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Most teachers plan on needing to review basic subject-area content during the first few weeks of school. Why? Because most students need to refresh their memory after spending their summers swimming, playing video games, and generally going everything they can to avoid anything remotely resembling school work.   Summer enrichment doesn't have to look like regular schoolwork. Anything that gets your kids thinking will be helpful. This could be as simple as visiting a museum, a library, or a state park. Many museums offer free admission days - you just might have to call and ask. Most libraries offer free summer reading programs with incentives like gift certificates or small toys.   Going camping this summer? Challenge your kids to find ten different types of bugs (no, they don't need to pick them up and take them home!). Or ten different types of plants (again, no touching necessary). Challenge your kids to find similarities and differences between... read more

After several months of carrying some pretty heavy textbooks around with me, I recently decided to switch to a Kindle Fire and start using electronic textbooks. Although there are times when a good old-fashioned book really cannot be replaced, I'm very pleased with the weight of my tutoring bag now, and my students seem to be enjoying the switch as well.   I'm able to download textbooks for free in some cases ("Boundless" publishing), and I also have several different dictionaries and other reference books a tap away! Any other books I might find helpful for my students? Just a few clicks away. This also frees up my paper textbooks to loan to my students in-between sessions. Using a Kindle gives me the added benefit of being able to load educational applications to use for practice and reinforcement. Since we are in the 'computer testing' age, this also gives my students some extra practice in preparing for computerized exams. I'm sure you'll... read more

Fad diets- you can't spend more than 10 minutes browsing the web without seeing something about a fad diet these days. We've all heard of them - Paleo, GAPS, Gluten-Free, grapefruit and eggs, gluten-free-casein-free, etc. We've all heard of the benefits of these diets for adults- weight loss being the primary goal here.   But what happens when you put your child on one of these diets?   For children and adults who suffer from celiac disease, eliminating gluten from your diet is of paramount importance to prevent immune damage to the body. However, research suggests that eliminating gluten from your diet if you do NOT have celiac disease might not be a great idea, primarily because it can actually cause gluten sensitivity and a reduced ability for your body to process the gluten molecule, which is a protein, appropriately. This can last many years, and can even cause hospitalization if you were to suddenly flood your body with gluten. This is the hallmark... 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 English (high school) resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.     (K-12) Readwritethink.org – Click on “Parent and After School Resources,” for a great list, sorted by grade level, to help your child practice a variety of different skill sets at home (ex: giving an interview, thinking critically, writing activities, etc) (Gr 6-12) Englishpage.com – Very thorough grammar lessons (Gr 6-12) TheOatmeal.com/tag/grammar – Short, humorous grammar lessons (Gr 6 -12) Grammarbook.com – Free video lessons on common grammar topics. *Note- some areas of this site are subscription-based. (Gr. 6-12) Grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar – Quick lessons on parts of speech, and tips on writing essays. (Gr 9-12) Owl.English.purdue.edu/owl – Grammar lessons, tutorials on writing essays and using specific formats... read more

Here are some of my favorite Language Arts resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.     (K-2) Starfall.com – Practice, tutorials, and assistance with students learning phonics. (K-5) Tumblebooks.com – A free, online library of e-books for students K-5; younger students can choose to have this software read to them as they read along (K-3) Storylineonline.net – Read along to your favorite children’s stories with celebrity narrators like James Earl Jones. Sorted by title, author, and narrator. (K-12) Readwritethink.org – Click on “Parent and After School Resources,” for a great list, sorted by grade level, to help your child practice a variety of different skill sets at home (ex: giving an interview, thinking citrically, writing activities, etc) (K-5) Learninglab.org *- Provides great lessons on life skills (self-esteem, bullying,... 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

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.

Here are some of my favorite Math resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores. As a note, college-level math textbooks are often helpful for high school math students. Why is that? Isn't that a little counter-intuitive? Yes, it would appear that way! However, many college-level math textbooks are written with the idea that many college students may not have taken a math class in a year or more, so they are written with more detailed explanations. This can be particularly helpful for high school students taking Algebra, Geometry, and Trig. I have a collection of college-level math books that I purchased at a local used bookstore. The most expensive used math book I own cost $26 used. Books that focus on standardized test prep (such as the SAT, AP, or GED prep) can be helpful for all core subjects, as they summarize key ideas more succinctly than 'normal' textbooks. These... read more

It's test day. You've studied hard and you feel pretty good about what you've learned. You feel prepared for this test. As your teacher passes out tests, your palms get sweaty and cold. Your head feels hot all of a sudden. You notice that it's harder to take a deep breath. And while you could recite the periodic table of elements without any problem ten minutes earlier, your mind feels as blank as the whiteboard at the front of the classroom.   What happened?   Test anxiety is what happened, and it's more common than you may think! Most student struggle with test anxiety at some point in their academic careers. It might happen every time to you take a test, or it might happen before an especially important test- like an AIMS or SOL test. Perhaps you only feel test anxiety during an SAT, AP exam, or semester finals. No matter how often it happens, seeing a big fat "D" (or worse!) on a test when you KNEW the material can be devastating. Fortunately,... read more

Ask any classroom full of students how they study, and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. There will probably be many similar answers, but most people have different methods, locations, and techniques that shortens their study time somehow. Sometimes shortcuts are a great thing- like a shortcut that avoids heavy traffic. The trick to using shortcuts with studying is knowing which ones work, and which ones don't! One of the best ways to ensure that your study time will be used effectively is to take notes during class. Ensuring that your notes make sense to YOU is really important. Your class notes should translate what your teacher is telling you into something that you can remember. For example: the definition of onomatopoeia is, 'the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.' If you have a long list of literary terms, the strange spelling of onomatopoeia might get lost with your other lit terms. Writing "sizzle" or "buzz"... read more

Whenever math gives you an easy topic, take it and run with it! I am sometimes surprised by how many students struggle (really struggle) with factoring. That said, I always struggled with quadratics when I was in high school. And forgetting to move negative signs and decimals when simplifying (whoops!). Fortunately, I've gotten past that. My point is that even tutors and teachers start somewhere, and common mistakes are called 'common mistakes,' for a reason. Each of us has an area where we are just not as strong. No shame in that!   Factoring a number is nothing more than pulling apart its pieces. Glorified division, if you will. The difference with factoring is that you are dividing a given number by one of its smaller parts.   For example:   Let's use the number 20. We know from multiplication that we can multiply every number by 1, and come out with the same number. Our first two factors of 20 are 1 and 20.   We also know... read more

Have you ever received a graded essay handed back with the phrase, "Needs more structure," or "structure needs work?"   Creating a structure for any written word, whether it is poem, essay, news brief, or novel, is an integral part of the message you intend to convey. Using long, convoluted sentences as means to convince the reader that your argument is very simple will usually only give the opposite impression; simple arguments are best conveyed with short, simple sentences. (For example, the opposite is true in Jonathan Swift's essay, "A Modest Proposal," in which he uses didactic and complex language in an effort to "convince" the people of England that the solution to their hunger and poverty problem is to eat their starving infant children; his complex sentences reflect the sarcastic and satiric nature of his essay, reflecting that he does not see cannibalism as a real solution.)   Structure also helps you... read more

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