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

 

 

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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

 

Frustrating Punctuation? Here is the solution.

Punctuation Made Easy!

Alert: Check out the awesome offer below.

(Can’t Wait?  Click here for the offer.)

Does punctuation sometimes drive you crazy?

Maybe, maybe not; however, a lot of people have difficulty knowing when to use a comma versus a semicolon.

What is a colon, anyway? (No, I’m not talking about the one in your body. Yuck.)

How do you use quotation marks correctly?  Wait! What!  There are double quotation marks and single quotation marks?  Nice way to make things even more difficult.

Writing well includes the proper use of punctuation.  I have read many stories and articles, including essays, speeches, and book reports, that have many great ideas and some excellent development; however, I have to re-read many of the sentences because they are not punctuated properly.

Any teacher, professor, or – for that matter – reader will tell you that he or she prefers to read a sentence only once before moving on.  Nobody wants to have to “decipher” what you meant to write.

If you want to start raising the grade TODAY, then learn to punctuate your sentences correctly, particularly when writing longer articles because they are the most challenging to read when they are not punctuated well.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, keep it simple!  Complicating matters does not help the reader, the teacher, the professor, the editor, or you.

Of course, as you become a better writer, you will use more complex writing, but you will do so with the tools to make it easy to read and to comprehend, regardless of its complexity.  Like any professional, you make it look easy when you really know how to do it.  One of those tools is knowing how to use punctuation.

So, don’t let punctuation drive you crazy any longer. normal_crazy_mean_dog

Here’s the awesome offer!

$10.00

The Punctuation Made Easy course is in its final stages of development.

It will launch in October, and I have set up a pre-sell price of only $10.00!  (The listed price after launch will be $40.00.)

But wait there’s more!  (Okay – a bit cheesy, but there really is more.)

Register for the Punctuation Made Easy course and receive the following:

FREE:  

Upon registering:                       Student Survival Guide (32 page downloadable book)

After beginning the course:   Test & Exam Strategies course ($20 value for FREE)

Bonuses:

You will receive discount coupons for three more optional courses:

  • Basic English Writing
  • Paragraph Writing
  • Essay Writing

                       All this for $10.00  Register Here!

Punctuation Made Easy

This course will help you improve your writing. With the right punctuation, your sentences and articles will shine! Step-by-step lessons and quizzes will solidify your knowledge.

Work at your own pace, own space, and own time.

Although the course is asynchronous, I do answer questions.

I also schedule free online question/answer sessions. (Optional)

 Over Twenty Lessons + quizzes

  • Introduction
  • End Punctuation – 3 lessons
  • Comma – 9 lessons
  • Semicolon
  • Colon
  • Apostrophe
  • Quotation Marks – 3 lessons
  • Other punctuation – dash, parenthesis, brackets, ellipsis, slash
  • Concluding bits

Don’t forget to register – the deal only lasts until launch!

This week’s video:    The Punctuation Made Easy course.

Remember, I would love to be your coach.  Check out the website or get in touch for further options and learning experiences.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

 

Become an Excellent Listener and Get Positive Results!

Become an Excellent Listener and Get Positive Results!

Pardon, what did you say?sound-159915_640

Listening is not simply hearing.

I am sure that you have experienced many times when you “heard” something, but you did not pay attention to it and have no idea what the person said to you.

Of course, we can’t pay close attention to everything we hear each day, or we would go crazy.  We need to sort the important from the unimportant.  We need to “weed out” those bits of information that aren’t going to help us.

When you are studying, however, you can learn certain tactics to help you get into the zone so that you don’t miss the bits you really need.

You can train yourself to be a better listener.

Be Attentive

Sit up straight and look alive!  Don’t just “look” alive, but be alive.  Sometimes it takes a little effort to engage yourself in a particular topic or to listen to a speaker that does not automatically entertain, but you can train yourself to do better.

I know in today’s world that everyone wants splashes of colour, musical backgrounds, dancing ponies, and so on in order to learn; however, not only are these not necessary – they are often more distractions to learning than helpful additions.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, especially with the dancing ponies, but you get my point. Not every teacher, not every class, not every book, has to “force” you by being entertaining ad nauseam to get you to learn.  The learning is actually your job!

