Find out where in the world the Skyping Reading Tutor is. The skyping reading tutor volunteers in classrooms by reading books and motivating them to read. The Skyping Reading Tutor also has her own online reading tutoring company www.theskypingreadingtutor.com

Archive for the ‘2nd grade’ Category

Oh Canada, How I Love Canada

 

Can I just say that I love skyping to classes in Canada?  Well, whether I can or cannot, I will.  This week I was in Danielle Maley’s grade 1 and grade 2 class.  I learned that in Canada first and second grade do not exist as far as terminology goes and that it is referred to as grade 1 and grade 2.  I just love this age.  These kids have so much enthusiasm and zest for life.  You can see how engaged they are in the pictures that Mrs. Maley took. 

The first thing that we talked about was how far away from each other we are.  We found out that we are 1,000 miles away.  Then we got to the important stuff like what is your favorite book.  One little girl happened to say that her favorite books are Franklin books.  Since I just happened to have a Franklin book I dedicated my reading of Franklin’s Halloween to Georgia.  The kids did not mind at all that it was a little past Halloween.  They were just mesmerized by the entire experience because they had never skyped with someone in one of their classrooms before.  I had the wonderful opportunity to be their first.

After skyping with Canada I quickly came back to Wisconsin to work with an adult that has struggled with reading her whole life.  She happens to live in Wisconsin and is only 30 minutes away from me, but working via skype makes it so much easier.  Neither of us has to travel for an hour and we get to get more done than if we were in person. 

This new student has mentioned that Skype has completely changed her life.  The fact that she can now get help with reading and not have to leave the comfort of her home just astounds her.  She loves the convenience and the new tools that she learns with each session.  She is continuing to get better and better every day and she brightens my day with all of her insights. 

I love that I can spread positivity around the world via Skype and in my day to day life.  It is a blessing, a calling, and for me a way of life.

Soccer Practice: Please Show Passport

Imagine this, it is time to bring your child to soccer or football practice.  You pack all of your clothes, equipment, and get everyone settled into the car.  You begin driving and forget to bring your passport.  So, you go back home, grab your passport and cross the border to get your child to practice on time.

This may sound far fetched to many of you, but it is reality for the children in Saskatchewan, Canada.  Last week I got to hang out in Ms. Elder’s class and she was explaining that many of her students have sports practices in Montana.  I was extremely interested in this, especially since I already knew she lived in Canada and that the class I was specifically talking with was in Canada.  To them it did not sound like a big deal, but to many of us who have never experienced that it is fascinating.

This is one of the reasons that I love volunteering in classrooms all over the world and reading to them.  I love learning and I love learning about different people and the way that they do things.

Ms. Elder and I met last year via Twitter and I was able to read to her class then.  She does a looping grade 1 and grade 2 split.  So some of the students had recognized me from last year.  It was really cool to pop into their classroom and have many of them recognize me.  One little boy said, “I know you”.  It was really sweet.

Ms. Elder asked me to share my favorite story with the class.  For me, my absolute favorite story is Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.   However, I do not have an ebook version yet to share with the children, so I decided to go with my second favorite Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Ironically, the class had just taken down their Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and they were absolutely thrilled that I chose that book out of all of the books in the world to read to them.

I have read this book to several children all over the world and it seems to be a hands down favorite.  What are some of your favorite books to read with children?  I would love to know.

Watch this clip from a past reading of the book to a group of students in North Carolina.

Books Boys Love

Cover of "Everyone Poops (My Body Science...

Cover of Everyone Poops (My Body Science)

Parents often wonder how they can engage their boys in enjoying reading.  They are looking for books that aren’t too girly and that their sons will enjoy.  Therefore, it is no surprise that one of the biggest questions that I get is, “What books do you suggest for a __year old boy?”  This question has inspired me to make a list of books from my favorite book publishing company, Usborne Books and More.  Below you will find a list of books that tend to be boys favorites along with the age that they are appropriate for.

Boys tend to like books that fit into 6 different categories. Of course this is just a brief list of the most popular and not all inclusive.

