Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Math Education Doesn't Add Up" - Can the author of this letter be serious???

When I read this "opinion" letter in the Albuquerque Journal, I truly thought I misunderstood what the author was trying to say. So I read it again. And then, one more time. THEN, I tore it out of the paper and showed it to my husband, because I still couldn't believe someone had written these words!!! Read it for yourself... But make sure you are sitting down :-)

Friday, February 05, 2010 - Albuquerque Journal

There's a Simple Reason Why Math Education Doesn't Add Up

I didn't like math when it was first presented to me well over half-a-century ago, and I still don't. And there is a very simple, non-scientific reason for it.

Numbers are boring. They have no intrinsic meaning. (Whatever meaning they do have usually tells you something you don't want to know, like what is lacking in your checkbook.)

Think about it. You can take a set of numbers, scramble them around in any order you want, even add in some letters for good measure (usually "x" and "y") and still — you don't have anything interesting.

But letters — that is another matter altogether.

You put letters in a certain order, and voila! You get words! Words have meaning! Words can be placed in an infinite number of combinations and you get stories, even literature. Stories can you make you laugh, or cry, and most importantly, for students, they can make you want to keep turning pages to see what happens next.

I cannot recall a single instance in my life when numbers have ever given me the desire to keep turning pages to see what happens next.

Why should this be such a difficult concept for educators to understand?


Monday, February 22, 2010

Motivational Monday

"We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service."

— Earl Nightingale, Motivational speaker and author

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Great Offer for Kumon Instructors from PRINT GLOBE!

Don't you love my water bottles? Would you believe I paid less than $1.00 per bottle, including set-up, printing, and shipping?

Some of the teachers who are employed at my Center encouraged me to "back away" from frisbees and focus on water bottles. Why? Students can bring them to school! (Smart ladies I have working for me, right???) I give these bottles to all students who come in for placement testing, provide them to students to bring to their classmates on their birthday (with a Kumon brochure, of course), and use them as prizes for students "playing" the number board at the festivals and fairs I attend.

I bought these bottles from Print Globe ( ). The actual bottles, as well as pricing, can be seen here.

Here's the BEST part! For a limited time, Print Globe is offering all Kumon Instructors an additional savings of $25.00 off any order of $200.00 or more! Simply contact my favorite Print Globe Account Representative, John Bryan, at and mention that you are a Kumon Instructor and saw this offer on my blog. The savings offer can be used on any items purchased from Print Globe.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way by Print Globe or John Bryan for posting this offer. I am strictly posting this as an incentive to my fellow Instructors to increase Kumon brand awareness, at a reasonable price, within their communities.

Have an amazing day~
~~~Miss Anne

Monday, February 15, 2010

Motivational Monday - Humor for Kumon Instructors / Educators

I hope these make you smile...
TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America .
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America ?
CLASS: Maria.
TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.
TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it. (I love this kid)
TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.
TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.
TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with 'I.'
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right... 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.' ________________________________
TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it.. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand.
TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.
TEACHER: Clyde , your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, sir. It's the same dog.
TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.

Children are amazing... And funny!
~~~Miss Anne

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kumon Wall of Success

Recently, a new thread appeared on the Kumon Instructor's forum in regard to creating a decorative wall to recognize student achievement. Here's the original post:

"I (am) thinking of doing a wall decoration of Math and Reading study levels with the students' names placed on the corresponding study levels. I am hoping that would motivate my students to work harder and see their names move up, but am also concerned that may be a cause of embarrasment for some students (such as older students with low starting levels). Can anyone offer advice? Thanks."

As I am a huge fan of this concept, I (of course) responded to her request for advice with this post:

"The 'Wall of Success' in the parent waiting are at my Center includes only student names (no age or grade references). As students pass each achievement test, they move their own "dot" up to the next level. (The dots are attached to the wall using poster putty, so they are easy to straighten after class.)
We add sparkley star stickers around the perimeter of each child's dot for each time they achieve ASHR. Gx5 students get a special border around their dots, as do students completing Level J.
I have not had any of my older students express any concerns about the dot wall. On the contrary, they are very excited about moving their dots up to where their friends are as quickly as possible... Many supportive conversations between older students have also occured, such as "Oh yeah. I remember starting in Level A, too. You can do a lot of Level A pages in 20 minutes! Just wait until you get to Level G. It will be SO easy for you!"
I hope this information encourages you to create your own 'Wall of Success'. Ours is a very motivating tool for both students and parents."

