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Creating Better Sleep: How To Help Your Kids Handle The New School Year

Monday, September 24, 2018

by special guest contributor Joyce Wilson*

For many families, the beginning of a new school year comes loaded with conflicting feelings: excitement, stress, joy and exhaustion. It can be difficult to get everyone back on a healthy schedule after a summer of staying up late and having no responsibilities, which means it’s important to create a routine that will be easy for your little ones to follow once school starts again. This will help them feel rested and will positively affect their moods and productivity in class, and it will also benefit their physical health as well.

While it’s not always easy to get everyone on a good routine, there are small things you can do before school starts and in the early weeks to help them get more rest. Remember that quality sleep is just as important as quantity, so you’ll need to think about how to ensure your kiddos get deep REM sleep with no interruptions. This might mean cutting off liquids after a certain time, or changing up their diet to include foods that will make sleep easier.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your kids handle the new school year.

Make it Comfy


5 Tips for Tutoring Students with Disabilities

Monday, July 16, 2018

by special guest contributor, Maria Hills

Learning disabilities usually affect the way children understand and process the information. Disabilities are neurological disorders that might manifest themselves as thinking, listening, writing, spelling, and doing mathematical equations. As a teacher, you must understand that students with disabilities need some accommodation and need to be taught differently so as to enhance their learning capabilities. Here are 5 tips for tutoring students with disabilities,

1. Use music and voice inflection

When moving to another concept, you need to use a short song to help you finish up a task before moving to another one. Use this approach when teaching them in the classroom and you’ll easily capture their attention. Disable students might also respond well to varied tones and voice reflection. So, make sure you use a mixture of soft, loud, and whisper tones. Using an exaggerating speech and proper pronunciation will help you learn the same principles.

2. Give appropriate and clear assignments

When assigning them homework, you need to take a lot of care. If the homework is too hard or takes longer to finish, then students might resist doing it. Homework should, therefore, be an extension of what they’ve just learned in class. So, make sure you explain this properly to them.

3. Break down the instructions into smaller tasks which can be managed

Disabled students often have a problem with understanding long winding statements. For those who have learning disabilities you should simple and strong sentences. Or instance you might need to break down a concept into smaller steps to ensure that students who are disabled understand what’s happening. Ask them to demonstrate that they’ve understood the facts. Do not give more instructions until you are sure that they’ve completed the previous tasks.


Summer Side Hustles for Teachers

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

by guest contributor Joyce Wilson of Teacherspark.org  

When you are a teacher, people assume you spend your whole summer lazing around in a hammock sipping lemonade. However, the more likely scenario is you spending those couple months going over lesson plans, fixing your budget and caring for your family. However, there is a bit more free time during the summer months, so why not take advantage of it this year by starting a side hustle that you can take with you into the next semester? 

We’ve gathered up some of our favorite ideas for summer side hustles for teachers. Check them out below.

Interior Home Painting 

If you find the roll of a paintbrush over a wall soothing, there is no better time to start your own little home and room interior painting business than the summer. Families who want a fresh coat are more likely to hire you to do the project while they are gone on vacation. They come home to a new look and you go home with some extra hard-earned cash. Part-time interior painters can make as much as $35 an hour!

TIP: Start a portfolio with photos of the impressive work you’ve done in your own home. 

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking


5 Healthy Drinks to Fuel Your Next Study Marathon

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

In the face of a long, multi-hour study session, students often hit the books with a caffeinated beverage at arm’s reach, such as coffee, soda, or one of an ever-expanding assortment of energy drinks.  But the effects of these liquid pick-me-ups could wear off too soon, which means that they might not be the best fuel for your next study marathon.

According to a report from the National Academy of Science, “a variety of beverages is well-suited to satisfying the fluid requirements of people of all ages,” including students (source). Water is, of course, important for prolonged hydration; but if you’re looking for something with a little flavor that will keep you going through all of the studying that lies ahead, then we recommend that you try one of these:

1. Citrus Tea Punch.  A variety of teas offer the added benefits of antioxidants that help boost the immune system and ward off illness.  Add to that a good dose of orange juice, packed with vitamin C, and you’ve got a refreshing treat that’s also quite healthy.  The recipe is here.

