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

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Don’t Miss Out on the Awesome Benefits of Online Tutoring!

Is online tutoring right for me?

Is online tutoring right for my child?

Can online tutoring be anywhere near as good as an in-person tutor?

There are many questions when it comes to tutoring online.  Today, I am going to point out some the many advantages there are to online tutoring.  You might think of more. Please feel free to add on in the comments section.

The most important – and most obvious – is the learning.  You can retain lessons learned over the year, practise current assignments, and learn something new to prepare for the future.

Don’t you agree that this is already looking awesome!  

Online tutoring can often accelerate learning.  There are so many resources at the tip of your fingers with videos, texts, and live discussions to name a few.

The learning process can be so much more dynamic.

There is no travelling back and forth to the tutor, saving you time, avoiding traffic jams, and allowing the instructor and learner to be from different provinces, states, or even countries.

Geography is no longer an issue.

andrew-neel-117763  Andrew Neel

You can learn in the comfort of your own home – or at a café, at the beach, at grandma’s house – wherever there is an internet connection, you can learn.  (Actually some of the tasks don’t even require the connection for some assignments, particularly asynchronous exercises.)

Comfort and access to all your own amenities.

You can take asynchronous lessons which are primarily done offline or at least without a lot of intervention from the instructor.

You can take synchronous lessons which are real-time interactions with the instructor.

I like to do a combination in a kind of “flipped” classroom style in which the student takes care of his/her business independently (after some instruction / direction of course) and then we can spend time on the essential business of assessment and focused instruction to make those all-important improvements.

Learn independently; learn together; learn in combination!

You still have the opportunity to meet your instructor and to discuss assignments, math problems, etc. by using platforms such as Zoom and Skype.  These are FREE to use for both instructor and student.  Bonus!

Sometimes, you can even meet other students from all over the world.  You can collaborate or simply provide suggestions.  When one student has a question or problem that he or she can’t solve, you can be sure that many others have the same issue.  You can help them, and they can help you.

Using a whiteboard such as BitPaper (in my case replacing Ron’s famous scrap paper), you can work together on problems, draw diagrams, pictures, and so on.

You can upload and download files; so, even though you might be doing a lot of work online, you still have the option to print and work on paper.  In fact, I encourage students to use paper for brainstorming when preparing to write and for scribbling out math problems and rough work in all arenas.  Although you can do this on the computer, research has shown that the good “old-fashioned” writing things out on paper can be even more beneficial in wiring the brain effectively.

No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater! (Please don’t do this.)

Online tutoring can be treated as an “add-on” to in-person tutoring or as a replacement.  Again, there is no reason why the old and the new cannot work together and be friends.

LTLTutoring_eighth_gueAUG16-01

If you are ready to get started, so am I.  Click on the website link below or e-mail for further information or to set up a free information meeting.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Online Lessons

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@hotmail.com

Video: The Awesome Benefits of Online Tutoring

Writing in English

Keep it simple

When you write, particularly when you are writing a finished product such as an essay, book report, or speech, etc., use the structures you know.

Remember the old adage, “Write about what you know.”  Well, this works with technical aspects as well.

There is no need to artificially complicate your sentences just to seem more academic or “more intelligent.”

To be honest, when writers do this, they tend to reduce the quality of their writing rather than enhance it.

I have seen students who spend a great deal of time trying to “perfect” very weak arguments or assertions with complicated language and massive (and unreadable) sentences.  This method does not work!  But don’t worry, as you learn a wider variety of sentence structures and paragraph structures, you will be able to effectively incorporate them into your finished products.

In the meantime, write well with the tools you have.

darts-155726_640

Focus on the goal

Keep your mind on your goal.

What do you want the reader to gain from your article?

If it is an essay, you are arguing for a certain point of view or supporting your opinion.

If you are writing a speech, you might be informing the reader or trying to persuade him/her to take a certain action.

(Often written work can have more than one purpose, but there is generally a dominant one.)

If you need to write an essay or report for a grade – again, keeping your mind on the goal is important.  Don’t worry about the grade.  If your writing is well done and you have conveyed the message you intended, then the grade will follow.

Remember that the goal is the whole point of your writing!  Don’t let it slip through the cracks.  Your message is far more important than fancy language and complexity.

evan-dennis-75563

But how do you improve?

You might be asking this question, “How do I improve if I don’t try to write in a more complicated manner?”

There are multiple answers, but let’s start with the improvement bit.

With each new article, you can “stretch” yourself.  While working on rough copies or drafts, you can experiment with longer sentences or new structures.  Always read your work aloud to “hear” if it sounds right. You can also ask yourself this question: “If someone walked up to me and said this, would I know what he/she was talking about?”  (If the answer is “no,” then you still have some work to do.)

Of course, reading to someone or having someone else read your efforts can be helpful. If the person has no idea what your sentence means, then it is generally the wrong way to write that sentence.

(I have read many students’ articles for courses or information that I have never studied myself.  Of course, I might not understand very technical details of an obscure course; however, the sentences and language should still be understandable.  Basically, anyone should be able to read your paper and gain some insight from it.)

Another great idea is to record yourself and then listen to your article with your eyes closed.  Does everything make sense to you?  Do the sentences move smoothly from one idea to the next?  Is there a satisfying conclusion that leaves you feeling that your main point has been adequately explored?

Your journal writing is another awesome place to experiment.  It isn’t so important if your sentences fall apart or if they lack the finesse of a finished product if the writing is just for yourself.

Reading back over old journal entries you can see how much you’ve improved but also how much you might still need to improve.  I know people who have read their old writing and have no idea what a particular sentence means!

Of course, you can take courses that specifically address writing skills.

Ron033    Ron – well, a slightly younger version!  🙂

You could hire a tutor to give you some specific direction and help along the way. A good tutor will assess your current abilities and then provide you with a program that will bring you the results you desire.

Here is a great place to start:  Paragraph Writing Lessons

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: Writing – Keep it simple!

 

Ronald J. Johnson

Director – L.T.L. Tutoring Central