Posted in Algebra, Child, children, classes, Courses, Parenting, STEAM, student, Studying, summer, technology, Tutoring, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized

Summer Courses 2017: Math Courses with Oxford Tutoring

Oxford Tutoring is offering a variety of summer courses redesigned with your schedule in mind.  Choose from math, reading & writing, enrichment courses, or ACT and SAT courses to prepare your children for the upcoming school year.

Summer Mathematics Courses

1st Grade Math

In our 1st Grade Math class, students will use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions. They will put math facts to memory and extend their understanding of number sense to complete math challenges. Request more information

2nd Grade Math

In our 2nd Grade Math class, students will add and subtract within 1000, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value. Students will also hone their understanding of basic word problems and how to extract the critical information for problem-solving. They will refine math facts knowledge and extend their understanding of number sense to complete math challenges. Request more information

3rd Grade Math

In our 3rd Grade Math class, students will use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities. They will commit multiplication facts to memory and develop strategies for expressing conceptual understanding. Students will not only develop the proficiency necessary for the upcoming school year, but will also be inspired to learn through interactive, exciting projects, including game theory, wherein students engage in metacognition and relate math to other areas of study. Request more information

4th Grade Math

In our 4th Grade Math class, students will find all factor pairs for a whole number in the range 1–100 and recognize that a whole number is a multiple of each of its factors. They will develop procedural understanding of the algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing multi-digit numbers and explore various ways of completing these operations. This course will prepare students for the new school year by incorporating both skill building and exciting, interactive activities designed to teach and inspire, including game theory, wherein students engage in metacognition and relate math to other areas of study. Request more information

5th Grade Math

In our 5th Grade Math class, students will add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions and decimals, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value. They will develop procedural understanding of the algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals and fractions and explore various ways of completing these operations. Through this course, students will receive instruction to develop vital skills for the upcoming school year in a fun, interactive learning environment, including game theory, wherein students engage in metacognition and relate math to other areas of study. Request more information

6th Grade Math

In our 6th Grade Math class, students will understand the concept of a unit rate a/b associated with a ratio and use rate language in the context of a proportional relationship. They will review algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals and fractions and set-up simple equations with a single variable. Students will build the skills necessary for their upcoming school year through fun, interactive projects designed to inspire them to learn, and be introduced to game theory, an exciting branch of mathematics that allows them to have great discussions, engage in metacognition, and relate math to other areas of study. Request more information

7th Grade Math

In our 7th Grade Math class, students will apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients. They will integrate knowledge of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, ratios and proportions to solve two-step problems and tackle math challenges. In this course, preparation for their upcoming school will be presented in an exciting, interactive learning environment wherein they will be introduced to game theory, an exciting branch of mathematics that allows students to have great discussions, engage in metacognition, and relate math to other areas of study. Request more information

8th Grade Math

In our 8th Grade Math class, students will understand that a function is a rule that assigns to each input exactly one output and how the graph of a function is the set of ordered pairs consisting of an input and the corresponding output. They will hone procedural skills for setting-up and solving equations, graphing linear equations and inequalities, and expressing conceptual understanding. Students will also develop vital skills necessary for their upcoming school year, while learning through interactive, fun projects, including game theory, an exciting branch of mathematics that allows students to have great discussions, engage in metacognition, and relate math to other areas of study. Request more information

Integrated Math 1 (9th-11th grades)

In our Integrated Math 1 course, students learn to analyze and compare linear models, understand congruent figures and their properties, and apply both geometry and algebra concepts to multi-step problems that challenge their thinking and ensure they have a solid grasp of the first semester of Integrated Math 1 courses at local schools. Students will develop vital skills necessary for their upcoming school year while learning through a mix of lecture, interactive projects, exploration and analysis, discussions, and metacognitive activities. Request more information

Integrated Math 2 (10th-12th grades)

In our Integrated Math 2 course, students explore quadratic expressions, equations, and functions; compare quadratics to linear and exponential expressions; compare rational, real, and complex numbers; and utilize conditional probability and the counting principle to ensure they have a solid grasp of the first semester of Integrated Math 2 courses at local schools. Students will develop vital skills necessary for their upcoming school year while learning through a mix of lecture, interactive projects, exploration and analysis, discussions, and metacognitive activities. Request more information

Integrated Math 3 (10th-12th grades)

In our Integrated Math 3 course, students deepen their understanding of probability and statistics, compare rational and radical functions, break down general triangles, and learn trigonometry and preCalculus concepts to ensure they have a solid grasp of the first semester of Integrated Math 3 courses at local schools. Students will develop vital skills necessary for their upcoming school year while learning through a mix of lecture, interactive projects, exploration and analysis, discussions, and metacognitive activities. Request more information