2. Blackberry-Mango Shake.  This tasty concoction is jam-packed with fiber, protein, and vitamin C.  In the short term, it will give you a little boost for your study session.  But in the long term, the nutrients in its blackberries, mango, orange juice, and tofu (yes, tofu) will help in the fight against heart disease. The recipe is here.


3 Relaxation Techniques to Try During a Study Break

Monday, February 5, 2018

Students often find themselves so overwhelmed the night before a big test or major essay is due that they become paralyzed by the stress.  And there are those dreaded days, scattered throughout the school year, when two or even three hefty assessments (quizzes, tests, projects, papers, etc.) are all due at once.  Uggh!

But don’t collapse under all of the pressure.  Do your best--or enlist the help of a parent, guardian, or tutor--to map out your study time, complete with breaks for food, drink, and vital restorative activities.  In a previous blog post, we recommended trying out a few simple exercises as a pick-me-up if you’re feeling sluggish during a marathon study session.  But if you feel just the opposite, as if you can’t seem to relax enough to focus, then we suggest instead that you employ a simple relaxation technique that will help you find the peace and calm that you need to prepare effectively for the next day’s challenges.

So, with this in mind, here are three relaxation techniques to dry during a study break:

Meditation.  According to Robbie Hartman, PhD, a Chicago-based health and wellness coach, “Daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress” (quoted by WebMD).  Resilience to stress is exactly what you’ll need to power through that study session, so move from your desk chair to the floor and settle in for the next 10-15 minutes.  Then, sitting upright with your legs crossed, close your eyes and focus on the recitation (either aloud or mentally) of a mantra, such as “all is well” or “I’ll be fine.”  WebMD recommends placing one hand on your belly to sync the recitation of the mantra with your breaths, and to let any stressful thoughts “float by like clouds.”


Five Tips for Surviving an All-Nighter

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It’s that paper you’ve been putting off for weeks. Or that big project you’ve told yourself you would finish up. But here you are, the night before it’s due, nervously watching the clock as it moves from 8 PM to 10 PM, and before you know it, it’s 2 AM and you’re still not done. This situation calls for: an all-nighter. This may sound daunting, but fear not! Here are survival tips (from yours truly who has pulled many an all-nighter) that will help in your academic endeavors.

1. Sip, don’t chug!

If your first instinct is like mine (to start your all-nighter by chugging three Red Bulls), think again. While this will definitely boost your energy, it will also overload your brain and body with adrenaline, the neurotransmitter responsible for the flight-or-fight response. I’ve done this, and my hands ended up shaking so badly I couldn’t type, let alone concentrate on stringing a coherent sentence together. Instead, ingest the caffeine slowly so the inevitable ‘crash’ later on won’t be as drastic. Space the drinks out! If you know, for example, that three hours after a cup of coffee you begin to feel tired, start sipping your next caffeinated beverage half an hour before that; this will provide a small boost of energy and will help you avoid a crash.

2. Know your naps

When I pull an all-nighter, I hit a wall around 3 am—desperate for sleep, but not willing to put my paper/studying in jeopardy. Instead of downing another Red Bull, I’ll bargain with myself (e.g. ‘If I can finish this paragraph in the next ten minutes, I’ll take a ten minute nap’), set an alarm, and almost instantly lose consciousness.


How to Survive & Thrive in AP Latin

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Augustus CaesarAP Latin is an extremely challenging, college-caliber course that requires a sustained, serious commitment from the student.  Classical Latin is a literary language: that is, fluency means being able to read literature at sight, as opposed to being able to speak and listen to the language with a native’s proficiency.  And for AP Latin, students are expected to be fluent at reading, translating, and analyzing selected portions of two particular works of Literature: Vergil’s Aeneid and Julius Caesar’s Commentarii De Bello Gallico.