Oh my God!  He said it.  I have to DO something!

Yes.

Learning is up to you.

Not entirely, of course; but you are the main component.  So, here comes another horribly shocking fact.  If you don’t want to learn, you won’t.  If you find a subject boring, then that is your fault.  You need to do something about it.

Go into every class and every course with the attitude that you are going to get the most out of it.

You are going to be alive!

Make Eye Contacterik-lucatero-310633

If you are listening to a teacher, or even a student’s presentation, always try to make eye contact.  Your eyes are like a window, but they also reflect in some sense.  You probably have experienced this yourself sometimes.  You are talking to someone, and he or she keeps looking away or staring into space.  When this happens, you get the distinct feeling that they are not particularly interested in what you are saying.

What happens then?

Well, you abbreviate what you are saying, or you simply stop.  The speaker does not have any motivation or encouragement to keep going if the “listener” is not listening.

Social cues are very important.  If you are not attending to the teacher, he or she will know!  Trust me.  It doesn’t matter how large the class is either.  You might think you are “lost in the crowd,” but you are not.

Not only is it a courtesy to make eye contact and engage with the speaker, but you will learn a lot more.

Once the teacher knows you are not prepared to listen, your grade begins to fall.  The teacher might not even be conscious of this effect, but it will happen.

Not only that; but, if the classroom is filled with many non-attentive students, the teacher will not be encouraged to give as much as she or he would in front of a more positive group of actual listeners

It’s human nature!  We all need a little support to reach our best performance.

Help your teacher, and she or he will be able to help you even more!

(Note:  Don’t stare, of course – but make frequent eye contact.)

Be Open

While you listen (and make eye contact), think of possible questions rather than interrupting with your opinions (at first). You want to give the speaker – whether that is a teacher, professor, other student, etc. – a chance to present all of his or her ideas and explanations before making too many judgements.  Of course, you are always going to be thinking about what you agree with and what you don’t, and these thoughts can formulate your questions. But you want to remain open to new ideas, contradictory thoughts, opinions that you might automatically disregard under other circumstances but that could change depending on this presentation or argument.

Sit Near the Front

You will want to be able to hear the teacher / presenter.

You will have fewer heads bobbing in front of you and being distracting.  (Or entirely blocking the view.)

The instructor will notice (note above) that you have come to learn.

It will be easier to make eye contact and focus on the lecture rather than other students, movements, windows, etc.

Remember, you want to be in control.

Listen for Verbal Cues and Watch for Non-Verbal Cues

There are lots of possible verbal and non-verbal cues, but here are a few.

Repetition – If a teacher is repeating a point several times, it is likely because he or she sees this as important.  In other words, worth noting.

Slowing down – speaking very carefully.  (Don’t forget this.)

Speaking more loudly. (I’m driving this point home to you.)

Literal verbal cues such as saying, “Here is the clincher!” or “This piece is important.”

Listen for the words in the following list:

Most importantly, therefore, to summarize, as a result, on the contrary, first of all, for these reasons.

All of these (and more) are key words or phrases that should make you perk up your ears!

If your teacher is writing on the board, listen (and take notes).

If your teacher is deliberately making eye contact with several students as she or he is making a point, this is probably important.  Make sure you “zero-in” on what is being said.

If your teacher is gesturing dramatically (my grade 9 math teacher used to smash the chalk on the board whenever something very important was being delivered) – concentrate on what he or she is saying because these actions usually indicate important material.

There are always exceptions to the rule.  A teacher might become suddenly passionate about something completely unrelated to your algebra or essay writing assignment; however, if you are paying attention to these verbal and non-verbal cues, then you can sort the salient data from the chaff as you hone in on what is being said.

Avoid Classmates Who Like to Distract

It will be very difficult for you to follow all the advice given above if the classmates that are near you keep fidgeting, whispering, passing notes, texting, showing you their latest YouTube video finds or funny Facebook pictures, etc.

Get away from them during class.

Enjoy their antics, their great personalities, their humour, and their judgments and comments for the lunch hour or after school.  They could be the best friends ever outside of academics, but you need to take control when the learning is about to happen.

