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As a literature teacher, my favorite activity ever (bonus that it's educational) is reading in a setting that lends itself well to the book you are reading. In the case of literature, the possibilities are only limited to what's available. One of my favorite memories from last summer was reading Dracula on a back lit Kindle at twilight in my front yard, while bats swooped around above me and the moon rose. Some other fantastic matches?              1. Secret Garden in a botanical garden, or sitting in the middle of your own garden at home or a friend's              2. Paradise Lost in the same setting, but maybe around eight or nine o'clock, in that last hour of readable light, when the light starts to fade and shadows grow longer and take over the landscape              3. Inferno (by Dante... read more

My first grade student blew me away today. He not only read the word, 'interesting,' all by himself -- but he also knew exactly how many syllables it has!  After a full year tutoring, we have a great connection and each weekly session has its surprises.  I find I learn from my students, just as they learn from me.  Age does not seem to matter, each individual has his or her own personality and interests.   We read a book about bats today.  With terms like hibernation and echolocation, it was inevitable that we discussed a few definitions during the reading.  First graders can be quite inquisitive, and we were pressed for time.  So, I continued reading and before we finished, I learned something I did not know.  Of course, I knew the early American settlers once lived in 'colonies.'  Somehow, though, it never occurred to me that large groups of bats also live in colonies!  I also never thought about how the closeup photos... read more

As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to... read more

I was excited on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013. This was my third meeting with this student and I finally had a breakthrough with him. On the first meeting it was clear that he saw Algebra I almost as a foreign language. I began with one of the test packet, and had him do 10 questions and reviewed the questions he had done wrong. So this continued for a while, and of course sometimes he would say that he understood, but it was clear that he did not. Anyway, after reviewing the entire packet I began a teach and learn session, in which I picked a variety of topics and had him practice various equations. After which I gave him a quiz. He failed the quiz miserably, so of course he still did not understand. Anyway, I gave him another packet for homework. When I saw the student again, I reviewed with him, but still not much improvement, but at least he tried. I did the teach and learn session again, of which some of the questions were from the previous session, and I gave him... read more

The Summer session has just begun. The stress has already begun to set in, but this week I had a break through with a few of the students. So this is my second week with a student who I am tutoring for both Algebra I and Earth Science. So far he seems stronger in Earth Science but still needs much practice, before I can be very confident about his ability to pass the Regents exam in August. After the first session of Algebra, I walked away thinking about how am I going to get him ready by August 13th. I recommended an additional session to the parents, but so far they have said no. I did several practice examples, and made the second session mainly a teaching and learning session. Then I ended the session with a quiz, but he failed :(. So when I had to meet him again for Earth Science, my mind was swirling as to how I can help him, and will I at least be successful with this subject. When I checked the homework, there was a slight improvement but not enough to celebrate.... read more

Hello Miss Gil, I received a 96% in Global History. I was so excited to hear these words from my student! At first she did not want to be tutored. Her father dropped her off at the Library. So I told her that if she did the practice test, and did well, she would never have to see me again. Well, she scored a 58%, and there were so many events and topics that she did not know. We scheduled 3 additional three hour sessions. By the last session, her essays had improved and her overall score was an 83%. I told her that I believe that she can score as much as a 95% on the Regents Exam. She laughed and said "Yeah right". Well she scored a 96% and I am very proud of her.

So you finished your first AP class, and you think you did pretty well. You're taking three of them next year in preparation for college admissions, so you're definitely going to relax over the summer, right? No! While the school year is still fresh in your brain you should consider the following: 1. How could I have been better organized? 2. Where did I struggle? 3. What are my goals for next year, and what do I have to change to achieve them? One of the very first things you can do is get an early start! And it doesn't have to feel like work, make it fun! But by taking a few simple steps over the summer you will be ten steps ahead in September! Are you taking AP Government & Politics? Watch a Sunday news show every week, and write down words, terms, things you don't understand and go look them up online. Watch The West Wing. Read Newsweek cover to cover. Are you taking AP American History? Pick a topic you really enjoyed in middle school social studies... read more

A great way to prepare for the SAT and life in general is by reviewing vocabulary daily. Consider purchasing a daily word calendar, or simply check College Board's Word of the Day at http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day. If a student begins studying a a new word every day beginning with their freshman year of high school, they could learn up to one thousand words before they take the SAT! Increased vocabulary will not only increase SAT scores, but give students a much improved ability to construct essays and papers in college.

