Tools and Platforms for Online Tutoring

Tutors, parents, and learners will all find some useful information in this one.

Today there are so many tools and platforms that tutors and students can use that geography is no longer an issue.  Missed sessions are basically no longer an issue either.  slava-bowman-161206You can’t make your in-person session?  No problem, we can do an online session!

We can teach students from anywhere in the world; and, of course, we can learn from a teacher from anywhere in the world.  (You know I believe that all learners are teachers and all teachers are learners – or should be.)

It used to be that seeing and hearing your student in real time was almost impossible.  Writing or drawing together in real time sharing – forget it!

Not any more.

Now, we can do all of this and a whole lot more.

I see you! jordan-whitfield-107094

With Skype, Zoom, and/or BitPaper (to name a few), the tutor and student can see, hear, and share real time writing, typing, drawing, videos, etc.  We can import documents to share, and we can make them editable. In other words, the student can make notes, changes, highlight, or draw something right on the same document.

But wait…there’s more!

We can save our sessions.  We can save the recordings (if recording, of course) or the altered documents – or both.

Being able to see each other means that we won’t miss facial expressions and other cues that we use when communicating in person. If you are like me, sometimes your hands are almost as important as your speech when communicating.  With the camera set properly, we can share these expressions as well.

There are other ways to share documents.  Here are a few options:

Many sites allow you to assign math problems or reading passages to students.  You can also print exercises for your “in person” clients.

If you are not “live,” you can still send audio files, video files, and – of course- text files and documents.

Some courses are asynchronous.  For these, the student completes tasks on his or her own.  These are for more independent learners or as an entry into more complex courses. I have asynchronous courses for English, math, and study skills.  Students watch videos and slideshows, read texts, complete quizzes and assignments, and receive a certificate when they complete the course.  While some asynchronous courses don’t, mine allow contact with the instructor and even feedback on some of the assignments.

Other resources (and there are thousands of them) include the following:

Trello – organize yourself and/or collaborate with teams.

Evernote – another organizer and so much more.

Eastoftheweb – short stories and word games.

Braingenie – mostly math & science (part of CK12.org).braingenie

The Math Worksheet Site – generate various math sheets.

Desmos -graphing.

Openlibrary.org – read and borrow books

Readwritethink.org – free language arts material.

Writingsparks.com – instant writing challenges.

Youtube – videos.

There are thousands of tools and platforms that tutors and learners can use.  I have mentioned some of the ones I have used – and continue to learn how to use.  All of the resources I mentioned here are free (at the time of writing this) – so there is no reason not to try them out.

In future blogs, I will explain more about the individual platforms and tools.

If you are a tutor, check out some of these and incorporate them into your toolbox.

If you are a parent, now you can see that online tutoring is a fantastic avenue for your child (or even yourself).

There are no longer any barriers to learning!

Are you interested in taking some online lessons or courses?  Get in touch, and see how great it can be. julia-raasch-143428

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

This weeks video:  Platforms and Tools online.

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I’m Stupid. That’s Why I’m Here!

I’m stupid.  That’s why I’m here! face-40056_640

If you are a tutor, I’m sure you have heard this comment.

In over twenty years of tutoring, I have never found this comment to be true.  While it is true that many parents seek out a tutor when Sally or Johnny is having a problem at school, tutoring is not only for those with a delay or challenge.  Not only that, but the students who do have some academic difficulties are quite smart in other ways!  Now – let’s not be wearing rose-coloured glasses.  Sometimes their behaviour might bring us to that no-no word “stupid.”  (By the way, it is a good word at times.  Take note, Word Police!) The occasional stupid action or statement (I’ve made many myself.) does not make a stupid person.

Last week, another student made the claim that he is only here at tutoring because he is stupid.

Now, he likes sports and knows quite a lot about them, so I asked him if he would not bother with a coach when he is a professional ________________________.

“No!” he claimed and looked at me as if I were crazy. “Even the best players have coaches.”

“Yes, in fact the very best athletes often seek out several coaches – and the best coaches, depending on their sport,” I pointed out.

In fact, there are plenty of analogies with sport.  If the coach gets frustrated with you, do you give up the sport?

If the coach gives you some new approaches and drills to try, do you throw your hands up and quit?

How often do you do the same drill over and over and over and over….?  (Have you done the same with your algebra?)