Remember that you have the power to take control of your learning.  Using these tips will help you become an excellent listener and get positive results.

A personal educational coach can help you or your child achieve the best results.

I would love to be your coach.Boy books

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

For more tips, check out this week’s video.

Listening Well

Master the Compound-Complex Sentence in Your Writing

Master the Compound-Complex Sentence in Your Writing

I have written so far about three different kinds of sentences based on structure: the simple sentence, the compound sentence, and the complex sentence.

Today is for the compound-complex sentence.evan-dennis-75563

What is it?

You might well have guessed by now.  A compound-complex sentence combines the compound sentence and the complex sentence kinds.

It has at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.

(Of course, it can include phrases just like all the other sentence kinds.)

These sentences tend to be longer simply because of the number of clauses they contain. But don’t depend on only the length of a sentence to tell you what it is.  A simple sentence with lots of adjectives, adverbs, or phrases can be quite long.

Properly punctuated, the compound-complex structure gives you lots of flexibility. With these sentences, you can manipulate the clauses (& phrases) to create stronger beginnings or endings, to enhance the most important point, or to artistically accentuate a detail or description. The options are nearly endless.

Note of caution:  This is not the “Best.” There is no “Best.”

All four kinds of sentences have equal intrinsic value.  The point is to use a variety of them in your longer writing.  The goal is knowing how to intermingle simple sentences with compound-complex sentences, introducing a few complex sentences with a couple powerful compound sentences so that they all complement each other.

Examples

Here are some examples of compound-complex sentences   (independent clauses in green / dependent clauses in blue):

#1SONY DSC

Whenever he hears the train whistle, Bob runs to see the train, and he often takes photographs as well.

#2

Sharon, who is an expert knitter, makes sweaters for her grandchildren and she loves watching the children open the presents at Christmas time.

#3file00092974169

The building of the bridge was delayed after the workers went on strike, but the end result was still an amazing work of art.

No FEAR!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with varying your sentences. Practise, practise, practise!

Reading your text aloud will often signal any changes you might need to make to help with the “rhythm” of your article. It is beneficial to have an article that reads smoothly.  It helps the reader scan and comprehend your message.  Also, it makes the writing process more enjoyable if you take a somewhat artistic approach while still following the technical rules.  While there are lots of rules and conventions in the English language, there is also lots of room to maneuver and create.

When you are ready, don’t hesitate to contact a coach to help you along.

Here are my contact details.  I would love to assist you in your journey.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

man-1454744_640

For more tips, check out this week’s video:

Master the Compound-Complex Sentence

Improve Your Writing with Compound and Complex Sentences

Improve Your Writing with Compound and Complex Sentences

What are they?

I talked about simple sentences in the last blog entry.  Today, I am covering both the compound and complex sentences.

(Both video links are listed below.)

All of these are simply different kinds of sentences based on structure.

Compound sentences are basically two (or more) simple sentences combined in some manner. In other words, a compound sentence has two or more independent clauses. Of course, there are certain rules and conventions that dictate how they can be combined.

Some of the most common and useful methods are to use coordinating conjunctions.

Remember that there are seven of these:  for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Use FANBOYS as a mnemonic to remember them.)  Notice the comma before the coordinating conjunction when joining to independent clauses.

Examples:monster-426994_640

The creature was quiet, but it smelled like pizza, so everyone knew where it was.

Julia loves to cook, but she loves eating even more!

Often conjunctive adverbs or transitional expressions can be used to join independent clauses to make compound sentences. There are lots of conjunctive adverbs and transitional expressions, but here are a few very useful ones to get you started:  however, therefore, moreover, then, otherwise, furthermore, specifically, instead, as a matter of fact, for example, on the other hand, for instance, as a result, at any rate, at the same time.  Notice the semicolon before and the comma after the conjunctive adverb or transitional expression when joining two independent clauses.

Examples:chicago-1404489_640

Everyone enjoyed the parade; however, the weather was not pleasant.

One should eat a healthy diet; on the other hand, it is not a sin to have a treat now and again.