  • humor
  • non-fiction
  • Suspense
  • Hands on
  • Sports
  • How to

Baby Boys 0-4

Animal Board Books

Noisy Touch Feely

That’s Not my Monster

Glug, Glug, Glug Bath Book

Lift and Look Board books – Books include topics about construction sites, tractors, trains, and dinosaurs

Boys Ages 4-6

Everyone Poops

Engaging phonics Readers

How Big is a Million

The Gingerbread Man

There’s a Mouse About the House

Very First Reading Program

Boys 7-10

Beginning Non-fiction Readers

Illustrated Stories for Boys – includes the following

The Masked Pirate
Robot Racers
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Jon and the Green Troll
The Tale of the Haunted TV
The Band of Robbers
Sinbad the Sailor
Victor Saves the Village
The Terrible Tidybot
The Story of Shiverham Hall
The Pesky Parrot
Sam and the Giants
The Tale of the Kitchen Knight
Attack of the Swamp Monster
Robot Robbery
Treasure Island

Jack Russell Dog Detective

The Team Series

Boys 10-15

Moby Dick

Tom Sawyer

David Copperfield

Conspiracy 365

These are some suggestions for boys to engage them and get them excited about reading.  Usborne Books has many many titles that boys love.  You can check them all out at www.popularbooksforkids.com.

This topic was discussed tonight as well on the Totoal Education Network, where I was a guest.  Check it out and learn what some of Neil’s favorite books for boys are as well.

Total Education Network Radio 08/18 by Total Tutor | Blog Talk Radio.

Hooked on Series in South Carolina

A photo of some Baseball Card Adventures books.

Image via Wikipedia

When you hear words like just right books, making predictions, asking questions, and author studies, then you know that you have entered a classroom where great first teaching is happening.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading a chapter of a book to a group of second graders in Ms. Witherspoon’s class in South Carolina.  These kids are so hyped on reading that they even started their own Magic Tree House book club.  How cool is that?

Once I heard that their favorite book series currently was the Magic School House Series, I knew that I could introduce them to another amazing author, Dan Gutman.  This man writes amazing books and one of his series is the Baseball Card Adventures.  The book that I shared with these students was Honus and Me.  This is a fiction book about Honus Wagner a great baseball player and how a very lucky boy ends up with his baseball card.  Not only does Honus come and visit the boy through the card, but also the boy gets to go back in time and see Honus play a real live game.

After I read the first chapter of this book, Ms. Witherspoon mentioned that she had this book in her classroom library.  She also had the book Jackie and Me.  So, the kids will have the opportunity to check out a new series and keep reading over the summer.

I love promoting reading over the summer and I have a special philosophy.  If you hook a kid on a series then you can hook them onto reading for life.  Sometimes that is all it takes.  Ms. Witherspoon has hooked her kids on great books and they will definitely be reading over the summer.

Student in Australia Responds to Students in San Antonio, Texas

Ask and you shall receive.  That is what happened to me when I asked my student in Australia some questions that students had asked her in San Antonio, Texas.

The students in Texas wanted to know what it was like at Christmas time in Australia.  I didn’t get too much of a response about this, except that it is hot.  It is very, very, very hot.  It is so hot that they go swimming on Christmas day.

Who wants the inside scoop on Santa?  Well, they don’t have chimneys in Ayr, Queensland so santa goes through the front door or through the window.  Santa figures out a way to do his job despite all of the hurdles he has to go through.

Another thing that the students wanted to know about was what kinds of books she likes to read.  On the video below they show us some of their favorite titles.  I noticed that they had The Very Hungary Caterpillar by Eric Carle, which is one of my favorites.  I recognized the Scholastic symbol on the books that they had, so some of the titles were familiar ones and some weren’t.  One of the books that they had raved about was The Wonky Donkey.  It was originally a song that was turned into a favorite book.  You can click on the title to hear the fun song.  This is not well known to us in the U.S., but it is definitely on the favorites list of the family that I work with.  I was in 7th heaven being introduced to books that I had never heard of before.

To see some of the other amazing books that are on my Australian families best loved list, check out the video that I created for my friends in San Antonio, Texas.

Reading Acceleration Star Student

Each month I will be featuring a star student that has made exceptional progress on his or her reading level.  This is Julia and she has definitely made some amazing progress in her reading ability.

Back in October of 2010 Julia’s mom gave me a call because her daughter seemed to not be reading as fast as the other kids in her grade level.  She had mentioned that she had received Reading Recovery instruction in 1st grade, but for whatever reason it didn’t help her get to grade level.  She had mentioned that the teachers thought she was reading at a Kindergarten level in 2nd grade.

As any parent would feel, this is devastating news.  No one wants to hear that their child is performing significantly below grade level.  Julia’s mom found one of my advertisements and gave me a call.

