Tutor Tango. Take your teacher with you.

Inclusive Schools Week: Technology and Tech Savvy Students

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Did you know that this week is “Inclusive Schools Week?” The National Education Association and the Inclusive Schools Network have officially designated December 3-7, as a national week to celebrate “the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive, quality education to students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socioeconomic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors.”

In addition to celebrating inclusiveness progress, this week also calls on all of us—policy makers, private industry, school administrators, teachers, students, and parents—to think about what inclusiveness means in 2012, and how we can continue to widen our educational circle to reach more students marginalized by socio-economic, cultural, geographic, or developmental realities. American schools have made tremendous progress and schools around the country are experimenting and succeeding in new classroom models that support marginalized student groups. But, in an age of alarmingly low high school graduation rates, a growing “achievement gap” between white students and students of color, increased numbers of students with special learning needs, and school budgets that can’t fund programs that fully support the needs of our wide circle of students, it feels a little hard to celebrate.

But there is good news. There are success stories. And even in this challenging time for schools, students, teachers, administrators, and parents, 2012 offers us an inclusiveness tool and a cultural context that no other educational era has ever had—accessible technology and a tech savvy student population. If we foster these two forces and connect them in creative ways, we have a golden opportunity to reach more students and keep them on track.

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Mental Leftovers

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If you’re like most Americans, last Thursday you feasted on traditional Thanksgiving fare--like turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing--and continued to enjoy what was left of it in the days that followed.

For many families, eating leftovers means simply reheating them in the microwave and eating them as is. Nothing fancy. Some families, however, have well-established traditions that involve reconstituting Thanksgiving staples in soups and sandwiches (turkey vegetable soup; turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce on a roll). But in recent years, cooking shows and recipe websites have offered up much more daring and creative reinventions of leftovers: fried stuffing bites with cranberry pesto sauce, sweet potato shepherd’s pie, Thankgiving pizza.

As students return to school this week, a leftover-related analogy seems appropriate: what do we do with “mental leftovers”? That is, what do we do with the information we’ve learned after a paper, quiz or test? Do we leave it behind as if it were deposited into a bank account? Do we revisit that information in the next lesson plan or as we prepare for the next learning assessment? Or do we attempt to do something creative and imaginative with it, such as with the third approach to Thanksgiving leftovers mentioned above?

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So Much to Be Thankful For...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Classes at most schools in the NYC area were canceled earlier this month as the city and surrounding states recovered from Superstorm Sandy. But while most private school students returned to their normal routines after a week off, many public school students headed back to completely different learning environments. Some schools, such as Brooklyn Tech, doubled as shelters for New Yorkers displaced by flood, wind, and fire damage. And other schools remained closed due to sustained power outages or other insufficiencies, such as food or water shortages.

Many private schools, like Columbia Prep in Manhattan, have made an effort to reach out to schools less fortunate by “adopting” them. Columbia’s students, families, and faculty members have been collecting school supplies and cleaning materials for children and parents in the ravaged Far Rockaway region of Queens who attend the Village Middle School, and the private school’s PTA has been organizing daily trips to deliver the much-needed goods.

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Maximizing Study Time

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I’ve been a teacher for 10 years now, but I can’t remember a time when my students seemed more stressed out and stretched thin by the demands of their busy, jam-packed academic and extracurricular schedules. So in recent weeks—especially with the November 1st Early Decision college application only two days away—I’ve been asking my own students how many hours of studying they do on the average school night. The answer: four-to-five hours. Yes, four-to-five hours. That’s as much as a shift at a part-time job, which is a lot especially after a seven hour school day and—for many kids—two-to-three hours of practice or rehearsals.

So the question arises: how might these busy students maximize their study time? What can they do to become more efficient and effective studiers? Below are five useful tips gleaned from some of the best educational sites on the web.

1. Reassess your time management skills. Mindtools.com offers a simple, interactive Time Management Skills Quiz. After clicking a few buttons, the site generates a score to help you assess your personal time management; after you’ve received your score, you can follow the path of a number of different useful, concrete tips on how to improve.

Another site, Study Guides and Strategies, offers a My Daily Schedule pie chart in which you can enter hour values corresponding to your daily activities, such as studying, sleeping, and family commitments. The suggestion is that simply seeing how you spend your time will enable you to make the necessary adjustments to your schedule to become more efficient.

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What Constitutes Cheating?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cheating has been a hot topic in the news this year. Most recently, a September New York Magazine article detailed a scandal at a competitive Manhattan high school in which a large group of students organized a cheating ring for a standardized test. I myself am a Manhattan-based teacher and tutor, and I have years of experience working with students--like the kids in the article--who feel immense pressure to get the best possible grades and test scores. Yet, I was most disheartened not by the fact that so many students got caught cheating, but by the rest of the article, which reported that many students these days don’t seem to have a sense of what constitutes cheating. The author, Robert Kolker, talks of a new “culture of sharing” in high schools, where technology such as emailing, texting, and file-sharing, has “made the idea of proprietary knowledge seem like a foreign, almost ridiculous concept.”

