Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Morehouse Whiz Kid is Causing a Stir: 13-Year-Old Dominates College

"At thirteen years of age, Stephen Stafford is causing quite a stir at Morehouse College. Stafford has a triple major in pre-med, math and computer science. Though he loves playing video games and playing his drum set, he is no typical teenager."  Read entire article here.

[SOURCE: BV Black Spin]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Children's board games help reinforce lessons learned in the classroom

"Disconnect the Xbox, uninstall the computer game software and close the laptop.  You want your child to have fun but learn at the same time, at a fraction of the cost? Play a board game, experts say."  Read the entire article here.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The ABCs of Standardized Tests

With so many standardized tests and acronyms to remember, sometimes it can be difficult to keep up.  We've created this handy reference guide just in case you need a little help! For additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact IST.

ACT (originally "American College Testing," but now is simply known as "ACT"):
Category: College Admission
Summary:  Typically grades 11-12.  Subject-based exam designed to test student's knowledge of content in English, mathematics, reading and science.  Learn more here.

CTP 4/ERBs ("Comprehensive Test Program"; often referred to as "ERBs" after the company that produces it, the "Educational Records Bureau"):
Category:  Achievement
Summary:  Grades 1-10.  Battery of assessments designed to provide instructionally useful information about student performance in reading, listening, vocabulary, writing, mathematics, and verbal and quantitative reasoning.  Learn more here.

ECAA ("Early Childhood Admissions Assessment"):
Category:  Private School Admission
Summary:  Grades PreK-5.  Designed to assess student's current level of development, but not intended to predict long range success.  Learn more here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tips for Successful Math Students

Organization and good note-taking are both important to being a successful math student.  As an IST tutor and a math teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, I have noticed a few simple things that help students improve their performance.

The better students have a very organized binder or notebook dedicated only to math. I have seen sub-sections dedicated to warm-up, classwork, homework, tests & quizzes.

Successful students also take diligent notes during class and make comments and note of errors or misconceptions in the margins (i.e. "watch out for negatives," "when you raise a power to a power you multiply the exponents" etc).

It is also good to see students write down the question, steps and answer for any math problem (especially if the homework is from a textbook).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Etymology is Everywhere!

et⋅y⋅mol⋅o⋅gy  [et-uh-mol-uh-jee]

1. the derivation of a word.
2. an account of the history of a particular word or element of a word.
3. the study of historical linguistic change, esp. as manifested in individual words.

Parents often ask me what is the best way to teach their children new vocabulary before they come to IST. I am convinced now, after only a few short hours of a completely non-scientific experiment, that the first step in effectively learning new words is to simply open your ears and eyes throughout the day.

Tonight, I was sitting in church when I heard a man next to me repeat one of the words the pastor said, as if to ask, "What does that mean?" The word was "chasm." It was then that I realized that I had been subconsciously creating a list of the SAT-type words that I heard during the past two sermons.

Later, after I got home, I watched two hours of prime time TV (this is a lot for me!) to see how many more SAT words I could add to the list.  Click the link below to see the results...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Teaching Through Relevant Examples

What do Wile E. Coyote, E.T., and John Legend in common?  To everyone except me, the answer is "nothing."  But to me, the common thread is that I used each of these as teaching examples in my verbal test prep sessions this week.  Each example is a true testament to how well you can facilitate student understanding just by making relevant connections to things that students already know and/or are interested in.

Wile E. Coyote
In the first session, the SSAT question asked my student to select a synonym for the word "wily"  from a list of five words.  He had no idea what it meant, that is until I asked him if he ever watched the show, "Bugs Bunny."  When he told me that he had, I asked him to name all of the characters.  When he got to the coyote, I asked him to give me his full name:  "Wile E. Coyote."  For those of you who don't remember, Wile E.'s main activities involved devising wild (and always unsuccessful) schemes to catch the Road Runner.  After thinking about Wile E.  and looking again at the answer choices, the student immediately chose the word "crafty."  Guess what?  He was correct!  "Wily" is an adjective that means "crafty or cunning." How many of us knew this when we watched the cartoon years ago?!