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.

Summer Math Courses Graphic

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 children, Education, Parenting, Private Tutoring, Tutoring, Uncategorized

10 Reasons To Sign Up For Tutoring

Should I sign my child up for tutoring?  This is a question that many parents face at one time or another.  At Oxford Tutoring we want to help you make this decision; so, we created a list of reasons why tutoring may be right for you and your child.

To Catch Up

One of the most common reasons children receive tutoring is because they are feeling like they have fallen behind in a particular, or multiple, subjects.  By signing up for tutoring, you are giving your child the opportunity to catch up in the areas they are struggling with before they get too FAR behind.

To Get Ahead

However, it is not only about catching up, tutoring is also beneficial for those students looking to push to the next level and excel.  Tutoring can be a great option for those looking to push their education to the next level.

To Obtain Homework Help

Children are assigned a great deal of homework and it can be completely overwhelming.  Not only that, but it can also be a fight between parent and child to get it all finished.  With a tutor, your child will have a guide to support them with all the assignments they have, allowing them to breathe a little easier and to put down their boxing gloves.

To Maintain Skills

Additionally, tutoring provides the opportunity to maintain the skills that children are learning.  It can be easy to go over a concept in school and then forget how to do it.  Tutoring is helpful for those children who do not want their skills to get rusty.

To Avoid The Summer Slide

A common phenomenon that takes place over the summer is called the “summer slide”. This means that over the summer children forget a significant amount of material that they learned during the school year.  With tutoring, children can avoid the summer slide.

To Have Student Accountability

Sometimes it can be challenging to get children to finish assignments, study for tests, and complete their homework.  With tutoring though, you have someone whose priority it is to see that their children succeeds in their schooling.  As a result, a tutor is one who will keep a child accountable and make sure they are getting their work done.

To Learn Study Skills

Knowing the content is undoubtedly important.  But there is more to tutoring than just teaching the content.  Tutoring also provides the chance to teach your child how to study better.  Children can spend a great deal of time studying, but still struggle to retain the information they are learning.  This is often because they are not studying in a way that works well for their individual learning style.  Tutors can build a child’s study skills to help them study more effectively.

To Build Confidence

Many children come in and do not realize that they have the capability to conquer the more difficult subjects, like the ACT or the SAT.  But with time, practice, and a tutor to encourage them as they progress, children can gain the confidence they need to succeed in their schooling.

To Prepare for the ACT or SAT

One of the most important and challenging tests all high school students must face is either the ACT test of the SAT test.  Oftentimes, these tests differ from the tests they see in school in that they require different strategies and content not always covered in school.  Tutoring is an ideal way to not only prepare for these difficult tests, but also to conquer them.

To Receive 1-on-1 Attention

In school, though a teacher may try to give each student individual attention, with class sizes the way they are, this is rarely possible.  With tutoring, your child can get the one-on-one attention they deserve.  This also allows the opportunity for the tutor to teach to the student the way they learn.

 

These are just some of the reasons why tutoring is beneficial.  Students of all ages, struggling or maintaining even A’s, can benefit from the advantages tutoring provides.

Ready to set your child up with a tutor?  Call Oxford Tutoring at (949) 681-0388.

 

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Posted in children, Education, K-12 Tutoring, teaching, Tutoring, Uncategorized

10 Ways to Teach to Each Learning Style

At Oxford Tutoring, our teaching method means teaching the way each individual student learns.  It is important to incorporate various teaching methods that reflect your child’s learning style.  Which is why we want to give you the tools to help reach your child based on their individual learning style – whether that he or she is a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic learner.

Here is a basic breakdown of the three learning styles:

Visual Learners – These types of learners do best when they see information.  They are adept at recalling objects, shapes, and pictures. Ways they learn are through reading, films, videos, or demonstrations.  They have the ability to see pictures in their minds.

Auditory Learners – These individuals have to hear information.  With a “good ear”, they can hear differences in tone and rhythm.  Something that will help these children is if they are read aloud to.  They are capable of remembering what they had heard in lectures.

Kinesthetic Learners – These are the children who learn best by doing.  They require hands-on, interactive learning.  They will tend to learn best when they are physically active and have strong coordination skills.