Since I my response was published on Monday afternoon, I have received over 50 e-mail requests for pictures!!! So... I'm posting theme here :-)

Kumon Math & Reading Center
Rio Rancho, New Mexico USA

Here's a closer look at the borders around the dots of my Gx5 students. If you look closely, you'll also see some ASHR stars on many of the student's dots. (The red text is a note that even my staff members have dots!)

Several other Instructors also posted responses to the original request for advice. I would love to see pictures of everyone's "Wall of Success" ideas. If you send me your pictures, I'll be happy to post them.

Wishing you an amazing day!

~~~Miss Anne

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Kumon Center - Opening My Mind & Achieving My Dream

As you know, I have some pretty serious growth goals for 2010. Kumon, as a whole, is encouraging Instructors to increase enrollment at each Center to 200 students. I'm anxious to see how KNA will support instructors in reaching this number, but also know the ball is in my court in regard to increasing enrollment and profits at my Center.

I took some notes on an article I read, a while back, on how we tend to be our own worst enemy when it comes to achieving our dreams for our businesses. (Sorry, I took notes in a notebook and did not jot down the source. Shame on me!) Anyway, here's a bit of what I wrote and my current thoughts on this subject.

Read on, friends...

I am busy. I am trying to get a lot done. Sometimes my little, overloaded, brain goes to a "dark place" that limits my outcome and my opportunities before I even begin a project. I find myself setting expectations that are OK, rather than figuring out what it is I really want. Is what I really want "practical"? Has my focus on practicality (is that a word?) given me tunnel-vision in that I might not be seeing some "hidden" opportunities or buried treasures? Are those opportunies really hidden or am I ignoring them because I don't feel I have the tools to take advantage of them?

I think that if we approach a situation focused on what isn't possible, what we can't afford, or what might not occur, if we narrow our expectations because of our weight, our age, or "the economy", or anything else, we are almost guaranteed to have a very different outcome than if we approach a situation with our ultimate goal in mind.

If we don't allow ourselves to think about what we really want to achieve, it is easy to live in a world that is limited by our "practical mindset" or by expectations and limitations created by others. This prevents growth.

If we don't "remove our blinders", open our minds, and allow ourselves to explore what we really want, we might miss incredible possibilities. On the other hand, if we start a project with a vision of our true goal, it's not unusual to find the buried treasure and, sometimes, even the golden shovel to unearth it! Sometimes we actually find treasure that appears right before our eyes.

Reach for your dreams.
Don't limit yourself.
Remove your blinders and open your mind.
Achieve your full potential.

Ask yourself:
What would I do if I believed anything was possible?

~~~Miss Anne

Monday, February 8, 2010

Motivational Monday

"When you develop yourself to the point where your belief in yourself is so strong that you know you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, your future will be unlimited."

— Brian Tracy

Friday, February 5, 2010

Kumon Instructors - Great Article on Social Media

I just subscribed to "Success Magazine" I wish I had done it a long time ago :-) The articles and resources available through this site are invaluable tools for small business owners... Especially KUMON Instructors!

Please continue reading for a great article on social media...

To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Expert Tips about Using Social Media

The tools being trumpeted as paving the new road to riches—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging—depend on fundamentals common to most good business plans: People buy things from companies they like, trust, remember or that provide them with value. All this is happening in a new way as social media transforms how people make connections and do business. “We can be more intimate with our marketplace, customers and peers,” explains Mari Smith, president of the International Social Media Association. “Consumers are developing the expectation that companies are going to be more available and respond more quickly, that people are listening.”

But social media comprises just one piece of an overall marketing pie, say practitioners, who stress that it must be planned and executed well to be successful.

With social media now part of the mainstream, many businesspeople feel peer and media pressure to dive in—especially with Twitter, which is essentially a global chat room of influencers—without knowing why or what they’re doing there.

“You have to know what your objective is,” Smith says. “A lot of people come to me and ask how they can make money on Facebook or Twitter. They are looking at it as sort of an ATM. But these are mediums, platforms or vehicles we can use to get our message out there, not a whole lot different than using traditional tools—buying an ad in a magazine or on TV, and radio spots, public speaking or press releases.”

Getting started with social media means getting educated, which can begin with a simple Internet search. “The online community has all the answers; all you have to do is type in the question, and the answer is there,” says Gary Vaynerchuk, who used social media to build his family’s retail wine business and promote his own video blog called Wine Library TV.

An entrepreneur or small-business owner can also learn a great deal studying how corporate trendsetters—Kodak, Dell Computers, Ford Motor Company and Starbucks, for example—use blogs, Facebook fan pages, Twitter and YouTube to promote their companies. (Kodak also offers a useful Social Media Tips guide in PDF at

Hiring a coach or expert in the field is another possible approach, but doing due diligence is essential (a glut of candidates is clamoring to help—a recent Google search of social media experts offered 92.4 million hits).

