Why do we require students to take history/social studies?

Why do I have to take history and social studies?

Why do I have to take history/social studies? That is a mantra that many of my students repeat, over and over. Of course, I tell them that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. I tell them that I am counting on them to become an educated person, so that they know the context of things, and the warning signs. With all that has been happening around the world in the past few weeks, months, and years, that historical context has become even more important.

There is a video circulating around FaceBook that really drives that point home. Save this post on your computer so that as you make your way through world history courses, you can use the video to help you visualize what happened over time. It is all connected. It all has implications. Never forget that. You see, by knowing how we have traveled through time as a human race, we begin to understand that decisions, events, and actions are not as random as we think. Knowing the connections and potential outcomes can help to make us more mindful. Mindfulness can bring true progress.

Take a look at the video. As we journey through the continuing developments in Russia, Syria, and more, stay aware and mindful!


Posted in education and career, politics | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Path to successful learning

As you know, I am a tutor. I am already hounding my students to review, review, review. But this method can help all of us improve learning.

When should you start preparing for finals? Map to success

Final exams are still many weeks away. Students are immersed in the day-to-day routine of homework, quizzes, tests, projects, and papers. Yet, they should also be thinking about final exams. Why is that, you may ask? Here is the reason. If your usual modus operandi is to cram for a test, and then never look at that material again until you are cramming for finals, you are missing a GOLDEN opportunity. You see, in addition to doing your regular homework, there is something more that truly successful students do. What is that? They REVIEW. They review every day. Here is an example. Let’s say that in your English class, you have a vocabulary book. Every week you have a test on 25-35 words. You need to know the definition, part(s) of speech, synonyms, antonyms, and how to properly use it in a sentence. So you spend a couple of hours during the week cramming those definitions into your head. You create flashcards to help you remember them. Then you take the quiz. The next week the process resumes with a new list of words. At the end of the semester, you have a cumulative final on let’s say 18 weeks of vocabulary words. If we assume 30 words a week, that is 540 words. If you spend 30 minutes a day (and I really mean 7 days a week) reviewing words all semester long, there will be no last minute relearning. Studies have shown that regular review boosts retention.

You should really be reviewing every subject every day. This improves retention, learning, and improves your overall learning ability. Don’t just cram it for the test. Your brain can handle so much more than just a cram and dump methodology. The more you review, the more you will improve your review skills. You will find that you can eventually review as you walk down the hall at school, as you sit on the school bus, or any other place. You see, your brain needs hooks and methods to help it retain the information. Organize your material into bullet lists, time lines, or any other way that helps you retrieve the information. You can do this. Getting ready for final exams SHOULD be a walk in the park, if you begin reviewing NOW. Review cumulatively. Review from the beginning of the semester forward. If you haven’t started reviewing yet, start today. Get it all back in your head. You can DO this. You can BEAT your competition. Most of your classmates will NEVER try this method. Make your own luck
Posted in education and career | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Have you had a stressful week?

Is your list of things to do longer than your day on a regular basis? I have to say that in my family, that has been the case for a number of weeks. But this week, that abated. Some of my students are on spring break this week, so my load was lighter. I got caught up on some other things this week, and made some lovely meals. I got a lot of things organized. That always makes me feel good. I have a low tolerance for complete chaos in my home. My prayer time took on a new sort of tempo and lovely depth.

Today, a colleague posted a quote about stress that I really like. You know, God calls us to cast our burdens upon Him. He wants us unencumbered and He wants our hearts to fly to Him. As this weekend envelops me, I plan to relax in His love. I hope that your hearts are lifted this weekend, and that you see hope coming full speed at you and around you. I leave you with the quote that my colleague posted.

Stress Picture

Posted in faith/courage/miracles/hope, Positive Thinking, stress | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

He lifted me up

“I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came, and in His mercy lifted me up, and verily raised me aloft and placed me on the top of the wall.”  St. Patrick


At the most unexpected times, God lifts me up. He knows when I am stuck, even when I cannot verbalize my feelings and thoughts. He waits patiently. When I am frustrated, He sends His calming peace. When I am worn out, He restores me. When life shatters me and leaves me broken, He mends me. He mends me in His time, not mine. He builds new bridges around those broken paths. He does not try to convince me the broken paths are not really broken. He shines His light on new paths. New paths always await us. Just look for them.


