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Using Digital Media to Improve Supplemental Education

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Photo by < “School Busses” by krispdk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many educators work in the classroom from 8am to 3pm, teaching students in a specific age range or specializing in a particular subject. For those who want to contribute to their community outside of the classroom, by either helping fellow teachers come up with great ideas or by supporting students who need extra help and expertise, there are multiple opportunities available.

Serve as an Online Academic Tutor

Online tutoring is one of the most straightforward ways for educators to reach out to their local student population. Students may need help studying for entrance exams or they may be at risk of not fulfilling their educational goals. Teachers can offer generalized tutoring that includes study skills or core subjects or they may have a specific expertise in something like ESL, technology, engineering, or a foreign language. The best thing about one-on-one tutoring is that a teacher can mold the session to meet a student’s individual needs.

My experience has been helping students bridge the gap when it comes to preparing for standardized tests. As many teachers agree, a real-world language arts and literature curriculum, for instance, can be very different from the test-taking skills students must master before taking a standardized exam. Many high schoolers become frustrated with the excessive drills required to succeed on these tests. My goal is to help them study efficiently, with an individualized plan, so they can keep their main focus on classroom work.

If you’d like to offer online tutoring to help in your community, companies such as Tutor.com, Wyzant and Brainfuse serve as a marketplace for connecting educators and students.

Share and Sell Your Lesson Plans Online

A less obvious, but very important, way for educators to reach out to the student community is to help their fellow teachers with lesson plans. Our colleagues are always looking for the next greatest lesson plan or something creative to make the core subjects more interesting to a classroom of 30 youngsters with short attention spans. In the past, teachers were only able to create lesson plans for themselves or fellow teachers within their school, but now companies such as Teachers Pay Teachers offer a convenient online platform to share lesson plans and ideas with teachers nationwide.


I’ve shared a few lesson plans over the years and found that it was not only a great way for me to contribute interesting ideas, but was also an opportunity for me to think in detail about my own lesson plans and what I wanted my students to focus on as a learning objective. Shared lesson plans can be highly intricate, such as a pop-up paperboard Egyptian pyramid project aimed at sixth graders to complete in art class, or something relatively simple, such as holiday coloring sheets to keep third graders busy if a main lesson plan ends earlier than expected. Sharing ideas with teachers in a digital community helps people on both ends of the classroom and supports a give-and-take within a thriving academic community.

Contribute to an Online Education Blog

Educators who have a little bit of time here and there might enjoy writing for an education blog. Coordinating an entire blog is a giant time commitment, but there are many excellent sites to which teachers can contribute on a monthly basis. Also, you may consider working with colleagues in your school district to create a blog that meets the specific needs of local students and teachers.

One of the best things about contributing to education blogs is that it gives teachers an opportunity to share personal experiences, from engaging a classroom with 40 plus students to coping with budgetary issues to dealing with the latest difficult topic in the news. In addition to following KQED’s In the Classroom blog, check out Teach.com’s ranking of education blogs.

Serve as an Online College Scholarship Mentor

Most students have access to a college counselor at their local public school, but many students don’t have access to services that help them transition financially from high school to college. There are many students who could use a little extra guidance, whether they reside in the foster care system, are applying through an international scholarship fund, or come from a home school system.

I have worked with a few students who applied for full scholarships in the United States, but, because they lived internationally, didn’t have access to college counseling services through the U.S. public school system. No matter where they live, students who are relying on scholarship money to attend university often need help organizing essential deadlines, filling out endless forms, and figuring out how to fit their entire life’s story into 550 words.

Teachers who want to become a mentor can check out Education USA and Fostering Change.

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