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Tutoring For Your Needs • Passion For Education

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Aug 082012

David Dillon - Winner of $100 Facebook Scholarship Contest and the $250 Share Your Passion Scholarship

Education, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction.” With that definition, one can see that there exist two roles in the education system: receivers and distributors. It is the responsibility of teachers to distribute information to their students, the receivers, in as lucid a manner as possible; however, as receivers, it is the students’ responsibility to be receptive of what the teachers distribute. In an academic environment, cooperation is required between both parties for complete success to be achieved.

Based upon statistics and common knowledge, there are students who enjoy learning and students who need some sort of incentive to delve into the learning process. Due to this fact, it is up to the teachers to create an inviting educational environment, a place where the retention of knowledge and abstract thinking is encouraged. Alongside that, teachers must be open to the different manners in which students learn, so that every student has a fair opportunity to comprehend the teacher’s instruction. Once an encouraging environment has been established, the student has the responsibility to be receptive of the teacher’s material. If the open environment still is not sufficient encouragement for the student, then that student must become self-motivated. In my case, when I feel that the style in which the teacher delivers information is not compatible with my way of learning, I have to do what I can in order to understand the material. If that means independently studying at home, asking questions, or seeking tutoring, then I have to take that upon myself and do so.

When I find myself uninterested in a specific topic, I do my best to apply it to something that I am interested in so that I can not only stay focused, but actually understand the material. For instance, I initially did not understand the purpose of physics and analyzing free-fall acceleration until I applied it to breakdancing. I realized that an upward force has to be greater than the natural downward force of gravity in order to remain in the air for a given amount of time, causing me to look again into how I executed certain movements. The application of uninteresting information to interesting information amplifies one’s understanding of the interesting information, inherently making both more comprehensible.

One way to conquer an array of learning styles is through flexibility. Each participant in the education system has to be willing to accept a method that may be foreign to them, including the parents. The parents play an interesting role because they are not in the classroom with their students; they do not see the everyday classroom procedures. The parent/guardian’s responsibility, even outside of the realm of education, is simply to encourage the student. When the student is struggling with a specific topic, the parent should be there to let the child know that they are able to accomplish any task as long as they work for it. Dually, it is the parent’s responsibility to discipline the student in a way that the teacher cannot. The parent is there when the teacher cannot be, and knows the student better than anyone else; therefore, the parent must be sure that the student is staying on task and completing his or her work at home so that they can get the most out of their education.

Ultimately, practice makes perfect. Motivation is the key to success in the education system, whether it comes from the teachers, the parents, or the students themselves. With motivation and diligence, anything can be accomplished, even getting accepted to one’s dream college.

May 152012

According to stopbullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”

In recent years we have seen an outpouring of stories of how bullying is impacting so many young lives.  Each tale tells the tragic story of how a child has been bullied so much until he or she fears and loathes going to school, some have even been made to feel that there is no other solution but to end their young lives.  One life lost is one too many.

Many people find themselves asking, “What can I do to stop bullying?”.  The simplest and most obvious answer is that parents and educators need to work together and take immediate action in order to stop bullying.  However, it is not only up to parents and educators, it is up to all of us.  We must all take action and continue the trend of speaking out against bullying; we need to have an open discussion, in which everyone feels comfortable and safe to talk about their views on bullying in order to inform children, parents, educators, etc. on what it is and how much it can negatively impact those individuals who are the victims of bullying.

As a parent and/or educator you should ask your children/students if they have ever been the victims of bullying or if they have participated in bullying another child.  Let them know what bullying is; perhaps your children/students may have bullied someone else without realizing how harmful their actions were.  Or you might find that your children/students are currently being bullied but are too afraid to speak up or simply do not realize that they can ask for help in order to make it stop.

We want school to feel like a safe environment for children and for them to feel comfortable and safe enough so that they can learn.  Bullying makes school feel like an unsafe place, it lowers victim’s self-esteem, it makes them nervous and anxious, it brings on depression, and it makes students unable to focus on school and learning.

Bullying is also a way for those who are doing the bullying to cry out for help.  Most bullies also suffer from depression, they have low self-esteem, and some even have a tendency of thinking about suicide.  Bullying is a real problem and it needs to stop now.