At Tutor Tango, we firmly believe that technology and online learning can be used to share knowledge responsibly. But we also believe that it’s up to us teachers and tutors to educate students about the difference between sharing responsibly and academic dishonesty. That’s why we vow never to do the work for our student customers; on the contrary, we’re committed to empowering students to do their own work and succeed on their own. And empowering students means, among many other things, pausing whenever necessary to teach about plagiarism and to be forcefully clear about when sharing information is okay, and when it’s not.

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Tutor Tango Pro Bono Publico

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Educational Mission for the Public Good

We are thrilled to announce the October launch of Tutor Tango’s first Community Outreach initiative — the Tutor Tango Pro Bono Tutoring Program.

The Pro Bono Program is run by our Community Outreach Division, Tutor Tango Pro Bono Publico. Pro Bono Publico is a Latin phrase that means “for the public good.” This phrase perfectly sums up Tutor Tango’s core social mission to serve all students in academic need, including students who cannot afford our services.

At Tutor Tango Pro Bono Publico, we recognize educational inequalities in society and are deeply committed to providing substantive, creative, and locally-based outreach programs that directly serve underprivileged and underserved students. We believe that educational excellence for all students is for “the public good” and that great teachers, great students, and great education create a great future for everyone.

Tutor Tango is all about ACCESS: access to highly experienced teachers, and access to superior instructional help in our conveniently-accessed state-of-the-art digital learning interface. But not all students who need academic support can buy credits for our tutoring services. In fact, the troubling reality is that when it comes to private tutoring and academic achievement, there is a wide ACCESS GAP between economically privileged students and economically underprivileged students. Many hard-working, motivated college bound students simply don’t have the resources to take the SAT Prep study sessions or Algebra tutoring sessions that might make all the difference in competitive college admissions. And many students in underfunded, under-resourced schools don’t have access to basic technologies that help prepare students for the 21st Century college classroom and workforce.

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We’re Not Just Different; We’re Better

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We’ve looked into it, and we feel pretty confident about this. Heck, we’re just going to say it: we’re better than the other online tutoring services out there.

Here are five reasons why:

1. We have THE BEST staff of tutors. In fact, they’re not just tutors; they’re experienced teachers. This means that they’re not only experts in their subjects--they’re excellent educators, too. Many of them have been teaching in middle schools, high schools, and colleges for years, and now they’re available to help you. Yes, YOU!

2. We have an innovative social mission. No other online tutoring service has made a commitment like ours--a commitment to give back to students in our local community. We want to help close what we call the “access gap” by providing students who can’t afford access to private tutoring services with...well, access. When you sign up and buy session credits on Tutor Tango, you help us help others. It’s that simple.

3. We have a truly amazing, cutting-edge learning interface. There’s video, audio, chat, file sharing, an interactive whiteboard, desktop sharing, a cool note and outlining feature, and many other bonus perks. It’s fun and easy to use--just see for yourself!

4. We’re prepared to help you in just about ANY subject. Do you need help with Japanese? We’ve got two experienced Japanese teachers on staff. Having trouble with Physics? We’ve got a high school teacher AND a college physics professor on staff. Test Prep? We have a whole team of experts on all those important tests that are breathing down your neck, from the ACT to the SAT II and everything in between. For a complete list of the more than 35 subjects we offer, click here.

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Welcome to Tutor Tango!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hi. I’m Scott Wilson, Chief Executive Manager and founder of Tutor Tango LLC, and I’m extremely excited to welcome you to Tutor Tango.

I’ve been a teacher for nearly ten years now, and for the past seven I’ve also been busy tutoring the same subjects I teach: Latin, English and History.  But in recent years it’s become increasingly difficult to schedule face-to-face tutoring sessions.  It seems that my students have more and more to do after school every year--more practices and games, more rehearsals and recitals, more volunteer work and internships.  Somehow, in the midst of all of this extracurricular stuff, these busy kids are supposed to find time for their school work.  So after all the racing around, these utterly exhausted students find their way back to my classroom, or I make a home visit only to interrupt what precious little bit of family time they might have.

Enter Tutor Tango, my tutoring solution--THE tutoring solution--to put an end to all of this madness.  We have designed and built a beautifully simple and seamless web site with all of the tools you’ll need to meet your tutor online whenever it’s most convenient for you and your family.  Go to soccer or theater practice; then go home, and after a sit-down dinner, log-on to tutortango to meet your tutor virtually.  Or better yet (parents: now hear this!), don’t rush back home from that weekend getaway; stay where you are and let your Tutor Tango teacher come to you.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re a bit skeptical.  Can an online tutoring session be as effective as the face-to-face sessions you’re used to?  Well, the answer is, most definitely, YES.  Tutor Tango’s teaching interface has video and instant messaging, a highly useful and intuitive interactive whiteboard, file sharing and real-time text editing, a shared web-browser, and much, much more.

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