Tag Archives: Khan Academy

Apps that Double as Math Tutors

By Tracey Dowdy

Sooner or later, it happens to every parent. One day you’re helping your child learn their multiplication tables, the next, you’re elbow-deep in quadratic equations and sinking fast. Don’t get me started on the sorcery involved in Common Core math. Do I look like Professor McGonagall? 

When that day comes, don’t despair. If an in-person tutor isn’t an option, these websites and apps can act as an online tutor, so your child doesn’t fall behind or figure out just how much smarter they are than you – at least not yet. Keep in mind that some of these options will solve the equation for them, so watch for cheating to ensure your child is learning, not just having the site do their homework for them.

Khan Academy will always be at the top of my list. It’s a free website and educational app that includes thousands of educational videos aimed at self-paced instruction, so if your child doesn’t get it the first time around, there’s no pressure to push ahead. The site offers tutorials from early learning through college-level courses with an almost unlimited library of practice exercises, organized by topic, providing students with instant feedback through a personal dashboard that tracks their progress. Most videos are short, and content is both user friendly and engaging. 

MathPapa – Algebra Calculator walks students through algebra problems step-by-step. The free version functions as a calculator: Students simply enter their algebra equations, including variables, and watch as the solution is worked through. The paid version includes algebra lessons and additional resources. The site does all the work, so you may want to monitor homework assignments to prevent cheating. The paid version is $9.99 /monthly or $59.98 a year.

Course Hero allows students to ask a tutor questions by submitting a photo of a problem or describing via text. A subscription is required, but a selection of downloads and questions are given for free. The site is peer-supported (content submitted by other students), giving users access to notes and materials for a range of courses — primarily for upper-level high school and college. Course Hero offers a Basic Membership for free with online tutors access at an a la carte price. Premier members may unlock up to 30 documents and/or User Questions and access all Textbook Solutions and Explanations in Course Hero’s library and receive up to 40 Questions. Paid plans start at $9.95 a month. 

yHomework is designed for students and teachers. Enter the math problem and, in one click, get a complete step-by-step solution, including explanations and the answer, in all methods of solving. Content covers multiple levels and topics, including basic math and arithmetic through pre-algebra, algebra 1, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. Students who struggle with multistep equations and reverse numbers or make minor calculation errors will benefit from the detailed explanations. Again, keep in mind that yHomework will solve students’ equations, so keep an eye out for cheating on homework assignments. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Resources for Home and Virtual Schooling

By Tracey Dowdy

Many parents, perhaps unwillingly adding “Homeschooling Teacher” to their resume, are scrambling for resources so our children can learn more this Fall than “Mom hides her ‘sanity chocolate’ in an empty bag of frozen peas.

These resources will become your go-to as you support your student and help them navigate everything from the parts of speech to solving a math problem using Common Core math. 

Khan Academy will show up in every search you do for “homeschooling resources” or “homework” help. The site is curated by experts and one of the most comprehensive learning resources available – and it’s free! Content covers everything from K-12 and some college prep. Their primary focus is on math and science. 

BrainPOP takes a fun approach to learning. They cover a broad spectrum of subjects using kid-friendly videos, written content, quizzes, and games. Kids can even make their own movies by compiling images, animations, and other elements. BrainPOP is offering schools free access while closed, so you might be able to access through your school district. Home users get a free month trial. After that, it’s $25 per month. 

Beanstalk is offering online classes in art, science, and more for preschoolers up to age 6 for free during the COVID-19 crisis. Their teachers are handpicked early childhood development experts, and there are countless classes to choose from.  

Scholastic Learn at Home digs into Scholastic’s extensive library to create engaging educational information to supplement online learning. Though not as academic as other resources on this list, each day has dedicated selections for PreK/Kindergarten, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, and Grades 6-9. Kids will love learning how emojis are designed, whether esports should be considered a sport, and how zoos are evolving with the times.

Even if you know all the tricks to write a paper in APA format or how to do long division, teaching French, Spanish, or any other foreign language may be outside your purview. That’s where Duolingo and Rosetta Stone come in. Depending on the language and how intensive the lessons need to be (and your budget), both programs offer easy to follow tutorials and coaching to help build your student’s skills. (Duolingo – Free; Rosetta Stone – plans start at $6.99/month) 

For a comprehensive list of online learning support and resources, the team over at staff at NewSchools Venture Fund, a philanthropic nonprofit organization, has developed a list of online learning resources with over 40 options across educational content and curricula, teaching tools and guides.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apps to Help Students (and Parents) Manage the School Day

By Tracey Dowdy

I love the TV commercials that show a smiling family sitting around the breakfast table, laughing together as they drink freshly squeezed orange juice and politely eat their healthy breakfast in a sundrenched kitchen nook. All that’s missing is the unicorn the children will soon ride to school because for many parents and kids, that tableau is just as imaginary.

Getting everyone out the door in the morning may never be as blissful as the TV commercials but it doesn’t need to be an epic battle or mad dash for the bus. Getting organized the night before and having strategies in place that meet your family’s unique schedule and needs is simply a matter of planning. These apps can help start the day off right and wrap it up in a positive way at the end of the day.

The Night Before

I’ve written about family organizers before and Cozi (Free – iOS, Android, Amazon) is always at the top of my list. It’s invaluable for parents and caregivers juggling the family schedule and will help you keep track of everything from your appointments to your grocery list, so you never find yourself out of bread when it’s time to pack lunches or forget when that science project is due.