Competitive Math (9th-10th grades)

High School Competitive Mathematics builds and develops the necessary problem-solving skills and mathematical knowledge required for math competitions such as the American Mathematics Competition 10 (AMC 10). Students will apply and expand on classroom learned skills involving algebra, basic geometry, area and volume formulas, elementary number theory, and elementary probability. Each class, students will expand their problem solving abilities and apply test taking strategies to problems from past exams. Request more information

Algebra I

Students will establish a solid basis for Algebra success in the upcoming year. Students will explore exponents, radicals, equations, inequalities, quadratics, and graphing. Particularly, the class will teach students the primary concepts presented in the first semester of Algebra and expose them to more challenging topics that they will encounter during the second semester. Request more information

Geometry

Geometry students will prepare for success in the upcoming school year by learning to reason and problem solve based upon an understanding of the theorems and postulates of geometry. Students will learn to work with angles, polygons, and circles by using logic to solve problems. Particularly, students will develop mathematical reasoning skills. Request more information

Algebra 2 with Trigonometry

Students will solve and/or graph rational functions, irrational functions, matrices, logarithms, exponential growth and decay, conics, trigonometry, and other challenging topics. This course will ensure that they are well-prepared for the school year. Request more information

Pre-Calculus

Students master trigonometric functions, the unit circle, limits, graphing, complex polynomials, logarithms, conics, and exponents. Students master the first semester of Pre-Calculus with a focus on developing problem solving skills and building confidence to tackle challenging problems. Request more information

AP Calculus

In our AP Calculus course, students learn the operations and applications of limits and derivatives, related rates and curve stretching to ensure they have a solid grasp of the first semester of the AP Calculus concepts taught at local schools. Students will develop vital skills necessary for their upcoming school year while learning through a mix of lecture, projects, exploration and analysis, discussions, and metacognitive activities. Request more information

AP Statistics

Students study the first semester of AP Statistics, specifically descriptive statistics, normal distribution, linear regression, and probability. Request more information

 

Sign up for any of our Math Courses today! (949) 681-0388.

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Posted in Child, children, Education, K-12 Tutoring, Learning Activties, Parent, Parent and Child, Parent Help, Parenting, school, student, Studying, Tutoring, Uncategorized

10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed In School

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey

Education is a valuable tool that can set children up for a successful future.  As a result, children getting the best out of their education is vital.  So, how, as a parent, can you come alongside your children and support them in their education?  Here is a suggested list of ways to help your child succeed in school.

#1: Set Up a Morning Routine

Rushed mornings can carry over into your child’s day.  We all know that there are days when hurried mornings cannot be helped, but for the most part, establishing a morning routine will help your child’s day start off right.  Just like children benefit from a routine at school, so too can they benefit from a predictable morning.

#2: Get to Know Your Child’s Teacher

This may seem like an obvious step, but it can be easy to become preoccupied with other priorities.  However, taking the time to meet and get to know your child’s teacher will open up the lines of communication.   When concerns or questions arise, having already developed a rapport with your child’s teacher will make possibly difficult conversations a lot easier.

#3: Volunteer at School

Furthermore, getting involved at your child’s school can be helpful in your child’s success at school.  You will be directly engaged with your child’s education by volunteering for field trips, after school activities, or in class help. With your help, your child will benefit from a more meaningful school experience.

#4: Stay Positive about Education

School is hard work, and when your children are feeling overwhelmed they are going to feel like their school experience is a negative one.  What they need is an education advocate.  By focusing on the positives of education and continuing your education through schooling, reading, and other learning activities, you will show your children why education can help them go a long way in life.

#5: Read Together

Children need to be able to read fluently, comprehend what they are reading, and analyze the text in order to excel in school.  Reading together provides you with the opportunity to help develop these skills.  Read together and talk about what you are reading with your child in order to build these skills and aid him or her do well in school.

#6: Talk to Your Child

Talking to your children about their day and what is going on with them is an important step to helping your child succeed in school.  This way, you will know what is going on with their friends, schooling, and other activities.  Even if your child is in the stage where his or her answers to your questions are “fine” and “good”, at least they know that the lines of communication are open, and they can come to you when they are ready to talk.

#7: Provide a Study Space

It is extremely helpful for students to have a quite place to study and get their homework finished. This can be as simple as a desk with a few office supplies on it.  What this does is provide a focused learning environment that children can consistently go to to get their assignment done.

#8: Prioritize Study Time

Make sure that your children are studying and getting homework done before moving on to other activities like TV and video games.

#9: Continue Learning over the Summer

Ever heard of the summer slide?  This can really affect a child’s learning as studies show that children can lose a full month’s worth of school learning over the summer.  Combat this with continuing education over the summer through reading, classes, and tutoring.