The above is a basic overview of the learning styles.  To determine the learning style of your child, administer this quiz.

Check out this list of 10 ways in which you can accommodate your child’s learning style.

 

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Visual Learners

  1. Use maps, flow charts, or webs to organize materials.
  2. Have students color code books/notes to organize materials.
  3. Write out checklists of formulas, commonly misspelled words, etc.
  4. Write out and use flashcards to review.
  5. Draw pictures or cartoons of concepts.
  6. Write down material on slips of paper and move them around into proper sequence.
  7. Use a whiteboard to note important information.
  8. Highlight important key terms in different colors.
  9. Replace important words with symbols or initials.
  10. Create visual storyboards for memorization purposes.

 

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Auditory Learners

  1. Engage the child in conversations about subject matter.
  2. Question children about the material.
  3. Ask for oral summaries of the material.
  4. Have them record lectures and review them with you.
  5. Have them record themselves reviewing the material (or a summary of notes) and listen to it together.
  6. Read material aloud to them.
  7. Have them put material to a rhythm or tune and rehearse it aloud.
  8. Have students explain their notes back to you.
  9. Use repetition for memorization.
  10. Read aloud to students and have them read aloud as well.

 

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Kinesthetic Learners

  1. Write out checklists of materials to be learned or looked for.
  2. Trace words and diagrams on paper.
  3. Use textured paper and experiment with different sizes of pens, pencils, and crayons to write down information.
  4. Use role play or dramatize concepts. Students can move objects around or act out a concept themselves.
  5. Ask students to envision a scene in which the material to be learned is being used or acted our somehow. For example, imagine a student being a character in a novel.
  6. Have the student take notes while reading or listening.
  7. Use some form of body movement (snapping your finger, mouthing ideas, pacing) while reciting material to be learned.
  8. Use real life examples, applications, and case studies to summarize difficult concepts.
  9. Use pictures and photographs that illustrate your ideas.
  10. Have students draw diagrams of the information they are learning.

 

We hope that this list allows you to help your children with their schooling.  Because we incorporate these various teaching strategies into our tutoring method, you can count on Oxford Tutoring to teach the way you learn.  Call us to schedule an appointment today! (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:

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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 children, Education, SAT, SAT Test Prep, student, Uncategorized

What To Do 24 Hours Before the SAT Test

You’ve spent weeks, even months reading and analyzing passages, practicing your math formulas, and writing more essays than you’ve written in your entire High School career.  The test is tomorrow morning.  Now what?  It seems like you should be doing something.  After all, this test is a factor in determining what college you are going to get into.  But what should you be doing for the last 24 hours before the SAT test?

The last 24 hours count just as much as the any of the other hours you’ve spent studying for one of the hardest tests you’ll face in high school.  So it is important to take advantage of  this last bit of time to come to the test fully rested, prepared and confident that you have done all you can to conquer the demanding SAT test.

The following checklist will help you utilize the last 24 hours efficiently and effectively.

#1 – Take a Study Break

This piece of advice usually comes as a surprise to the students who have heard “study, study, study” for the last several months.  In fact, at Oxford Tutoring, we encourage all of our students to put in outside hours of work, instead of relying solely on the time they spend preparing with us.  They need to put in the work on their own time as well.

But the day before the test is not the time to do this. The day before the test is the time to give your mind a break.  You’ve put in the work already.  Trying to cram in more information will most likely lead to anxiety, a challenge that can be extremely difficult to overcome.  So trust that you are prepared, and set the studying aside.

#2 – Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Seems like common sense, but it can be easy to make the mistake of not getting a restful night of sleep.  Maybe you think it will be more productive to study all night.  Or perhaps you just simply cannot turn that Xbox game off.  Most likely, your nerves are taking over and making it difficult to fall asleep.

If that is the case, there are a number of techniques to try and set your mind at ease.  One possibility is counting backwards from 100 by 7’s.  Or focus on the different muscles by tensing them for 10 seconds and the relaxing them.  Start with your feet and work your way up all the way to your head.  What both of these exercises do is get your mind off of your worries and onto the task at hand.  Your mind cannot focus on both.  Often times, you’ll find yourself simply drifting off to sleep because you’ve taken your mind off of the anxiety.

