August 23, 2013

Woot Math: Program mimics tutor for middle schoolers

Summary: Woot Math, scheduled to launch in August 2013, includes concept explanations, examples and the opportunity for students to do problems on their own. Teachers can then check how students did the work, allowing them an additional window into what students did right and where they went off track. The program can be customized by a teacher or parent to meet individual learners’ needs.

By Heather McWilliams, originally published 6/7/2013 in the Boulder County Business Report

The braintrust of Nimbee LLC includes vice president for engineering Sean Kelly and chief executive Krista Marks, standing, and vice president for products Jeff Ward, left, and vice president for research and development Brent Milne, seated.

Members of the tech team that created the wildly successful creative learning software Kerpoof — acquired by Disney in 2007 — hope to forge a trail into math classrooms across the nation later this summer with new educational software.

The Boulder-based startup Nimbee LLC was formed in March and already is creating buzz with its Woot Math program.

Woot is a term in social media that means excitement.

“Essentially, Woot Math is targeted at helping middle-school mathematics teachers with the range of fluency in math learners,” said Krista Marks, Nimbee’s chief executive and co-founder. Nimbee’s other founding members include Tom Fischaber, Sean Kelly, Brent Milne and Jeff Ward, all part of the Kerpoof leadership or creative team. After moving on from Kerpoof, the group wanted to continue work in education.

“I think we are so committed and passionate about helping teachers,” Marks said. “We decided to focus on how to do more and how to make their job easier.”

The company is currently self-funded and hopes to address common stumbling blocks among middle-school math students, such as understanding fractions, decimals, ratios and percents. Such gaps in learning or fluency must be bridged for students to succeed with increasingly complicated material presented in middle school and beyond, Marks said.

While still in the early stages — Woot Math won’t officially launch until August — the initial iterations of the program offer students an electronic experience meant to mimic that of a personal tutor, Marks said. The program can be customized by a teacher or parent to meet individual learners’ needs. Such individualization means a student needing supplemental instruction in one area doesn’t have to wade through superfluous instruction on additional topics.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Study Tools,Technology

March 28, 2013

Petition against machine scoring of high-stake tests

By Nalini Lasiewicz, BOL, Registrar, Crossroads of Learning

One thing we know about university writing center administrators, they like to write.  They write well, thoughtfully and often.

Earlier this year a discussion on protesting the trend towards machine scoring of essays drew significant interest among members of the WPA-L Listserv, an international e-mail discussion group intended primarily for professionals in writing program administration at universities, colleges and community colleges.  Their postings quickly moved from the theoretical to a call to action, generating hundreds of posts and perspectives.  Within a few weeks, members of the list collaborated on, and launched, an online petition against machine scoring of high-stake tests.

The “Human Readers” petition and website delivers an urgent appeal to all stakeholders to temper the rush in implementing this still controversial technology.  They urge policy makers to remain committed to the use of human readers in evaluating and critiquing student essays.  They are also asking their own institutions to stop buying or accepting machine scoring of essays until the process is proven to be “valid, equitable, and worth stakeholders’ money.”  (

Evolving since the early 1960s, education and technology companies have developed software and data base management systems to support the collection of student data, including the delivery and grading of high stake products such as the SAT.  In recent years, and with both public and commercial funding, an economic engine has exploded in the education field, with technology and service providers playing a major role.