A tutor is an educational coach.  He or she can help you reach your academic goals.

I have helped lots of students who are behind, but I have also helped many students who are straight “A” students or those who have mixed results.  In fact, most of the techniques that work for a student with issues will work just as well for an excellent student.

Taking good notes, for example, will help the “A” student stay an “A” student and it will help the “D” student improve.  (Or the IEP “B” student working three grades below age/grade level begin to catch up.)

Using a reading program rather than “blind reading” will help any student – even a PhD candidate!

Learning to listen more effectively….  Well, you get my point.

While there are strategies that are more specific to a particular problem, the common study skills are just that – common to all.

(Unfortunately, their use is not as common as they should be.)

Let me recap in a different way. mistake-2344150_640

You are not stupid!  (Although, let’s be honest – all of us do stupid things from time to time.)

You can make change – perhaps with a little help.

You can work to achieve YOUR very best results.

A tutor can help you get those results.

Calling yourself stupid is either something you’ve picked up from others, a cry for help, or a way of giving up.

Don’t give up!  I know that you can reach a lot further than even you can see at the moment.  We don’t know our strengths until we try our very best.

  • Did someone tell you that you can’t read, so you need someone to read for you?
  • Did someone tell you that you can’t write, so you need someone to write for you?
  • Did someone tell you that you will never be able to do math without a calculator?
  • Did someone tell you that you are stupid?

Well, tell them all to (careful now!) have another look at you once you have taken control of your own education.

Don’t use any of these claims as an “out” so that you don’t have to work hard.  Take up the reigns and get moving forward for yourself.  Picture 21

Website: www.tutoringcentral

This week’s video: Yes you can!

 

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

or

All Hallows Eve

On Tuesday, there will be lots of ghosts and goblins roaming around many village, town, and city streets!  boo-1295226_640

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!!

While you are out trick or treating make sure to follow a few simple rules to stay safe.

  1. Don’t go out alone. If you aren’t with a parent, get together with a small group.
  2. Make sure you can see through your costume / mask – or don’t wear a mask.
  3. Dress in bright colours or use reflective tape to be sure you can be seen by drivers.
  4. Approach homes that are well lit and look like they are ready for trick or treaters.  (Don’ttony-detroit-362133 go near dark homes and NEVER enter a stranger’s house.)
  5. Save your candy until you get home.  You will want to check it over or have a parent check it first.
  6. On a similar note – Don’t eat your candy all at once!
  7. Having a cell phone would be good, too.

For more tips: Caring for Kids

This week’s video: Happy Halloween!

Have fun, enjoy, and be safe.

www.tutoringcentral.com

Read for Pleasure

Read for Pleasure

Reading for pleasure can help improve your grades but it also introduces a more positive feeling about learning.

The more you read, the more you will be able to read, and reading something you like can get you there faster.

Of course, don’t be afraid to expand your horizons as your reading skills improve.  Jump out of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Read at least twenty books this year! (Yes, you can.)all-bong-122923

Think of this, if you read at an average speed of 300 words per minute (WPM) and only 15 minutes a day, you will have read about 20 books (1 512 000 words) in one year!

There is no easier way to help build vocabulary, increase speed of reading, and improve comprehension.

Did you know that reading too slowly can hamper your understanding (comprehension) of the material just as reading too fast does?

It’s true.

However, it is also true that speed is relative to the person.  At this point you might be reading fairly slowly in order to understand – and that’s just fine as long as you make an effort to “up your game” over time.

Tips to pick up the pace

When you are reading silently, try to break yourself of the habit of moving your lips or sub-vocalizing.  Place a finger on the vocal area of your throat to see if you are doing this.  These habits really slow down your reading speed.

Use your finger, a ruler, a pen on the margin, a bookmark, etc.  to help “scan” the sentences.  Scrolling down the page with one of these devices can force you to keep moving and can help your eyes scan more effectively until they are trained.  I still do this if I’m tired or if I need to read a lot of material fairly quickly.  It just helps keep me on track.  Oh, and I have never had trouble reading (thankfully), so the method works for everyone.  (I have seen a number of professors use the same method when trying to read through a massive number of essays or reports.)