Everyone knows that demonstrating the ability to think critically on tests and assignments and in writing is the way to your teacher’s or professor’s heart. But how do you do that when you don’t even know what critical thinking is? Although “critical thinking” is a much debated term, I would simply call it your ability to analyze a given issue or problem. Okay, great, you say ... so what the heck does that mean? Well ... it depends. There’s all sorts of different types of analysis. A math problem, for example, requires a different type of analysis from say the analysis of a world history essay prompt. Trying to figure out ... or analyze ... , the different reasons why your dog threw up on your favorite pair of sneakers is a bit different from trying to figure out why the author of novel chose to kill off the main character of the book you were just assigned to read. Although, I can see where my description of analysis above might frustrate those expecting a straightforward... read more

The 2013 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May: May 6 through 10 and May 13 through 17. Click on the following link for more precise dates: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/ap/about/dates For those taking the AP European History, AP US History, AP World History and AP English Language and Composition, the dreaded DBQ section is upon you! Are you ready? Rather than demonstrating extensive knowledge, a confident time management strategy is key to succeeding on this particular part of the test. Because there is so much to do in so little time, students without one may find frayed nerves and draw blanks in the examination room. Receiving a packet containing three-to-sixteen original document sources and an unfamiliar essay prompt question that requires those sources to be organized in response around a sound thesis is enough to make any high-school kid break into a cold sweat. But you don't have to worry, here are some quick tips for developing... read more

Hello! Here I am constructing my first tutoring blog! I am eager and excited to tutor you and get your from good to great! When tutoring, I work with my students to find out how they learn best and what other skills could be introduced to further help them. My experience as a 6th grade teacher has certainly helped me discover many new ways to reach every type of learner! Hope to talk to you soon about your tutoring needs! Allison

Congratulations on making it this far! The first step to becoming a better student is realizing the need for help. Some students believe that because they ask for help that they are dumb or not as good as everyone else. In fact, the complete opposite is true! Admitting that you need help with a subject is the smartest thing you could do, and it will set you on a better academic path. I myself went to tutoring in high school, and I finished high school with a 4.0! Sometimes a little one on one time with somebody that can put the lesson into terms you can understand can really make a difference in your grades. Tutoring is meant to be helpful and challenging to the student, because a tutor's entire goal is to see you succeed academically. I tutor because I love seeing the look on a child's face after they have turned their grades around. I love building confidence in students and helping them reach their academic potential! With that being said, I am extremely excited for this... read more

Give positive feedback, use encouraging vocabulary Find success, and reinforce effort, in even minor accomplishment ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A tutor provides expertise, experience, and encouragement. They do not provide "answers," but rather assist in problem solving, in getting answers. The challenge is to focus on assignments within the context they are assigned. Tutors should not be expected to diagnose learning disabilities. Diagnosis should take place outside of the tutoring process by a professional academic counselor. If a larger problem becomes apparent, referral is the best strategy. Tutoring strategies: Seek out training to be a more effective tutor: This includes subject matter as well as the tutoring procedures Clearly establish expectations for your learner What are the expectations of the learner? of the teacher? and of those close to the learner (classmates,... read more

At my regular tutoring job, my new AP US and world history students will sometimes tell me, in detail, just how much they loathe the subject of history. When I ask them why they feel that way, the answer is almost always the same - they've got a dull history teacher at school. This makes me sad. Ever since I could read, I've loved history, and now, twenty years and change later, it's still my favorite subject to read and write about. The old cliche "truth is stranger than fiction" really is true - history is full of amazing characters and unbelievable tales that even the most imaginative fiction author would be hard-pressed to come up with. But history doesn't have to be exciting! Find a sufficiently dull teacher and it can become the purest kind of torture. The teacher who emphasizes names and dates above all else - the teacher who reads straight off of prepared Powerpoint slides, never deviating from the textbook - these are the teachers who truly kill... read more

