Ask Questions

Ask Questions!
Remember to ask lots of questions when trying to learn gold_question_marksomething – no matter the course.
This was not a strong area for me when I was younger. In grade school, some of the teachers thought I was mute because I never spoke!
So, you may need to work at it, but asking questions is essential to getting the most out of your lessons.
There is the obvious advantage of receiving a response to your question.
This can help.
There are, however, even more benefits to asking questions.
In order to ask questions, you need to devise questions. In other words, you are thinking about the topic and searching for answers.
You are taking an active role in your learning!
Asking questions is not a weakness but a strength. The responses can lead you to further investigation and a fuller understanding of the material. Of course, all of this will keep feeding your interest and engagement which can spur you on even further.
In addition, a student who asks questions shows the teacher that he/she is interested enough to be bothered to look beyond doing the minimum.
Teachers love to see students gaining knowledge and becoming engaged with the topic.
Teachers and tutors are human, too.
No – Really! They are!
They like to see that their hard work and effort is being valued.
If you are interested, this helps them to become even more ready to aid in your thirst for knowledge – a nice positive cycle.
Any questions?





Happy Halloween!




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.


What is Learning?

What is learning?

Well, this question is far too broad Sunbeams_+1_-1_tonemappedto be answered in a short blog – assuming that it can be answered at all.
But, generally, I think the definition of learning needs to be broadened well beyond the memorization of facts and numbers. Some people believe that is all there is to learning, but there is so much more.

Learning is engagement, comprehension, knowledge networking, and incorporation as well as acquisition.
I don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, however.There is value in what has come before, but there’s always so much to learn – especially about teaching and the methods to help students (of any age) reach their goals.

Helping students with motivation and encouraging them to be inquisitive is so important because these are the qualities necessary for life-long learning. Young children are naturally curious and inquisitive. We’ve all experienced the “why…why…why…why” questions! (Feels a bit like an inquisition at times – lol.)
They want to know about everything. The problem is that they are so broad and so brief that they have difficulty reigning in all the disparate bits to develop a coherent learning experience.
That, in part, is a teacher’s job (teacher = parent, tutor, coach, & teacher). The trick is to do so without completely squashing enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.

Technology today may be increasing the duration of this “scattered” learning, so as teachers/tutors/parents, our job will be to help bring the pieces together. Technology is an amazing tool, but that’s all it is without the proper use, it fails. (Yes, I dare to use the ‘f’ word!)

So, I’ve returned to my starting point. Yes, we need knowledge acquisition (facts, information) to be part of learning; however, we also need to be able to network and incorporate these pieces of data while retaining curiosity and enthusiasm.
So learners and teachers (we should all be both), stay motivated – look for the treasure inherent in all learning.
I know you can!



YouTube:   tutoringcentral

Just help!

Just help me get through the course!
I hear this more often than I would like.
It isn’t that I don’t want to help – I do. However, just getting through a course isn’t the true goal of education.
Too often this is the focus of both students and parents.
The grade rules all!
When in reality gaining knowledge should be the ruling factor. (If you know the material well – the grades will come anyway. Staring at the number or letter won’t make one bit of difference!)
If you are studying a course you don’t particularly like right away – and I know there are compulsory courses in which we have no choice – try to find your way in.
Look for videos, magazines, blogs, diagrams, anything related that might ease the pain.
(Hey! Even a good tutor can help.)
Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it.
It can happen. I have seen it happen multiple times in my years of tutoring. Students sometimes stumble upon either a teacher, book, or method that works for them and that “horrible” course becomes one of their best.
Instead of waiting and hoping to stumble upon something, why not be proactive and seek out materials that can engender interest and more excitement about the course.
The more involved you become, the more you are likely to find those pathways into the course and gain that elusive knowledge.
Gaining knowledge, making connections, developing that network of information – that is education!
So try not to be negative. Instead of saying, “Just help me get through this course,” say, “I have lots to learn, and here’s how I’m going to do it.”
Is that cheesy? Maybe – but, hey, I like cheese! mouse - cheese
The more positive you are (or become), the more others will be able to help you. Other students, teachers, coaches, tutors – even the books and articles themselves will be more useful to you if you are engaged and eager to learn.
So, take up the challenge. The next time you hear your inner voice saying, “Just help me….” – help yourself first by turning the negative into the positive.

For more tips and help with your studies, check out the website or contact me (Ron) to set up some sessions:

Skype:  tutoringcentral





There are so many awesome genres or topics and so many enjoyable books that you can choose from.
Think of your interests, and then go find a book, novel, or collection of short stories – and read.
Often, people say, “I just don’t have time to read.”
Well, I am here to tell you that you do have time to read.
You don’t have to dedicate hours and hours to reading (although there is nothing wrong with that!).
If you want to get started, read 10 pages per day – only 10 PAGES!
At this rate, you will read approximately:
9 regular sized novels / year (100,000 words – 400 pages)
15 young adult books / year (60,000 words – 240 pages)
30 middle grade books / year (30,000 words – 120 pages)
Of course, these are just averages. Many novels are shorter than 400 pages and some are much longer. I am just finishing a novel with 1,044 pages. (Neal Stephenson’s Reamde)
Still, you get the idea. Slow and steady wins the race. Okay – so there is no race. That’s the whole point!
You don’t need to get bogged down. A few pages each day – every day, and you will retain the thread of the story, but you can still get everything else done in the day.
There are so many things to learn in books.
So much excitement that many people are missing.
Give reading a try – you can take your time and “live” in the moment if you like a particular character or scene.
I hear you. You are thinking, “I am reading this, aren’t I?” But reading blogs and blurbs and bits is not the same thing.
(I do thank you for reading my Blog, however.)
Each kind of reading can be entertaining and educational – but reading a good book or set of stories is quite a different animal.  (Yes, e-readers count – the book doesn’t have to be printed on paper.)
Try it out – and encourage your children, friends, parents, etc. to try it out as well.
I hope you have read at least two or three novels before the end of summer!

L.T.L. Tutoring Central

Studying for an Exam


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!


Skype:  tutoringcentral

Your Brain!


While preparing my new online course about essay writing, I inserted a picture of a brain in the proofreading section and this got me thinking beyond the obvious connection.

In the course, I am discussing the importance of proofreading and editing one’s work.  There are many tools one can use including various spell / grammar checking software, the old-fashioned dictionary or proofreading books (yes, they still exist!), or have a friend help out. (Pick a smart friend by the way.)

The picture of a human brain is included to remind students that software does not catch all possible mistakes.  In fact, sometimes it is quite poor at helping with corrections. (Yes, even Grammarly fails miserably in many cases.)

Thinking about this made me happy!

I am happy that the best “computer” of all is still very useful, and we have it with us all the time carried in a neat little container called our head.

The brain is such an amazing organic “machine” which is somewhat analogous to a computer or mechanical device; and, yet, it is not.  It is far more than strings of 0’s and 1’s or even the finest gears.

It is true that a computer can list all kinds of facts and information, but none of it is useful without the brain.

What good is any of it without some intervention of the human intelligence?  In fact, to retrieve the list of facts, sites, and blogs took someone acting and using the ultimate “computer” in the first place.

Once the information is retrieved something needs to be done with it – connections need to be made, new networks to show relevance, explanations on application, revealing the importance either as a reminder or to explore something original, etc.

The computer will do none of that.

So, the computer and various software programs as tools are very useful and amazing, but they are not replacements for the brain or thought.

Learning is not limited to being able to Google something!

And I am very happy that it isn’t.  Perhaps one day computers will be more organic, emotional, intuitive, and capable of more complexity than they are now.  (At some point, however, do they stop being computers anyway?)

In the meantime, let’s not ignore or neglect the amazing organ we have with us for 70-100 years (how long did your last computer / device last?), working 24 / 7 and capable of constant improvement.

Use the tools available – yes!

Always use them; however, with the intent to add to, expand, and improve the best “computer” ever – YOU!

Ron Johnson

Skype:  tutoringcentral