Tiffani's Boost Blog

Welcome to Tiffani's Boost Blog!

As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of EdBoost, I wear many hats -- from tutor and test prepper to curriculum writer and college counselor. It not only keeps me busy, but gives a a really broad perspective on how to teach kids and how to approach different ages, subjects, and learning styles. At EdBoost, we're lucky to get to work with kids from all kinds of families, schools, and backgrounds: those who love school, those who hate it, and the many, many kids in between. We also get to write our own curriculum and then test it out with real students. It's a huge learning process -- and one I hope to get to share with other parents, educators, and observers of kids through this blog.

Thanks for reading! Please comment if you find anything interesting, inconsistent with your experiences -- or something you'd like to read about!

What's the difference between ACT and SAT? Part 3: Science

The ACT has a science section.  Should bring our gloves and lab coats to the testing center?  Do students need to have mastered Biology, Chemistry, and Physics before taking the ACT?  No, not at all.

So, why do students who take the ACT for the first time tend to do so poorly on the science?

One main reason: they get intimidated and they give up.  

What's the difference between ACT and SAT? Part 2: Math

Math is usually the part of a test when you really feel like things are easy or hard.  The answers aren't subjective: you either know how to do them or you don't.

So, many people choose SAT or ACT based on how they feel about the math sections.

And there may be something to the notion that the ACT math is easier (well, at least there are more easy questions).  But, just the feeling that something is easier doesn't mean that it's giving you a comparatively higher score.

Before we get into the details, let's do the basic breakdown:

What's the difference between ACT and SAT? Part 1: Grammar

It's summer time -- which not only means it's time for SAT and ACT prep, but it's that time of the year when it seems like every student who is unhappy with his or her SAT scores, wants to try ACT.

My basic advice: pick a test when you begin to prep (take a sample of each -- make an educated decision!), and stick with it.  The tests are different enough that changing course will slow down your progress.  And know that, for most people, the results are about the same (see the stats here), but I'll save that tangent for another post later this week.

Why correct students' spelling?

Sometimes parents call and ask for spelling tutoring.  It's a request for which I never seem to have a good answer.  Bottom line: I don't think that spelling tutoring is a good idea.  I don't think it's very effective (We've tried it!  I've personally tried it -- and not only is it no fun, it doesn't work well!) and it's hard for me to imagine the student whose single biggest academic need is spelling.

And, having said all that, I think that correcting spelling, as a matter of daily homework correction, is critical.

Can homework "helpers" elevate homework assignments?

Homework is our stock in trade.

School assigned homework is the cornerstone of our Homework & School Project Assistance (HASPA) program and it also comes up a lot in one-on-one tutoring. So, we see a lot of homework assignments: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The homework wars rage in the press and the blogoshere. My position is that good homework can be an amazing learning tool. Good homework allows students to practice what they learned, outside of school, so that they can reinforce what they learned during the school day and see if they can do it on their own. Homework also takes some practice time out of the classroom, freeing teachers for more instruction and hands-on activities. I believe that homework, done well, is a win-win for everyone. However, you can't work with homework every day and not see bad homework assignments.

Why do so many math worksheets?

I read this article this morning: 

Why Johnny Can't Add Without a Calculator


and I could not help but think that it does a better job at articulating the EdBoost philosophy than we often do.

From the kids we hear:

  • Why do I have to do so many worksheets?
  • What?  I finished my math homework and now you're giving me more?
  • Why can't we play games instead?

From teachers and afterschool programs, we hear: