Now that all students have been forced back online for a while due to Covid, I thought it would be a good time to blog about some of the resources I use for tutoring my online students.
I have talked about some of these tools in previous blogs or videos, so you might want to check those out as well.
I should note that some of these are very useful for in-person or printed material as well.
When tutoring online, I want to talk to my students, see my students, and be able to work together with them. All of this is easy with the tools available today. Also, I want my students to be able to complete independent work. This is very important. If I am talking all the time, or showing them what to do at every step, there is no way of knowing whether they are gaining anything from the process. Allowing students an opportunity to show what they know is very important. Again, the tech tools available today allow me to do this very easily.
I am sure that many of you are familiar with Zoom, zoom.us. I know that schools, businesses, and families have been using it throughout the pandemic. I was using it before the pandemic for my online students, particularly those in other countries.
It is an easy platform to connect with others through video and sound.
I also find Zoom extremely useful for screen sharing. Using this tool, I can share my screen with my students and even give them control to work on the shared screen. My students can also share their screens if needed.
I use Bitpaper, www.bitpaper.io for my whiteboard. (Zoom has one, but I find the tools on Bitpaper to be superior.) I can share documents or exercises with my students, and we can write, type, draw, and annotate together on the same document. When I use Bitpaper, I continue to use Zoom for the video/audio link. (In other words, I don’t use this tool on Bitpaper because I find Zoom’s works better.) In combination, we can still see one another and talk while working on an assignment.
Using Bitpaper is almost the same as using a blank sheet or exercise on real paper. I can draw out math problems just like I would on scrap paper to show students how things work. They can circle, underline, write with the pencil, colour, highlight, or type. There are a lot of useful tools, so check it out to see them all!
I use commonlit.org for text readings. They have a wide range of subjects and grade levels, and I can search for just the right text or story for various students. As a tutor, I have students of almost all ages, grades, and abilities. I should note that just because a text is graded a certain way (and given a Lexile), that should not limit one too much. I can assign a text from a much lower grade to a student but expect higher quality written responses to compensate. Alternatively, if a student is excelling, I can use a higher grade or Lexile level to challenge them.
You can search their library in terms of grade level, book, genre, literary device, text set, or theme. They even have Spanish texts.
You can read the stories and texts without signing up, but you would need to login (register) to use the questions and other resources.
For my students, they can answer the guided, multiple-choice, and short written answer questions. I also use the discussion questions provided for longer writing assignments in which we can look at content, grammar, punctuation, idea generation and development, and so on. (These I assign usually using Google Drive.)
They can also use highlighting and annotation tools.
Readworks and eastofweb.com are good sources for texts and stories as well.
Project Gutenberg, gutenberg.org, has a library of over 60 000 free e-books. These are books on which the U.S. copyrights have expired – so older books.
For the younger set, I use Raz-Kids, www.razkids.com. This is a great resource for online stories that are organized into levels or grades. They have plenty of colourful pictures, and each story has a short quiz as well. There is the option for the learner to let the computer read the story; however, I don’t use this when working with my students.
YouTube videos work well for students learning a wide variety of subjects. I create YouTube videos to assist students in writing, math, and study skills; however, I use other people’s videos to help with listening skills, English language learning, science themes, math concepts, and so on.
Of course, you must be careful with any resource to choose quality information.
I use CK12, ck12.org primarily for math, but they have information and lessons for science, social studies, and a few other areas as well. I have used some of their resources online, but I have printed material for use in-person as well.
IXL is great for math and English practice in short lessons. The lessons are broken down into grade levels, so you can choose where you want to begin and work your way up. There are lots of lessons for specifics such as learning vowel sounds or consonant blends for younger learners to choosing between what are facts and what are opinions for older learners. In the math arena, there are lessons about counting for the younger learners and lessons on nonlinear inequalities for the older learners.
I also use mathantics.com and themathworksheet.com for math lessons.
I use Google Drive to post lessons, primarily writing lessons, for my students. For example, we might do a reading comprehension lesson on Bitpaper or CommonLit, then I will assign a writing exercise on Google Drive for them to complete. This allows them to work on assignments between sessions. It also allows me to look at their progress between sessions and provide comments or notes on how to improve or areas in which they might want to readdress.
This is by far not an exhaustive list of tools on the internet or even the ones I use. There are thousands of resources, but I have found these to be useful, and they are the ones that I use most often.
Check them out, try them for yourself or your children.
Let me know which ones you use or other resources that you like.
Of course, if you would like me to work with you or your children to strengthen your learning knowledge and skills, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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