A Personal tutoring session

May 22nd, 2014

Today I got to work with one of my students, Eric, on his ninth grade biology homework assignment covering natural selection and evolution.  He has a quiz coming up so his homework reviewed the sections in the book.  While working through the problems, Eric and I had a great discussion about each of his answers.  We came up with lots of examples for the different terms he had to know.  The example that stuck most with Eric was how the finches that flew to the Galapagos Islands represented the founder effect of genetic drift.  By geographically isolating a small population of a species, the genetic variation is limited causing the species to change and adapt to the new environment.  He enjoyed thinking up other situations in which the founder effect could be applied.

The one topic that confused Eric was the Hardy-Weinberg principle for genetic equilibrium.  This is a tough concept to understand because it theoretical and complex.  First off, we had to memorize the conditions that are necessary for this equilibrium to take place: very large population, random mating, no natural selection, no immigration/emigration, and no mutation. We talked about why those criteria are necessary for keeping the allele frequencies constant and that helped him remember each of those restrictions.  After establishing the basis for the Hardy-Weinberg principle, we went over how to calculate allele and genotype frequencies.  This uses two different equations and can be confusing at first.  After showing him how to use the equations to solve for the frequencies, I gave him some practice problems.  After a rough start, he did really well by getting the last three questions right.

After a quick review at the end of the session, Eric was much more confident about the material that was on his quiz.  We got a lot done during the session and he improved a lot!

Get out of Debt now

April 22nd, 2014

We are a nation of debtors.

 

These days it seems that everyone you talk to- students, teachers, artists, mechanics, architects, entrepreneurs, anybody & everybody is heavily in debt.

 

…but not financial debt.

 

Financial debt is something you can pay off. This is a more pernicious and dangerous debt…SLEEP DEBT.

 

According to a study from Harvard Medical School [1], for most folks if you get less than 5 and half hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, you’re in sleep debt. As sleep debt increases, your performance, energy, level, and your mood suffers. Not to mention that it interferes with your metabolism, blood sugar, and body weight maintenance.

 

If one does not get enough sleep over enough days, the deficit can hurt your performance as much as pulling an all nighter.

 

When it comes to studying and academic performance, sleep debt is an even bigger threat. Sleep debt slows cognition and damages your memory. Pulling that all nighter to crank through a project or cram for your exam is a recipe for failure. You’ll forget what you learn, be more cranky & groggy, and damage your health. Who wants that? Sleep!

 

Remedies and tricks to get your zzz’s:

 

1) Be BORING. Our bodies like routine, structure, and regularity. Even if you have an unpredictable schedule during the day, try to institute a regimented lights-out/awake schedule

 

2) Take Notes. Do you really need 7 to 8 hours to be at top performance. The only way to find out for sure is to keep a sleep log. Log your wake up time and guestimate as best you can when you actually fell to sleep and see how much sleep you are actually getting. The facts may surprise you

 

3) Pay your taxes. When I say taxes, I mean your sleep taxes. Instead of waiting for one big lump sum to “catch up”  your sleep debt, you should instead make little payments along the way. Get the full 7-8 hours instead of attempting Herculean heroics on the weekends with a marathon sleep session

 

 

Bottom line from the study: you better get your 7 to 8 hours of ZZZ’s, otherwise your grades and your health could be in big trouble.

The beginning of the end…

June 1st, 2013

 The Beginning of the End 

We’ve all heard the expression and sang the song, School’s out for summer by the one and only Alice Cooper… but for many, it’s the beginning of the end!! As we say, “So close, yet so far” 

AP’s have past and finals are quickly approaching… and SAT’s are tomorrow!! 

For those that are on the cusp of a letter grade, focus hard and makes sure to get that grade up! If you’re at a 79.8, 79.9,80.0, 89.8, 89.9…. you want to make sure to pull those grades up!!

If you are in the middle of a grade… it will be harder to move your grade to the next letter grade. 