Smith advises any businessperson just getting started with social media to get out there on Google Search or sign up for TweetBeep alerts, and listen to the conversations going on about the company or the company’s specific market. Doing so can help gauge how people feel about your products, company and competitors.

Vaynerchuk suggests going to different forums and blogs, using Twitter and Facebook, searching keywords related to your business, then engaging in virtual handshakes and leaving comments. He shares an example of his own experience: “I videotaped the Wine Library TV show for 20 minutes, put it up on the WordPress blogging site, and spent the next 18 hours going to every wine forum and blog and leaving comments about everybody else’s comments. Essentially, I went to the places where other bloggers were blogging and started conversing. They became my initial fan base. That was it. It was not overly complicated. It’s about putting out content that’s relevant and good, then spending all the time possible in different places where your subject matter is discussed and becoming part of those communities.”

Experts agree that success with social media requires a commitment. “Understand that once you write the blog post or leave a comment on a wall, that’s when your work begins, not when it ends,” says Vaynerchuk, who estimates it takes six to 24 months of using social media before seeing results.

In addition to the time commitment, Smith stresses the importance of posting consistently and offering relevant content. “In a really beautiful way, it’s about leadership: When you have people following you, whether that’s hundreds or hundreds of thousands or a million, you have a great responsibility to provide them with quality content and lead them with integrity.”

Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak chief marketing officer and vice president, says using social media needs to be a core part of what and who you are. “Don’t just step into it with a splash and fade away—step into it, own it and continue to do it,” he says.

Experts offer these additional tips to effectively using social media:

Be passionate. “Passion always beats skill. Realize that it’s the passion in your subject matter that will engage,” Vaynerchuk says.

“It’s hard to convey passion in 140 characters on Twitter,” Hayzlett says, “but if you are consistent, people begin to see that you are deep, not shallow. That’s what small businesses have to do as well.”

Be real. “Authenticity and transparency are critical in social media,” Smith says. For example, she says the robust culture that successful online entrepreneur Tony Hsieh has developed at includes the following Twitter training message for employees, who each have their own Twitter accounts: Be authentic and use your best judgment.

Forget the old hard sales pitch. “Nobody on the Web wants to hear it, and people will tune you out,” Vaynerchuk says. “Listen; don’t pitch. If you’re selling flowers and are chatting about them to a potential client, instead of saying, ‘Hey, buy my flowers,’ listen to one of those looking for advice about a specific flower and help her out. Your knowledge and honesty is what will give you an audience.”

Don’t overthink. “People just want you to communicate with them. They’re not necessarily obsessed with grammar or sentence structure,” Vaynerchuk says.

Always be marketing. “Every single thing I do markets myself, whether I’m chitchatting with a friend or working with a client,” Smith says. “Oprah could be reading my tweets and trying to decide whether to have me on her show right now. I’m always cognizant of that.”

As with any tool, social media needs to be studied, evaluated and put to use as part of a broader business plan. But veterans say the time for developing that process is now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

FSA Funds to Cover Tutoring Services?

Wouldn't it be great if families could use their FSA funds to pay for their Kumon tution? Many thanks to Matt Lupsha and his amazing Kumon support staff for attending this meeting and supporting this act.

I'll do must best to keep everyone up-to-date on on the future of this bill.

Read on...

Pascrell Bill Will Help Families With Tutoring Costs
February 1, 2010
Virginia Citrano (

Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) came to the Sylvan Learning Center in Verona today to talk about a new bill that could help middle-class families cut the cost of after-school tutoring.

Pascrell’s bill, The Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act, would allow families to use their dependent-care flexible-spending accounts to pay for services like those provided by Sylvan and competitors Huntington Learning Center and Kumon North America just the way they have used them to pay for after-school child care.

While wealthy families have little trouble paying for tutoring and there is financial assistance for low-income families, middle-class households have had to foot the entire bill themselves. If Pascrell’s measure becomes law, families earning less than $110,000 could use the pre-tax dollars in their FSAs, saving about $250 for every $1,000 in tutoring costs paid. The money could be used for both regular coursework tutoring and college test prep classes, but only at a state-certified institution. The tutoring expenses would, however, be subject to a combined $5,000 cap with dependent care expenses, a potential disadvantage to families already using their accounts to pay for child care.

“At some point, almost every child needs extra help in academics,” said Pascrell, who taught high school for 12 years before his Congressional career. “But middle-class families can’t afford it, and they can’t qualify for help.”