Choiceworks (iOS – $4.99) is a visually based calendar that enables younger kids or those with learning disabilities to grasp the concept of time. It’s designed to be used by caregivers and kids alike and, along with preloaded pictures and audio cues, users have the options to customize their calendar by uploading their own images and audio. It’s user friendly, easy to navigate and offers a countdown feature to help children learn planning strategies, e.g. “Three days until my book report is due,” so they can lean to manage their time.

In the Morning

Here Comes the Bus (Free – iOS, Android) has been implemented by many school districts to connect students, parents, and administrators with their GPS-equipped vehicles. Whether you’re live in a rural or suburban area, you can appreciate the value of not standing outside when the weather is less than ideal or knowing you have time to run back to the house to grab forgotten homework. Users can also get push notifications if there’s a schedule changes or when the ride is five minutes away from the bus stop. Plus, caregivers can simultaneously track multiple children on different busses.

Swiftime (Free – iOS) spares you the frustration of yelling the morning countdown – “Fifteen minutes til we’re out the door!” “Ten more minutes!” “Five minutes ‘til we leave!” – by counting down for you from 60 minutes. The app offers 12 different alarm sounds, updated weather information, tips on what to wear and users can receive push notifications even if the app isn’t running.


Once the kids are home from school, it’s time to tackle homework. myHomework help (Free – iOS, Android) uses a color coding system to organize classes, assignments, projects, and tests by tracking what’s due and when. The app syncs across all platforms and supports time, block and period-based schedules. It also sends homework reminders and allows users to connect to your teacher’s Teachers.io class and automatically download class information, assignments, files and announcements.

If like me you had to tap out after 8th grade math, Kahn Academy (Free – iOS) offers free online classes for almost any subject you can think off. Take advantage of lectures, quizzes and exercises with step-by step hints that will not only help you remember 10th grade algebra formulas so you can help with homework but can also help your student if there’s any area he’s struggling with and may need additional instruction. It’s like having your very own tutor on-demand.

Simple things like checking backpacks when they walk in the door after school, laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before, or setting your alarm so you have adequate time to accomplish the myriad of tasks to get your family out the door in the morning won’t mean there will be days you’re tempted to give up and dive back under the covers, but it can mean there’s fewer of them.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Parent-Approved Resources for Online Homework Help

By Stacey Ross 

The surge of technology offered to today’s students extends far beyond the school day and classroom setting. It has evolved into virtual learning, independent study programs, and platforms for peer-to-peer collaboration that offer a wide range of resources and educational benefits.

Online research empowers students

More and more, educators and parents are encouraging learning styles that require  discipline and focus due to the plethora of choices and opportunities that new technology offers. In a 2012 Pew survey conducted in conjunction with the College Board and the National Writing Project, 77 percent of teachers said that the Internet and search engines had a “mostly positive” impact on student research skills. And while they are concerned that students might be distracted by all the choices at their fingertips, they ultimately agree that such tools had made students more self-sufficient researchers.

Resources for homework help

Online assistance via websites and apps has become a valuable extension of the classroom. School counselor and blogger Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia shared, “Our school encourages students to use Khan Academy. Many of my students also use Google Drive to save all their papers and projects for easy access. We also have teachers who do their own tutorial videos that are accessible from YouTube.”

Resources like KhanAcademy.org help students find thousands of how-to videos for K-12 topics, including chemistry, mathematics, physics, finance, history, and more. Students who want to learn how to find the slope of a line, for example, can go to YouTube and search for “How to Find Slope Khan Academy” and a step-by-step video will begin to play. Try it and you will be blown away!

My girl’s favorite tool, Google+ Hangouts, provides her with a study aid from the comfort of her own bedroom. I can hear through the walls that she is staying on task, as she “talks shop” online with her colleagues via her own personal study group. Along with studying together, they quiz one other, work their way through difficult assignments (taking advantage of screen share options), and even collaborate on their presentations. I still find this futuristic, but I am particularly pleased with how it allows for social interaction as well as building time management skills!

E-mail and instant messaging tools to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork are also very handy. SchoolLoop, a widely popular communication tool between home and school, has built strong ties between parents, students and educators, even allowing the exchange of assignments and PowerPoint presentations.

Homeschooling moms’ favorite sites

Mom and blogger TerriAnn van Gosliga has been homeschooling for nine years and suggests that younger students use EnchantedLearning.com, which she considers “brilliant.” Enchanted Learning has 35,000 pages on its website covering a wide range of topics. Its focus is to provide materials that build curiosity and exploration experiences for K-12 graders. Membership is $20 annually, but some things are free. TerriAnn also shares the value of online research: “We use a lot of Google images and download free e-books from our local library.” She also recommends MotionMath for its great math apps and BBCTypingTutor for keyboarding skills.

Diana, a homeschooling mom of two, shared that her favorite two websites are Math.com and BrainPop.com. The former is quite impressive: it provides free math lessons and math homework help from basic math to algebra, geometry and beyond. BrainPop is a group of educational websites with over 1,000 short animated movies for students in grades K-12, together with quizzes and related materials covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, engineering and technology, health, and arts and music.

Technology as a Social Learning Tool

Educators are embracing methods of learning that are more socially interactive, problem-solving oriented, and explorative by nature. The idea that my own daughter integrates her social and academic worlds thrills me, as I can listen in and monitor her live homework groups as well as help direct her to online assistance. The convenience of being able to access so many tools via a home computer, smartphone or tablet opens huge windows of opportunity. So far, I love what I see.

Happy learning via web searching, video conferencing and apps!

Stacey_Ross_50Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.