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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 talk to... read more

There are two "tricks" I have found to make history much simpler to learn. The first is to realize that time is always in motion and to track the cause/effect relationships throughout time (see "Time is a Flow"). The second is to apply emotions to history, and by that I mean to put yourself in the shoes of those before you. For example, I am tutoring two students in American history, currently at the events leading up to and including the Declaration of Independence. So, put yourself in the colonists' shoes. WHY were the set of acts setup by Britain so awful? WHY did the colonists have no choice but to rebel? Well, if you pretend that you are a colonist, the answers start making sense: You are being ruled by a monarchy across an entire ocean. At this point, you were probably born in America, so you have never even been to Britain. Yet, this king decides all of the laws for you and places taxes on items you use everyday... for what? To send more troops... read more

My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way. Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is. Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators... read more

Should I get a tutor? Will it help my child? These are some of the most common questions posed to tutors by parents of students struggling in school. Tutoring can be expensive and difficult to schedule so parents must decide whether the time and money will be well spent. Instead of relying on a crystal ball, use these factors to help make the decision. 1. Does the student spend an appropriate amount of time on homework and studies? While it can help with study skills, organization, and motivation, tutoring cannot be expected to keep the student on track unless you plan on having a session every night. If you can make sure the student puts in effort outside of tutoring, she will be more likely benefit from it. 2. Does the student have difficulty learning from the textbook? If this is the case, the student will probably respond to one-on-one instruction that is more personalized. A tutor will help bring the subject to life and engage the student. A good tutor will explain... 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.

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 phrase... read more

When using the internet, it is important to make sure you have a quality source to site from. There are a varity of websites and blogs that are written with bias or an agenda, you always want to be confident you've sited a professional and not an ideologue. Colleges and libraries have a database you can access that have quality sources, and most everyone should have free access to them, but if you're like me, and you like to use something your professor hasn't seen or possibly is unaware of, then I suggest you look into the Library of Congress and the National Archives as a primary source. If you are looking for professional opinions, then I would suggest finding professors that have published works. They can be a great secondary source that can either confirm or dispute your thesis and theories. NEVER use blogs! Never use wikipedia, although some material on wiki is a good place to start your research; to gain some perspective on your subject, most professors will not accept wikipedia... read more

Alex made my day today. He passed the Global History and Geography Regents Exam!! Let me tell you a little bit about Alex. When I first met him, he came to tutoring two hours late. The next day an 11/2 late. He was on time on the third day, but by the next week it was back to being Alex. He did not show up for tutoring nor did he call. He would do assignments if he felt like it. There was always an excuse for something, but he would never take responsibility for his actions. When I finally sat down with he and his mother and told them that at the rate Alex was going, he was not going to pass his Regents exams. He may have to repeat the grade or go to summer school. Alex became so angry and adamant. He kept saying repeatedly, that he was not going to repeat grade 10. So I looked at him and asked, "So what are you going to do about it?" "Because saying that you are not going to repeat and then you neither study nor do the assignments, is not saying much. I think that... read more

One of the best ways to improve your study skills in remembering the details of a historical event is to make up a silly or ridiculous visual in your mind. For example, if you are trying to remember that the American Civil War was fought between 1861 to 1865 and that the Confederacy's President was Jefferson Davis, while the Union's President was Abraham Lincoln, you can create a silly image in your head of Jefferson Davis riding a surfboard wearing a shirt with a "C" on it while racing Abraham Lincoln on another surfboard wearing a black top hat with an "U" on it. Picture Davis's surfboard having a cool graphic of the numbers "1861," while Lincoln's surfboard has "1865" printed on it. If you need to know more details for an essay question, you could add to the picture. You could have Davis holding a paper in his hand, which says "secession," and Lincoln could be holding a copy of "The Emancipation Proclamation" in his hand... read more

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 use to... read more

I worked with a really great student today. She was studying for her AP History exam and was nervous, but she had already worked very hard and just needed to be refreshed in some things. I was really impressed because she had been very proactive and gone out and found the hardest questions she could that might be on her upcoming exam, things that she hadn't learned in class. She spent a great deal of time asking me questions and we both got very excited by all the connections she was able to make after she learned the things she had missed before. I have so much confidence in her for the AP exam and I'm excited for all the things she learned on her own, with me, and in class.