Complex sentences contain one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

Reminder:     Independent clause = can stand alone

Dependent clause = cannot stand alone (requires more                                                              information or needs to be attached                                                              to an independent clause).

Examples:elephant-311102_640

After the party ended, everyone went home to bed.

The purple elephant loves to dance at night when nobody is watching.

Now you have three of the four kinds of sentences by structure: simple, compound, and complex.

Use each one in your writing to provide variety and a nice flow.  It is always easier to read text that is not stilted or boring.  Mixing it up can solve this problem.

Your writing will be easier to comprehend as well if there is some variety.  There are several ways to achieve this including using longer and shorter sentences, using varied vocabulary, and providing different kinds of sentences by structure.

Also, you will have more fun writing when you incorporate new skills and techniques.

As always, I encourage you to take a few lessons or a writing course.

I would love to be your reading / writing coach!

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

web writing dark front (2)

For more tips, check out these videos.

Compound sentences

Complex sentences

 

Sentence Fragment Monsters Coming to Destroy Your Writing!

Don’t let sentence fragments detract from your amazing message!

Avoid                                             stop sign

When writing, try to avoid using sentence fragments.

Now, they are fine for your brainstorming but you don’t want them in your final draft.

Avoiding sentence fragments in your rough draft is also a good idea because you will become accustomed to writing in full sentences and have fewer edits to make on your final copy.

emily-morter-188019

What are they?

What exactly is a sentence fragment?

Basically, a sentence fragment is part of a sentence, but only part, masquerading as a real sentence!

You are missing some essential element.  The following three examples all look like sentences, but they aren’t.  They are all sentence fragments.

  1. You might have a subject but not predicate:

My aged mother from the senior citizen’s green acres retirement centre.

  1. You might have a predicate but no subject:

Invented a new solution to the problem of inner city traffic and pedestrian interaction.

  1. You might have a subordinating word that makes the clause dependent:

After the colourful turtles crossed the road in the morning.

To have a complete sentence, you need at least one independent clause.

When the massive blue bus careened around the rocky curve at the top of Bluebird Hill.

This certainly seems to be a sentence.  It has a capital and a period for end punctuation. It has a series of words that make sense talking about one main idea; however, the thought is not complete.  What happened when the bus careened around the curve?  We don’t know.  The writer forgot to include this information in the main sentence.

You will notice that simply removing the word “When” creates a full sentence.  However, with the subordinating word “When,” the group of words is dependent, and you will need to add something to complete the thought.

When the massive blue bus careened around the rocky curve at the top of Bluebird Hill, we all thought we were doomed.

Help is on the way!

One easy (although not entirely accurate) way to tell whether a sentence is complete or a fragment is to imagine someone saying it to you.  Does it make sense?

After the party at Exhibition Park.

Drawing a line through the sand.

Screamed at the top of his lungs.

When you say these aloud to yourself – you have unanswered questions such as “What happened after the party?” and “Who screamed?”

At times this can be confusing.  For example: I can’t read it.

You might say this is a fragment because we don’t know what “it” is; however, we do have a subject “I” and a predicate “can’t read it,” and we don’t have any subordinating words.  So, although we don’t know everything at this point, the sentence itself is complete. Presumably this would be part of a series of sentences rather than a stand-alone sentence.

Technically

  1. Check to see that you have at least one subject and one predicate.
  2. Check that you have at least one independent clause.

Exceptions

Most of these points about sentence fragments apply to formal, academic writing.  There are times when a sentence fragment is helpful – particularly in fiction writing. Writing fiction or poetry breaks many of the formal rules in order to create a more realistic scene or dialogue.  We generally don’t speak or have a conversation with someone using full sentences and formal grammar at all times. Also, when giving an order or command, the subject is “implied” rather than stated.  (My two points under “Technically” are examples.)

Close the window.    (The subject is implied.  Often assumed to be “you.”)

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One more point

Don’t worry.  Keep writing.  The important thing is to keep practising and writing what you love to write about.

Getting feedback and direction can be essential if you need to, or want to, improve your technique, style, and final product.

Here is one place to start:

Paragraph Writing Lessons

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: Sentence Fragments

Ron