#3 – Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Now it’s the morning of the SAT test. Time for a healthy breakfast.  We are not talking about Fruit Loops here.  We mean something substantial – protein and fruit are always a safe option.  Whatever it is, make sure you are giving your body the energy it will need for the long test ahead.

#4 – What to Bring

Make sure you bring all of the following:

  • A calculator
  • Two #2 pencils
  • A healthy snack
  • A light sweater
  • Your ID
  • You admission ticket
  • A wristwatch
  • A water bottle

# 5 – Get to the Site Early

You do not want to arrive to the test rushed, sweaty, and stressed after sprinting to the classroom because you are running behind.  Make sure to give yourself enough time to arrive at the site at least 15 minutes early. That way you can find where you need to be, check in, and get settled.  This will promote a sense of calm that is necessary for taking the SAT test.

#6 – Take the Test with Confidence!

You have studied; you have worked hard; you know this material.  You are ready.  Trust the tools you have acquired and the information you have learned.  It’s time to conquer the SAT!

Oxford Tutoring

Want to take the test with confidence?  Check out SAT private tutoring or SAT courses with Oxford Tutoring.  We are here to help you succeed! (949) 681-0388

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Posted in children, Education, essay, student, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Tools

How to Write Stronger Essays

One of the most common struggles that most of our English Language Arts students face is writing a strong essay.  And I say strong essay, because a lot of people can write an essay.  But what about the ones that effectively communicates your argument, is in an organized fashion, and is well-written?  That is a different story, or rather a different essay.

Check out the following tips to writer stronger essays that shine!


Start Early

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Seems simple enough, right? However, many students tend to overlook this one relatively easy fix.  Maybe it is because they are overwhelmed with all their other school work.  Perhaps, they are intimidated by essays and put off starting as long as possible. Either way, starting early enough sets you up for many of the other steps that will support writing strong essays.  So, give yourself at least 2 weeks to work on your essay.  Your grade will thank you for it!

Write Drafts

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Don’t expect to get it all done in one draft.  Your paper will need editing, revising, and rewriting.  Even the best writer does not expect to write his masterpiece all at once.  They’ll send their original draft to friends, colleagues, and make sure to go through their writing themselves.  A well-written piece, whether it is essays, poems, or narratives, is going to need several drafts before turning in the final assignment.

Read It Aloud

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Speaking of editing, a great way to check for spelling errors, word choice, or confusing sentences, is to read your essay out loud.  You will hear things that your eyes will pass over while reading.  Reading your essay out loud to yourself is a great way to catch little issues you might have otherwise missed.

Take Some Time Away

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An often under-utilized tool for writing essays, is to give yourself some time away from the piece you are working on.  Sometimes, we just get too bogged down by what we are working on.  There is something we are trying to communicate, but cannot seem to get across.  Try stepping away from what you are writing for an hour, a day, or even a couple of days. It is surprising how much a little space and perspective can help your writing.

Pay Attention to Word Choice

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Many students seem to find a word to describe what they are talking about, and tend to use it over and over again.  This is a waste of the expansive English language.  There are too many ways to communicate through the written word to stick to just a few descriptive words.  So eliminate repetitive words and replace them with other words you find in the thesaurus.

Write a Clear Thesis Statement

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Your thesis statement is an essential component of your essay.  Think of it like a map.  It is going to not only tell your reader where you are headed, but it will give you the direction you need as a writer.

To write a well-written thesis statement, remember A + B + CA is your topic; B is your opinion on that topic; and C is your points of support.  Use this formula to write a convincing thesis, and use it as a guide from which to write your entire essay.

Read

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One of the best ways to become a stronger writer is to read those who write well.  This is true for both fiction and non-fiction writing.  Go get your nose in a book, your writing will reflect what you read.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many tools available to help your essay writing skills.  And essay writing is important to master because you will find yourself having to write many essays throughout both your high school and college career.