Unfortunately there are many of us who have had personal experiences with bullying, and although our tales of woe might be minor compared to others, they were still significant and we would have all been better off without these harsh experiences.

Share your stories on how you were bullied and what you did to overcome it.  Share a story of how you helped a victim of bullying by speaking up.  Or share ideas on how to eliminate bullying.  Let’s begin talking about bullying and how to eliminate it.

May 102012

As we probably have all come to realize, we do not all learn the same way and with the same techniques.  Some individuals learn by doing, others learn by simply listening, while others learn by looking.  We are all unique individuals, and as would be expected, our learning styles are unique as well.  The three most common learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile learners.  Knowing what time of learner your child is is essential in understanding how to present new information in order to ensure they will retain it more effectively.

  • Visual learners – These types of learners process information best through sight; they need to see someone else do the activity in order for them to gain a better understanding of how to do it.  Visual learners also like to be presented with images, graphs, or videos and they like to highlight information (either with a highlighter or by underlining it with a pen) and they also like to read information in order to understand the information that is being presented.  These types of learners learn best when presented with images – they are typically unable to learn by simply hearing information.
  • Auditory learners – These individuals learn best when they hear or speak information.  They gain the most benefit when they discuss certain information with others, or when they hear a lecture – they don’t retain information as easily if they just see it written on a piece of paper.  Auditory learners also understand the information presented in a book best when they read that information aloud or when it is read out loud to them.
  • Kinesthetic/tactile leaners – These learners are the type of individuals that are very hands on.  They need to try something out for themselves in order to understand the information.  These individuals are usually harder to teach, because they feel a constant need to be moving around and exploring their surroundings, and most lectures are not taught in a tactile way – most lectures are geared towards the auditory and visual learners.

Understanding what kind of learner your child is might be the trick to helping them understand the classroom information, that they are having a hard time with, more effectively.  Although most children are able to learn in more than just one way, it is important to understand which way is the most effective in order to tackle those harder topics and to present information in a way that will be the most effective for your child.

We are passionate educators and we work hard to ensure that the students we tutor gain a love of education and learning.  Give us a call and let us help your child become an avid learner for life.

Feb 082012

The most difficult part of tutoring has got to be hearing that your student failed their test even though they were doing the problems perfectly for you the night before. When I heard this story from a student of mine in Rancho Cucamonga for the third time, my brain started whirling: “What went wrong? How could you fail another test? What are we going to do?!?”


What went wrong? Test anxiety! Test anxiety is a common problem that can have negative effects upon students including poor performance and poor grades, which can in turn decrease their self-esteem and motivation. Furthermore, it can lead to unfavorable opinions about school and learning. The question that we come to is “what can we do to combat test anxiety and help our students enjoy their education?”


While a little bit of anxiety is healthy and improves students’ performance too much leads to poor performance and poor grades. One of the most difficult things about test anxiety is that it gets worse as the expectation of the student increases. Basically, test anxiety hits the hardest when it counts the most, which explains why some students always bomb the big test. Nonetheless there are things students can do to combat the harmful effects of test anxiety.


The best thing students can do is be prepared. Preparation includes studying well in advance to avoid last minute cramming, which can be a stressful ordeal in itself. Preparation also includes, getting and staying organized so they know how to best manage their time during the test and practicing answering questions of the type they will encounter when the big day arrives.


During the test, students can also use a few tricks to help keep their anxiety in check. First and foremost, they need to keep their head in the game and avoid daydreaming and needless worrying. To avoid becoming overly anxious, students ought to start with the easier questions and go back to trickier questions after they’ve gotten a few correct answers under their belt. A good way to keep from getting overwhelmed is to break tough problems into manageable pieces.


When in the grips of anxiety, it may be difficult, but it is helpful to stay positive and use uplifting self-affirmations. Students can remind themselves “I did this type of problem perfectly all week” or “I am a smart person.” Finally, they need to remember to breath. If your student gets completely overwhelmed, tell them to stop, put their pencil down and take three deep breaths before continuing.


If you or your child is struggling with study habits, test preparation or suffers from test anxiety, please call The Tutoring Solution at 909- 973- 9089. Our passionate, experienced tutors can help!