#10: Hire a Tutor

This may be last on our list, but it most certainly should not be a last resort.  Tutoring is a great opportunity for your child to get ahead, catch up, build confidence, and even more.  Check out our latest blog to find out why tutoring can help your child.

Conclusion

These are just some of the many ways you can support your children in their school.  Can you think of any other ways to help your children with their education goals?

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Oxford Tutoring

(949) 681-0388

Posted in Book, Child, children, Education, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, Parent, Reading, school, student, Studying, Uncategorized

How to Annotate – Close Reading

Is it enough for students to simply comprehend their school readings? While reading comprehension is necessary for doing well in school, in order to experience success in current and future schooling, students will be required to go beyond what they see on the surface and dig deeper into the text.

This is where the process of close reading can make all the difference.  Close reading is when we slow down and think about what we are reading.  An important step in close reading is to annotate, as this allows for greater focus and attention to detail. Keep reading to learn how to annotate when you are practicing the art of close reading.

Comprehension of Key Ideas and Details

Unfamiliar Vocabulary

To help yourself determine the meaning of the vocabulary word, find context clues.  If necessary use a dictionary.

Main Ideas

Take notes on the central themes, clues or details that back up the main idea and themes.

Confusing Parts

Find unfamiliar details that you might need to clarify through re-reading, summarizing, discussion or research.

Questions to Ask

Who are the main characters?

What is the setting?

What is the main conflict?

 

 

Analyze the Text for Craft and Structure

Repeated Themes or Ideas

Think about the genre of the work and the ideas, use of language, and any lesson or moral.

Character or Author’s Feelings

For fiction, take note of how the author uses dialogue, descriptions, things the character says, does, etc. to develop character.

When it comes to non-fiction, pay attention to how the author talks about the subject to determine his or her feelings about the topic.

Note the Narrator’s Point of View

Determine how the point of view contributes to the story.

Questions to Ask

Why do characters behave as they do?

How do their actions advance the plot?

How does the author’s word choice affect the story’s tone?

 

 

Integrate Your Knowledge

Connections

Compare and contrast this work with other works you have read, information you already know, and ways in which you can relate to the story.

Deeper Meaning

Find the important images and symbols to analyze their deeper meaning.

Effective Writing

Look for literary devices, figurative language, powerful sentences, etc.

 Questions to Ask

How has this work increased my knowledge of a subject or author?

What is surprising about the story’s outcome?

What did I appreciate about the author’s style?

 

 

Tools for Annotation

Make your annotation system your own, use colored pens, highlighters or symbols to annotate for the above list of items.

This process of annotation will help you read more closely and allow you to dig deeper to find more significance in the texts you are reading.  This will not only provide more depth to your schooling, but will also be an influence on your life. ­­­­­­

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Posted in ACT, Child, children, Education, student, Uncategorized

ACT vs. SAT Math Sections

Whether you are an interested parent or prospective student, there have been many changes to the SAT and ACT tests, so it can be difficult to keep track of it all.  As the ACT and SAT Director for Oxford Tutoring, I want to break it down the differences between the ACT and SAT math sections to help you determine which test is right for you.  Without further delay, let’s begin!

 

Content

The ACT has 60 questions but the source of these questions comes from more areas of math.  Here is a chart for the ACT:

act-math-chart

The SAT has 58 questions and more than half of it is focused on algebra-based concepts.  Here is a chart of what percentage of each math subject can be found on the SAT.sat-math-chart

 Timing

The ACT has one big section with 60 questions and 60 minutes.  That means, to get it all done, on average, you only have 1 minute per question. This is quite a bit less than what you have on the SAT.

The SAT is divided into two math sections.  The first section requires you to complete 20 questions in 25 minutes, and the second section contains 38 questions to be finished in 55 minutes.  This gives you 1 minute and 15 seconds per question for the first section, and 1 minute and 30 seconds per question for the second section.

Order of Difficulty

The ACT always has the first 20 questions as easy, the next 20 are medium, and the last 20 are considered difficult.  Their questions are a lot more direct, and will look more similar to math questions seen in school.

The SAT, on the other hand, somewhat follows a pattern of difficulty with questions in the beginning generally, but not always, being easier than the questions at the end.  The majority of the questions on the SAT require strong reading and analysis skills, and then once you have figured out what the question is asking, then you can proceed to solve the problem.

Although the difficulty does not directly affect the scoring, it does help people plan on how much time to spend on a question.

Calculator Usage

For the ACT, you will be able to use your calculator for the entire math section.   So there will be some questions that require use of a calculator, but it is useful to remember that not every question will need it.

One of the reasons the SAT has two math sections is that the first one is a non-calculator section and the second one allows calculator utilization.  So, strong arithmetic and mental math skills are very helpful with this section since you cannot check your answers with a calculator.   It also requires you to manipulate formulas to make the mental math easier.

Answer Options

The ACT will always have 5 multiple choice options to choose from when answering.

The SAT has either 4 multiple choice options or free response where the student must write on the answer.

Formulas

The SAT also has few formulas given in the beginning of each math section, whereas the ACT does not provide any formulas.

Guessing Penalty

There is no guessing penalty for either test.

Final Verdict

Overall, students who are good problem solvers usually prefer the SAT compared to the ACT.  For them, it is easier to quickly solve the problem and it is less strain of a strain than the ACT.

An ideal candidate for the SAT will have covered math through Algebra 2, and likes riddles, or games like Sudoku.

Students who prefer more common math problems and have a diverse math background prefer the ACT because the questions are easier to process, and require more of the math skills than analytical skills.

An ideal candidate for the ACT will have covered math through Pre-calculus, and can recall formulas from previous math classes.

Want to make sure you find the test that is right for you?  Take a ACT or SAT diagnostic test at Oxford Tutoring.  (949) 681-0388.

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David Lord

 

Meet the author: David Lord is the SAT and ACT Director and Math and Science Instructor at Oxford Tutoring Center in Orange County, California. He has helped hundreds of students achieve the SAT and ACT test scores they want and accepted into their desired college. He reaches his students through challenging them and asking questions to make sure they are absorbing the material they are being taught.

Posted in Child, classes, Courses, Education, Spanish, Spanish Tutoring, Uncategorized

Spotlight on Tom Beeman – Oxford Tutoring Tutor

written by Tom Beeman – Spanish tutor at Oxford Tutoring

Tutoring is a great experience for everyone involved in it.  For the student, it gives them the added help they need either to close the learning gaps or to further their knowledge outside of what is provided in the classroom.  But the positivity that comes from tutoring also applies to the tutor as well.  Having been a tutor at Oxford for almost 3 years I have experienced these joys first-hand.

As a high school teacher, I do my best to reach all my students, but with the large numbers in each class, it is difficult to meet the individual needs to each student.  However, tutoring gives me a great opportunity to spend a full hour just with one student focusing on the needs of only that student.  Tutoring Spanish gives me the opportunity not just to assist with completing any assignments the student has, but it gives me an opportunity to re-teach the material to increase long-term retention and application of the language outside the classroom.  It also allows me to provide additional resources for the student to use independently when he/she doesn’t have access to a teacher or tutor.

While I enjoy working with the student who comes in for a one-time session, my biggest satisfaction as a tutor comes from working with long-term students.  This gives me time to assess the students’ skills as well as their needs to be able to help them reach their end goal.  I’ve been fortunate to have a few students who I have been able to tutor over multiple school years.  This long-term tutoring has allowed me to get to know my students’ learning style to better cater my tutoring to meet their needs.  I have had the pleasure of seeing my students grow in their knowledge in the language and comfort level of using it as well.  It’s great when I see a student engaging in the target language without being prompted.  One example has to do with the difference between tennis vs. tennis shoes in Spanish.  The difference between the two is minimal and the first time I taught this to one of my students, it was a serious learning moment.  But over the course of time, it then became an inside joke between the two of us and one of us would bring it up any time sports-related vocabulary would appear.

But to me, being a tutor is not just about helping students with their academics.  It’s also about building a professional rapport with them to help with the whole person.  You get to know their favorite subjects, extracurricular activities they participate in at school, their college and career goals, etc.  Understanding their personalities allows me tailor how I tutor them so that they are learning in a way in which they understand best and they feel like they are being heard.  By helping them with their long-term goals, they become more enthusiastic about tutoring and are more likely to succeed.  It’s great when these students come back after they no longer need tutoring or have graduated from school and tell stories about how they were in a situation where they are able to communicate in Spanish.

For me, tutoring is a natural extension of my career as a teacher. I enjoy working with my tutoring students and seeing them grow as much as I do my classroom students.  One day, I hope they will see the value of tutoring and will become tutors themselves so that they can help others just as I have helped them.

About the Author: A credentialed teacher, Tom Beeman tutors Spanish 1 -3 and Spanish AP. He enjoys working one-on-one with his students to help them learn that it is possible to become fluent in a second language.  When he is not tutoring, he enjoys spending time with his friends and attending teacher conferences to improve his skills as a teacher and a tutor.

Posted in Book, Child, children, Education, ELA, family, Homework Help, Parent and Child, Parent Help, Parenting, Reading, Uncategorized

4 Steps to Develop Comprehension and Analysis Skills at Home

The world of education centers on using new research and experience to identify what students need to learn and how teachers can present that information better.  While this system has been trusted to help students reach their academic goals in the classroom, what are students and parents supposed to do if they feel that more can be done to enable students to reach their goals?

