Finding Trustworthy News
Many students are doing their own research about the COVID-19 outbreak, and as we all know there is a lot of information out there—and not all of it is credible. How can students discern what is news and what is utter nonsense? Media Bias ChartHave them start with the Media Bias Chart. This fantastic resource helps them find out which sources are the most reliable and neutral in their reporting. Teach them to look at the links they follow and begin to recognize the names of the reliable news outlets as well as the most notorious biased sources. (Helpful for all of us adults too!) Below is information from a blog I wrote in 2018 about determining credible sources when searching on Google. Google Searches and Discerning CredibilityEspecially with younger students, I notice a tendency not to think critically about the web sites they choose to click. They will search for their topic and just start clicking on anything. Often, this means they end up on someone's blog or another student's school project that has a public setting so anyone can see it. When I notice this happening, I point out to them that they need to pay attention to the web site address. Recently when I was helping a student, she clicked on a site that had "prezi" in the URL. Prezi is a software company that helps users create presentations, and the site she clicked on had been created by another student. I show them that the URL will show up on the Google search page in green and that they should read that first before clicking. Here is an example of a search I did for Andrew Carnegie and industrialization: This image illustrates the issue perfectly. The first link is a web site someone create on Google Sites. We don't know the author or if the information is credible. The second link is to Bartleby Writing, a site that posts students' essays to give users "thought starters to jump-start" their own paper; not a great start for research. The third link is another Prezi page. It isn't until the fourth link that we find something credible, the History.com site. Google algorithms are what create the rankings for these pages, but many students assume that the first link is going to be the most credible, so we have to wean them from this idea. So what are credible sources? List of Credible Sources and Other ResourcesI like this University of Maryland page on determining credibility. It mentions paying attention to the source of the information, the date (if current information is crucial), the author of the text, and the web domain address. Here is a brief list of sources I recommend to students: Google ScholarHistory.comNewspapersNPRLibrary of CongressEncyclopedia.comScience.gov Here are some links with even more sources: Common Sense Education Top Picks EasyBib's Guide to Finding Sources Photo by Sarah Boudreau on Unsplash
New Offerings and Resources
As school districts close in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, many parents are wondering what they can do to keep their children's brains active at home. First, I want to let you know about three things I am offering. 1. A free 15-minute consultation on steps you can take and resources you can use to keep up your child's academics while they are home from school. These would supplement any activities your child's teacher/s put together for online learning. 2. I have spots open for online sessions geared toward supplementing reading and writing. These could also be used for SAT Reading, Writing and Language and Essay prep. If you're a current student, you could also add another session to our regular meetings. 3. Online math and science supplemental lessons. If you have a student with learning differences, it will be important for them to keep flexing their academic muscles so they don't lose any ground they've gained during the school year so far. If you are working from home and don't have a lot of time to do extra work with your student, you could ask them to keep a journal as writing practice. You could get them a Big Life Journal. Or, you could give them a writing prompt and ask them to write for 10–20 minutes. Then check the writing for the CHOPS together: capitalization, handwriting, organization, punctuation, and spelling. Ask them to read their favorite book, or listen to an audio book, and give you an oral report about what they read. Ask them to listen to a podcast, take notes, and share what they learned. Here is a starter list. Below, you'll find a list of online resources you can use during a school closure. I will update this list as I discover new ones and it will be on my blog. Archive.org: a massive archive of books, audio, video, software, and images. The illustrator Jarrett Lerner has created fun worksheets and blank comics for kids to work on. If you have access to a printer, print new activities daily for them to work on. Scholastic is offering free lessons for K–6 students each day. Science Mom has free science videos on YouTube. Author Tara Lazar will read one of her picture books each day on YouTube. Artist and art teacher Rama Hughes is putting a daily drawing challenge up on YouTube. It’s for his class, so you can ignore his instructions about “homework” and instead do the fun part: drawing! Explore national parks using Google Earth. Here’s a list. Take virtual field trips to aquariums, zoos, cities, and more. Here’s a list. Story Online: Actors like Lily Tomlin, Viola Davis, and James Earle Jones read picture books to children. The site lists the books read with their grade levels and how long the video lasts. You could play the video and then ask your child to answer questions about the story, either orally or written. Amazing Educational Resources: This started as a Google Doc a few days ago and quickly mushroomed into a website. The site lists educational web sites offering free content. List of museums that offer free online tours by Travel + Leisure The list includes the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and the Guggenheim in NYC. ABCya! has online games geared toward the common core. Khan Academy: Great for math, science, and history. I really like Pixar in a Box, which teaches the art of storytelling. EPIC: An excellent collection of ebooks and videos. Books are leveled. If you have a student who isn't reading at grade level, think of a book they do well with, and look up the lexile level here. Then search for other books in that lexile level. Coursera: University level courses for free on a multitude of topics. Great for the advanced high school student who is stuck at home and bored. If this type of resource interests you, here is a longer list. TedEd: Lessons on everything under the sun, curated for kids. Schoolhouse Rock: Go retro and watch these classic videos. Finish the picture prompts: The Art of Education University created downloadable drawings that encourage kids to use their imagination to finish the picture. This link also includes their recommendations for fun activities. This is a fantastic list of free educational resources created by Open Culture. It includes links to sites where students can learn about music, philosophy, art, science, history, and technology, and it has a list of YouTube channels with educational content. And don't forget about this list of library resources I created, including ways to access your library online when it is closed. Photo by Jeremy Avery on Unsplash.
SAT and ACT Prep
Did you know that Katrina Dreamer Tutoring offers SAT and ACT prep? I provide help with the reading, writing, essay, and English sections of the tests, and Danielle tutors students in the math and science sections. Additionally, I can help students reduce their stress around the test with mindfulness and meditation techniques. If you have a student who is taking either test who would like some help, please let me know. Summer test prep will be available for students taking the late summer or fall tests. Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash
Math and Science Tutoring
Do you have a student who needs extra support in math or science? I have two fantastic math and science tutors on staff, Danielle Drogalis and Ashton Kirol. They can help students with everything from fractions to Calculus, as well as science classes. Ashton is the newest member of the team. He holds degrees in chemistry and environmental science as well as a minor in mathematics. His warm, friendly demeanor and skill with supporting students with problem solving make him an excellent tutor. Both can work with students online. Ashton is available for in-person sessions in the Burlington and Montpelier areas, and Danielle can work in person in Burlington and points north, depending on the time and day. If you have a student who is currently struggling with a math or science topic, please let me know and I will connect you.
How a Glitter Jar Creates Calm
I came across this article in the New York Times on helping adolescents deal with emotional ups and downs (worth a read) and remembered how fantastic a glitter jar is, both literally and figuratively. A glitter jar is filled with glitter, glue, and water. Here's a quick YouTube tutorial on how to make one. On the crafty side, it's fun and easy to make with your kids, and you can even use biodegradable glitter. Besides being lovely to look at, a glitter jar can be an excellent tool to help children calm themselves when they are in the middle of an emotional storm. Shaking the jar and watching the glitter swirl and settle provides a great metaphor for how emotions can feel inside us. Having a visual to focus on that encourages calm can be a helpful addition to the usual tools of taking deep breaths or counting to ten. Eventually, they may even internalize what it's like to watch the glitter jar and then only need to visualize the jar to help them calm down when they are feeling stormy. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash