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Karina R.

Explains it All

San Francisco, CA (94122)

Travel radius
15 miles
Hourly fee
$85.00
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Karina R. passed a background check on 1/17/14. The check was ordered by Karina through First Advantage. For more information, please review the background check information page.

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Hello! My name is Karina and I have a BS and an MA in Physics and a BA in Math. I am also a native Spanish speaker from Argentina.

I consider myself to be a very holistic tutor. My tutoring is about teaching my students to think and reason through the concepts they are struggling with. My ultimate goal is for them not to need my help anymore. I think any other type of tutoring is not really helpful, but rather detrimental in the long run, because it creates a dependency on outside help. My objective is to create self-sufficient students who learn to think critically and to reason their way through problems.

Of course, in order to do that, it's important to first address what exactly the source of the problems is. My many years of experience as a tutor have given me the tools to glean a lot of information from what my students say, and also from what they don't say! I also pride myself in being very creative in my explanations, so that instead of repeating something that I can see is just not clicking, I will come up with a new way to explain it, until I find the explanation that works for each student. In a way, each student is a puzzle to be solved: how they think about the concepts, what the best way to teach them is, how I can motivate them. And I love puzzles!

I am also a strong believer in teaching study skills. I think learning math (or science, or a language, or anything) is as much about math as it is about learning. I have found, again and again, that many students simply don't know how to learn. They might understand the concepts well enough, but they are still struggling in school. This is often the result of a lack of guidance in the way to approach the process of learning and studying. I always like to spend at least some time going over these things with almost every new student.

Overall, my teaching style is a combination of ideas I acquired throughout my own learning experience, as well as over the more than 15 years that I have been tutoring for. I have worked with students of all ages, from 6 years old to adults going back to school or wanting to learn a new language. I have worked with very motivated students who want that A+ as well as with struggling students who are ecstatic when they finally get to that C. I have worked with students individually and taught classes of a few up to 30 students (I work as a college instructor as well as a tutor). I have worked with students who need help for specific classes as well as with those that want me to develop a curriculum and course of study. My experience has as much breadth as depth, and I'm sure I can help you become a better student, just as I have helped so many others.

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Karina’s subjects

Algebra 1

This is one of the subjects I have the most experience tutoring. It's one of my favorite subjects, too, so it's a good combination! I have tutored all levels, from advanced middle school students, to high school and college level classes.

I have also worked as the primary instructor at a community college teaching elementary algebra.

Algebra 2

Like algebra 1, this is one of my favorites, both to teach and as a subject in general. It's an important one, too, since it teaches all the necessary foundations to move on to precalculus, so I feel it's important to leave no detail out when learning it. I have extensive experience tutoring it, because it's one of the most requested subjects. I have also worked as an instructor of this class at a community college.

Astronomy

While I have never specialized in this subject, it is often considered a sister-science to physics, and much of the content of it is studied in various physics classes. This is where most of my knowledge comes from.

More importantly, I find this subject fascinating, so I have done a lot of independent reading on the matter. I think this is very important for tutoring, because I can transmit my fascination to students with amazing facts and wonderful bits of information. It's sure to spark a love for astronomy.

Calculus

I first took Calculus my last year of high school, and I remember it as being quite a paradigm shift from all the math I knew. I then went on to take many more calculus and calculus-based classes, so I became used to these concepts, but I always remember my first encounter with it when I tutor it, since this is more useful than my current knowledge to those who are just starting. It helps me think from their perspective, making me a much more effective tutor.

Of course, this only works when paired with my current, extensive knowledge of calculus, acquired both from taking math classes and from my constant use of it while doing physics.

Chemistry

My knowledge of chemistry comes mostly from college classes I took in both inorganic and organic chemistry. It was not required for my major, but I always found chemistry very interesting while studying it in high school, so I decided to learn some more about it when I was in college.

As far as my experience, I have had to help many students with it throughout the years. I find the way this class is taught in high school to be quite confusing for most people, since it includes a mixture of in-depth and not-in-depth-at-all material that is sure to throw people off.

Cooking

I love cooking and I'm a very good cook (so say my husband and my friends), but I had never considered this something that can be taught. I felt I was almost born with some intuitive knowledge of this. But then I had a roommate who didn't cook. She was very interested in it, but didn't know what to do. To me, this was strange and surprising, so I became her cooking teacher at least once a week. Soon, she was enjoying cooking her own meals, and little by little started being less shy about trying new recipes and ideas.

The moral of the story? It turns out cooking can be taught! And it's very fun to teach, because it's such a hands-on process, very different from academic teaching.

Most of my experience is with Argentinian (which basically means Italian) and American cuisine, of course, but I love to experiment and learn new things. My years living in San Francisco taught me a lot about Chinese cuisine, and I'm learning how to cook Indian food. I would be happy to teach these skills to any future chef!

Differential Equations

As a physics graduate student, while getting my master's degree, I had to use the methods of differential equations all the time in almost all my classes and independent studies. This has made me quite comfortable with and knowledgeable about topics both in ordinary and partial differential equations.

I also have lots of experience tutoring math in general, and I am good at spotting what is causing trouble. This is particularly useful for teaching differential equations, because it's a subject that requires somewhat of a change of paradigms to understand, coming from calculus and algebra classes.

Elementary (K-6th)

My experience with elementary-age students is heavier on math than language arts, but I have successfully tutored students in the latter as well.

My math experience is complementary to my experience in this subject with students of all ages and skill level, and is very extensive. Teaching young students, however, can be quite a different challenge, and one that I really like. When teaching them, I can really feel how what I say and do is forming their minds. I feel I can create mental structures that will help them with their life-long learning rather than just the class I'm helping with at the moment.

As far as my language tutoring goes, I love learning other languages, and I can speak 3 of them fluently. I continue to this day to learn foreign languages. While the process is different from learning one's native tongue, many of the tools I learn as a student are also useful when teaching young children, especially when the foreign languages I learn use different alphabets that I need to learn to read. I borrow a lot from my personal experience when teaching young children to read.

Elementary Math

I have worked with elementary school-aged children in math and science, both doing homework help and general school support, as well as working on developing their math abilities above and beyond what's needed for school.

Teaching these young children is a very exciting challenge for me, and very much fun, because I am part of the learning process more than with any other students, and I can really feel how what I say and do is forming their minds. I feel I can create mental structures that will help them with their life-long learning rather than just the class I'm helping with at the moment. This is especially important in math, because it can help avoid problem later on.

Elementary Science

I love teaching science in general, mostly because I love science myself. I have been interested in science from a very early age, and I love to pass on this wonder to other people.

As far as experience, I have worked with young children mostly in teaching science beyond what the school teaches, rather than as homework help.

I also have a lot of experience from running the Physics Circus at UCSB, a program where we took physics demos to elementary schools to get the kids excited about science. I was the coordinator of the program for two years, which means I was in charge of, among other things, developing new ides and updating our old ones. It's an activity I thoroughly enjoyed.

ESL/ESOL

I have taught English as a second language to many people, from various ages and knowledge levels. Most of my teaching occurred in Argentina, simply because there are more non-English speakers there. However, while in the US, I have continued to teach languages to peoples of all ages. While all languages are different, the thought process that goes into learning to speak a new language is actually very similar and the tools and tricks that I have learned while teaching one language have often been very useful for other languages too.

Although I am not a native speaker of English because I didn't grow up in an English-speaking environment, my speaking, writing and reading ability in English match those of a native speaker. Furthermore, I have the advantage of having learned in the same way that my potential students will be learning: from books, grammar exercises and lots of reading. This gives me a special understanding of my students that a native speaker wouldn't share.

Finite Math

I have taught a college class on mathematics for business majors, which covers most of the topics most students need help with when they seek finite math tutors. I have taught this class several times, so while I never took a class on these topics, I have by now learned them inside and out. I was also very happy to use this knowledge once I acquired it, because it's extremely useful in everyday life, so it's easy to learn about all the details and intricacies in this way. Of course, my general expertise in tutoring math also helps a lot when teaching this subject.

Geometry

I have probably tutored more people in geometry than in any other subject. This is not surprising, because geometry is the first class where students encounter math of a different kind, involving proofs and abstract concepts rather than simply numbers and operations. This is a very difficult change for many people, but my experience has helped me find new and better ways to explain these new concepts.

German

I started learning German when I was in 10th grade, and continued having regular classes until my first year in college. After that, I got a scholarship to go study German in Germany, which really helped me improve. Once I got back, I continued taking conversation classes so as not to forget what I had learned, and I have always sought out any opportunity to speak to native speakers.