Although I am not a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", let me nevertheless ask the audience on this one... I want to know what makes a tutor more appealing (besides the profile picture). Is it affordability? Is it flexibility in hours? Is it number of years experience in tutoring a particular subject? Is it the ratings given to the tutor by students? Is it age? Please give me an idea of what I can do for you. Although I am new to this tutoring site, I really want to build more relationships with students who seek assistance in math and other subjects. Your feedback will not only help me cater to these responses, but it may also assist other tutors. Personally, I have noticed a variety of experience from other tutors, various rates, and a spectrum of ages. Some tutors seem quite qualified, yet they could be "selling themselves short" by only charging $25/hr for their services (and with their patience and charisma seem to be "worth"... read more

One of my pet peeves is how history is often taught. First off, history is about people and what happened, which is often rather exciting, not about dates. If you don't believe me that history can be exciting, just look at the #1 source for inspiration for video games (at least #1 when it comes to school subjects). Most strategy games are based on history and most others include history in their games (even if not our history *nods at Final Fantasy*). My other gripe though is that history is broken into sections. While I certainly admit the world has gone through major events and that sections can be helpful, so often I see history learned entirely as those sections. Time is a flow. History flows one event into the next. If we do not teach our students the cause-and-effect relationships throughout history, how are we supposed to learn from our past mistakes (and successes)? For example, I have a student who I am helping with history. He is studying world history from... read more

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

Does starting a new school year and adjusting to a new teacher and classmates feel like going to the dentist? Do tests make you sweat, lose sleep, and forget to eat properly? Do you have dread, hesitation, or downright fear about school? Now is the time to turn the page on school, academics, and homework. Today you can learn skills that will make school easier, more fun, and not as frightening. Begin with testing. Do you know over 60% of K-12 students regularly experience test anxiety? Many students believe they will not do well on standardized tests and by thinking such negative thoughts, they also produce negative results. Tests, perhaps are not the most important things we do at school, but certainly do influence our self image, opportunities, and promotions in school. Doing well on tests may seem like something you have little or no control over, but it is not so. So how does the successful student prepare for a test? Tests are something we all must go through. Tests... read more

This is my very first blog. I have never done a blog before so this is all new to me. I am very excited about getting started as a tutor for WyzAnt. I have an AA degree in education and love teaching elementary grade students. There is just something about small kids that impresses me. They have the desire to learn something new or to learn the way something is done. They are really interested in what I have to say and what they can learn. I try to teach at a level that they will be able to understand and can figure it out and then tell me what it is that they learned. I have been around kids and taught them for a long time. I have about six years experience in teaching children and have loved every minute of it. I work with my 11 year old all the time and she makes all A's and B's. I also teach computer, American History and cooking as well as elementary education. I am certified in all these subjects and would love to be able to teach someone who needs my help. I am really excited... read more

I'm sure we all remember school days in our past, subjects we loved, those we dreaded, and those that never made much of an impression on our youthful souls. Always a lover of literature, reading, and writing, for some reason throughout elementary and high school days, I loathed history. And then in college, I had an epiphany when I not only had professors that brought it alive and made it real, but inspired me to take a degree in the subject and actually be nominated into the honorary Phi Alpha Theta history fraternity for outstanding scholarship. In grad school, though, I majored in gifted counseling and education, my minor was once again, history. And now I tutor the subject, loving every minute. As we all gain experience and learn from it, I hope, so too do we find ways of incorporating that experience into our teaching and sharing with others. And here I am beginning a new venture with WyzAnt and starting amazingly, by tutoring a subject I truly love: of course, history.... 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 in... read more

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