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Tutor profile: Sara F.

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Sara F.
Librarian with College & K-12 Teaching Experience
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Why do I want to teach and tutor writing?

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Sara F.
Answer:

If a student cannot communicate what they have learned through clear writing, their knowledge is simply data knocking around in their head. As a teacher, I have seen students from elementary through graduate level who were passionate and excited about learning flounder in their programs because they cannot transfer the knowledge in their minds onto the page in a meaningful way. Sometimes these students were successful in earlier programs, but the differences between formal and informal writing, or the requirements of MLA versus APA or Chicago styles proved confounding. Some programs prioritize the passive voice and lyrical writing, others wants concise and clear text. I have coached students in speech writing who excelled at written work, but still struggled to write engaging texts to speak aloud. As a tutor, it will be my job to parse the requirements of an assignment, to find the best route to highlighting your knowledge on the page.

Subject: US History

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Question:

Briefly describe the significance of the period in American history between 1815 and 1848.

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Sara F.
Answer:

Although the years 1815-1860 are often neglected by students of history who prefer the heroic events of the American Revolution or the Civil War, they contain more than enough spectacle and drama to engage an interested audience. Satisfied that independence from Britain had been completely achieved, an extremely youthful population set about securing their own vision of the American Republic. Men and women joined reforming associations in droves, and particularly focused upon moral improvement. Associations against slavery, against drunkenness, against prostitution, and for education and women’s rights flourished—but so did their opposition. Over the course of these four decades, voting rights were extended to include all white men as white women and African Americans of both sexes engaged in a struggle for enfranchisement. Political parties became an organizing center for political life. Religious revivals stormed through the towns, cities, and villages of the entire country, although they were especially important in the Northeastern states. An industrializing economy and a consumer consciousness began to enter into Americans’ everyday life. Professional theaters and celebrities helped to dominate the cultural landscape, as an expanding market in newspapers and magazines brought the culture of big cities into the smallest towns. These same elements, however, began to expose the fractures in the American Republic, as newly enfranchised, empowered, and involved populations came to question the compromises made by the Founders. Tensions increased as the country expanded and decisions had to be made about whether slavery would be legal in the new states and territories. That same expansion brought conflict between the U.S. and Native American populations whose lands were increasingly threatened by white settlement. President Jackson’s tenure as president brought an overwhelming display of the new nation’s potential power, as many of the Eastern tribes of Indians were “removed” and resettled farther west. The period closed with the Mexican-American war, a military conflict reflecting not just a breakdown of diplomatic relations, but the increasing inability of the United States to deal peacefully with the many changes within its borders.

Subject: Education

TutorMe
Question:

Address a theory for creating and sustaining a positive classroom environment for learning.

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Sara F.
Answer:

For academic learning to occur, students need to feel safe, valued, and involved. Students learn when they transform information they encounter into knowledge they possess, and are most successful when they can apply, or transfer, that knowledge across experiences, subjects, and disciplines. Teachers succeed when they guide student learning, meeting them where they are in their current knowledge, building confidence and demonstrating learning’s value, encouraging their progress along personalized goals. The information processing theory explains the mechanics of learning -- how information moves from the sensory to the long-term memory stage through arousal, elaboration, and repetition (Ormrod, Anderman, & Anderman, 2017). Social cognitive theory elaborates, in my belief, on how students can be prepared to improve upon the knowledge they bring to the learning setting. Students equipped with basic needs as well as motivation, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and reinforcements facilitated by teachers who understand how learning works, will progress more towards their goals and established standards. Students demonstrate mastery of their learning when they can build upon and transfer skills across educational settings. As Ormrod argues, transfer occurs when “knowledge and skills acquired in one situation affect a person’s learning performance in a subsequent situation” (2017, p. 226). I seek to encourage positive transfer or the mastery of domain specific information as well as problem-solving skills in future learning and real world settings. Factors affecting transfer include the depth of conceptual learning, the use of metacognitive strategies, perceptions of relevance, repeated practice, and the presence of a “culture of transfer,” or opportunities within the learning environment to apply school subject matter across disciplines, in new situations, and to real world problems (Ormrod, et al., 2017). Of course, to transfer knowledge to a new setting, students must have a reasonable sense of self-efficacy, or a belief in their ability to learn and accomplish a task, as well as motivation and tools of self-regulation to complete the task (Dunn, et al., 2015). Social cognitive theory posits motivation as the process of setting goals, self-evaluating progress, building outcome expectations, and seeing a value in the endeavor (Ormrod, 2017). I also believe that motivation emerges from arousal, or an optimal level of stimulation. Intrinsic motivation derives from an internal reward. For example, you desire to read Anne of the Island because you loved the characters in Anne of Green Gables. Extrinsic motivation arises from an external reward, for example, helping clean up supplies in class to earn more time outside at recess. Skills in self-regulation, or an increasing ability to control one’s own response to the environment and engage in behaviors that meet internal and external goals and standards, allow students to harness their self-efficacy and motivation to accomplish their goals (Ormrod, 2017; Dunn, et al., 2015). Students’ learning processes are complex, requiring development of metacognitive skills, or an awareness and deliberateness to the thinking process. I also believe that behavioral tactics, adopted as part of social cognitive theory by theorist Albert Bandura, can help (Dunn, et al., 2015). Playing music or introducing stimuli signaling students to behave in a certain way without having to raise your voice and rewards such as the occasional bookmark or classroom party go a long way to create a joyful, personalized, and successful learning setting. References Dunn, K.E., Skutnik, A., Sohn, B., Ruddy, J., & Patti, C.P. (2015) EDPY 401: Applied Educational Psychology. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee. Ormrod, J. (2011). Educational psychology: Developing learners, 7th edition. Boston: Pearson Education. Ormrod, J. E., Anderman, E. M., & Anderman, L. (2017). Educational psychology; Developing learners. Harlow.

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