What else can you focus on? Well for those taking the SAT, here are some good tips to remember: 

– Make sure to read the question and making yourself read like a 2nd grade.  Put your finger under every word in the directions (if you tend to make mistakes by not reading the question).

– Lookout for extreme answer choices in the Critical Reading section! If the answer choice contains strong words like ‘never, always, must, impossible, cannot, only, all, none, etc,’ then it is likely incorrect.

-Maintain a healthy low sugar diet high in vitamins and other essential nutrient, it will increase your ability to focus and is good for you anyway!
– Ample sleep is crucial just like any other test!
– Do your best not to stress out, cortisol is a hormone released when you stress, and while its effects may help save you from a bear attack, the effects of cortisol are no good for test taking! Stay positive!
-Consistent studying is very important, cramming Is stressful and not too successful!
-Try to have a good understanding of the direction of how to take the test before you go in so you don’t have to waste time reading directions! Every second is important. 

A proud tutor story!

May 1st, 2013

I tutor a girl who is in the 7th grade and she has a twin sister – both in the same classes. These 2 girls have been struggling in all their classes and have not been receiving the best grades (though as a tutor I knew they could do much better).

We bought the girls planners – so that they could get organized and write all their assignments down instead of using only their IPAD. We really want to help them get their grades up before the end of the year – and I feel like it can happen! I tutor one of the twins and another tutor helps her sister.

For many students, it’s only one or two classes they are focusing on – but these girls need help in all their classes – English, Spanish, Science, Social Studies, and Math.

I am very well versed in Spanish and math – my two best subjects – and not so well in English, Social Studies, and Science – but it’s nice to tutor these subjects – not only to help my student but also to reteach myself things that I have forgotten about over the years.

So together, my student and I have made a good plan and we are on the same page – with preparing ahead – doing flashcards, section outlines, and section reviews right when she finds out she has a test.

Last week we knew she had a Science test – so we prepared very early instead of her waiting until the last minute and not studying and also not telling me she had a test.

We worked on the Cardiovascular system and studied all about the heart, veins, lungs, capillaries, arteries, and many other interesting subjects. 

Long story short – she came in today and told me she got a 91% on her test and her sister got an 83%. She told me she wanted to scream with excitement when she got her test. Today, we then studied for her Social Studies test for Thursday and she really wants to get another good grade!!!

Going away to college

April 11th, 2013

Yesterday, our RB Office Manager had a meeting with a student named Claire and her dad Jeff!! She is a Junior in High School and about to be a senior… and JUST now decided that she wanted to take the ACT.

The girl does well in Science and scored a 27 on her ACT Diagnostic test. Claire told our RB Office Manager that she had taken the SATS but about a year and a half ago, so not very recently.

The problem the student had was that she has been so focused on her grades and pin pointing exactly what she wants to major in, instead of focusing on what school she wanted to go or the area she want to live in.

Claire was focused more on her future and where her major was going to take her, that she did not stop to think about what location she wanted to go to college at, or the area she wanted to surround her self by.

When going to college, you have to think about not only what school you want to go, but also the area you want to live in. From LA to New York, there are so many schools across the United States, and each city is so different and unique, and each offer different things.

Make sure to spend time at the colleges of your choice, because it’s not only about the education, the classes, and the majors a school may offer, but the city it’s it or the surrounding area can also make a huge impact on your college life in either a positive or negative way.

College can last anywhere from 3 – 6 or more years and you want to make sure you choose a college where you are going to get a great education, but you have to make sure you can feel at home and feel safe and secure in the area that you want to live in.

Things to Keep in Mind for the New Semester

February 5th, 2013

Finals are Over!  Some Things to Keep in Mind for the New Semester!

We here at the Hut are proud of all of our students for conquering the recent wave of finals. It was a wild week for all of us, but we made it!

