Author Archives: Patty Camloh

Too many times, our well-meaning attempts to listen to our teens result in failed one-sided snippets of conversation. Parents and teens tire of the same old questions: “How are you?” (fine) “How was your day” (ok please leave me alone) “What’s new?” (…please just get off my back already!) Teens, unfortunately, don’t come with instruction manuals. But I’ll tell you one thing–teens are new to adulting, which, when you think back, is even more daunting. While some teens discover their life passion from early on, some need help to begin forming their life’s passions, goals, and mission. Parents can help their teen, not by asking her to choose a college major or career path, but by first learning more about her developing personal mission. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey says, “Life is a mission, not a career. A career is a profession, a…

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Though all students know it, not too many love it: the dreaded persuasive essay. What student hasn’t been compelled to learn the techniques of argumentation, incorporating claim, evidence, and reasoning, to craft a written or spoken persuasion piece? Happily, students can use these mandatory learning experiences in persuasive writing to their advantage in understanding SAT historical passages. The College Board explains how the U.S. Founding Documents and the Great Global Conversation, added in the last major test revision, evaluates understanding of classic rhetoric in action: “Authors, speakers, and thinkers from the United States and around the world… have broadened and deepened the conversation around such vital matters as freedom, justice, and human dignity.” Students will encounter passages from great leaders who, over time, have addressed vital issues in the areas of human rights, equality, government, citizenship, and the improvement of society. These leaders wrote not merely to inform but to…

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The traditional test prep tutoring session is not going the way of horse and buggy any time soon. In-person, private sessions are still the method of choice for many. But when tutors are locally scarce, when time or distance present their pesky challenges, or when situations beyond our control make meeting in person untenable, why not join the growing number of families who are turning to the digital convenience of tutoring through their online device. How does the live online experience compare to live and in-person? Live video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Facetime have improved real-time sound and video interaction, which allow for near-seamless communication. If both student and teacher have strong internet connections, they can chat as they would face to face, with high-tech screen sharing or low-tech white board to supplement the conversation. Screen sharing has become a common feature as well, which allows for…

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It’s no surprise that paying for college is a top tier financial stressor.  A June 2017 Gallup poll finds that, after healthcare costs and making ends meet, “college costs” ties with “low income” as the 3rd and 4th highest financial stressors for families. Sky-high college costs are motivating talented students to seek academic scholarships. The trick is knowing where to look. Years ago, we shared a helpful New York Times list detailing which colleges award the most merit-based aid.  Digging deeper into the listed schools rewards a savvy student with a better idea of how her scores can pay actual dollars in the college marketplace. A look at college websites reveals that colleges vary widely in the way they publicize and award the cash. Most college websites list merit scholarship opportunities under “financial aid” (am I the only one to find this a bit misleading?), describing various “excellence” and “leadership”…

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Consider this a respectful response to our “Ode to the Big Pink Eraser.” I’ve never been a fan of a stand-alone pink eraser. It never stays next to my pencil, for one thing. For another, well, it gets lost a lot, which is essentially the same thing. It’s bulky, too. A fistful of eraser comes in handy at times, but most mistakes are not large enough to merit the blunt-end surface area of Big Pink. But what to do? I’m not meaning to suggest that the stubby nubbin on the pencil end will do the job. Though handy and right-sized for most corrections, everyone knows the tiny cylinder’s useful life is way shorter than the pencil’s. Nothing is worse than a long and lovely pencil with a worn-out, flat eraser. My go-to solution to the woefully inadequate standard-issue pencil-top eraser is (drum roll please) the add-on eraser cap. This roof-shaped…

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To maximize learning, experts are encouraging teachers and students to shift from a fixed mindset, based on a student’s innate talents and strengths, to a growth mindset, focused on strategies to make new brain connections through input from others and learning from mistakes. Carolyn Woo of Purdue University suggests that “IQ and college entrance tests lean toward a fixed mindset, as they employ a snapshot in time as indicators of future potential”. It does not follow, however, that a student’s score must merely be a summary of his fixed assets, therefore unchangeable. Effort is a key to change, but the tests are designed to deny admission to better scores through mere practice. Let’s consider how Carol Dweck’s elements of a growth mindset will unlock better scores. In her book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, Dweck asserts that seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks foster…

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