On episode #150 Jessica tells us her amazing …
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Alexis Avila talks to Ann Helmus founder of NESCA (Neuropsychology and Education Services for Children and Adolescents). Ann Helmus, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist who has been practicing for almost 20 years and specializes in the evaluation of children with learning disabilities, attention and executive function deficits and primary neurological disorders.
In September of 2007, Dr. Helmus established NESCA (Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents), a client and family-centered group of seasoned neuropsychologists and allied staff. Ann received her undergraduate degree in Neural Science from Brown University and earned her doctorate at Boston University School of Medicine.
On today’s show Ann talks about the various types of emotional disabilities, why student depression has risen over the years, and offers tips on how to best overcome emotional challenges.
Ann’s two pieces of advice for teens:
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On this tutoring tips episode, Alexis Avila talks about how to best organize your homework, how to best organize your backpack, how to best store your school papers at home, and how to best organize your desk.
Recommended school supplies:
Assignment notebook with room to write notes in it
Pencils and pens
Lined paper and index cards
Tape and scissors
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?
Alexis talks to Jackie Stachel a senior executive function coach of Beyond Booksmart, a quality academic coaching company that helps students learn valuable executive function skills. Jackie earned her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University.
On today’s episode Jackie shares some of the struggles students face with Executive Function issues and enlightens us with strategies for those wanting to overcome their executive function challenges.
What was your biggest takeaway from this article? Do you have any questions for Jackie Stachel and Alexis Avila?
Alexis Avila talks to Sarah Ward who is co-director of Cognitive Connections, an executive function practice based out of Concord, Massachusetts. Sarah has over 15 years experience in diagnostic evaluations, treatment and case management of children, adolescents and adults with a wide range of developmental and acquired brain based learning difficulties and behavioral problems Sarah’s particular interest is in the assessment and treatment of executive function deficits. Sarah is a Past President of the Massachusetts Brain Injury Association. She regularly presents locally, nationally and internationally on the topic of executive functions. Sarah talks to us about executive function disorder and teaches us key strategies for improving executive function skills. Sarah’s Top 3 EF Strategies: 1. Pre-imagine the future and so a dress rehearsal for your day 2. Use an analog time clock so you can see time as a volume. 3. Follow OHIO (Only Handle It Once). Finish a task and see it through to completion so you don’t have to go back to it a second or third time.
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Sarah?
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Adam S. talks on Executive Function Coaching. Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts Adam S. teaches you valuable strategies on how to overcome your prospective memory issues.
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About Prepped & Polished:
Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston
Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you three strategies to improve your sense of time.
1. Use external reminders, such as clocks, watches, and signs
2. Use alarms liberally
3. Use a schedule to plan your time
Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you ways for improving working memory.
1. Make important tasks stand out
2. Reduce distractions
3. Write out complicated problems and step by step instructions
Do you have a hard time memorizing things? Which tip did you find most useful for improving working memory?
Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to study for an exam.
1. go to class
2. take good notes
3. do your homework
4. review those notes
1. Backwards plan. Figure out how much time you have from now until test date and divide your study material wisely so you don’t cram.
2. Study groups can be helpful to take turns teaching each other the material.
3. Ask for help. Give yourself time before the test to ask your teacher for clarification on difficult subject matter.
4. Take care of your body. Make sure you get a good night sleep the day before the test, don’t cram, and eat a good, healthy breakfast the day of the exam. Good Luck!
Are you preparing for your exams? Which of exam tips did you find most helpful?
Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to take effective notes in class.
1. Show up to class on time and be prepared
2. Stay organized- use three-ring binder and other tools to organize notes
3. Use technology-computers could improve the quality of your note-taking
4. Review-repetition is the key to learning new material
Full Word-for-Word Transcription
The first step to effective note-taking is making sure that you’re
organized. I think 3-ring binders work great. Just use a different binder
for each class. It’s a good way to help you organize all your notes, all
your handouts, and keep everything in one discrete place. Then when you
start taking notes, make sure you date your notes so you can organize them
when it comes time to study for the test. Label what the teacher’s going to
be talking about. If the teacher changes topics, change labels and come up
with subtopics to help you keep track of where you are in the class. As you
sit through class, listen to what the teacher’s saying. If your teacher
repeats something more than once or writes it up on the board, it’s
important. Chances are it’s going to be on the test; make sure you write it
Also really important: If you don’t understand something, ask questions.
The only dumb question is the question that you don’t ask. Teacher’s there
to help you understand the topics that you’re going over, and the only way
she or he knows that you don’t understand something is if you ask for help.
If a teacher isn’t able to answer your question during class, approach them
after class or show up early and approach them before class. Make sure you
get the help that you need.
If you’re having trouble keeping up in class, there’s a few different
technologies you can utilize to improve your note-taking. First, if you
can’t keep up with what your teacher’s saying and feel like you’re missing
out on some of what is being said and unable to write it down, try bringing
a recorder to class. You can sit there and record everything the teacher
says and then play it back later at your own pace. Additionally, computers
can be a useful asset. If writing is too much of a challenge and you can’t
keep up, you can bring a computer and try typing your notes. Just make sure
that you’re actually typing notes and not looking up Facebook when you
should be paying attention to what the teacher’s saying. Additionally if
you qualify for special accommodations, make sure you talk to your school’s
academic resource center to see what accommodations are available. It could
be that you could get a copy of the teacher’s notes, notes from an official
note-taker, or recordings of the teacher’s lectures. If you do qualify for
note-taking, don’t only rely on someone else’s notes because you might not
understand everything they write. Make sure you continue to take your own
If you have friends in the same class as you, compare notes with them. Make
sure you didn’t miss something the teacher might have mentioned. Then
really important, when you get home at night and sit down to do your
homework, review your notes. Repetition is the key to learning new
Those are the basics of effective note-taking. To recap what we talked
about: Number 1, show up, be present. Get to class on time and be prepared.
Number 2 is stay organized. Use 3-ring binders and other tools to help
organize your notes and use the tools that we talked about to identify
relevant topics and write them down. If you’re having trouble keeping up,
ask for help. If you can’t get help through asking, see if your school
offers accommodations and use technology; computers, recorders can all
really improve the quality of your note-taking. Finally, review. Repetition
is the key to learning new material.
That’s it for this time. Next time, we’ll talk about how to use these notes
and other materials to effectively study for a test. Talk to you then.
Are you struggling with your note-taking skills? Which of Adam’s tips did you find most useful?
Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to write an essay. He also teaches you how to write an outline and lists steps to writing a good paper.
Five keys to a good paper:
1. Break the paper down into its component pieces, title, intro, body, conclusion, and works cited
2. In the intro, set the scene, give us a hook, state your argument, and forecast your main claims
3. Create your body by introducing your claims, explain how these claims support your argument, and create a smooth transition
4. Write your conclusion, remind us of your best points and restate your thesis. Then discuss what’s the next step in this discussion.
5. List all the sources that you used in the course of writing this paper.
Hey, guys. Adam S. here; Prepped and Polished, South Natick, Massachusetts.
Last time we talked about backwards planning, big picture; how to look at a
big project and think about how to break it down and plan it backwards over
time. Today we’re going to really dive into a pretty common assignment that
a lot of kids struggle with: How to write an essay. For a lot of us when we
first get assigned a paper, we just have these memories of sitting and
looking at a blank piece of paper and a lot of frustrated hours spent
sitting in front of a computer just staring at an empty page. It doesn’t
have to be that way. The trick is to realize that, in a way, every paper
you’re ever going to write is the same but different. Let’s head over to
the whiteboard and I’ll show you what I mean.
Here we are, a scene that’s pretty familiar for most of us, just staring at
a blank piece of paper; no idea what to do, where to begin. How do we even
get started? The lesson that we learned last time is that sometimes it
helps if you can start at the end. What does the finished product look
like? You know a finished paper is going to have a few elements that every
paper you write is going to have. Let’s talk about what those are. First,
you’re going to have a title; every paper has a title, then there’s an
intro, a body, we have a conclusion, and then some works cited or
bibliography. Let’s break these component pieces down a little bit and talk
about what each one of them means.
This basic skeleton is going to hold true for pretty much every academic
paper that you’re ever going to write. Of course, the content will change
based on the topic, but the structure is going to pretty . . . relatively
constant. Let’s talk about what these pieces mean. First is your title;
that could be a page, it could be a header at the top of your paper. It’s
pretty simple. It gives the title of your paper, your name, date, maybe the
class title, and other pertinent information like that. The next thing that
your paper’s going to lead into is your introduction. Your introduction,
regardless of the topic, is always going to serve a similar function. There
are a few main points you always need to hit. The first thing you want your
intro to do is to set the scene. Tell me what you’re going to talk about.
Tell me where I am. Give me some context. Then you’re going to give us a
hook. Why should we read this paper? Why do I care? What’s interesting
about your take on this situation? Then you’re going to state your
argument; this is your thesis. Give me your topic. Then you’re going to
finish your intro by forecasting your main claims.
Every paper that you write is going to have maybe anywhere between 3 and 5,
depending on the length of the paper, main claims to really back up your
argument. Forecast what those are going to be. Remember, you want this to
be pretty concise and to the point. Any good paper is going to start strong
and finish strong, because people remember the first thing and the last
thing that they see.
After your introduction, you’re going to transition into your body
paragraphs. The body of your paper is where you’re going to discuss your
main claims. Each claim is generally going to get at least a paragraph,
maybe a couple of paragraphs, even a couple of pages depending on how long
the paper’s going to be. Each body paragraph should have a few things in
common. They should all start with a topic sentence; that’s where you
introduce the claim that you’re going to talk about. Then you want to
explain why that claim is important to this paper. How does it relate to
your thesis? How does it strengthen your argument? Then you want to give
support; this is where you would include quotations from sources that you
had read. If you’re writing about a specific book, this would be quotes
from the book. If it’s a research paper, these could be journal articles,
even websites. Then at the end you want to transition; you want to set the
stage for moving into your next body paragraph, a smooth transition for
introducing your next claim.
At the end of your body comes your conclusion. This is your chance to wrap
it all up. What do you want to do? Remember, you want to start strong, you
want to finish strong, so you got to make sure you have a strong
conclusion. First, you want to remind us of your best points. Hopefully,
your paper was structured such that you started with your smallest points
and closed with your biggest. You want to go small too big, and then remind
us of the best ones. Then restate your refined thesis. You gave us an
argument at the beginning of the paper. Did your opinion change? Did you
learn anything over the course of this discussion? Then tell us the next
step. What would a future paper about this topic be about? Are there any
unanswered questions? That’s how you want to close out your paper.
Then after your conclusion, your paper’s going to finish with some kind of
works-cited page or bibliography. Your teacher might have different
preferences about what format they want you to use, so make sure you check
about the rules regarding citations. There’s also a lot of great web
resources that make citing works really easy.
Now I want to take a second to talk about the importance of outlining.
Outlining is really important; it’s actually a huge time saver. It might
sound like more work up front, but if you outline well, writing the paper’s
the easy part. All you have to do is connect the dots. Now you know that
this is the basic skeleton of, really, any paper you’re ever going to have
to write. They’re all going to be different, but they’re also all going to
be kind of the same.
For example, let’s say we had to write a paper about our best vacation
ever. We’d have an intro. What’s the scene? My vacation. Where’d you go? I
went to Hawaii. Set the scene; tell me what Hawaii’s like. What’s the hook?
What happened in Hawaii? What’s really exciting? What’s your argument? My
argument is that this was the best vacation ever because . . . then
forecast your main claims. It was the best vacation ever because I surfed,
I learned something, I made a new friend. Then you go and talk about your
claims. Claim 1: I surfed. Claim 2L learned something. Fill in what you’re
going to talk about with details about each point. Then you have your
conclusion. Main points: Great vacation for these reasons. Refined thesis:
I learned that although this was a great vacation, it wasn’t as great for
the reasons that I thought it was. I learned something. My opinion changed.
Then give me the next step, what’s the next discussion about this argument?
Maybe next time this is the vacation I’d like to take in the future. You
plunk those points into this skeleton, and now all you have to do is sit
down and connect the dots and you have a paper.
How do you plan for a paper? What are the basic steps? We talked about the
skeleton and what goes into a paper. How do you break that up over the
course of a week or 2, or 3? There’s some important steps to writing a
paper. The first thing you have to do is research, if necessary, if you
need to research your topic before you write about it. Then you want to
write your outline. Then you want to write your first draft. Don’t hand in
your first draft. It’s really important that you take the time to
proofread, revise, and make edits. You want to give yourself enough time
before the paper’s due to be able to do that. You’ll have a much better
paper in the end. After the first draft, you want to make edits and revise
it as necessary. Then you have your final draft, including your works
All of this is going to take time. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 items. If we had 2
weeks to get this paper done, we’d want to backwards plan. Start at the due
date and count backwards. Say you have 10 days between now and then; that
means you can assign 2 days to each of these points. You have 2 days to
research, another couple of days to outline it, a couple of days to work on
your first draft, a couple of days of editing and revising, and then your
final draft is done, no sweat.
Those are the basic steps of writing a paper, a road map of how to get
there. Hopefully, now you can see how every paper is the same but
different. You never have to write your first paper again. If you can
remember this road map, you’ll always know where to begin, where you’re
going, and how you’re going to get there. See you next time.
What is your current process for writing an essay? Which of our essay tips did you find most useful?