Work at expanding your vocabulary.  When you are reading and come across words you don’t know, spend a little time looking up the meaning.  Use a dictionary in book form or online.  If you are using a Kobo or Kindle, you can search the word easily on the device. You can even keep your own personal dictionary.  Do this especially with words that keep recurring.  Authors will tend to use their favourite words more than once.  Paying attention to these new words and then seeing them in various places throughout the text or novel will help you retain their meaning.

But – won’t this slow me down? kindle-785681_640

Yes, it will temporarily.  As your vocabulary increases, however, so will your reading speed for a larger variety of material over time because you will already know more and more of the vocabulary.  Just as when you began learning to read as a child, you didn’t read in “chunks” or “phrases.”  You read word  for word until things got a little more familiar.  This is the same idea. You don’t have to look up every single unfamiliar word either.  As mentioned before, focus on words that keep showing up  and words that you can’t decipher well enough from the surrounding words and sentences (context).

Talk about it! 

Try to have a conversation about your reading.  Talking about what you are reading will help you remember, but it can also aid in appreciating various interpretations.  Not everyone will see the same facts or stories in the same way.  Obviously it is fun to chat with someone who has read the book (or story or blog, etc.) but you can often have a great conversation with people who haven’t read the same information.  They will likely ask questions or have a completely different take on what you are reading and discussing, so don’t be shy.  Of course, you shouldn’t force someone to listen if he or she doesn’t want to. If you are talking to someone who is not familiar with the book or topic, it is a great time for you to work on improving your ability to consolidate information and make it presentable so that they do want to listen.  Not only will this enhance your own retention, but it will give you practice for any future written assignments or presentations. Talking about your topic so that the listener’s eyes don’t glaze over is good practice.  It will help you when you need to do presentations in the academic world.

That’s the Goaldarts-155726_640

And that’s the goal.  reading for pleasure might not have a direct effect on your school studies.  For example, the Grisham novel might not have any historical or scientific relevance, but the fact that your reading speed and your ability to understand more broadly and deeply has improved will have a positive effect. The idea that you can now discuss the themes, plot, and characters in a presentable way will bring you rewards.

Learning to have fun while improving yourself is essential.

Reading is still the best way to get you all of the benefits.

If you want more personal attention and help with reading, writing, math, and/or study skills, do not hesitate to get in touch.
I offer free information meetings online or in-person.  I would love to help you, or your child, reach your academic goals.

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.comreading-button

This week’s video:  Reading for Pleasure.

 

 

 

 

A Test is Coming. I’m Going to Die!

A Test is Coming.  I’m Going to Die! 

No.  You are not. doctor-2748707_640

Of course, the alien invasion could happen, and that might change my assessment; however, barring any such strange event, I believe you will live!

The pain comes from fear.  The fear – often – comes from poor preparation. If your test is today or tomorrow, do you best and come back to read this later.

“Over-preparation” is key. 

I’m not sure there is such a thing as over-preparation, but plenty of preparation is essential.   Practise, practise, practise.

For example, if you want to memorize someone’s phone number, would you simply think of it once?

No.

You would “rehearse” it.  You might say it over and over to yourself, or you might simply use the number often enough that it becomes second nature.  Strangely, many people are better at telling you their friend’s phone number or their parents’ phone number rather than their own because who phones themselves?

We remember by “doing” something.

Note: Start today.   Do not wait until a month, a week, or a day before the test.

Practise well. 

Simply repeating something works for a name, a phone number, possibly learning the multiplication tables – but not for everything!

Rehearse with engagement.  Make sure you build that network of knowledge.  When you read your notes….

Yes, he said it NOTES! (Is this a scary Halloween blog!) take notes

When you read and re-read your notes, make sure your brain is fully engaged.  Stop occasionally and ask yourself if you have understood the concepts, themes, mechanics, etc.   It is important to know facts (memorization) but also what to do with this information (connections – networking).

Learn from past tests and experiences. 

When you have material returned to you, don’t just throw it in your binder, in the trash, or under Freddie the budgie!  Do some proactive learning.  Even if you scored 90%, what happened to the other 10% ?  (Congratulations on the 90, by the way).  Are there comments that can help you next time?  Are you now able to complete these same questions without looking? (To really know, you have to really do it.  Try answering the questions and go back to the answers later.)

You might need to talk to the teacher. caleb-woods-182648

You were just starting to feel better, and Ron had to say that!  Don’t panic.  Most teachers don’t eat children (or adults), although some professors might look like they do. Teachers come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments; however, most teachers are very impressed when a student truly cares about his or her learning.