After the call, we set up a time for a free assessment.  I found that Julia was a very confident little girl who enjoyed reading.  Her mom had mentioned that she was usually reluctant to read and was afraid of failing.  Essentially her morale and self-confidence were at stake.  (Which is the case for most students that are struggling with reading).

Julia had a burning desire to read the books that her peers were reading.  She set a wishing goal of being able to read Frog and Toad Books and Junie B. Jones books.  At the time I felt that the Frog and Toad goal could be met by November and that she could meet the Junie B. Jones goal by January.  Some people may have seen this as very tough goals to reach since Julia was only reading with me for one hour a week, but what I do is more than just reading tutoring.  I provide reading accerlation.

You may be asking what the difference is between reading tutoring and reading acceleration.  Reading tutoring can be provided by anyone who has more knowledge in reading.  It could be an older student, a college kid, even a past teacher.  All of these people may be qualified to provide reading tutoring.  This is really helpful if a student is only a few months behind grade level.  However, when a child is 1 or more grade levels behind their peers, then they need reading acceleration.  This is something that is going to help a child move very quickly in a short amount of time.  This entails deliberate teaching with a great foundational knowledge of the reading process.  Reading acceleration can be performed by someone who has knowledge of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary development.  Also, reading acceleration needs to be performed by someone who can build a report with kids quickly.  If a child likes you and trusts you, then he/she will work very hard for you and make significant gains.

So, back to Julia.  Julia met each of her goals.  She was reading Frog and Toad books by November and has just finished her 2nd Junie B. Jones book right on schedule.  She was able to start the first one in January just as planned.

When I started working with Julia she was a very confident little girl.  She has now built on that confidence and her teachers have informed her mom that she is reading on grade level.  Julia was a student that needed acceleration vs. tutoring and she got just that.  She always has a smile on her face and is willing to read whatever is put in front of her.  She is going to continue reading with me over the summer to ensure that she is not effected by summer slide.  When she is in 3rd grade she will be able to read whatever her peers are reading and take the WKCE in November without a problem.  I foresee that this little girl that was pronounced to be reading 2 grade levels below her peers will be proficient on this test.  All of the students that I have worked with have fallen into the proficient range regardless of where they started when I began working with them.

I am so proud of Julia and the amazing progress that has made and will continue to make.  It is because of smiling faces like hers that I continue to do what I love to do best.  Teach kids how to read.

Fun with Technology and Snow

the children's blizzard

Image by mhartford via Flickr

What an interesting day we had via skype!  The technology did not quite work the way I thought that it would, but wow, I sure learned a lot and some great teachers made connections today.  We tried to get 9 classrooms from around the United States and Canada to Skype all at once.  What amazing educators there are out there to dive into this fantastic endeavor.

I would like to personally thank all of the classrooms that were part of this historical call.

  • Ms. Shield’s 3rd grade class in Alpharetta, GA
  • Mr. Greenberg’s 2nd grade class in Bridgeport, CT
  • Ms. Elder’s 1st and 2nd grade class in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Ms. Kidd’s Kindergarten class in Kernersville, NC
  • Ms. Bond’s Kindergarten class in Walled Lake, MI
  • Ms. Anderson’s 1st grade class in Missoula, MT
  • Ms. Griffith’s 3rd grade class in Linden, AL
  • Ms. Sheffield’s 2nd grade class in Linden, AL
  • Ms. Good’s 3rd grade class in Tescott, KS
  • Ms. Well’s 4th grade class Meriden, KS

There were other amazing classrooms that wanted to be a part of this call as well, but unfortunately there is a limit with Skype.

Have you ever had the experience that when something didn’t work you ended up learning a lot?  Well, that is definitely something that happened today for me.  I learned that when you are skyping with multiple classrooms you definitely want to make sure that you have one person designated as the speaker.  All other classrooms have to be muted, otherwise, you hear a lot of kid voices and it is hard for people to listen/present.

We also learned that you must have Skype 5.0 installed in order for other classrooms to see you.  If you do not have 5.0 installed you can still be a part of the call, just people will not be able to see you.  Another thing that I learned is that if you are not able to communicate with words, you can still communicate with the typing feature to at least let everyone know what is going on.  However, the way to get to the Instant Message feature is different for Mac users and PC users.  PC users have a speech bubble and Mac users have an arrow with a box.

To sum up what I have learned today about group calls;

  1. Everyone must have 5.0 installed
  2. All users must mute their mic to listen
  3. All users must unmute their mic to talk
  4. Mac Skype and PC Skype looks different
  5. If there are problems use IM to communicate

A sincere thank you goes out to all of those classrooms that were brave today and trying out this feature.  It was definitely a wonderful learning experience for me and many others.

