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I recently came across this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, urging college professors to fight grade inflation in the Humanities. As a college-level Instructional Assistant, I see this all the time. Students feel that their grade in their Anthropology course should reflect only effort and completion, not the content and understanding. This a trend that is not seen in the STEM fields as readily. As a result, professors are pressured to do just that; grade distribution in nearly all humanities classrooms do not follow a standardized bell curve as they might in a science or math classroom.    This sort of behavior not only devalues the importance of the humanities in our society, but also puts our students at a disadvantage. The humanities (Reading, Writing, and the Social Sciences) not only teaches us valuable lessons about communication, and how to connect with other human beings, but allows as a venue to contextualize the STEM fields... 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

When addressing general learning - especially in K-6 - we must keep in mind that subjects cannot be separated from one another. An obvious example is science, which requires mathematics, writing, and usually reading. Mathematics word problems, of course, require skill in reading and logic. If we consider social studies, we quickly realize that reading, writing, science, and math concepts are usually necessary for appropriate learning experiences. The common element in all our learning is, of course, language, which we began learning before we were even born. As we grew and learned, we imitated our parents' oral language and learned to associate words with things we observed in our environment. Eventually, we began learning to read, which is simply associating written symbols with oral language. Reading opened us up to a variety of learning, but we had to practice reading on its own, for its own sake, as well as in the other subject areas. This is why schools nowadays often... 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

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

So you are halfway through summer and you suddenly decided you are tired of going to the pool, or your usual crowd has become lame, and you are starting to wish it was time to go back to school already. What do you do? Your parents keep hassling you - asking you, "What's wrong?" All you can say is that you are bored! Step #1- Visit your local library - not online - in person. Check the library activities board for upcoming events for your age (adults too). Ask the librarian to help you find how to books of your favorite subject area- or a new area that you think could someday be added to your list of favorites. Some examples of books my children used to check out include: the basics of Karate (and other martial arts), books about drama, foreign language learning, how to make the best paper airplanes, how to draw cartoons, and how to do skateboard tricks. There are hundreds of books on subjects ranging from sports to arts and crafts, and from do it yourself handyman... read more

Please let me know your experience, or any helpful information you may have regarding Parental Alienation in divorce (or post-divorce) cases. I am deeply concerned for the well-being of some children who may be victims of Parental Alienation. I have been told that this is a form of child abuse, since it can seriously impact a child's self-esteem. Research shows that children in divorce cases are under stress, and when one parent "vilifies" the other parent, it can cause emotional damage to the child, or children. If you can take a minute to comment or email me directly, I would greatly appreciate your assistance. Thanks in advance--I hope to hear from you soon.

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.

When interviewing a prospective tutor, parents should ask about the tutor's skills and experience, and find out if the tutor truly enjoys teaching. When the tutor feels enthusiastic about the subject, and communicates well, the student has an opportunity to learn to enjoy the subject too. I recommend for parents to observe the first lesson to see the tutor's skills in action, and watch/listen carefully to future lessons when possible, to make sure the tutor has an encouraging, supportive attitude at all times. (Tutors should welcome and respond positively to the child's questions, and NEVER make the child feel "stupid," no matter what.) It is most important to have a safe and quiet place for studying, without distractions. I like to find a quiet table at a library, and work with students there. I welcome suggestions from parents, and I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching skills.

So, you have this big test coming up, it could be the ACT, SAT, MAP, End of Course Exams, or just a final and you are getting a little freaked out. Well, don't be. Here are some tips and tricks to taking a multiple choice test that work for any subject. Just realize that these tips and trick are not hard and fast rules, but just tips and tricks. Multiple Choice Test Taking Tips: - Read the question before you look at the answer. - Come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers, this way the choices given on the test won't throw you off or trick you. - Eliminate answers you know aren't right. - Read all the choices before choosing your answer. - If there is no guessing penalty, always take an educated guess and select an answer. - Don't keep on changing your answer; usually your first choice is the right one, unless you misread the question. - In "All of the above" and "None of the above" choices, if... read more

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

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

Professional athletes hire personal trainers and learn as much as possible about getting the most out of their bodies. They study things such as exercise’s effect on muscles, the vitamins and minerals they’ll need to rebuild muscle, and how much water they’ll need to drink to stay hydrated while working out. Students can use the same approach by learning about biopsychology and learning - related biopsychology research to get their brains in tiptop shape. This article will teach you a few things about biopsychology so you can get your brain ready for maximum learning. What is Your Brain Made Of? About 70% of our brain is made up of fatty acids. (The other 30% is made up of protein.) This is because the cell membranes of neurons, the cells that make up our brain, are created by a double layer of fatty acids. The cell membrane holds all the cell’s contents and gives neurons their shape. So, when you see a picture of your brain, you are looking at the cell membranes of... read more

Students sometimes feel like they’ve run a marathon when the first semester of school ends. Depending on individual circumstances, students may truly have put in more effort than usual this semester. Students who didn’t meet your (or their own) academic expectations may feel anxious about the end of winter/ Christmas break. This article lists four (4) things you can do as a parent (or that adult students can do themselves) to renew themselves and prepare to improve their second semester performance. Four Tips for a Better Second Semester Regardless of grade level, most students feel they can improve something about their first semester performance. Here are some tips to help your child (or yourself) prepare for academic success the second semester. 1. Write Long and Short – Term Goals: One of the best ways to improve performance is to create academic goals and write them down. I always have my students write a weekly academic goal in their journals. Their goals must... read more

There is plenty of research about the “summer brain drain” – a reference to the amount of learning that children lose during their summer breaks. Some researchers believe students can lose as much as three months worth of last year’s learning over the summer. Several reasons are cited for this; one of them is the absence of regular reviews of material to reinforce what’s been learned. This article summarizes the “brain drain” phenomenon and how educators, parents, and families can help prevent this from happening. “Summer Brain Drain” Educational researchers have studied the “summer brain drain” phenomenon for years. Most of this research is related to the psychology of memory, forgetting, and biopsychology. There are many causes of “forgetting”, including something as simple as walking through a (virtual or real) doorway. (For an article on the “doorway forgetting effect”, see Dr. Ira E. Hyman Jr’s. article titled “Doorways Cause Forgetting: What did I come here for... read more

Nearly all high school and college students have a research paper requirement. Many college students are likely facing imminent research paper deadlines as the semester ends. Writing research papers can cause a lot of anxiety. This article will teach you how to narrow your research topic, clarify your thesis statement, and sort and organize your research to help you simplify your final editing process. Editing for Both Quality and Quantity. One common issue is having a research paper that is either too long or too short. Narrowing and clarifying your topic will help you write a better thesis statement and help you use only your most important or interesting facts and information. A properly focused topic will help save time by helping you use more specific keywords and phrases for your Internet search. You’ll be able to collect the facts you need in no time. Narrowing Your Topic. Many teachers or professors give students a broad research paper topic. For example, your... 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!

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