Many parents have come to Oxford Tutoring with that very question, and there are times when instruction with our trained and knowledgeable tutors is warranted, if not necessary, especially since the Common Core has changed the way students’ skills are evaluated.  However, when it comes to improvement in English Language Arts, there are a number of activities that are effective, free, and fun which students and parents can work on at home.

The Challenge

The most common request our English Language Arts instructors encounter from students is help with comprehending and analyzing plots and arguments.  The interesting thing about most of these requests is that the real problem is that they are simply unfamiliar with explaining what they know.

Prior to the last couple years, students were only asked to summarize, or repeat back, what they read, but the new requirements ask them to explain themselves.  So, the problem isn’t that they don’t know how to comprehend or analyze, it’s that they aren’t being taught to explain their findings.

Given this revelation, let’s give students some credit for the skills they do have and help them learn to explain their ideas effectively.

The Usual Fix

Most of the time, when a student comes to us because his or her reading and writing scores are less than impressive, we begin by asking the student to read a passage and answer specific questions about what was read.  Then, to the tutor’s surprise, the student answers most, if not all, of the questions correctly.

This is surprising to us because the student asked for help with something they already know how to do.  So, the tutor ponders the situation for a moment and realizes that the student actually needs help explaining how he or she got those answers.

Thus begins the process of guiding the student through each step of his or her internal analysis process and making it an external process with spoken and written words.  The trick is helping the student realize that once they’re finished analyzing the passage, the hard part is over.

An Alternative Fix

I must admit, I love teaching students to comprehend and analyze texts.  But I also think that students can try to develop their own strategies and processes without my help.  Such an endeavor could even be entertaining and might even begin a lifelong fondness for thinking critically.

The entertaining aspect comes from the fact that students are not limited in their choices of practice materials.  One might think that we have to use the same texts provided in English and Social Studies classrooms, but that is just not the case.  A more effective option is to use a medium that truly engages the student, and this is easily accommodated when dealing with only one student.

Therefore, the first step in the process of developing comprehension and analysis skills is getting the student to identify the material that will be most engaging.  For example, because novels can take so long to get interesting, I like to begin by discussing the student’s favorite movie.  Yes, I know our goal is to improve our skills with texts, but, in the beginning, the most important task is getting started – just finding an idea the student finds worthy of putting forth effort to figure out.  Even if the student isn’t a movie/television aficionado, the initial and most engaging themes and plots are guaranteed to already be present in the student’s everyday life.

The Actual Practice   

So, you’ve decided to conduct some at-home practice, and you know what topic(s) your child is truly interested in.  Now, let’s talk about some activities that can help him or her learn to comprehend and analyze the content and then present his or her findings in an effective way.   If I write out the process in a list, you might get intimidated and shy away from this whole process, so I’ll start by explaining the core activities and then we’ll get into the process.

 

workplace-1245776_1920Step 1: Oral Exercises

The most entertaining activities are the oral activities in which you’ll just talk to the student about one of his or her interests.  That is, you’ll strike up a conversation with him or her about the thing that he or she really wants to talk to you about.  Let’s face it; we are talking about young people here.  If you give them an excuse, they’ll talk all day and night, and you are going to give them the perfect excuse.

For example, if your student is an avid Netflix user, strike up a conversation about what he or she is currently binge-watching.  The goal of this simple sounding activity is to get the student to think critically about what they’ve experienced and decide what is important enough to be included in the explanation and what is not.  Then they will have to analyze the content in order to explain how each of those “important” scenes/episodes fits together into the overall plot of the story.

I know; just reading all of this makes it feel like a college level activity, but the student will want to do it and will enjoy it immensely.  And you the “instructor” will have to do very little to make it work; just show interest in what the student finds interesting.  The only challenging aspect of this first activity is keeping the student on track – focused on the same topic throughout the entire conversation.

 

light-bulb-1246043_1920.jpgStep 2: The Socratic Method

The next activity in the process is applying the infamous Socratic Method.  You may be familiar with this form of questioning from your own educational experiences or from modern media’s distortion of it through the angry college professor’s lecture.

However, at heart, the Socratic Method and our main goal in this second type of activity is based on trying to truly understand what the student likes about the topic he or she has chosen to discuss.  What makes him or her so passionate about it?  Why is it worth talking about?  The difference between this activity and the previous is that you are more of a participant now.  In the first activity your goal was simply to keep them talking about the same thing.  Now, you want to understand that thing, game, sport, skateboarding trick, movie, whatever.  It’s kind of like the game children like to play with adults, where they ask you a question and then keep asking “why?”  It’s hilarious and frustrating when the kids do it because there’s no point except to keep you talking.

