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Former High School Teacher. I taught for 28 years. I love teaching. I am very patient with my students. I look for ways to make students understand the concepts. Everybody can learn. You just have to find the way to help a person learn. When my students thank me when they pass a test, I tell them, do not thank me, thank yourselves. Students do the work, I just guide them.

One of my guitar students majored in Drama in college.  As I progress with her lessons, it is increasingly apparent that many approaches to playing music have a lot to do with what she knows as an actor.  One example would be that, much like how any script contains lines more expressive or, arguably, more representative of the plot's importance, musical compositions beg that certain notes, phrases, or harmonic motion be brought to the fore.  Much of the responsibility of both the actor and musician, then, is to study how lines and music may contain human emotion.  Not only that; the artist must make an evaluation of how the work means to create a sense of discourse and then, of course, adhere to those rhetorical conclusions.  I would be happy to discuss this and many other ideas over email and, hopefully, in private lessons.  Thanks!

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

I find that sometimes students have problems remembering why World War I started.  In addition to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand - here is a way to think about the remaining reasons:   M A I N   M= militarism - the countries were building up their defenses which caused competition in that area   A= alliances - countries were making alliances (agreements between friends) to come to each other's aid if they were challenged by another country   I = imperialism - countries need consumers and natural resources to boost their production and economy.  Great Britain, France, and Spain had moved into large areas in Africa - Germany was jealous and could only gain limited expansion   N = nationalism - pride in one's country can be a good thing - but it also can become a bad thing which allows its citizens to be blinded to the state of their country and follow and believe in their country no matter what   Hope...

The past few years have allowed me the privilege of working with many talented students who are on a great trajectory for college through AP courses in high school. Simultaneously, I have tutored students who ended up in AP courses and were not adequately prepped and prepared for what would be expected of them during the school year. AP courses are to be enjoyed and valued as any college course. In the first instance above, my tutoring was helping students develop quality arguments surrounding history issues, exploring literary styles and analyzing the author's work and developing concise answers to biology explorations. In the second case, I actually had to help students learn to study (the 'extra' work which is not assigned homework) and develop writing which demonstrated collegiate level thinking. In order for more students  to excel in AP coursework as well as enjoying the class  during the academic year, they need to be prepared for the work load. This... read more

In elementary school, mathematics is often taught as a set of rules for counting and computation. Students learn that there is only one right answer and that the teacher knows it. There is no room for judgment or making assumptions. Students are taught that Arithmetic is the way it is because it's the truth, plain and simple. Often students go on to become trapped in this view of the universe. As fairy tales fade from the imagination, so is mathematical creativity lost. There is evidence that Mathematics and Arithmetic existed over 3000 years ago, but only the very well educated leisure class had access to it. The rules for simple computation only were developed recently, so much of the computation of sums and products was much more complicated. Imagine adding and multiplying Roman Numerals for example. Because of this difficulty, computations were laid out only to solve very specific practical problems. Although mathematics was mainly limited to solving... read more

Here are some of my favorite resources that cover multiple subject areas in a single resource. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.     (All grades) www.wyzant.com/resources/answers - homework help from real tutors and teachers (All grades) http://www.wyzant.com/resources/lessons - lessons and tutorials from real tutors and teachers (Varies) FactMonster.com – Formulas, practice, and basic information for chapter reviews or previews. (PreK-8, 12) SheppardSoftware.com – Math, Language Arts, Science, Health and History games, + SAT vocab flash cards (K-8) Softschools.com – Flashcards, practice lessons, and general guidance in all core subjects (K-6) Eduplace.com – Online textbook-based lessons and practice for elementary school students- a GREAT resource if you’ve left your textbook at school or if you need more worksheets to... read more

Here are some of my favorite History resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.   (K-12) TeachingHistory.org – A resource designed for teachers to help create history lesson plans, this website is filled with other relevant links to help you research your specific topic. (K-8) SmithsonianEducation.org/students – Content covers art, history, science, and people/places. (Gr. 9-12) USHistory.org – Provides free online textbooks and information on the US Flag, Betsy Ross, and other historical sites in the U.S. (Gr. 9-12) Historyorb.com – Provides great information for all high school history classes, including a “This Day in History,” feature