What a way to start off the New Year! First I met with a student for US History and Living Environment. She is taking the Regents exams in three weeks. When I first met with her, Cee had a fear of taking exams, and was very nervous. She struggled with understanding both subjects; the Historical Events and dates, as well as the vocabulary words for Biology. Her next struggles were understanding and answering the document based questions for US History and the short responses for LE. Now she answers them much more confidently and accurately, and has even improved in writing her document based and thematic essays for US History. I am so proud of her and is certain that she will pass both Regents exams. Then I met with my grade 4 student for Math, English Language Art and Science. He has gone from scoring 31% to 83% on his practice science exam. He is much more confident with doing Math and ELA assignments. I am so proud of him. Then it was on to my grade 6 Math student. When... read more

It's ChristmasTime! Can you believe another year will soon be over? As we reflect on this years events and look forward to a bright new year, keep your childs' education in mind. There are so many opportunities we all need to take advantage of. There are so many educational games, cards, books, and even dvd's that would make great stocking stuffers, events to broaden your childs' mind and time spent just talking. And of course, your weekly tutoring sessions! During this free time between the holidays, I will be available and ready to work around your busy Christmas and New Years schedules. They have been working hard, but the long haul will be coming in January. Let's not slack now. Keep them sharp and ready for new challenges. Call, text, email, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you. As always, I am looking forward to working with you and your child in the coming New Year. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Many of my students have told me that Social Studies or History is their worst subject. When I ask why, they say they “just don’t get it”. I usually find out that they have a hard time connecting the dots. For example, they learn about the American Revolution but don’t understand how it connects to King George III and the Declaration of Independence. This article gives parents, tutors, and teachers some hints and tips for helping students connect the people, places, and events of history to improve their comprehension. 1. Use historical thinking skills. The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) is a UCLA - based organization dedicated to collaborating with schools and teachers to provide “engaging and exciting explorations of U.S. and World history.” (From the NCHS mission statement; use this link to visit their website: http://www.nchs.ucla.edu/.) One powerful tool they created is their list of five historical thinking skills teachers, parents, and tutors can... read more

"America's Science Problem" is the title of an article in the November 2012 issue of Scientific American. It is a surprisingly provocative look at the American political parties and their attitude towards making decisions based on facts. It is at once alarming and funny. Funny, because it is true. The abstract and lead paragraph are copied below. The entire article can be purchased at http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=64F06545-237D-9F22-E8096F93BCE27AA6 but the magazine is full of great articles this month. Read it and think. Abstract: A large number of major party contenders for political office this year took antiscience positions against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more. Such positions are surprising because the economy is such a big factor in this election, and half the economic growth since World War II can be traced to innovations in science and... read more

· Pre-Reading Strategies:       -Question yourself:               § What is the topic?               § What do you already know?               § What has already happened?               § What do you think will happen?      -Read headings:               § What do you already know about the headings?               § Turn headings into questions to be answered.                      · What is...?                      · Who is...?                      ·... read more

As you know, all teachers (and tutors!) were once students. So they know all the pitfalls that can cause a student to not get their homework done. The reason can be social - maybe the student wants to get his or her work done but the distraction of all the social media is too much to resist. The reason can also be academic - maybe the subject is difficult, such as challenging concepts or perhaps they're faced with an assignment that didn't get explained well enough to be done independently. Or sometimes it's the dreaded PROCRASTINATION. That can be the worst of all reasons to not get work done because the longer you procrastinate, the more the work piles up and then the student becomes "paralyzed", overwhelmed by the mountain of work that has accumulated. When procrastination has gotten the better of you, the important thing is to not let yourself be so overwhelmed that you don't do the work at all. Here's what you do: PRIORITIZE AND GET STARTED! It is a simple... read more

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