How to Survive & Thrive: AP English Literature & Composition

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

by Hannah Frank, special guest contributor

AP English

Literature and Composition is high-level reading and writing course that challenges students’ ability to comprehend and compose analyses of rich and complex literaturewritten in or translated to English.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP English Lit & Comp students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:


How to Survive & Thrive: AP Psychology

Monday, January 23, 2017

AP Psychology is an advanced social science course in which students “explore how psychologists use research methods and critical analysis to explore human behavior” (College Board).  It’s a tough but fun course, and it’s considered to be the perfect offering for students who love both social studies and science.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Psychology students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

What’s fascinating about psychology is its real-life application. You’ll be able to observe these applications every day—and what’s a better way to study than hands on? My AP Psycho

logy teacher used to play Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” before every test he gave us as a way to calm us down; but due to conditioning, the one day he played the song when we didn’t have a test scheduled, our class dissolved into panic, as we’d associated the song with taking a hard test. But I’ll also never forget what classical conditioning is. Hands-on learning can be an excellent way to obtain and retain knowledge you’ll need for the exam.

You should have a working knowledge of important people, ideas, and their application. There are a lot of terms, but by making flashcards during each unit during the year, you can avoid last minute panicking over concepts from the first unit.


How to Survive & Thrive in AP Biology

Monday, January 2, 2017

AP Biology is an advanced science course that challenges students’ understanding of biology through what the College Board calls “inquiry-based learning.”  Topics covered include evolution, cellular processes, genetics, ecology, and more.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Biology students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help y

ou achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Memorize the general workings of each process you learn, especially in the time leading up to each test. This class is largely centered around memorizing the details that make up the processes of life, so in order to get through it you need to put in the time and effort of memorizing the details of the various processes taught in this course. Take photosynthesis, for example: it is split up into two parts, the light and dark reactions which are further divided into smaller, more specific processes. Thus, you must learn many details in order to understand the process at the level you need to when you take the test.

2. Practice writing essays and free response paragraphs. Although this course is a science class, writing plays an important role and thus should be practiced constantly. Aside from the need to write in the free response section of the AP exam at the end of the year, it serves as a good indicator of whether you unders

tand a concept by determining if you can write a coherent summary of it.

How to Thrive:


How to Survive & Thrive: AP Spanish Language and Culture

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AP Spanish is the plateau (or meseta!) of classroom Spanish learning.  Not to be confused with AP Spanish Literature, AP Spanish Language and Culture is a rigorous course that challenges students to converse and write fluently in Español.  

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Spanish students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Have a basic understanding of the many grammatical concepts—both elementary and complex—that the Spanish language is composed of, including conjugation rules for verbs, gender/number rules for nouns, and structure rules for different types of clauses (i.e. si clauses). Although some of these rules may seem incredibly simple, they are the basis of Spanish. So, to master the language, you must understand and review them. Do not rely solely on your memory of previous years of Spanish to bring your grammar to the AP level—many of these small details are easily forgotten, so make sure to review all of the grammar that you have learned thus far thoroughly.

2. Be able to speak, read, write, and listen at a basic level; all of these skills are central to the curriculum of the class and are ultimately tested on the AP exam. In order to get through this course, you must be comfortable in all these areas. The amount of work that you put into honing these skills will determine your success. To merely survive the course, significantly less effort is necessary than if you are working to thrive and succeed. To work on these areas, you can go online to find a Spanish article and translate it, write about it, and then converse about it in Spanish with someone you know who is also familiar with the language.


How to Thrive:


Why College in the UK Might Be the Best Fit for You

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Chances are that when you’re preparing for college, you’ve considered places that are more than just a couple hours away. Perhaps you’re from New York and considering Stanford, or instead you are a Midwesterner looking at Williams or Duke. In any event, going to college is a chance to go off to a place potentially far away and make your own way.

So why limit yourself to only colleges in the United States?

If you are willing to give your passport a workout, there are a number of advantages to considering studying in the United Kingdom.


How to Survive and Thrive in AP Calculus

Monday, September 12, 2016

AP Calculus is typically considered to be one of the toughest AP courses by high school students.  There are actually two versions of the course: AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC.  BC is the harder course of the two, mainly because its curriculum covers a wider range of problems.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Calculus students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.

How to Survive in AP Calculus:


5 Awesome Twitter Feeds to Help with Your Internship Search!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If you're like most ambitious high school students, then you might be thinking about doing a meaningful internship this summer. But how does one go about finding the perfect opportunity? Well, as it turns out, Twitter is a great place to start your search. After an extensive search, we've found the following 5 cool internship accounts, and we highly recommend that you check them out:

1. New York Internships (@nyinternships): Looking for a job or internship in NYC? This account Tweets about options in all areas, from beauty to photography to graphic design. Follow @nyinternships to check out fantastic opportunities in the city!