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Pedagogy,Study Tools,Technology,Training/Education

October 31, 2009

Tutors Toolkit: Answering an Essay Test

The following information is from Cuesta College and was accessed on 10/15/09

Answering an Essay Test

Essay tests can have on them the following types of questions: short or long answers, fill in the blank, and sentence completion. Use the following suggestions to help you with essay-type tests:

  1. Make a brief survey of the entire test. Read every question and the directions. Plan to answer the least difficult questions first, saving the most difficult for last.\
  2. Set a time schedule and periodically check your progress (to maintain proper speed). With six questions to answer in 60 minutes you should allow a maximum of 10 minutes per questions. If your 10 minutes passes and you have not finished the question, continue to the next one and come back to the other one later. Do not sacrifice any question for another.
  3. Read the question carefully. Underline key words: e.g., list, compare, WWII, political and social, art or music, etc. As you read, jot down the points that occur to you beside that question.
  4. Organize a brief outline of the main ideas you want to present. Place a check mark alongside each major idea and number them in order of presentation in your answer. Do not spend too much time on the outline.
  5. When you answer, always rephrase the question.
    Example: Explain Pavlov’s theory of conditioning. Answer: Pavlov’s theory of conditioning is based on…
    The remainder of the answer is devoted to support by giving dates, examples, stating relationships, causes, effects and research
  6. Present material that reflects the grader’s personal or professional biases. Further, stick to the material covered in the reading or lecture, and answer the question within the frame of reference.
  7. If you do not understand what the instructor is looking for, write down how you interpreted the question and answer it.
  8. If time does not permit a complete answer, use an outline form.
  9. Write something for every question. When you “go blank,” start writing all the ideas you remember from your studying – one of them is bound to be close!
  10. In sentence-completion items, remember never to leave a space blank. When in doubt – GUESS. Make use of grammar to help decide the correct answer. Make the completed statement logically consistent.
  11. If you have some time remaining, read over your answer. You can frequently add other
    ideas which may come to mind. You can at least correct misspelled words or insert words to complete an idea.
  12. Sometimes, before you even read the questions, you might write some facts and formulas you have memorized on the back of the test.

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Pedagogy,Study Tools,Test Prep

June 30, 2009

Tutoring Tools: 50 Free Resources To Improve Writing Skills

Originally published in Smashing Magazine on 6/28/09

Effective writing skills are to a writer what petrol is to a car. Like the petrol and car relationship, without solid skills writers cannot move ahead. These skills don’t come overnight, and they require patience and determination. You have to work smart and hard to acquire them. Only with experience, you can enter the realm of effective, always-in-demand writers.

Of course, effective writing requires a good command of the language in which you write or want to write. Once you have that command, you need to learn some tips and tricks so that you can have an edge over others in this hard-to-succeed world of writers. There are some gifted writers, granted. But gifted writers also need to polish their skills frequently in order to stay ahead of competition and earn their livelihood.

We collected over 50 useful and practical tools and resources that will help you to improve your writing skills. You will find copywriting blogs, dictionaries, references, teaching classes, articles, tools as well as related articles from other blogs. Something is missing? Please let us know in the comments to this post!

1. Grammar, Punctuation & Co.

Ultimate Style: The Rules Of Writing

The web’s ultimate guide to grammar provides a database of topics and an easy-to-search A-Z list of common questions (via)

Use English Punctuation Correctly
A quick and useful crash course in English punctuation.

Click here for 48 more resources!

Filed under: Free Programs/Software,Study Tools

March 11, 2009

Tutor Profile: Patrick Tenbrink, Math Word Problem Superstar

From, originally published October, 2008, in Network Superstars

Picture a fourth grader. You’re helping her with math homework one day and she is presented with a word problem. She reads it and tells you that she doesn’t understand it. She begins to feel bored. Her focus disappears. You’re feeling confused because the student knows how to solve this type of problem.
You should ask yourself, "What would Patrick Tenbrink do?"

 Patrick is a junior at Duke University majoring in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy. He’s currently taking an educational psychology service learning course through Duke’s Program in Education that requires students to volunteer as tutors.

Patrick created an awesome strategy just for this type of situation.

Click on the following link to read more – click here.


(looking up Network Superstars from …)

Filed under: Research,Small Private Practices,Study Tools

Older Posts »

For a free monthly newsletter,

"Best of Journal",

enter your email and click

"subscribe to newsletter"

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tutoring Foundations Tutor Training