Celebrating Public Domain

For the first time in 20 years, new— or rather, old— published works have entered the U.S. public domain.

What does this mean? Well, consider some burning questions.

Like how much of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost can a teacher publish in a commercial instructional text?

Could a choir sing “Yes! We Have No Bananas” without licensing agreements?

Could a theatre ensemble produce Willis Richardson’s “The Chip Woman’s Fortune“— the first Broadway play produced by an African-American author?

Yes, we were wondering, just like you. 😊

The answer to all …

Holiday Wishes

Thanks for learning & growing with us in 2018!

From our family of staff members & tutors
to your family of loved ones & learners…
we’re wishing you the best of holiday seasons.

Rest up… lots more learning ahead in 2019!

Our office is closed on December 24 & 25.


In this occasional feature, we’ll be sharing profiles of some of our outstanding tutors. 

The first thing you notice about Margie Speer is that she sparkles.

As she shares enthusiastic stories about her work in education and her family, it’s easy to see that she’s high energy, 

It’s easy to hear how her experiences shaped her passion for math.

And it’s easy to see why she would inspire students to love learning.

She’s made that difference as a tutor for Back to Basics since 2011.

Speer’s background is not the traditional path for an educator. Her degree is in mechanical

How do we measure what matters in learning?

So many measures of student success are calculated in test scores. But many school leaders now seem to doubt whether standardized scores measure whether schools are effective.

A recent Gallup poll found that nine in 10 of U.S. K-12 public school superintendents say that engagement with school, student hopes for the future, and graduation rates are very important measures of school effectiveness. But only 9% of those superintendents described standardized test scores in the same way.

The Gallup Poll underscores that school leaders, as well as other school stakeholders, agree that it is vital for schools to assess …

5 Ways to Encourage Critical Thinking About Technology

As early as 2012, teens between 14 to 17 years old were sending a median of 100 texts a day, according to Pew Research Center. Have you ever stopped to consider how different teens’ communication via smartphones and social media is from the language they are being taught in schools?

Some linguists might suggest the language of texts and emojis to be a sign that language is evolving. We didn’t always have contractions; maybe the same process that changed ‘you will’ to ‘you’ll’ is changing ’shaking my head’ to ‘SMH.’ But these changes are happening so fast that we …