For us though, there is a point – deep and true understanding, not only of the thing itself, but of the student’s relationship with and to it.  You will probe for more and deeper understanding through a back and forth conversation that tests and then expands your and the student’s conception of the topic.  To make this work, you’ll want to channel one part: that annoying kid who asks “why” all the time, one part: wise person who says, “hmm” and “that’s interesting,” and one part devil’s advocate who challenges what is known by pushing the idea to the extreme and taking the idea and standing it on its head.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  I thought you’d think so.

Once you’ve completed these two oral activities a few times, the student will become accustomed to thinking critically about the things he or she cares about.  Then, the student will be ready to start writing about what he or she has been thinking about.

 

coffee-1128136_1920Step 3: Written Exercises

The first stage of getting comfortable with writing about what’s on our minds is based on the tried and true method called Journaling.  The great thing about Journaling is that there are no rules, so you can’t mess up.  For this to work, the student need only put pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard.  Ask him or her to fill a page with text about a single topic.  These pages will not be subject to reading or critiquing, just ask the student for a quick glance so you can see that writing took place.

The reason this activity is so informal is that the goal is to get the student to put more than a single thought or sentence into the writing process.  His or her teachers are expecting more than a yes or no answer and more than just a sentence or two in response.  Asking a student to fill a page with text, even if it’s not the most eloquent text, helps him or her to get comfortable with putting ideas together and building on or expounding on an idea.  Just give the student some time and a comfortable place to work and watch the ideas trickle and then flood onto the page.

Once the student is able to fill a page with text, it’s time to move on to actual essay writing practice.

Instructional/Informational Essays

Before you get too excited and feel the need to remind me that I said this would be easy and fun or that you might not be an English teacher, let me assure you that my use of the term essay in this passage is rather loose.  I, and you, don’t want your student running for the hills at the very mentioning of these activities.  Given that, let’s think of essays as writing down thoughts in an organized fashion.  Just as with the prior activities, we are focusing on helping the student think critically and fully about an idea, not on the technical correctness of their expression.

When presenting this activity, remind the student that you are not asking him or her to think up anything new.  He or she will have already informed you about the basics in the first oral activity.  You both will have thought about the ins and outs and finer points of the idea through the Socratic Method.  He or she will have already written about it in the Journaling activity.  All you’ll be asking for now is an “organized” presentation of the information.  In the Journaling activity the student was asked to fill the page, so there was no organization, just thoughts recorded as quickly as they entered the brain.

Now we want to organize those thoughts into an intelligible sequence.  If the idea the student wants to express is about explaining how to drive a car, help him or her put the steps in the proper order.  Should he or she write about the finer points of shifting the car into fifth-gear before putting on the seatbelt and starting the ignition? No.  That’s the kind of organizational awareness we are going to be looking for.  If you knew nothing about the topic, was the information presented in a way that would make it possible for you to understand what the student was trying to explain?  That’s it.

Neither you nor the student need worry about effectiveness of the hook or if the imagery was descriptive enough for you to feel like you were there in the car hammering the gas pedal while simultaneously feathering the clutch and yanking the E-brake hard enough to make the car Drift through the S-curves like Vin Diesel in a “Fast and Furious” movie.  That’s my job.  You just need to help the student present all of the really important parts and put them in order so that you can follow along.  The same goes for an essay where the student is trying to present his or her opinion about something.

In these analytical or critical essays, ask yourself if you can identify the student’s position or feelings about the issue and why he or she feels that way.  Think of it like watching a story on the news or reading an article; don’t worry about how well it was presented as long as you get the important parts.

books-1605416_1920.jpgLevel 4: It’s the same, but different

At this level the student will make the transition from working with an idea that he or she is completely familiar with to an article or novel that is new to him or her.  This is the stage where you and your child can work together through each of the first three level’s activities.  You will work together to build the student’s comprehension and analysis skills as partners.

In the previous activities, the student was teaching you something only known to him or her.  Now, you will work together to build each other’s understanding through a genuine partnership.  You will read the text at a similar pace and you will think about and discuss the text with the same level of unfamiliarity and newness.  By completing each of the first three level’s activities with a new text, you will be able to operate from the perspective of a peer rather than a know-it-all teacher.  There will be no wrong answers, no errors, just two people’s unique perspectives on a singular topic.

Keeping It Real and Really Fun

The first thing the more pragmatic of you might think about is, “How long is this going to take?”  While it is a good question, the answer depends on how motivated you and the student are.  Ideally, you could complete one activity every other day, but I know that life and complicated schedules can get in the way.  So, in the end, this can be as formal and regulated as you desire.

