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Evolution and time: understanding 4 billion years

One of the great challenges in teaching evolution is understanding the flow of time.  Humans have 75-year lifespans, on average.  Our generations are approximately a third of that.  Our existence as anatomically modern humans has only lasted for about 200,000 years.   Only!   A popular analogy for conceiving geologic time on Earth is the clock, or the calendar, where humans occupy the last second or the last chunk of December 31.  This still doesn't give you a very good idea of how long 4 billion years is.   I suggest therefore a new analogy, which compares time with distance.  For the purposes of this blog post, let's say 1 year = 1 meter.   1 meter is an easily conceivable length, and so is 1 year.  Divide it into days, and each day is about one-fourth of a centimeter.   100 years = 100 meters.  Google any one of Usain Bolt's record-breaking 100-meter dashes and see how far he... read more

Find Yourself a Tutor Before It’s Too Late

The Spring 2014 semester has ended, along with my first full semester of tutoring. Reflecting back on my roster of students, there’s one piece of advice I want to offer the next batch of students. If you’re starting to struggle in a class, find a tutor NOW. Don’t wait. Why the urgency, you ask? Because once you start to slip behind in a course, it’s an uphill battle to regain the ground you are losing. I think there are two connected reasons for this: 1) You start spending your time worrying about your performance and your grade. You aren’t focused on learning the material; you’re focused on your anxiety. 2) Because you’re worried about your performance, you are losing valuable time that you could be spending on your studies. As a tutor, I can help you learn the material. I can offer you insights on how to improve your performance. And with more time to work with you, I have a better chance of helping you reach your academic goals. Tutors... read more

Biology Study Techniques

I just began tutoring a new student in 10th grade Biology.  Biology is my favorite subject and as we were going over terminology and concepts and processes in each section I thought it might be helpful to outline elements that can help in the general study of biology.  I thought this would be a great time to reference some good study techniques from a biological perspective:  I organized my notes into list of 4 valuable concepts.   1.  Take notes:  Obviously right? of course but listen... More than any other subject taking notes in biology is crucial.  Almost all the information that is introduced each lesson is packed with new terms, new concepts and new images of the material.  Taking notes in the form of term definitions, paragraphs describing a process, or drawings is a way to stay on top of complex new material.  I recommend taking notes on a white piece of computer paper without lines, this helps the student to learn... read more

All my students passed the NY State Regents Exams...

I am happy to announce that all my students have passed the NY State Regents examinations, except one student.  The subjects varied from Algebra 1, Algebra 11/Trigonometry, English, US and Global History and Living Environment.  I am so proud of them.  Most of these students are students who struggled quite a bit.  It was a long journey but one I would do again.    I am very proud of them as most of them will be graduating this year.  The NY State Common Core examinations are next.

Biology Mnemonic

Mnemonic (said nuh-mon-ik) devices are a great way to memorize complex steps, systems, or anything else you have trouble remembering!   One mnemonic trick is to take the first letter of each word you are trying to remember and then come up with a different word starting with that letter to create a fun phrase.   Here's an example:   In Biology, we must remember how animals and plants are organized and named. This system is called taxonomy and goes like this:     Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species     Kinda long and a little hard to remember, right? Let's turn it into a mnemonic!   1. We take the first letter of every word: K (for kingdom), P (for phylum), C (for class), and so on   So we get: KPCOFGS   2. Let's add words to it:   King                Kingdom Phillip      ... read more

Five Unique Functions Of The Mitochondrion

Possessing an inner membrane, as well as an outer membrane, and made of phospholipid bilayers and proteins, five specific parts of the mitochondrion and their unique purposes are listed below.   First, lets explore the outer mitochondrial membrane that surrounds the organelle and contains a large number of porin integral proteins that allow molecules to travel through the cell membrane pores in what is commonly known as passive diffusion from either side of the membrane to the other.  In order for larger proteins to enter mitochondrion they must bind to large multi-subunit translocase of the outer membrane proteins that actively transport them across the outer mitochondrion membrane while lipids can be moved between mitochondrion and the endoplasmic reticulum membrane.   The second unique part of mitochondrion is the inner mitochondrial membrane that has proteins with five distinct functions including those that perform oxidative phosphorylation... read more