If there are no comments or other indications on your test, and your score is lower than you would like, see if the teacher can help you find the problems.

Being proactive can take you from being an average student to being an excellent student. (Of course, becoming proactive can take you from a weak student to an average student.  You can then move up from there.)

Being proactive gives you the power.street-workout-2682498_640

Knowing this will help you feel more confident, and confidence will reduce the fear.

Fear is good! 

It’s true.  You want a little fear, or at least stress, so that you are motivated to do what you need to do.  You don’t,however, want too much stress or fear because this will hamper your ability to recall information. and to focus on all those amazing insights and connections you made earlier – or to spell you name.  Yikes.

Recognizing that some fear or stress is normal will make you feel better, too.  It is usually when we feel that something is “out of the norm” that we begin to panic and feel powerless. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Don’t listen to anyone who says, “I’m not nervous at all.”  He or she is either in denial or simply does not care much about the exam. Neither is good.

Be yourself and be comfortable with that.

Let’s recap:

  1. You will not die.
  2. Be proactive.
  3. Prepare, rehearse, and engage.
  4. Network your knowledge.
  5. Learn from past tests and assignments.
  6. Teachers do not eat people.  Talk to them.
  7. Fear is good (limited dosages).
  8. You have the power!

Look for further tips on this blog site or on my YouTube channel.

This week’s video:  A Test is Coming!

I offer personal educational coaching.  I would love to help you reach your goals. rayi-christian-wicaksono-366(1)

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

That Horrible “A” Student! I Hate Him.

That Horrible “A” Student!  I Hate Her. 

How does he do it?

She is always on the top!

He just knows the answers!

She never has to study.

I hear these comments from students all the time. If you are a parent or teacher, I’m sure you do as well.ladybug-158326_640

It’s a modified case of “the grass is greener on the other side.”

Those “A” students simply have it easier.

But, they don’t!

I have met several of these students who “don’t have to study” or “just know the answer” except they actually do study; and, by their own admission, they often don’t already know the answers.

They had to work!

Sometimes it’s mom and dad who lay down the law and make sure that there is a set time every day for homework – often more than the recommended amount of time.

Sometimes the student himself or herself takes the initiative and applies solid study skills and strategies.

You aren’t crazy!normal_crazy_mean_dog

Well, I can’t guarantee that without having met you, but you aren’t crazy on this point.  Many of these “A” students don’t want others to know that they spend time studying and practising.  Some of them will go out of their way to conceal such “horrible” aka GREAT habits.

Students don’t always want to admit that they care about school or their studies.  They often want to “fit it” and agree with fellow students who complain and whine about assignments, teachers, etc.

Other times, they want it to seem like they are simply geniuses and the answers fall from the sky like rain.  Wouldn’t it feel good if you could pretend to your friend that you simply KNOW the answers with little or no effort?

Exactly.

This week’s video:  Horrible “A” Students. I Hate Them!

So don’t be fooled.

Those “A” students don’t have it as easy as you think.

Having said this, once a student begins down the road of being an “A” student he or she will find learning faster and easier.  Just as with any skill, practising and discovering new strategies will make you better and more efficient.

The network of knowledge becomes wider, deeper, and richer.  In other words, the more you know – the more you will know because you will begin to make connections that build your knowledge structure.  This, in part, is what those “A” students are doing.

Once these habits, strategies, and networks are in place sometimes it does seem like magic even to the “A” student.  Someone asks them, “How do you know that?” “I don’t know how I know.  I just do.”

After that conversation, who could blame you for thinking that it is magic, luck, or genes?

Sometimes they study without even knowing that they are studying. If they have a keen interest in a particular subject they are probably reading every book and article they can find because they love it.  They are watching videos, television programs, and movies about the subject.  They are talking to others about it.

Then, “I didn’t study” is not quite accurate, although they might not feel like they have been studying.  Still, they are getting all the same benefits.

They are reading and re-reading.  Each article or book will review and add to their foundation of knowledge.  They will be reciting by talking to others who love the same topic.  So they are questioning, reading, reciting, and reviewing.  Remember the SQ3R Method I wrote about last week?

They are doing it automatically.