You can work with a set schedule so that you and the student can be fully aware and accountable for completing the activities, or you can play it a bit looser and focus on the oral and journaling activities that can be done during car rides and lazy weekends.  You know your student best, so you will likely know how best to motivate him or her to start this process as well as what it will take to get you both to stick with it and keep practicing.

My most fervent hope and strenuous recommendation is to keep it fun at all costs.  Save the “work” aspects for the classroom teachers and us here at Oxford.

 

Meet the Author: Alex Claude is an SAT and ACT ELA Director and an ELA tutor at Oxford Tutoring.  He takes the time to get to know his students so he can learn and apply how to best teach them.  Alex teaches his students how to effectively communicate through writing, and how to analyze informational texts and novels.

 

Posted in Book, Child, children, Education, family, Parent, Parent and Child, Parent Help, Parenting, Reading, student, Uncategorized

Thank You, Jim Trelease! – The Power of Reading Aloud to Children

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My son, Matt, reading to my four grandchildren.

Reading aloud to my four children is one of the fondest memories I have of their growing up years.  They are all adults now with their own families and busy lives, but I have wonderful memories of cuddling on the couch with them, reading stories together, watching their eyes light up as we traveled to other lands and other times through story.

As a teacher, reading to my children seemed a natural part of the parenting process.  Even when they were babies, they would sit on my lap as we enjoyed books like Pat the Bunny.  As they grew older, we graduated to story books.  Some were fairy tales, some were Bible stories, but all were chances to bond together over printed word. They had their favorites that they asked to be read to them over and over and over. We went to our local library’s story time and listened to books read aloud that we would then books that we checked out to take home to enjoy again and again.

However, it’s a common belief that when a child begins reading on his or her own, there is no longer a need for parents to read aloud to their children.  I confess that I held that same view until I met Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook. He was advertised as a guest speaker at our local library.  The title of his book sounded intriguing, so I went to hear what he had to say.

I am so glad that I did.

Jim Trelease’s idea that reading aloud can and should continue long after a child is an independent reader powerfully impacted both my parenting approach to reading as well as my own teaching  philosophy.  His belief was that children will be excited about reading if we are excited about reading.  They will think it’s fun if we think it’s fun. That evening, Trelease read aloud to us, an adult audience, the Bernard Waber classic, Ira Sleeps Over. He read it with energy, enthusiasm and wonderful vocal animation.  That’s all it took.  I was hooked!

Read-alouds became a fixed part of our family routine.  We cried together through books like Where the Red Fern Grows, laughed together through books like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and experienced the  thrills and adventure of C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.  I am happy to report that I have raised children who love to read.

Now, as a grandmother, I am enjoying reading some of those same familiar stories to my six grandchildren.  What is even more rewarding to me is that my children are reading to their children; the torch has been passed!

I have never forgotten the way Jim Trelease closed his evening talk, reading from a poem by Stickland Gillian, titled “The Reading Mother.”

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.

About the Author: Kathy H. is a tutor at Oxford Tutoring who enjoys tutors because she can make a difference in the lives of her students.  Her goal is to make learning fun by teaching to each student’s unique method of learning.  For fun, she likes to read, binge-watch TV shows on Netflix, serve at her church, and spend time with her grandchildren.

Posted in Child, children, Education, Parent and Child, Tutoring, Uncategorized

Sometimes Great Things Come in Small Packages – Tutoring Stories

by Kathy H – tutor of ELA, Math, Social Studies, History, and Speech and Debate

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His name is Emmanuel, and he is a force to be reckoned with.

He is a cherubic, bespectacled five year old darling who came to visit me in my little tutoring room this past spring.  He was just finishing his kindergarten year, but his father was told by the teacher and the school district that Emmanuel was not ready to advance to first grade.  His papa could not accept that decision. He knew his son, and he knew what I would soon come to learn.

Our little Emmanuel was not only bright, but inside that tiny frame was the bulldog determination of a never-give-up hard worker. His wise father became Emmanuel’s advocate, and convinced the district to retest his son one more time before the final decision to retain him in kindergarten. That is how Emmanuel came to work with me for several hours per week this past summer.

And work we did!  He memorized sight words, segmented phonemes, read countless nonsense words, beat me over and over at The Train Phonics Game, and learned the names of geometric shapes.  I still smile when I think of that little voice flawlessly saying difficult terms like “rectangular prism.”

When we first began working together, Emmanuel had two teeth missing.  It was a challenge getting him to be able to pronounce the “th” sound without those teeth, but he practiced and practiced until he got it right. I can still see that determined little face working to form the words.  Small but mighty, Emmanuel did anything and everything I asked him to do, without a whimper or complaint, as we vetted him for the retest mid-July.

As the day of the retest came, I prayed and waited to hear if he had passed.  When his dad arrived at our center, he was all smiles as he proudly showed me the congratulatory email on his phone.  There were high-fives all over our lobby, and we took Emmanuel’s photo, with both thumbs-up, to put on our bulletin board to celebrate his victory.

