Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ELA/ Math 2013 Release Questions and Answers Enjoy!

Master file of NYS Questions grades 3 to 8

Master File of NYS Questions and Answers grades 3 to 8

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sample Personal Statement for CUNY (city) college

7th grade summer vacation would be the summer I would never forget. My cousins had come from New York and we were set to travel to China to visit family. I hadn't been to Fujian since I was two years old, and I had never had the opportunity to learn about my origins, so I was especially enthusiastic to go on this trip with my entire family at such a significant age. However, as we begun eagerly planning our days together, we received news; my father had cancer. We knew my father had been nauseous, but had assumed that he only had the flu. We rushed to the hospital and it was there that we learned that my father had blood cancer: Leukemia. Needless to say, we immediately canceled our trip.
 I had never seen my dad undergo such agonizing pain. I had always revered my father as the commanding, tenacious head of our family. However, now, seeing him colorless and fragile in the hospital bed, I felt powerless and resentful. As I walked away from the hospital, I began to punch the walls. Suddenly, I became cognizant of tears that were raining down my cheeks- was I being selfish? I realized that I needed to be resilient and courageous for my father. I pulled myself together and rushed back into the room where my dad was laying down. As I slowly approached the hospital bed, I looked at him with a hopeful smile on my face.
            However, as the months passed, my father’s condition deteriorated. One day, my father’s oncologist came to give us the results of the latest tests. He explained that my father was in critical condition and that, without a blood transfusion, the prognosis indicated he had at most one month to live. Astonishingly, as devastated as we were, my father approached the situation with a newfound faith. Once a religious skeptic, my father began to pray to God. He found peace with his situation and focused on encouraging me and my siblings to aspire to our dreams and to never reject a challenge. I could not understand how my father so selflessly worried about us while he was in this condition. As I watched him endure the pain with a smile, I realized that my father was still fighting the cancer. Even though he understood what the doctors were saying, he refused give up, and I decided that neither would I. I fought through the tears and distress and pushed myself to enjoy the time I had left with my father, my mentor.
            After weeks without positive development, the doctors discovered that my uncle had the same blood type as my father, and there was a possibility of a successful transfusion. My uncle came to the hospital and after waiting an excruciating six days, the doctors told us that the operation was successful. I never felt more elated than I did on the day that my father was finally released from the hospital, over a year from that dreadful summer afternoon.

I realize now that though I never had the opportunity to visit Fujian or explore my familial history, I learned more about myself in that year than I ever could have in China. I appreciate now that in life, we all experience challenging situations. As I watched my dad suffer and face death with hope and positivity, I learned that while we cannot control the outcomes of these circumstances, we do control how we respond to them.  I saw my father struggle and I saw him recover, and through all of this I learned that I will have to respond to profound confrontations of my own someday and I will do so with the same maturity and responsibility that my father, demonstrated so that I will be able pursue my dreams to the fullest, even when life around me may seem bleakest.

Note-Taking Tips by Susan Kruger

Note-taking may be the quintessential study skill. Even people without a real concept of “study skills” know that students are supposed to take notes. Teachers like to say, “If I’m talking, you should be writing.” But how many students listen?
Students struggle with note-taking because they are overwhelmed by the content covered in class. They don’t know where to start. They don’t know what to write down because they don’t know the content well enough to identify main ideas and key points.
No One Is Born Knowing How to Take Notes

Note-taking is a developmental skill and must be taught to students explicitly!
Note-taking is a skill, but it’s easy to forget that skills need to be taught. It doesn’t come naturally to students. Of all the strategies that fall under the heading of “study skills,” note-taking is the most dependent on students’ cognitive and emotional maturity. Even with specific instruction in note-taking, most students aren’t developmentally ready to take notesindependently until 10th or even 11th grade. (See my “Study Skills Continuum” of age-appropriate skills here.) If no one takes the time to teach students these skills, they will struggle with the process well into college.
It’s important to give students guidelines and a system for taking notes. Ideally this would be taught in school, but most teachers are so overwhelmed by the expectations placed on them that it’s hard for them to squeeze note-taking skills in. Quite frankly, teaching note-taking is just as daunting to teachers as learning to take notes is to students; teachers don’t know where to begin either.
Note-Taking Skills Are Essential
Note-taking skills have been found to be the greatest predictor of success in school. Good note-taking skills help students retain what they hear in lectures and read in their textbooks, which prepares them for tests. The right system should produce classroom notes that make effective study guides.
Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, you can help teenagers get a handle on taking notes and then watch their grades go up as they apply the skill.
What to Write?
First, note-taking is infinitely easier if you have read the textbook before class. If you do some background reading before listening to the teacher’s lecture, you’ll have an easier time picking out the main ideas.

Having some background information about the subject also makes it easier to make connections. Learning is all about connecting new information with things you already know. If you go into a class with a little knowledge to connect to the lesson, you’ll learn a lot more than if you go in completely blank. Your class textbook is the best place to get that information. (I might add that SOAR®’s study skills curriculum includes strategies for reading textbooks faster and with better comprehension.)

Second, pay attention to the teacher—not just what they say, but how they say it. If your teacher gets loud or animated about a concept, or they repeat it more than once, that’s a big clue that you should write it down! If your teacher takes the time to write something on the board, you should write it down too. If your teacher says, “This will be on the test,” well, you had better write that down—and put a star next to it to make sure you remember to study it.

Add visuals to your notes whenever possible. Create your own pictures, graphs, or diagrams. Recreate visuals that your teacher shares in class or related pictures from the textbook. This will give you more than one way to think about the content, so you’ll have an easier time remembering it.

