Posts Tagged ‘Tools’

Happy Thanksgiving – and the official start of Crunch-Time

In Tools, Uncategorized on November 26, 2009 at 9:00 am

Photo by Espen Klem

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you’re having a great time celebrating this most American of holidays — and taking an important respite from the busy pace of school. If you’ve studied in the states for a while, you know that Thanksgiving is all about eating a huge turkey dinner, hanging out with family, and being grateful for all the good things in life. The day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the December holiday season, including shopping, decorating, travel planning, and general hustling and bustling.

Many of my memories of Thanksgiving have to do with school, actually. When I was in high school, we had a week’s worth of Thanksgiving vacation each year, and usually, our teachers assigned a large research paper, due as soon as we returned the following Monday. I remember procrastinating over many of these Thanksgiving weeks, then rushing to have everything finished by the deadline.

Thanksgiving is still like that for many of us, since the start of the holiday season is often the start of end-of-semester crunch-time, as you realize that final exams are coming up and research papers are due in nearly every class you’re taking at the same time. This is when I see students stumbling around the halls, with red eyes and papers everywhere. It’s no wonder. There’s a  semester’s worth of knowledge for students to synthesize in a short amount of time. At the same time, you might be planning trips home to see your families, gathering gifts to give friends and family, and registering for your classes next semester. It’s a stressful time, and it’s easy to accidentally let something fall through the cracks.

I’m testing out a service that I’d like to offer to help you get through the next month. If it’s a hit, I’ll offer it again in January, to help you over the entire semester.

Custom Crunch-Time Helpfrom Thanksgiving through December 24th. With this service, you’ll get study tips, pep talks, and motivation strategically placed around deadlines for your classes — tailored to your class schedule and your study habits. An important note is that this is not tutoring or hands-on help (which I do plan to offer, actually, in the new year). Custom Crunch-Time Help is mainly for motivation, strategies for studying, and support. Here’s how it works:

1)      First, you’ll email me a copy of your syllabus for each of your classes (up to 5)

2)      Next, you’ll make sure that I have your email address and a phone number where I can leave voicemail messages for you. You’ll receive both voicemail messages and email reminders from me to help you plan that research paper, study for that test, and take a rest in the midst of it all.  A special note: I hate spammers, and I promise not to share your information with them (or anyone else, for that matter). In fact, you won’t even be added to the Student in the States mailing list, unless you make a separate request.

3)      Third, send me an email to let me know a little bit about how you study. Do you cram the night before a test? Do you study on the weekends, or every afternoon? I’ll ask you about your biggest challenges. Do you always procrastinate? Do you have test anxiety? Do you have trouble concentrating during class? I’ll time my messages to help you when you need it most – and to help you overcome your biggest challenges.

4)      I’ll use the deadlines,  the description of your study habits, and information on your syllabus to send you messages to help you get started on that paper or study for that test. I’ll send pep talks before test day and reminders to relax and get good rest, and I’ll send messages to give you tips on concentrating for an 8am class, staying calm during an essay exam, or conquering procrastination. Hopefully (if I do a good job!), you’ll feel supported, encouraged, motivated, and ready to get through crunch-time as easily as possible.

Cost: $40 (messages during crunch-time only)

If you’re interested in trying it out, visit the page here. I’ll be taking sign-ups until November 30th (midnight). After that, I’m not sure there would be enough crunch-time left for you to get your money’s worth of messages.

Monday Grammar & Teacher Journal

In Grammar, Uncategorized on November 24, 2009 at 3:48 am


Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be talking about some specific punctuation rules for research papers. Last week, we talked about how to use punctuation with quotation marks. This week, we’ll talk about how to use punctuation when citing sources within your paper.

In-text citations is the official name for what happens when you cite sources within your papers. In-text citations are the references you use after a quotation or paraphrase from your research. In MLA citations (for English and other humanities classes), you’ll include the author’s surname and the page number in parentheses, like this (Obama 46). Here’s what an in-text citation would look like after a direct quotation and after a paraphrase:

Direct Quote: “I don’t waste time thinking about things more than once” (Allen 22).

Paraphrase (when you put it in your own words): It’s not efficient to think about things repeatedly (Allen 22).

We’ll talk more about how to quote and paraphrase in future posts, but for now, I want you to look at the punctuation. Notice how, in both the quotation and the paraphrase, the period at the end of the sentence doesn’t come until after the citation is finished. The idea is that, when you cite a source, the citation is part of the sentence. Also, it looks neater, doesn’t it? Try it next time you’re citing sources for a paper.


I’m sorry I missed my post last Thursday! I owe you all an apology. The truth is that the end of the quarter is just as busy for teachers as it is for you. We’re grading papers, planning classes, getting all the assignments ready to explain to you. I’ve also been working on something for our website, though. I’d like to start offering more tools to help you as students, and I’ve been busy at work, preparing the details for you. I’ll unleash the full plan in my Thanksgiving post on Thursday. In the meantime, thank you for being so patient with me!

Acing Your English Class: A Free Download

In Tools on June 11, 2009 at 10:00 am


I’m introducing a new tool in the Tools section of the website today. It’s a free guide with 5 pieces of advice for international students. The tips are designed to help you with English classes, but many can help with your other classes as well. In creating this little list, I drew on worries that I’ve heard from international students and my experiences as an English instructor to look for solutions that might help you do better on your papers, beat procrastination, and prevent mis-communication with instructors about what is expected in class. I hope it’s useful for you!

There are two ways to download the guide:

1) Just click here for the free download.

2) You can also access the guide in the Tools section of the site. Just click on TOOLS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. The guide is the second free tool “created by Kathryn.” Click the link, and the pdf file will download. You can also explore other free resources for international students on this page — and learn about more tools that are in the works.