In 399 BC, the Athenians Anytus (on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians), Meletus (on behalf of the poets), and Lycon (on behalf of the rhetoricians) brought Socrates to trial on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth of the city.  These charges may seem strange to modern ears, but there was in fact much at stake for the city of Athens.   "Impiety" This charge stems from the fear that Socrates was another natural philosopher like the Ionians who preferred a naturalistic account of the cosmos to the traditional account of Hesiod and Homer. The references that Socrates makes in Apology 18b-d and 19c are to Aristophanes' comedy Clouds, in which Socrates is portrayed as a buffoonish academic who teaches his students that natural phenomena are not due to the action of the gods; e.g. in the play Socrates explains that thunder is the result of the clouds farting. There was also a common fear that Socrates was another Sophist who would... read more

My great-uncle Hans was the executive officer (1 Wachoffizier) of the German submarine U-618 during WWII. While on patrol, the sub's activities were recorded in the log (Kriegstagebuch, or war diary). After the war, captured German naval records were microfilmed and archived by the British Admiralty, and copies are stored in the National Archives. Another u-boat researcher, Jerry Mason, was kind enough to send me digital copies of U-618's war diaries, and so I have begun to translate them.    Aside from the family connection, this project is motivated by my interests in WWII naval history and the role that intelligence and cryptography play on the battlefield. Clay Blair's books on the subject are worth a read ("Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters", "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted", "Silent Victory"); for a great fictionalized account of cryptography's role in war, see Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon".   I've... read more

In my work as a teacher, I cannot help but notice that many of the reading selections written for our students include words that are beyond our students' experience. Students simply do not have & could not usually acquire the background knowledge necessary for understanding some words they encounter in subject-specific reading selections, such as social studies & science. Reading instruction in language arts classes cannot adequately address all the words students need to know, as language arts teachers have other specific concerns to address every day. This is why every teacher must be a reading teacher & consider reading an integral part of their subject. Certain subjects are the best place for students to encounter, learn, and understand some of the vocabulary they need to know, while context clues are only useful if students already have the needed background knowledge. In other words, a context clue is not really a clue at all if students do not have the... read more

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

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.

If I could go back in time and give myself some advice ... Well, that's quite a questions. And the answers are not as easy as one might think. We are who we are based on the lessons we have learned over time. If we didn't make mistakes, we would not learn. We might avoid a pitfall here and there, but we wouldn't learn the lessons behind the lessons - the root cause, as it were, for why it was a mistake in the first place. However, one piece of advice I would like to give myself in the past is this: listen to the advice you are given. As I look back, I was given some great advice by a lot of people while I was growing up. Some of it, thankfully, I not only listened to, but took to heart. Some I didn't. When I analyze those things I have done in the past that turned out to be mistakes, I can almost always trace the root of a bad decision back to not following the advice someone had given me earlier. So, with that in mind, I would like to share two of the best pieces... read more

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

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

History is all about studying the past. But, haven't we always been taught to "look towards the future"? Yes, but we also need to know the mistakes that have been made historically to look towards the future. So how do we determine what important historical information we need to know? Well...that's definitely a debatable topic. However, knowing the challenges those before us faced is a significant place to start! As I learn so many interesting things I am amazed by how I now look at past and current issues. Making sure our youth understand the importance of how we became the greatest nation in the world is so important. Why? Well let's take a look at some issues that are currently debated, such as gun control. The 2nd Amendment states: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." This Amendment has been interpreted in so many ways. However, what... read more

On February 8, 1926, “Disney Brothers Studio” was renamed “Walt Disney Studio”, becoming the entertainment company we know and love today. The Disney brother’s history is one of emotional and financial difficulty. This article summarizes the company’s history including Disney cartoons and theme parks. Roy and Walt Disney began their animation careers when they joined with their friend and fellow animator Ub Iwerks to create a company they called “Iwerks – Disney Commercial Artists” in 1920, but the company was dissolved after only two months. The Disney brothers, Roy and Walt Disney, started working together as animators in February 1924. They hired another animator and moved into a small store. They named their company “Disney Brothers Studio” and had the name painted onto the front window of the store. Once the company became “Walt Disney Studio” as we know it today, the company began to grow. It was large enough that the brothers hired more animators and Walt Disney... read more

Salvete Omnes! (Greetings all!) This post is to inform all potential students that I am currently about 35 weeks pregnant and will not be accepting new students until April 1st. Current students should be advised that my schedule may become severely limited in the next two months. During this time, I may be available for short sessions or for one-time-only students. I will not be able to make any long-term commitments until April 1st.

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