While all of you students have earned the right to relax a bit, we wanted to remind you of the academic opportunities a fresh semester brings about. Remember that time you had to scramble before a final exam to land that awesome grade you wanted? With your grades resetting, now is the perfect time to make your next finals a breeze. A clean slate means you can quickly grab and hang on to that ‘A’ you want. The work at the beginning of the semester is much easier than at the end. If you keep yourself diligent with homework and early assignments, you’ll have a much easier time come finals. Just think: wouldn’t it be nice to go into your math final knowing that the grade you get on it couldn’t drop you to a ‘B’ even if you lit it on fire?

The passing of finals also offers us the opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses we had the semester before. Even if you didn’t get that grade you wanted in that tough class, you’ll be able to learn from the experience. Now, you can adjust your study habits to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

All of this is the perfect opportunity to make sure that you keep those stress levels low by the time finals pop back around. It’s about always learning, even from our shortcomings. As always, we’re here to help.

 

 

Is Freshman Year important?

January 15th, 2013

We are halfway through another school year, and for some of you that means that High school is right around the corner. Since there are 4 years of High School, many students don’t ever think that your Freshman year really is an important year… so I am here to tell you that freshman year really is an important year !! 

Freshman year is a new start for a lot of students…new school, new friends, new teachers/classes.. and every student wants to make a good first impression. For most students, going to a new school can be a big adjustment. Even if you have older brothers or sisters, naturally students will want to pave their own path and create their own reputation. Freshman year will be a chance to find new friends, join interesting extracurricular activities, and adapt to new teachers and their different teaching strategies.

New School: What you decide to do in High School will impact your future… and if you start off on the right track, hopefully your future will turn out bright.
When applying to colleges, they look for not only good grades but also consistency with sports, clubs, and organizations… so when you’re a Freshman, you should try to join either a club or extracurricular that you are passionate about and that you will stick with throughout your 4 years of High School.

New Friends: Usually when you attend High School you will be mixed with new people which is always fun and exciting. These new students could turn out to become some of your closest friends, and Freshman Year is a great way to break the ice and meet new people since you’re all going through the same experience.

New teachers/classes: In terms of new classes and teachers: each year, the learning curriculum will become more vigorous and the work load will become longer and more strenuous. The grades your receive your Freshman year are as important as the grades you receive the most of the years, though Sophomore and Junior year grades are weighted more on your GPA.

Learning to study for Finals will be new to all Freshman, since for most Freshman this will be their first time taking Final exams. Final exams are usually cumulative and there are good strategies to help you when taking the exams. Since grades are always important,  the study habits that you use or learn from others will hopefully improve over time and can help you not only through High School but college as well.

As you can see, Freshman year is very important and can make a good or bad impact on you, depending on your experience. Here’s to a great first year!

 

 

Post Finals

January 31st, 2012

Finals are OVER! Sound the bells, raise the banner, and sing it to the heavens. That wretched time of year is gone, and shall never darken our door again! So, now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Self, you don’t need to study anymore. All the hard work is behind you, and it’s smooth sailing from here on in.” Oh, if only this was true. But, the fact of the matter is that this is when the real work begins.

Finals aren’t just an opportunity for teachers to make you nervous and lower you’re grade. (That’s only an extra perk.) Finals are also a major indicator on how well you’ve been learning throughout the first half of the year. They tell you which subjects you need to dedicate more time to, and which ones you’re clearly acing. Which means, you have a major opportunity here. An opportunity to get it all together before June comes along.

Getting a bad grade on one of these tests can be paralyzing. You see that test, and the effect is has on you’re overall average, and just assume the fight is over. Don’t give in to this feeling. Nothing’s over until you win or give up. The bad grade is in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it. But you can LEARN from it. Among the things you can do:

-Get your test from the teacher. Go through all of the wrong answers and see if you can correct them. Among other things, it makes sure you don’t make the mistakes again.

-See if there’s any relationship between the questions you got wrong. (Were they from the same chapter? Were they from a week you were absent?) Go back to the book, and relearn that material. It WILL come up later in the semester, and you don’t want to be caught twice.

-Compare what material you studied BEFORE the test, and compare it to the material that was ON the test. Did it match up?