2. Fashion Internships (@fashionintern): Interested in the fashion industry? Check out @fashionintern for all opportunities in fashion, whether you know nothing about it or you’re looking to learn a specific skill for one the world’s top fashion brands!

3. Lauren Berger (@InternQueen): Are you a student interested in finding work in the real world? Follow @InternQueen for tips and job and internship opportunities in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and many other parts of the country!

4. DC Internships (@dcinternjobs): Looking for an internship or job in the capital of our country? Follow @dcinternjobs for awesome opportunities--especially if you’re looking to work for the U.S. government one day.

5. Viacom Careers (@ViacomCareers): Viacom is another great Twitter account if you’re interested in finding an internship or job in just about any discipline! Follow @ViacomCareers for the latest updates in job opportunities!


4 Simple Exercises To Do During a Study Break

Monday, February 8, 2016

You’ve been hunched over that AP Environmental Science textbook for at least three hours, and now you’re struggling to make heads or tails of the latest paragraph.  You’ve already had two protein bars, your favorite fruit smoothie, and--as a last resort--a piece of sugary candy, but you still feel like your brain simply cannot absorb any more information.  

Does this scenario seem familiar?

If so, then you should consider espousing the ancient Roman ideal of a “sound mind in a sound body” (mens sana in corpore sano).  This philosophy, which some scholars attribute to an earlier Greek source, has been interpreted and applied in a variety of ways.  But for the sake of your study habits, think of it like this: if your body is healthy, then your brain will follow suit.  

So why not close that textbook for a few minutes and do some exercises?  You’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to get back to the books in the short term, and, what’s more, you’ll feel better overall in the long term.  We’ve culled dozens of fitness websites’ exercise suggestions, and here are four that we recommend trying out during a study break:


Sound Body, Sound Mind

Monday, January 11, 2016

The ideal of the “sound mind in a sound body,” which may predate the Ancient Romans, can be found in a poem by the Latin satirist Juvenal:

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.

ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,

and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts

that can endure any kind of toil…

Educators, psychologists, parenting experts--and the list goes on and on--have championed this expression, and we’re jumping on that bandwagon. Really, how could anyone argue with the importance of being both mentally and physically healthy? Our interpretation of the expression is simple and literal: we take it to mean that in order to be in your best mental shape--and, by extension, to do your best in school and on standardized tests--you must first make sure that you are in your best physical shape.

We’ve therefore decided to kick off the new year with our “Sound Body, Sound Mind” blog series, featuring topics such as follows:

  • Four Simple Exercises to Do During a Study Break
  • Four Relaxation Techniques to Try During a Study Break
  • The Top 10 Delicious Brain Foods to Keep You Energized
  • Five Healthy Drinks to Fuel Your Next Study Marathon
  • Five Fun Ways to Reward Yourself After Studying

This wonderful series will begin with our next blog entry on Tuesday, January 26th, and will continue throughout the winter and into the spring.

Stay tuned to this blog, and have a happy and HEALTHY New Year!



How to Survive & Thrive: AP English Language and Composition

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

According to the College Board, AP English Language & Composition “focuses on the development and revision of evidence-based analytic and argumentative writing and the rhetorical analysis of nonfiction texts.”  Many students who take the course or just the exam think of it as a good warm-up for the verbal portions of other standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT.

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP English students to come up with six very useful tips--three “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and three “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Read cartoons. No, it’s not the time to pull out your old Calvin and Hobbes; read political cartoons. Analyze them. What are they trying to convey? What are they protesting or satirizing? These analytic skills are necessary for reading graphs, analyzing pictures, or parsing passages. Read news articles, and answer the same questions. Two of the essays on the exam are based on your ability to read passages or graphs and use them to form an argument. A smart way to create an argument or thesis is to reference back to the passage and the rhetorical devices used. Speaking of…

2. Do you know your rhetorical devices? The multiple choice questions focus on identifying and analyzing an author’s rhetorical devices, as well as understanding an author’s point of view and reasoning. You should have a working knowledge of tone, structure, grammar and the like and you should be able to identify them in a passage. What is the purpose of the passage?