Favorite Science Resources, Gr 6-12

Here are some of my favorite Science resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.   (Gr. 9-12) CellsAlive.com – Learn about the life cycle of a cell, including reproduction, structure and live cell growth videos. (Gr. 9-12) Zooniverse.com – A fabulous resource for science projects; you can even participate in someone else’s live science project (some are even from NASA). Focuses on astronomy, biology, and chemistry. (Biology) KhanAcademy.org/science/biology – Tutorials and information on all things Biology related (Biology) SpellingCity.com/biology.html – Provides a list of vocabulary terms typically seen in Biology courses   (Biology) Biology-online.org - Provides quick explanations of concepts, with examples (Bio/Anat/Physics) BiologyCorner.com – Lessons, tutorials, definitions, and practice problems.

I'll never use this stuff.....

Want to place a bet on that?  Ever thought about having your own micro-brew beer?  Do you like bread? Ever spread honey on your toast? Or put blue cheese  on your salad? Or cheese on your burger?  That's right - they are ALL biology based. Every last one of them - and you can't do any of them without it. No plastic substitutes need apply. Let me show you. Beer and bread require a very versatile one celled fungi that we call 'yeast'. It's a first cousin to mushrooms and toadstools, true, but a fungi it is. It is also a PLANT. We do many things with yeasts-these two just happen to make alcohol and carbon dioxide very reliably. We have also learned how to make yeasts do some pretty sophisticated things, too - like produce vaccines and some drugs.  Honey? That's made by honeybees, of course, but it is how they do it that is fascinating. They gather lots of nectar (which isn't all that sweet) and put it into little wax cups. Those wax... read more

ENGLISH WRITING CONSULTANT - COLLABORATIVE UNIVERSITY PEER TUTOR WITH PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Proofreading and editing one's own paper for a high school or college English course can be challenging. Sometimes one just needs a second pair of eyes. A tutor will often see the weaknesses in a writing assignment and point them out to a student. Like any teacher, making red marks on a student's paper doesn't necessarily help a student improve his or her writing skills. Working side by side, one-on-one with an English tutor will encourage you to take what you already know and apply it to your assignments. Writing is a skill that is necessary in all disciplines, not just the humanities. Science majors must write well to explain laboratory experiments and correctly compose reports. Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, and Chemistry courses in college will require one to write either lab reports or essays, and possibly both. Pre-med students need writing skills just as much as pre-law students. Whatever the discipline, being able to properly convey your ideas, thoughts,... read more

Things a good tutor should say and discuss with you:

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

Why would a group of parents want to have small group tutoring?

The most obvious answer is cost. If a tutor charges the same rate for one or four students, it becomes cheaper per hour as you increase students and share the costs with other families. It is often believed a tutor is best when working 1:1 with a student. In some instances it is well worth the time and money to have 1:1 tutoring and sometimes it is appropriate for students to study and do school work in small groups. What is not obvious is the dynamics of small group tutoring. In a variety of circumstances it is invaluable for students to learn how to study “what needs to be studied”. The acts of independence and self regulating behavior have far reaching benefits. Groups need to learn to share and take turns. This seems simple and yet there is the underlying tendency to allow the ‘smart one’ in the group to carry the burden of work. Assuming each student is in the class and has a different point of view/observation about what is happening in class, they should share... read more

What I learned about tutoring anatomy by watching TV

Although I do not own a TV (and have not for pretty much all of my adult life), I occasionally allow myself to partake in mind numbing and will watch past episodes of a show via Netflix. It would not have occurred to me I could learn something helpful about studying and yet I did! Although I did not realize it at the time, Bones (cerebral/quirky weekly drama about a forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deshanel) and later Grey's Anatomy (medical drama with some elements of non-fiction starring Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh), subtly helped me understand how to become a better connoisseur of studying anatomy and physiology. It was not until recently, while working with a pre-nursing school student, I put the pieces together. Anyone who works with the body (living or dead) must create their own 'GPS' system for navigating the body as no two are exactly alike. Each bone, muscle, system and tissue (sometimes even cells) are just slightly different. There is a range... read more

Greeting Wyzant Community

Greetings Wyzant community, prospective students, fellow tutors: I have just returned from my studies abroad and am ready to begin teaching again. Please take a look at my profile. My education ranges from my Masters in Physics, to my undergrad degrees in physics, biology and music. I just completed the coursework for a masters program in peace and conflict resolution as well. Aside from know knowledge and experience teaching, I think I possess a very good ability to understand the different ways students learn. This helps me to engage with them in a way that is most effective for them. Not only does it help to comprehend the material for the subjects they are learning but it also helps them to develop a wisdom and intuition for further (creative) learning and a strategic approach towards test taking. I'm looking forward to working with all of you. Don't hesitate to contact me for any reason...

Tips for memorization

I have found particularly with science but with other subjects as well that the cheesier you make a memory tactic the more likely it is to stick! For example: in anatomy I always say that the brain is the controller - therefore every one else heads to talk to him (via nerves) to do their job. We know that the body is composed of a whole bunch of cells - we can think of them as a communication network holding hands to relay messages to the brain too. The easiest way to make things make sense is to have it make sense to you. If no one else understands what you are talking about but you get it and you ace that test then the easy cheesie trick works! Try it out!

Advice to my younger self- the student

IF I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to be a better student, be more successful in school, life, etc, I would definitely tell myself that being involved in everything comes at a cost. It is better to find a few things that you like to do, do them well and often, than feeling stressed because there is so much on your plate at one time. Being a 'Jack of all Trades' it is natural for me to dip my toes in different waters- all at the same time, but that does not mean that I can give 100% to any of them at that time. While I was able to get good grades (A- average) while in school, I was impressed by how much better I did- and felt about my work- the few times that I scaled back on my activities. Another piece of advice that I wish that I could bestow upon my younger self would be to learn how to speak up in a group setting when someone is not fulfilling their part of an agreement. Now, this said, the best way to do this would be in a tactful... read more

MOOC and Free Online Teaching from Leading Universities

I am excited today to share my experience of taking my first free online course with EdX. The course is an introduction to biology called "The Secret of Life" by Eric Lander. I have always been a fan of Eric Lander because his lectures are more about understanding biology than just knowing a bunch of facts. I am also very happy to see that many teachers and students are registered to this course and that NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) offers support and free resources for teachers. As a high school science teacher and private tutor I have always felt that the curriculum emphasizes breath instead of depth. I believe that free high quality education is going to have a huge impact for the generation to come. If you haven't taken a course with EdX you can still browse their catalogue here: https://www.edx.org/courses.

I'm new to the site, so here is a little information about me.

Since I am new to the site, I would like to tell you a little bit about me. I worked as a Supplemental Instruction leader for an Anatomy and Physiology course for over two years. This position is given to those who have taken the course and received a high grade and who have participated in training regarding tutoring styles and study skills. I held three sessions per week which were optional for the students. Anywhere from one to one hundred students would attend depending on the difficultly of the current material or whether or not they had an exam in the near future. I was required to submit lesson plans and create mock exams/review sessions. I love working in groups or one-on-one. I am majoring in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Biochemistry. I have finished all courses required for my minor (plus two extra). I am almost done with my Biology degree. I have taken basic psychology classes as well as advanced ones such as Biopsychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Statistics... read more

Tutoring with Online Technology - Skype and Scribblar - Long-distance Schools without Walls

Times are definitely changing in the world of education. Today, as with all things twenty-first century, there are no limits to a student's education. This is absolutely exciting since so many 'schools without walls' have adopted various technologies during the past few years to enable students excel academically. As an advanced tutor, it makes me dance in my shoes. Universities such as Harvard, Princeton, and MIT have posted several free virtual lectures for the average student on education applications via android devices, iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Today, I want to introduce some fantastic techniques to approach tutoring that will benefit the student who cannot meet physically with a tutor, or maybe a student who is in a town on one end of the United States while their tutor is at the opposite end of the map. Yes, tutoring can now be employed with the use of fantastic applications such as Skype and Scribblar. Skype: This is a tool by which a tutor can see his/her... read more

My guidelines

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

The Purpose of Tutoring

An important piece I bring to the table in terms of tutoring is the fact each student is a unique individual, which may be better reached by creative thought concerning what will help them master the material of their subject. It also matters a great deal what their personal goals are in learning a subject. The teaching approach can be tailored in a way that addresses both what they want to learn, and the best way for them to learn it. This is certainly the advantage of having a tutor. In addition to helping them with a specific subject, I also seek to imbue students with the kind of study skills that will benefit them to not only do well in the course, but skills which will benefit them through out their professional development.

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