Pretty soon, He sets me on the high places. Fear and brokenness cannot truly overtake us. Yes, those heartbreaking times in our lives take their toll. They do. There is no denying it. But guess what? Jesus gives us strength to ride on past it. We can hop on our bicycles, determinedly pedal straight uphill into a headwind.

Go the distance. Celebrate your efforts.

Go the distance. Celebrate your efforts.

The struggle may seem impossible. How long can you hang onto the heartache and brokenness when you are faced with new challenges?  Of course! The new challenges refocus us. If we are suddenly busier than we have been in ages, perhaps the challenge of handling that new load will fill our thoughts for awhile. There are new threads of hope and challenge. When the SON-light hits those threads ~ oh how they glow and glimmer! What will you and the Shepherd do for your life’s tapestry today and this week?

Posted in faith/courage/miracles/hope, Family Life and Issues | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The power of math can be exponential


When I was in elementary school, my parents made sure that I learned. They knew that all of my subjects were important, certainly. But I have special memories of discussing literature and history over the dinner table. They made sure that I really LEARNED my math. I had some terrific teachers in all of those subjects.

Somewhere along the line, though, I developed a special appreciation for math. As a result, I majored in business in college. It is certainly not a leap, since business is full of math. For the past 5 years, I have been a professional tutor, and have loved it. Although I tutor MANY subjects, the one that is in the most demand is math. I have a special love for tutoring pre-algebra and algebra. I practically skip through my day on the days I will be teaching math. I make it a special goal to help my students not only understand math, but perhaps to even fall in love with it.

It used to be that I would comb book sale tables at the library and garage sales for novels. But these days, I scour them for math textbooks. I am on the lookout for innovative explanations and examples that will help my students. I am quite enamored with Khan academy, as he explains so many things so well. I always let my families know about his resource.  It is a terrific site to visit. You don’t have to be a student ~ he has tutorials on all kinds of things. Here is the site ~ go ahead, take a look. I will wait. https://www.khanacademy.org/about.

Many of my competitors think that I am crazy to tell them about a free resource. MY goal is to turn my students into independent learners, so that they can soar like eagles at some point. Through my tutoring, and multiple resources, they can learn every day, even when they are not in a session with me.

To those students who ask the typical question “Why do I have to learn this? When will I EVER have to use it in REAL life?” I smile and tell them a story.

When I took Algebra 2/Trigonometry in high school, I had a fabulous math teacher. His name (really and truly) was Mr. John Wayne. He was the tennis coach, and he was a great math teacher. One day I was particularly frustrated. I raised my hand and  asked him those very questions. He just smiled at me. He tossed his chalk up and down, catching it every time. Then he said, “some day, years from now, you will be using algebra in ways you cannot even begin to imagine today. When you do, I hope you will think of me”. Believe me, I do think of him. After all, I walk in his magnificent footsteps when I tutor math. I raise my eyes to the heavens, and I say, “thanks.  I LOVE algebra, and I completely understand why you taught it”.

I tell my students that learning is SO important. It IS worthwhile. I loved this article that I have included at the end of this post.


First person: Math has power over all else

First Person is a weekly forum for personal musings and reflections from readers.

By Kevin Levine
Friday January 10, 2014 9:03 PM

For as  long as I can remember, I’ve liked numbers.

I like math.

That puts me in a powerful minority.

People who understand and embrace math wield the most powerful weapon ever made.

Let’s dispense with the obvious reasons that math is powerful.

The most effective (destructive) weapons rely on physics, or the science of equations, and chemistry. (Try making a stable mixture of chemicals without math.)

Some of the constructive uses are equally powerful: Medicines, medical equipment, roller coasters, air travel and cellular technology all rely on math.

Yet the true power of math comes from the ignorance and fear of it.

One of my earliest memories of math’s potency stems from this: “Four out of 5 dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.”

Anyone of a certain age knows the saying from a Trident gum commercial.

I remember thinking as a child that Trident gum must be good for me.

That’s power.

Before long, I started asking questions: Which doctors? Why didn’t the fifth doctor recommend sugarless gum? How many doctor s were asked?

A few years later: Do these dentists work for Trident? Why would dentists recommend gum at all?

How often is a statistic presented as fact, in a vacuum, without supporting documentation or an understanding of the source of the statistic?

A statistic is used as a club to hammer home a message. When one doesn’t understand all that went into generating the statistic, its power becomes immense — a blunt instrument that relies on the general population’s dislike, and ignorance, of math.