Call Oxford Tutoring for help applying these tools or to have one of our essay experts take a look at your essay. (949) 681-0388

 

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Posted in children, Education, K-12 Tutoring, school, student, Tutoring, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized

Students Ask the Darnedest Things

In the last few minutes of a session, I had a student hit me with this question, just out of the blue:

Does anyone have one googol dollars?

For those who aren’t familiar with “googol”, it’s actually not a misspelling of everyone’s favorite verbed search engine. It’s this very large number:
10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
… or, with commas:
10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
… because those commas, of course, make all the difference.

It’s probably for the better I wasn’t taking a sip of water when this question came up, since I almost did the dry version of the classic spit-take, but I caught myself in time, paused, and instead said, “… Ok, well, let’s have some fun with this.”

1-zillion-dollars
Hint? You’re going to have about as much luck cashing one of these…

The average dollar bill weighs 1 gram. For ease of transport, dollar bills come in “straps”, or bundles of 100. We’re going to do ourselves a couple favors and say (1) that we’re only going to use $100 bills, to minimize the number of dollar bills we will have to create, and (2) the paper strips holding the straps magically have no mass. Sure, this is entirely wrong, but, trust me, we’re going to need all the mass we can have available for $100 bills.

 

According to the US Federal Reserve, there were 38.1 billion currency notes in circulation in 2015. While this doesn’t just mean dollar bills (it could include other valid notes of value), this provides us our first estimate: If we convert all of these notes up to $100… we’re nowhere close. That would give us $3.81 trillion, which gets us a paltry 3.81 x 10^-88 percent of the way there. In numbers?
0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000381%

This clearly won’t do, not if we’re trying to become the richest person ever known, and quite possibly in past, present, and future, at that. So, let’s do something mathemagical here.

Our home, good old Planet Earth, has a mass of 5.972 × 10^24 kg, or in grams like our money, 5.972 × 10^27 g. I’ll spare you writing out the big number, but that number, in grams, is also exatcly how many $100 bills we could have if we could turn every single atom of the Earth into $100 bills (this is where we put the “magic” in “mathemagical” – this would take ridiculous amounts of energy that we’re going to magically ignore the need for right now). By doing so, we get a grand total of $5.972 × 10^29. We also now lack for a place to store all of these $100 bills (one of the downsides of no longer having a planet), but I’m sure we can just grab a spare black hole for a wallet. Unfortunately, we need 70-and-a-half more zeroes, so we’re going to need some more mass…

… so we’re going to use the entire Solar System!

But it turns out this doesn’t actually help too much more. The Sun, all the planets, every moon, and all sorts of other objects like asteroids and comets and other items (oh my!) comes to a collective mass of 1.991 x 10^33 grams, or $1.991 x 10^35 dollars, and we’re still just under 65 zeroes too short. Can we go bigger?

Of course! Our Solar System isn’t just floating around in space. It sits on a far arm of the Milky Way galaxy, which has a mass of 1.153 x 10^45 grams. I’m going to guess now though, my savvy reader, that you’ve caught on to the pattern – the number of dollars is two more than the number on 10^##. At $1.153 x 10^47 dollars, we’re just under half the number of digits!

And this is where we reach the point of impossibility. Best estimates state that there are on the order of 100 billion galaxies, and even if we take all of these into account, we’re going to need some of that as-yet-undiscovered dark matter to get things to work – converting every single galaxy, with generous estimates, only gets us to approximately $1.153 x 10^58 dollars. To put this titanic number into perspective, compared to our $1 googol? Halfway to $1 googol would be $5 x 10^99.

At this point, it’s safe to say we’re not going to get $1 googol. If we somehow could get this to work though, we wouldn’t have a planet to put it on. We might be able, somehow, to arrange in space, but this much money just might make for the strangest galaxy of them all…

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Money Galaxy

 

About the Author: Jason Orens – a Math and Computer Science Instructor, has been tutoring with Oxford Tutoring for over nine years.  Utilizing the student’s existing knowledge and a touch of humor, Jason strives to remove students mental barriers between themselves and the difficult, technical materials.  He combines his years of tutoring experience and expertise in the fields of Math and Computer Science to give his students the tools they need to succeed in these challenging classes.

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.