At Oxford, we are in the business of helping all of our students achieve their individual goals.  If one strolls through our center during a busy day, one might hear Shakespeare, calculus, chemistry, or physics concepts wafting through the air. We take pride in our high school students who score high on their SAT’s and go on to Ivy League schools.  But we also take every bit as much pride in the success of a kindergartener like Emmanuel.

At Oxford Tutoring Center, there are no small victories.

About the Author: Kathy H. is a tutor at Oxford Tutoring who enjoys tutors because she can make a difference in the lives of her students.  Her goal is to make learning fun by teaching to each student’s unique method of learning.  For fun, she likes to read, binge-watch TV shows on Netflix, serve at her church, and spend time with her grandchildren.

Posted in ACT, Child, classes, College Planning, Courses, Education, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, New SAT, SAT, SAT Test Prep, Studying, Uncategorized

6 Steps to Prepare for the SAT

The dreaded SAT: a challenge that all high school student with dreams of going to college must face.  Success on this test begins with understanding the SAT test and facing it with courage and determination. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, an American politician, diplomat, and activist, “You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”  The SAT may seem like a test too big to tackle, with some basic, manageable steps, you will find yourself on the way to not only taking the SAT, but conquering it.

 

Step #1 – Select an SAT Date.  Register!

It may seem like common sense, but with so many other activities, sports, classes, and studying, it is easy to let SAT test dates slip by without registering.  So, stop what you are doing right now.  Pick a test date, and go register here .

SAT Test Dates

The SAT test is offered a number of times during the school year.   Tests are offered on Saturdays.  Be sure to select a test date that you can feasibly prepare for. Be sure to take your other obligations into consideration, like finals, AP exams, sports tournaments, college applications, etc.

 

Step #2 – Set Score Goals.

It is important to set a goal for yourself.  That way you have a score that both you and your Oxford Tutoring SAT instructor are working towards.  This helps you develop a realistic expectation and provides motivation for you to do your best.  If you need help setting an SAT score goal, meet with an Oxford Tutoring SAT Counselor for free.

 

Step #3 – Track your progress.

Use the following chart to keep track of how you are doing.  That way, you can see where you started, take note of the areas that are still causing your trouble, and decide which subjects you want to continue tutoring in.

Track Progress

Step #4 – Study! Go to class, take practice tests, and do your homework.

While practice is helpful, practice does not make perfect if you are practicing incorrectly.  That’s where Oxford Tutoring comes in, with classes that cover content, teach strategies, and prepare you to achieve your SAT score goals.

Furthermore, when it comes to studying, treat the SAT like eating your vegetable.  Eating a few vegetables a day is manageable, helpful, and even good.  Studying is the same way.  Studying everyday is much more manageable and effective than trying to do it all at once.

Don’t try to do a week’s worth of studying in one day, just as you would not eat a week’s worth of vegetables in one day.  You will be healthier, smarter, and happier with consistent study.  And your SAT score will thank you! Consistent study builds long-term memory.

Step #5 – Focus extra study time on trouble spots.

Spend extra time on those areas that you are still struggling with.  This is especially helpful for critical reading and essay writing.

The following texts have been used by the SAT to construct SAT reading passages.  Thus, these readings are your best choice for practice of the reading passages.

Literature and Personal Narratives

U.S. Founding Documents (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers.

The Great Global Conversation (Edmund Burke, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martin Luther King Jr.

A speech delivered by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas on July 25, 1974, as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Federalist No. 65, an essay by Alexander Hamilton

Richard Florida, The Great Reset

Social Science and Physical Science

Economics, Psychology or Sociology resources

Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics resources

Step #6 – Succeed! Take the test with confidence!

Oxford Tutoring comes alongside you to help you achieve your SAT goals.  Sign up for an SAT or ACT test prep course today! (949) 681-0388.

If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to conquering the SAT and achieving your score goal.  Don’t forget, Oxford Tutoring is here to help offering SAT classes that come with a score guarantee and SAT private tutoring.  Call us today to schedule a free SAT Consult to learn more!

 

 

 

Posted in Child, family, Orange County, Orange County Events, Parent and Child, Uncategorized

OC Summer Family Fun: The Sawdust Art Festival

Celebrating talented artists, the Sawdust Art Festival features over 200 Laguna Beach artists from fine arts to crafts.  There is even free art sessions for kids, magicians, food and more!  Spend the day with your family at the Sawdust Art Festival.

Where: Laguna Beach, CA

When: June 24 – August 28

Tickets: Adults – $9; Children 6-12 – $4; Children 5 & under – free

Recommended for all ages.

Learn more here.