Alexandra Mayzler, Executive Director, Thinking Caps
We are very excited to welcome everyone back from a (hopefully) relaxing summer! This summer we took time to recharge our batteries and get ready for the school year. After scattering around the country for a month – Arizona and Utah were some of our figurative and literal “hot spots” – we came back ready to hit the ground running. We spent the rest of our summer planning and prepping all of our materials and schedules, and gearing up for the start of school. We also took the opportunity to catch up on some test-prep curriculum revamping, and continue exploring some of the features of the most recent version of the SAT. We’re happy to be starting off the school year thrilled, ready, focused, and tan!
We’ve been working hard on some new projects that deserve updates. First off, we made some changes to our website – check it out here. We’ve also been working on our team connectivity and development program initiatives in order to make our team closer and, as a result, stronger. Lastly, we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made in Long Island. We had a great inaugural year in Nassau and Western Suffolk Counties. In addition to our coaches working individually with students in the areas of Study Skills, Test Prep, and Subject Tutoring, we launched our Library Workshop Series, which has been incredibly popular with parents and administrators. These programs give students and families the most important tips that they can implement in their home on their own. Check back here to find more information about upcoming dates and locations. We are excited to enter our second year here on Long Island and can't wait to work with more families!.
We wish the Thinking Caps’ family a warm welcome as we enter a new year brimming with promises of success and growth. We’re looking forward to it!
Every year, bright-eyed freshmen at New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences face a class that has earned acclaim as the worst of their entire college career: the infamous Writing the Essay, a course that combines math, science, and English majors alike in a rudimentary crash course. This course focuses on expository writing, encouraging a blend of textual reference, analysis, and personal experience. Writing the Essay remains one of my favorite courses at NYU, and here’s why: writing an expository essay is the perfect opportunity to explore things that spark your interest, but also to apply that interest in new contexts. If you like baseball, an expository essay can help you use the strict rules and physical demand of team sports to understand other aspects of your life. If you like art, expository essays offer no prescriptive formula that would keep you from experimenting with that creativity. The assignment is similar to one that many of my students dread: the research paper. And I want to argue that the research paper offers that same opportunity.
The assignment for the research paper is usually broad and often breaks down as such: 1. Choose a topic. 2. Use text-based research from x amount of sources to present an argument about said topic. 3. Include some sort of thesis and some sort of conclusion. Great. So let’s write about baseball. Or art. Or whatever that thing for you happens to be. An essay, in its most basic form, is nothing more than personal expression. It’s a story about what you’ve learned and how you learned it. What inhibits writing for so many is the inability to connect with the words on the page; but those words come from you. So, use them to intensify what already inspires you. And if the prompt is more restrictive, find some way to fill that space with yourself. The thesis and conclusion are step three. It’s the discovery in the middle that makes a good essay and that discovery comes from your quirks – your flaws and insights and fears – that are translated into language that is uniquely yours. So start in the middle and see where the words take you, because your story is much more profound than you may realize.
A student asks: Whenever I get home from after-school practice, I’m too exhausted to work on homework or study for my tests. I usually end up procrastinating and I don’t start my work until late. Then I get behind on my sleep, and I get into a vicious cycle the rest of the week. How do I break the cycle?
Answer: It’s important to keep in mind that this is a really common problem. The first step you should take towards breaking the cycle is to sleep. Because being well-rested is crucial to approaching your day in a productive manner, it is important not to sacrifice sleep to catch up on work. The second step is to plan a strategic break after you come home from your day. Your break should be long enough so that you feel refreshed, but also short enough to complete your assignments. Also, make sure that your break is something that actually makes you feel awake; for example, go for a run if you’ve been sitting all day. Whatever you do, make sure you write down a firm time limit for yourself. This system will allow you to hold yourself accountable if you don’t follow through with your plan. Then, monitor your work habits, and amend your breaks accordingly (for instance, if one long break isn’t working, cut it up into two smaller breaks). Finally, make sure that you set strict time limits to complete your assignments, so you can get enough rest for the next day!
A parent asks: Should my child take the ACT or the SAT?
Answer: This question should come before your child begins preparing for the ACT or SAT; it is important to prepare your child for the exam that will most adequately demonstrate his or her ability. That being said, there is a slight difference in this decision process for 2016. The SAT has made substantial changes in its verbal and math sections, as well as its scoring rubric. While there may be some exceptions, we aren’t recommending that our students take the SAT in 2016 because there are significantly fewer test prep materials that address the new format of the exam. But there are some basic differences between the ACT and the SAT that could help ease your decision making process for other years. Below is a quick run-down of some of their distinguishing features:
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