the entire explanation – first.  They usually have a sudden “A-ha!” moment.  “Now I get it!”

Surprise, surprise, when you have all the tools, things seem so much easier.

Of course, this epiphany does not necessarily mean that the student will take the time to listen fully next time, but it is a step in the right direction.

I do have students who have been with me for years, and they all have improved their listening skills – some of them to the point of being excellent listeners.  They know that their comments and questions will be received well if they have attended.

They know that I am listening.

I am writing this blog today because I am facing some listening issues with a few students.

What is the solution?  Well, we need to do some directed listening practice.  There are many ways to work on listening skills, but here is a case study as an example. (Note: No Bens were injured during this case study.  The name was chosen randomly and is not any of the real Bens that I have had over the years.)

Ben is having difficulty with a math problem from school.  I look over his work and at his textbook.

“Ben, have you read the directions and examined the examples provided?”

“No.”  (This is a very typical answer.  The other is, “Yes, but I don’t get it.”)

“Well, let’s go over the information together, Ben.  Let me hold on to your pencil for you.  I want you to listen carefully and say nothing as long as I have the pencil.  Once I return the pencil to you, you have the floor to start asking questions, suggesting solutions, or complaining about why you even need to learn math anyway.”

This “game” or physical, tactile model works well with most students.  They understand the concept easily and can manage to listen for a much longer period of time than their usual.

Now, to be fair, you have to keep your explanations and comments to a reasonable length and this will vary for different students.  You might have to stop part way through your explanation, give her/him the pencil and allow a comment or question – or ask if she/he understands so far, allowing a release valve.  If you have been listening to the student, you will know his/her limitations and requirements.

Listening is so important.  Let’s all try to practise our listening skills and help others to do the same.

Ron

Website:     www.tutoringcentral.com

YouTube channel:   Tutoring Central

 

Happy Halloween!

Click here for HAPPY HALLOWEEN video – and a few safety tips

Halloween

or

All Hallows Eve

Halloween falls on October 31, which in the old Celtic calendar was the last day of the year, its night being the time when all the witches and warlocks were abroad.  On the introduction of Christianity it was taken over as the eve (even or e’en) of All Hallows or All Saints.

Brewers Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

 Of course, most young people know that the most important part is “trick or treating” – and the treats are the most important part of all!!

Have fun, enjoy, and be safe.

www.tutoringcentral.com

The Time is Now!

That’s right.

There is no time like the present to get started using good study skills.

It doesn’t matter whether you are reading this in October 2016 – or later in the year or early next year, etc., etc.

The best time to start using solid strategies to help you succeed whether in school or in the workplace is right this moment.  (Yes, I tutor adults who want to reach the next level or a totally different career as well as younger students.)

A lot of people manage to “talk themselves” out of getting started.

     “Well, I’ll start next semester because it is better to start on the first day.”

                    “I might be able to start next month once I get rid of this pimple.”

                    “I’m waiting for the winter because then I don’t want to go outside that 

much anyway, so I can study more.”

And on and on and on!

So, my recommendation is to avoid this kind of chatter and start a new one that gets you going.

                    “This morning, I am going to start taking notes.”

                     “This evening, I am going to review my notes and do a few math questions.”

                     “I am going to read my next science chapter using the SQ3R method.”

If you want more help to get started, don’t be shy in hiring a tutor – like me!

www.tutoringcentral.com

If you aren’t ready for personal coaching yet, here is a link to a wee course you can do online that might help you along the way:

Become an A+ Student!

Here are the first three tips of nine that I have posted on YouTube.  Put them into action, and you will see a vast difference.