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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

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

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.

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.

The one thing that upset me the most about the election that just happened was how little reasonable debate there was about actual issues. Of course, this is nothing new, but it seems to be getting worse and worse. In thinking about this, I realized that I have personally done very little to engage in discussion with others about political issues, and now I am trying to figure out ways to do more of that, and also encourage my students to do more critical thinking, critical evaluation of the messages they hear around them, and engagement with others about political ideas. I have a few ways of doing this, but I hope if you read this, fellow teachers, you will also share your ideas in this forum and other ones, about how to increase the amount of reasoning and discussion in our democratic society. One way I have is probably rather old-fashioned. It involves writing letters to the editor of a newspaper. If you can still find a real, print newspaper somewhere, find the editorial... read more

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 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 treat social... 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

On June 2, 1989, my life changed forever. A brand new world was brought to my attention. I moved into the main land of the United States. I am Puerto Rican, meaning natural born American, but was raised on the island of Puerto Rico. Don't get me wrong, I have always been more fourtunate than most people with my condition. You see, I have a condition called Spina Bifida. I guess it would make more sense if I explain myself. Normally, during the first month of a pregnancy, the two sides of the spine (or backbone) join together to cover the spinal cord, spinal nerves and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord). Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine. Myelomeningocele is the most common type of Spina Bifida. It is a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal. This causes the spinal cord and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord) to stick out of the... read more

My recommended strategy to Students at all academic levels for learning and successfully passing the course at all modalities (on-line, on-ground) is the culmination of at least ten years of teaching and tutoring statistics at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels in business, management, sciences, social studies, and psychology. It consists of the following: 1. The first is to learn how to overcome fear and anxiety from the unknown and look at tutoring as a prudent investment to your immediate future and success. Engage the tutor from the start of the course and don't prolong the decision because of the complexity and quantitative nature of the subject area. This component of the overall strategy is to keep the weekly normal pace and retain basic real life knowledge for ongoing participation in the political and economic process of the National affairs and State-of-the-Union. 2. Academic Reading Materials and Study Guides encompass three distinct sections without... 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

"Shijie shang shenme yao dou you, weidu meiyou houhuiyao." This is a well-known Chinese saying, I have grown up hearing my grandma saying it,my Mom saying it with a sigh, my playmates teasing each other with it and my teachers instructed us with it. It means there are all sorts of medicine available in the world, except a medicine which can cure regrets. It is sad but true. I am so regretful that I have spent too many years of my life studying the English language but failed to read the great works of this beautiful language. In the year 2002, I graduated from high school and like all other relatively lucky Chinese students I passed the college entrance examination in July, 2002, with a really high score ,72 points higher than the National level. I have long wanted to be a writer.A writer who can write about my unique life experiences and ambition. My decision of studying English language as my BA major was made in the year 2001, when five couples of my relatives... read more

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 as they relate... read more

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

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 background... 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 their... 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 to... read more

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