Jan 302012

Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs about controlling children’s access to explicit media. While I agreed with most of the blogs I’ve been reading, something about them doesn’t sit quite right with me.


The idea of censoring material is always difficult to swallow, even if it is to protect our children. Freedom of speech is our first amendment right, so that no authority has the power to limit our search for knowledge. Nonetheless, I am aware that many song lyrics, many shows and movies and many websites contain ideas, words and images we don’t not want children exposed to. Given these conflicting desires, on one hand the desire to protect our freedom and on the other hand our responsibility to protect and teach our children, what should we do?


The overwhelming answer from the blogs I’ve seen is to censor children’s media access. While I generally agree, I also encourage parents and educators to be thoughtful about why they are censor material, what they are censoring and how they go about it.


For the most part children are interested in these “bad” ideas, words and images out of curiosity, not some desire to be bad. Curiosity is an innate human characteristic. Our curiosity fuels learning, so we ought to encourage our children’s curiosity. Simply censoring explicit content if children are interested in it is not the best response and may discourage their curiosity and desire to learn.


Talk to your children! Try to understand why they want to listen to that music, watch that show or movie and go to that website. Then explain why you’re concerned about them seeing or hearing those ideas, images or words. You might explain that some things are scary, others things dangerous. Explain that words and images can be hurtful.


Talking with your children will force you to reflect on what you’re comfortable with, and why you have concerns in the first place. Is it okay for your children to be scared? Is it okay for them to see bad behavior? Furthermore, talking with your children will open lines of communication with your children, which you will be grateful for as more sensitive issues arise. Finally, open communication will inspire their curiosity, not stifle it.


Jan 252012

Research shows that alienated extrinsic motivation—extrinsic motivation that is completely external to the actor (the stars on my chore chart)—leads to surface level learning. Students focus on learning outcomes such as grades. They learn to use tools such as rote memorization to recall or reproduce what has been said. These students have the ability to pass and even do well in classes, but never really engage with the material. This type of motivation is great for success on standardized tests, but it leaves little room for students to grow intellectually and it does not inspire them to discover and explore their passions.

The more extrinsic motivation becomes self-regulated by the student the deeper his or her learning is likely to become. Extrinsic motivation is often the starting place that hopefully leads to genuine interest. Once the student is interested they will integrate the new knowledge, concepts and skills they are learning with their existing knowledge base. Integration will not only help them remember facts, but it will also lead to deeper processing of the information. Interested students are more likely to make connections between different topics and subjects, to relate concepts to their lives and to feel that what they are learning is meaningful and useful.

Some practical, but maybe not very intuitive, research results suggest that teachers should give students praise instead of tangible rewards. Praise, whether it is contingent upon completing a task or spontaneous, increases students identification with the information and thus increases their likelihood of becoming intrinsically motivated to learn the content. On the other hand, task-contingent tangible rewards decreases interest in activities and information. If students get a reward for completing an activity, research suggests, that the students complete the activity for the reward. If no reward is offered they are more likely to do the activity in order to learn or master the concepts or skills. Spontaneous tangible rewards do not seem to affect students’ motivation or interest. What this research means for educators is that you should use verbal rewards over tangible rewards when possible. If you need or want to use tangible rewards be aware of how you are using them. Tangibles are very effective in classroom management, but if you are using tangibles to encourage learning though make sure it’s spontaneous, not contingent upon a task. Instead of putting stickers on their tests, given your students stickers one day simply for showing up.

As educators we have a responsibility to help light the fire within each of our students. Sometimes it is difficult to know the best way to go about it, but research on topics like motivation can help us understand the most effective ways of inspiring our students to find and pursue their passions!


Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125(6), 627-668.

Ryan, R. M., and Deci, E. L. (2002). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, (25), 54- 67.


Jan 232012

While motivation is usually split into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, a better way to conceptualize it maybe to think of motivation as a continuum with amotivation or apathy at one extreme and intrinsic motivation at the other. Amotivation occurs when someone is stagnate and no amount of reward or punishment will encourage them to act. Intrinsic motivation is where someone is driven to do something because they enjoy doing it and nothing can stop them. Extrinsic motivation occupies the area between these extremes. Sometimes extrinsic motivation has a somewhat compulsory aspect to it, but other times actions can be instrumental in the broader scope of achieving goals that are intrinsically important to someone.