What can you do to become one of the horrible “A” students? Creativity Idea Inspiration Light Lightbulb Bulb

It’s easy.  Well, relatively easy to get started at least.

Give up the idea that “others” have it easy, and there is nothing you can do.  That is simply not true.

Start building your network of knowledge using tried and true learning strategies.

It would not hurt to “get interested.” Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it – but generally, with a little effort, you can find a key to begin liking – dare I say loving – a subject.

Approach every course with a positive attitude and a desire to gain something from it.  Try to make as many connections as you can, both within and between subjects, particularly to things you are interested in.  (Who does this historical figure remind me of in my own family?) This will help you retain more information and again increase your overall interest level.

Don’t be afraid to read, read, and read!

Don’t be afraid to spend time on your efforts.  Looking to do the minimum will never get you to the top.

Remember – Yes you can!

Do you need help to get there?  I would love to help you along the way as your personal educational coach.LTLTutoring_eighth_gueAUG16-01

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

 

 

Reading for Speed and Comprehension

Reading for Speed and Comprehension  – The SQ3R Method

I already know how to read!Reading-297450

I hear this from students a LOT – often with a roll of their eyes.

Yes, you know how to read.  You know how to decode words; and, hopefully, you have some comprehension that goes along with that reading.

Reading texts or textbooks is quite different – or should be.

You generally don’t read a menu in the same way as you read a novel or a comic book.  There are different methods for different reading material.

Using a READING METHOD will not only help you remember the material but also, with practice, will speed up your studies!

I strongly recommend that you use the following method – or one very similar to help you.

The SQ3R Method (developed by Francis P. Robinson)

S          –          Survey

Q         –          Question

R         –          Read

R         –           Recite

R         –          Review

What’s the big deal?

Here is the deal!

Survey

When you need to read a chapter from your textbook or online, take a few moments to survey the entire chapter.  Look at pictures, headings, sub-headings, the chapter outline, chapter summary, and review questions.  At this point you are simply familiarizing yourself with the chapter (or some other text).

Questiongold_question_mark

Next, you will create questions for yourself from the headings and sub-headings.  For example in a geology textbook, you might come across the sub-title “Cinder cones.”  What are cinder cones?  Later you see “Composite cones.”  What are composite cones?  What is the difference between cinder cones and composite cones?

Read

Now you begin to read.  This is the step most students begin with, so they have had no warm-up.  Their brain “muscles” are coming in COLD!  While reading, look for the answers to the questions you asked.  You can also look for answers to any questions posed within the chapter.  Now you are actively reading and engaging with the material.  Most students begin reading and are generally reading passively.  In other words, they aren’t getting much out of this first reading!

Recitefunny-2029437_640

You can now recite the answers to your questions aloud (or “aloud” in your head if you are not able to speak in your study location).  Also, this is a great time to write notes.  Write down the questions you asked yourself, and then provide the responses in your own words.  (Of course, you will use words and terms from the textbook as well. More about this in later blog.)

Review

Review the material right away.  After you finish the chapter, do a re-read of your notes.  Do they make sense?  Do you need to add something?  Is everything going to be clear a week from now? If not- you DO need to add something to clarify.  You might want to draw a diagram or provide some arrows to reveal connections or similarities, etc.

That would be so slow!

I agree that when you read the directions it seems like this method would take a long time.  But looks can be deceiving. Taking some time “up front” will save a lot of time and frustration later.

Having surveyed, asked questions,  and found the answers, you will already have learned far more than you would on a straight reading.

Taking notes, reciting, and reviewing will help solidify this knowledge.

Later, when you review your nightly notes and the week’s notes (revolving review) you will begin to see that you remember more and more even though you are reviewing quickly.  When it comes time to do a quiz or test, your review time will be shorter, yet you will have far better recall.

Use a reading method, and you will receive higher grades!

Even better, you will have learned the material more fully.  Next year, or next semester, will be even easier.  Your “network” of knowledge will be stronger with more connections and deeper connections.

Feeling like a genius yet?

Well, maybe not – but you never know. Use a reading method, and you are at least on your way to achieving your best results ever.

This week’s video:

Reading for Speed & Comprehension – the SQ3R Method

Don’t be shy.  Get in touch, ask a question, or leave a comment.

Of course, if you would like a personal coach, I would be thrilled to set up a program for you or your child.aaron-burden-236415

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com