Verona parent Andrew D’Addio, whose children A.J. and Jordan have been Sylvan students, spoke in favor of the measure. “This is a common cause that everybody can get behind”, he said. “We were able to use our FSA for dependent care when the kids were little and it would be nice to take advantage of it now for their education.”

Pascrell seemed optimistic about the bill’s chances of being enacted, since it is revenue-neutral and already has bipartisan support. He also held out hope that, down the road, there could be similar assistance to self-employed families and those without workplace FSAs. “There is no more important investment,” said Pascrell, “than in our kids.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act (H.R. 4391)

PLEASE contact your congress representatives in support of this bill!!!


Pascrell joins local residents at tutoring center to unveil his Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act (H.R. 4391)

VERONA – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today met with Eighth District constituents, leaders of after-school tutoring organizations, as well as student and parents, to announce the introduction of his legislation aimed at making tutoring available to more students.

“President Obama made clear right away in his State of the Union address that he understands exactly what the struggle of the working class family in America is -- as he said it is ‘the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college,’” said Pascrell, a former educator and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“At some point almost every child needs extra help in academics, but not every family can afford extra tutoring for their child if that is what they need. By allowing employers to amend their dependent care benefits to include after-school tutoring, I hope my legislation can be another tool parents can use to ensure young people are more successful in school and life.”

Financial help is available for low-income households, and upper-income households are able to pay for tutoring. But middle-class families neither qualify for federal assistance nor can afford tutoring.

The Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act (H.R. 4391) would allow employers to amend their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to include after-school tutoring services. Under present law, dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts cannot pay educational expenses unless the primary purpose is day care or an afterschool athletic camp. The legislation has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

In order to qualify for this bill’s benefit, the services must be provided after school and in core academic subjects -- civics and government; economics; arts; social studies; science; math; English; reading, language; and geography.

The bill includes costs of preparing for college entrance exams.

Also, to guarantee that this benefit is not abused, the supplemental tutoring must be provided by a state-certified instructor or by a state- recognized or privately accredited organization.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Female Teachers May Cause Math Anxiety in Girls?

By Randolph E. Schmid

WASHINGTON — Little girls may learn to fear math from the women who are their earliest teachers.

Despite gains in recent years, women still trail men in some areas of math achievement, and the question of why has provoked controversy. Now, a study of first- and second-graders suggests what may be part of the answer: Female elementary school teachers who are concerned about their own math skills could be passing that along to the little girls they teach.

Young students tend to model themselves after adults of the same sex, and having a female teacher who is anxious about math may reinforce the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls, explained Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago.

Beilock and colleagues studied 52 boys and 65 girls who in classes taught by 17 different teachers. Ninety percent of U.S. elementary school teachers are women, as were all of those in this study.

Student math ability was not related to teacher math anxiety at the start of the school year, the researchers report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
But by the end of the year, the more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the more likely their female students — but not the boys — were to agree that “boys are good at math and girls are good at reading.”

In addition, the girls who answered that way scored lower on math tests than either the classes’ boys or the girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype, the researchers found.
“It’s actually surprising in a way, and not. People have had a hunch that teachers could impact the students in this way, but didn’t know how it might do so in gender-specific fashion,” Beilock said in a telephone interview.

Beilock, who studies how anxieties and stress can affect people’s performance, noted that other research has indicated that elementary education majors at the college level have the highest levels of math anxiety of any college major.

“We wanted to see how that impacted their performance,” she said.

After seeing the results, the researchers recommended that the math requirements for obtaining an elementary education teaching degree be rethought.

“If the next generation of teachers — especially elementary school teachers — is going to teach their students effectively, more care needs to be taken to develop both strong math skills and positive math attitudes in these educators,” the researchers wrote.

Janet S. Hyde, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the study a “great paper, very clever research.”

“It squares with an impression I’ve had for a long time,” said Hyde, who was not part of the research team.

Hyde was lead author of a 2008 study showing women gaining on men in math skills but still lagging significantly in areas such as physics and engineering.

Girls who grow up believing females lack math skills wind up avoiding harder math classes, Hyde noted.

“It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology,” she said.

Beilock did note that not all of the girls in classrooms with math-anxious teachers fell prey to the stereotype, but “teachers are one source,” she said.

Teacher math anxiety was measured on a 25-question test about situations that made them anxious, such as reading a cash register receipt or studying for a math test. A separate test checked the math skills of the teachers, who worked in a large Midwestern urban school district.
Student math skills were tested in the first three months of the school year and again in the last two months of the year.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Motivational Monday

"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams."

Og Mandino
The Greatest Salesman in the World