For example, a gold star can motivate to varying degrees. Sometimes a gold star is a completely external reward to encourage a behavior, other times a gold star is a tool used to help achieve one’s self-identified goals. Think about the difference between the gold stars I got to put on the chore chart for taking out the trash and Glee’s golden star Rachel Berry.  When I took out the trash, I only cared about getting a gold star because that was one star closer to my allowance. The gold star was tool to motivate me to do something I had no desire to do; thus, the star had merely instrumental value. On the other hand, for Rachel, gold stars are a metaphor for her life’s ambition of being a star, a goal that she completely identifies with. Giving herself a gold star for winning the lead in the school musical has instrumental value because it comes from an external source, but it is closer to the intrinsic side of the spectrum because she is regulating her own actions.

In terms of education it is vital to conceptualize motivation as a spectrum or continuum. Most students fall somewhere in the middle area and are in need of extrinsic motivation to give them the push they need to be successful in school and in finding and pursuing their passions. Our goal as educators is to find the right degree of extrinsic motivation for each student.


Jan 182012

Motivation is the cause of actions. It is what drives behavior. In the world of education, understanding motivation is the necessary starting place. The methods don’t matter if students don’t want to learn, so how do we increase students’ desire to learn? Let’s start by learning about motivation itself.

Traditionally, our understanding of motivation has been split into two categories: extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation derives its power to compel action from external sources. Extrinsic motivation is most simply seen in rewards and punishments used to increase or decease specific behaviors. In most educational settings, extrinsic motivation is widely used for classroom management. The use of sticker charts, pizza parties, and extended recesses are examples of rewards given to increase positive behaviors. Punishments—such as, no recess, time outs and bad grades—are sources of extrinsic motivation used to decrease undesirable behaviors.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is a property of a behavior that is rewarding in and of itself. When it comes to intrinsic motivation, we are not concerned with positive or negative outcomes; we simply enjoy the activity. In most educational settings, intrinsic motivation is difficult to nurture. Some students love to write, others love to draw, some students come to school for gym, while others can’t wait to go to science. The normative, structured nature of classrooms and schools make it difficult to allow students to pursue activities that are intrinsically motivated.

If learning is our desired outcome, how do we find the best balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation? Is one better than the other? How do we deal with the practical realities of the typical classroom?


Dec 052011

Through my LinkedIn profile, I came across an article discussing titled the 5 Best Practices for Educators on Facebook.  If utilized properly, Social Media can have an enormous impact on education.  Facebook gives students the ability to share information, collaborate and communicate with other individuals.  We need to be using Facebook and other similar sites to enhance the learning experience of our students.

According to the article, the top 5 tips are:

  1. Use Facebook with a Focus:  Don’t just tell students you are going to use Facebook, make sure you have an educational purpose for your Facebook use.
  2. Friend with Caution:  They recommend using a Facebook Page or Group for your students, that way students have access to the class postings in the group but do not have access to your personal information like your family and friends would.
  3. Use a Facebook Group:  Use Facebook Groups to continue class discussions, give students a low-stress way to ask questions, provide students with academic and personal support and help students connect with each other and organize study groups.
  4. Use a Facebook Page:  Since these are open to everyone, pages often become interactive resources rather than a setting for an intimate discussion.
  5. Consider Alternatives:  There are several other sites that offer choices like Facebook.  These include:  Edmodo, Collaborize Classroom, Edublogs, and Kidblog.

The potential Facebook offers to educators is limitless.  Every teacher can use the website to garner extremely effective results and when done properly can have an enormous impact on education for those fortunate students.

Facebook is a viable way to include students in an educational conversation, get them to think about their subjects more interactively and have fun in the process.

We provide one on one in-home tutoring for students across Southern California.  If you’re interested in receiving our tutoring services please contact Zeb Welborn at (909) 973 – 9089.

If you’re interested in the use and benefits Social Media can bring to education, we encourage you to check out the Welborn Social Media website.