How about math as an economic weapon?

Isn’t it wonderful that tuna fish (or peanut butter or jelly) hasn’t gone up in price in years?

Thank math.

The tuna can contained 8 ounces, then 6 ounces, then 5 ounces.

Incremental changes in volume go unnoticed because the price remains constant.

Consumers think: “Wow, tuna prices are stable.”

The tuna company thinks: “Wow, consumers are ignorant.”

Politicians love math, too.

They cherry-pick one statistic from an obscure report commissioned by an obscure group whose agenda might not be to the betterment of humanity.

Politicians use math to convince us that everything would be OK if we just cut fraud and abuse in the welfare system.

They use math to confirm that the American education system is failing.

They use math to justify increased spending in their districts while bemoaning the spending everywhere else.

Politicians thrive on the public’s fear and ignorance of math.

The only way to weaken math’s destructive capabilities is to embrace math.

Instead of telling our children we weren’t good in math, we should tell them that math is the secret to power — that it will make them creative, competitive, powerful, less prone to scams and more valuable in the workplace.

We should tell our children to respectfully question authority, especially when numbers are used as weapons.

Mastering math, our children should learn, is akin to mastering the most powerful weapon on Earth.

Kevin Levine, 48, of Bexley teaches sixth-grade math at Karrer Middle School in Dublin.

Posted in education and career, faith/courage/miracles/hope | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

The contented soul is all alone with God

Have you ever had a sleepless night or a stressful week? I know, that’s a stupid question. I think this lovely poem by good old Robert Louis Stevenson provides an apt description of “getting away from the world” and “spending some time with God”. Stevenson was a favorite of mine when I was little. The very first book that I ever received as a gift from my mom was “A Child’s Garden of Verses“. I still have it. I loved that book and re-read it on a regular basis. It is no wonder then, that this poem appealed to me as well.

Perhaps today, either literally or figuratively, you can have a little “getaway”.

AS One Who Having Wandered All Night Long
by Robert Louis Stevenson

AS one who having wandered all night long
In a perplexed forest, comes at length
In the first hours, about the matin song,
And when the sun uprises in his strength,
To the fringed margin of the wood, and sees,
Gazing afar before him, many a mile
Of falling country, many fields and trees,
And cities and bright streams and far-off Ocean’s smile:

I, O Melampus, halting, stand at gaze:
I, liberated, look abroad on life,
Love, and distress, and dusty travelling ways,
The steersman’s helm, the surgeon’s helpful knife,
On the lone ploughman’s earth-upturning share,
The revelry of cities and the sound
Of seas, and mountain-tops aloof in air,
And of the circling earth the unsupported round:

I, looking, wonder: I, intent, adore;
And, O Melampus, reaching forth my hands
In adoration, cry aloud and soar
In spirit, high above the supine lands
And the low caves of mortal things, and flee
To the last fields of the universe untrod,
Where is no man, nor any earth, nor sea,
And the contented soul is all alone with God.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Superstition Mountain
Posted in faith/courage/miracles/hope | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The precise moment when friendship is formed

I was thinking about friendship, and the many forms it takes. Then I stumbled upon this quote:


“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over”. – Ray Bradbury

Malcolm Gladwell would call that point the tipping point. I love to think about friendship and joy overflowing in abundance. I talked to an old friend today, and it was such a “walk by the shore”. She is one of my most cherished friends, and we have seen each other through decades of events, challenges, joys, sorrows. There are a few ya-yas in my life, and they are my touchstones.

Pattie and I became friends when our sons were pre-schoolers. It was really one of those almost instantaneous friendships.She knows my heart, my joys, sorrows, and her laughter is an oasis. She is magnificent. Precise moment when our friendship was formed? Perhaps the day she moved into my neighborhood. We live far away from each other now, and we have through most of our friendship; but we are never out of touch. Isn’t it a gift to know that a ya-ya has your back?

Of course, my other ya-yas will see this post. You know who you are, my cherished old friends.  Each day I am grateful. Although we are far away from each other, you are in my heart. You always make me feel welcomed, loved, cherished, and are a source of joy and laughter. In my mind, I am with each of my friends ~ sitting on a lovely beach, watching the sea gulls, and talking until dawn!

moms new wordpress photos 002


Posted in faith/courage/miracles/hope, Friendship | Tagged , , | 2 Comments