Above all, remember this: A bad grade is not the end of the world. But it should be motivator to get your butt in gear, and make sure that the same mistakes aren’t made again. Because guess what? Finals will be back in June! The only difference is, next time you’ll know exactly what to expect, because you’ve already done it. Get mad, get mean, and get those grades up.

FInals

January 16th, 2012

Ah, final exams. That glorious time of year. (I’m just kidding; I’ve heard finals called many things, and “glorious” has never been one of them). They are daunting, difficult, and above all, important to your final grade. But the good new is that they CAN BE BEATEN! (Huzzah!) It all depends on HOW you bring the fight to them. Luckily, that’s kind of a specialty here in the Study Hut.

Now, it’s difficult to write a catch-all strategy that will help you study for ALL of your finals. Mainly because you’re going to be using completely different methods for completely different tests. You wouldn’t study for a geometry test the same way you’d study for history. HOWEVER, there are similarities. Number one (and this should be completely obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do it): Give yourself enough time. Finals are not like other tests. You cannot start studying for them a few days before, and expect to be all right. Ideally, you should have started studying for each test AT LEAST 2 weeks before the test date. Remember, these tests include everything you’re studying now, PLUS everything else you’ve studied in the semester. You need time to review concepts, do practice problems, plan essays, ask questions, etc.

Number two: Organization. The very first thing you should do, before even cracking open your text book, is set up a schedule for yourself. This may sound like a chore, but you would not believe how much pressure it takes off of you. It’s a lot less scary to look at a list of things you need to accomplish than it is to stare at 6 months of notes and not know where to start. For example, I’m working with a student who has to study for a History final, covering 6 chapters and about 400 years of history. SO, we set up a schedule that he’d study exactly one chapter per night for six days (not too hard to do). Since he started so early (see Tip 1), by the time he’s done with those six chapters, he’s going to have a full week left before his test. Now, he can use that week to go more in depth, bring problems to his teacher, and make himself more confident before the test. It’s a lot easier to study a huge amount of material if you break it up into small pieces, and have ample time to do so.

And number three: Confidence. Finals are stressful. We’ve all been there. Make sure that you get a full night’s sleep the night before. And (this is huge), don’t go nuts cramming 15 minutes before the test. By that point, you know everything you’re going to know. Give yourself that 15 minutes to decompress. Just close the book, and trust in the fact that you’ve put in the proper work. You’d be amazing what a difference it makes to go calmly into a test.

If you follow this tips (and of course, come see your friends at your local, neighborhood Study Hut), you’ll greatly increase your chances at doing well on your final exams. Good luck!

Falling through the Cracks

September 19th, 2011

It is not uncommon to have your local public schools fill each classroom to the brim. In a sea of 30 plus students, it’s a wonder that kids tend to fall through the cracks. The curriculum is set for each grade and the teacher attacks the lesson plans daily. In the process of introducing materials to students, a few common trends occur. The brainiest of the class rise to the top, and the material is easy for them. The lower regions of the concur phenomenon are lost and require special attention in order to not fall behind. The public school system provides after school programs, tutoring and extra time for the ones who fall behind. So where do the brainiest pupils go? They tend to finish before the class and end up staring at the ceiling, or paper. At times they tend to help other pupils who stare at them in a bewildered stare after given a recent assignment.
As recent college graduates, our tutors have experienced both extremes. We know either one is not preferred and honestly quite extreme. Here at the Hut we accept both types of students. In one corner the brainiest students come in and we push them even further than they thought they were capable of. We do this so well that in many cases they go home pondering how we managed to stump them. A particular student who has recently has been striving to be a better scholarly example is our very own Asher. Having fallen through the cracks at his school, we took this first grader under our wing and amplified his skills with every hour session. We are proud of Asher and are so very content with his improvement over the past few sessions. Upon entering first grade this year, his teacher noticed his improvement in math and has now placed him in the second grade math class! He is rock star here at the Hut!!! Students such as these are the types of students we love to help. I mean after all, we strive to better your student or bust.