I have also taught someone from complete beginner through to a second year book. Teaching a language "from scratch" is always a challenge, but I draw on my knowledge of other languages to provide successful tutoring.

Grammar

Most native speakers learn grammar instinctively, so they've never had to learn the rules in the way they are taught in a class. But I, as a speaker of another language, had no choice but to sit through grammar classes to be able to speak in English. Eventually, my knowledge was augmented by the same type of instinctive learning that makes native speakers such good speakers, but I already had a strong formal basis. That, combined with my experience teaching other languages, makes me a very good teacher of grammar.

GRE

I had to take both the general GRE (language and math parts) and the specific physics GRE to get into graduate school. I was above the 85th percentile is both parts of the general one. My knowledge of and experience teaching math made the math part quite easy. My knowledge of many languages, and my experience teaching them, helped me in the verbal part.

Linear Algebra

I first took linear algebra in my freshman year in college. It was my favorite class that year, and I still continue to enjoy it immensely.

Since then, I have taken related math classes which expand upon my knowledge, such as abstract algebra and Fourier analysis, although most of my expertise comes from physics. Classes such as quantum mechanics or even classical mechanics make extensive use of the mathematical tools and concepts studied in linear algebra, and I have taken many of those!

The fact that I use the tools of linear algebra on a regular basis, instead of just studying the theory, means that my knowledge of it is always fresh in my mind. It also means I can provide plenty of examples when explaining it, making it easier to understand.

Mathematica

Being a physics graduate student means using Mathematica on a daily basis, and I certainly did! Little by little, I have learned to love this amazing piece of software that seems smarter than me, at times! The syntax is very intuitive once the basics are understood, and the documentation is so extensive and so well organized that it makes learning to use it a breeze. Every time I teach a class, I teach some of my students to use it, because I think it's something that everyone in a scientific field should know.

Physical Science

Physics is my passion, and I'm always happy to share it with students. Those studying physical science for the very first time are an ideal audience for my enthusiasm for this beautiful subject. Being a PhD student, my knowledge is certainly enough, but I believe my ability to transmit my passion is much more important, because it motivates my students to learn.

Physics

I have been taking physics classes since high school, working up the ladder to the level of knowledge I have today. I now have both a bachelor's degree in Physics and a Master's degree in it, with a focus on particle physics.

I have also done a lot of tutoring in physics, both with high school and college students. The two are actually quite different types of tutoring, since the classes focus on very different aspects of learning physics. I love both, since I love every aspect of the subject!

Prealgebra

This is a formative class: one that will create the foundations upon which to build the rest of the mathematical knowledge students will acquire. This is why when I teach it, I always make sure the students are learning to think about the topics in the right way. Many students tend to try to simply memorize some topics they find hard, or sometimes even to skip some topic they consider of minor importance. I always make sure every single topic is understood, because it will save many hours of tutoring in the future.

This is also one of the best classes to work on study skills. Studying for math can be very different from studying for other classes, and I always like to take the time to go over the best strategies with my students.

Precalculus

This is a very fun subject for me. I have loved it for as long as I have known it. It's also the class where higher level math starts to take shape, and where one first catches a glimpse of what mathematicians really do. But maybe precisely because of that, it can be a tough one for many people, so I have had to tutor students in this subject many times. I like to think they often catch some of my enthusiasm!

Probability

Probability can be a tricky class for many people, because it's a branch of math that is rather unconnected from the other branches students usually learn about. Since there isn't too much to relate it to, it's hard to understand it. The trick is that probability, in its most basic form, is nothing more than counting. Realizing this helped me a lot when I first learned it, and I try to keep it in mind when teaching it to others.

PSAT

I used to work at a test-preparation company teaching SAT and related tests, where I received specialized training in teaching PSAT, SSAT and SAT, among other variations of these. I taught a couple of large classes, but didn't like the "one size fits all" approach. Since then, I have used what I learned with them and my own knowledge as a tutor to help individual students study for these standardized tests.

SAT Math

I have double experience with this subject. On the one hand, I am very comfortable with the math content of it, since my occupation requires me to use math on a daily basis. On the other hand, I have worked for test preparation companies, where I received specific SAT training. This means I know many of the "tricks" involved in these types of tests, which is as useful, if not more, than knowing the material.