Also remember that you don’t have to take your notes from the top down. You aren’t just transcribing what your teacher is saying, so you don’t have to write things on the page in the exact order that the teacher says them.

Instead, make a “mind-map” by drawing lines connecting related concepts. If there’s room, write related ideas next to each other. Draw boxes around each concept and draw connections across the page if you have to. This can get messy, but it’s a great process forlearning the material.

A Common Roadblock: Writing Too Much

Students usually try to write down everything their teacher says—which is practically impossible. Or they try to summarize what their teacher says in complete, grammatical sentences—which isn’t much easier.

The most essential rule of taking notes is to keep it short and simple. Only write down key words and main ideas. Skip as many unnecessary and “helping” words as possible.

A Little Help From Technology

It’s actually easier to explain the concept of “shorthand” to students today than it used to be. I used to have to force my students to use abbreviations and shorthand in their notes; it didn’t come naturally to them at all! Now, thanks to technology, I can give students some tips that they understand perfectly.

“Take notes like you are texting,” I will tell them. Texting has taught them all about abbreviating and leaving out all but the most important words in sentences. We might wish they would use proper spelling and grammar the rest of the time, but they’re on the right track for taking notes. It’s much faster for them to write “Xndr Gr8 kng mcdnia” in their notes than “Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia.”

Google and internet searches in general have also helped students understand “key words” and “main ideas.” Try explaining it in those terms: when you’re taking notes, write key words and phrases as if you were entering search terms.  The right key words should summon related information from your memory.


Note-taking is an important study skill, but parents and teachers can forget to teach students how to do it. Students need a system. They should prepare for class by reading ahead to get a handle on the information they’re going to learn. They should try drawing connections between ideas to make a “mind-map.” They should know to use shorthand and to only write down key phrases and ideas. And, of course, they should watch their teachers for cues about what facts and concepts are the most important.

Note-taking is a skill that takes some practice, but it makes a tremendous difference in grades and—more importantly—improves students’ ability to learn and feel successful in school.

See examples and more “efficiency” strategies in the SOAR learning materials.  For families:  For educators:

To your students’ success!

-Susan Kruger


Common App Personal Essay Topic Sample

Common App Personal Essay Topic Sample 

*** yes, I am so honored Kweller Prep wound up being mentioned in the personal statement!!!!***

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Rejection taught me my best lessons. My dream high school had always been Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) in Hollis Hills, Queens. However, due to my low grades, I was rejected by the high school and my dream ended there. I was emotionally torn and felt hopeless about my future. My principal, seemingly ambivalent about my distress, spoke candidly with me, suggested that I was not “good enough” or “bright enough” to attend YUHSG and recommended that I apply to the lowest-ranked Jewish private high school. I dejectedly nodded, withholding my tears, and walked away. It was among the bleakest moments of my life.
That same day, my parents, upon the recommendation of a close relative, enrolled me in a tutoring program called Kweller Prep. Frances Kweller, the director or the program, saw the sadness in my eyes and approached me. When she asked me what was wrong, I explained to her what occurred earlier that day with my principal, and she quickly and perkily responded with, “Well, why don’t you just look into attending a public high school?”  I explained to her that my parents are orthodox Jews, and that, in my case, public high schools were not an option. Nonetheless, Ms. Kweller presented me with a 500-plus-page book to take home, listing all the public schools throughout New York City.  She didn’t take no for an answer and instructed me to do the same. “Just believe in yourself,” she urged, “and stay away from negativity.”
That evening, I searched through the directory along with my younger sister. To my surprise, we located an excellent public high school which was just minutes away from my home. Francis Lewis – one of the top-ranked high schools in Queens- which had an outstanding math and science program. It also featured a wide variety of academics, sports, and extracurricular activities.
Then, the hard part was bringing the idea of leaving Yeshiva to my father. Unable to muster the courage to do it myself, I asked Frances Kweller to call my father for me. She dialed his cell a minute later, then, as I anxiously awaited my father’s response, I was shocked when he calmly said to her, “OK.” I sighed a breath of relief and felt more confident about myself. My principal, however, had something different to say. She pressured me to reconsider my decision to leave the Jewish School system and attend a public high school. Despite the guilt trip, I remained resilient and confident with my decision.

Surprisingly enough, convincing my father was the easy part. I had already missed the deadline for the Francis Lewis High School application. My mother and I scheduled a meeting with the assistant principal, Ms. Palomino. I had never been that nervous in my entire life. When she saw my transcript, she didn’t seem pleased. She explained to me that my grades didn't meet the requirements for Francis Lewis High School. At that point, I was speechless and all I could utter was, “so, I can’t come here?” After a few moments of silence, Ms. Palominofinally said, “ You know what? I’ll give you a chance.” After she uttered these words, I burst into tears of joy and I couldn't stop thanking her. She explained to me that I would only be allowed to stay if I maintain a passing GPA. From that day on, I made a promise to myself to try my hardest no matter what. My father was happy to hear the good news, but he explained that he would only agree to let me attend Francis Lewis High School if I continued to follow all my religious customs. Without hesitation, I agreed.  I also made him promise me to keep me in Kweller Prep.

Today, I am graduating one year early from Francis Lewis High School. Unbelievable. I not only caught up in all subjects, but I skipped a grade, maintaining a solid 3.7 GPA. I aced my math and science classes and passed every regents. I am a loving daughter, adhere to the religious customs within my family, and dedicated to excelling in college and obtaining a professional degree. I am ready now, more than ever, to step into the college world and the opportunities that await me.  I know I can - and I know I will succeed, despite any obstacles.  I look forward to the next chapter of my journey