Spanish

I am a native speaker of Spanish and I lived in a Spanish speaking country until I was 20 years old. This means I went to school in Spanish, so I learned all the grammar that many native speakers missed if they grew up in the US.

I also have a lot of experience teaching Spanish. I have had several Spanish conversation groups that I coordinated, and which were always a lot of fun. I have also done more traditional tutoring, both for high school and college level classes. Finally, I have taught complete beginners to speak Spanish "from scratch."

SSAT

I used to work at a test-preparation company teaching SAT and related tests, where I received specialized training in teaching PSAT, SSAT and SAT, among other variations of these. I taught a couple of large classes, but didn't like the "one size fits all" approach. Since then, I have used what I learned with them and my own knowledge as a tutor to help individual students study for these standardized tests.

Statistics

While my original knowledge of statistics is based on the college classes I had to take as part of my degree, my working knowledge of it is more related to my use of statistics while studying physics. My specialty during my studies was in particle physics, which means a lot of statistical analysis of results. This made me a lot better in the subject, and I gained a lot of knowledge from this.

Statistics also seems to be one of those classes where people get confused rather quickly, so I have had to tutor people in this subject many a time.

Study Skills

I have been a tutor for about 8 years, and almost without exception I have found that those students who have good study skills and keep neat, tidy notes do better than the rest. I also have a lot of experience as a student myself, since I have been in school all my life. This has helped me define and refine what good study skills are.

I always teach some study skills whenever I'm tutoring something, because I believe it is absolutely necessary to understand a subject in depth, especially one that the student finds difficult. But I'm also a big believer in the importance of good study skills independently of any subject, and will often dedicate an entire tutoring session to simply going over this with my students. It has always produced very positive results.

TEAS

This test is actually one of my favorite standardized tests. It's one of the only ones that actually tests relevant knowledge, rather than a great mixture of a little bit of everything. I am certainly qualified to tutor the material in the math section, since it includes elementary algebra concepts, mostly. The material on the reading section is very similar to the material on other standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT, so my experience there is very useful. The science part covers some basic aspects of physics and chemistry, some important ideas about scientific principles, and a lot of anatomy. The first two parts are most definitely within my main area of expertise. While anatomy is not, I am the first to make this clear to my students. Still, many of the questions test critical thinking rather than specific knowledge, for which my scientific experience comes in very handy.

TOEFL

Having had to study for the TOEFL myself is the best tool I can offer my own students. Not only am I knowledgeable in the test itself and its structure, but also I can relate to anyone studying for the test. From the nerve-racking experience of not understanding something because of the poor sound quality, to the anxious wait until the results are in, I've been through it all. And very successfully! Since then, living in the US has improved my English proficiency even more, making me an even better tutor now than I was before.

Trigonometry

Trigonometry is such a fun class! I truly consider it an entertaining exercise, and enjoy it as much as doing a crossword puzzle. This means that, when teaching it, I am always very excited and happy about it. I find that this always helps, because there's nothing better than enthusiasm to create interest in a class.

I also have quite a lot of experience teaching it, since it is a class that many people struggle with, so I get many requests.

Vocabulary

Ironically, my status as a non-native speaker puts me at an advantage over some native speakers in this area. Knowing more than one language (and I know 4!) means I have more sources to draw from when I encounter a word I've never heard before. Also, I'm a bit of an amateur linguist, in that I really enjoy learning about etymologies and word formation. So all these things combined make me have a more extensive vocabulary than many native speakers. However, knowledge alone doesn't make a good tutor. Fortunately, I am capable of transmitting my enthusiasm for languages and words, at least to some extent, to my students.

Read all subject qualifications »

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Education

San Francisco State University (Physics and Math)

UC Santa Barbara (Master's)

Absolutely great! My son's tutoring experience with Karina was different from any other he had experienced. She was not only patient, but clearly dedicated to uncovering the roots of the obstacles and roadblocks he faced in understanding the material. She helped him to learn better study skills and understand his own learning style. He told me she was great at figuring out different and creative ways to teach hi ...

— Jeannine from Santa Barbara, CA on 5/24/10);

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $85.00

Cancellation: 8 hours notice required

This rate is per student, and for locations within SF. I do travel outside SF, but the rate is different. I offer special rates for group lessons. I also offer discount for lessons before 2pm.

Travel policy

Karina will travel within 15 miles of San Francisco, CA 94122.

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