There were a couple of classrooms, that really wanted to skype today and after 25 minutes of it not working they still wanted to get together with another class and make it happen.  I ended up getting the opportunity to Skype with Ms. Giffith’s 3rd grade class and Ms. Bond’s Kindergarten class simultaneously.  Ms. Griffith’s class is in Linden Alabama and they hardly get any snow.  It is a rare occasion for them and when they get snow they can definitely appreciate it’s beauty.  Ms. Bond’s class is on the other side of Lake Michigan from me in Walled Lake, MI.  They ended up getting hit with 9″ of snow from the blizzard that just got Wisconsin earlier this week.  So , they were well in tune with the wonder of snow.

Next week, we are going to try this group skyping thing again, but with just five classrooms instead of nine.  We definitely knows that it works with three classrooms and we are slowly going to build up to a large group as time goes on.  Until then, stay warm and have fun!

Take a look at a brief clip of our large group Skype.

Dreams Do Come True

A group of us have been trying to Skype, but the crazy weather in the East has not

been cooperating.  However, today our dream of connecting Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Wisconsin came true.  We were able to connect all of us at the same time and see each other.

 

Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin Skyping at the Same Time

I have skyped with Mr. Snyder’s class before and it was wonderful catching up with them before Mrs. Thompson’s class joined us.  Mr. Snyder’s class is the one that is saving up money to buy a goat.  All they need left is $30 before they are able to buy that goat.  I know that they can do it.

When Mrs. Thompson’s class joined us, we all cheered.  It was so exciting for them to see me and the other classroom at the same time.  I was even impressed that a boy in Mr. Snyder’s class was wearing a Green Bay Packer shirt.  (I really like that kid).

Mr. Snyder’s and Mrs. Thompson’s class are book buddies and reading the book The BFG.  The title of the chapter that I had the opportunity to read today is called “Dreams”.  I had so much fun learning about the kinds of dreams boys enjoy and revisiting some of my old dreams that I used to have.  I remember when I was a little girl having a belief in invisible paint.  I knew (in my young mind) that there was such a thing and that I was going to find it.  I would imagine all of the things that I would do while I was invisible.

In the BFG we learned that there are dreams for boys and dreams for girls.  When I asked both of the classrooms if any of the boys would like to have a girls dream, there was not a very positive response.  So, it seemed to make sense that in the BFG the dreams were sorted by gender.  I wonder if girls would want to have some of the boys dreams.  I am a girl and I was intrigued by the boy dreams.  So, maybe.

After listening to The Skyping Reading Tutor read the BFG some of Mr. Snyder’s students told us what their favorite part of the book was so far.  One of the student’s mentioned that it was when the BFG kidnapped Sophie.  I had to agree with this.  We wouldn’t have had much of a story if the BFG didn’t kidnap Sophie.  Mrs. Thompson’s students wrote about their favorite part on their blog and invited Mr. Snyder’s class to take a look and respond.

Nothing makes my heart beat more than amazing literacy experiences like this.  This is real reading, writing, and speaking skills in action.  The students are motivated, the teachers are engaged, and nothing is better than that.

Louisiana and the Fleshlumpeater

Phizz-Whizzing Collection

Image by weesen via Flickr

1,024 miles away and still able to connect.  Today I found myself in Louisiana in one of the most respectful classrooms.  Mrs. Thompson’s class was so sweet and used words like, “Yes, ma’am.”

One of my favorite things about reading to classes is that sometimes I get to read books that I have never read before.  The book today was The BFG, by Roald Dahl.  I have read many books by Roald Dahl like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, and The Magic Finger.  However, I had never actually read The BFG.

I began reading the book and was magically transported to a land where giants eat children.  Don’t be afraid, the main character was a Big Friendly Giant who wishes no harm on children.  Hence the name of the book, The BFG.  The chapter that I read to the children was the Fleshlumpeater.  The BFG collected dreams, but he only like to put good dreams into children’s sleep.  He put the nightmares into the Giants.  In the chapter about the Fleshlumpeater we got to see that the giants were afraid of a little boy named Jack.

The student’s in Mrs. Thompson’s class agreed with me, that this might be the same Jack from Jack and the beanstalk.  I think that it is kind of funny that these giants are afraid of a fairy tale that is not real.  I also think that Sophie, the main “human bean” character, finds it funny as well.  However, she does not explain it to the BFG.

Roald Dahl’s writing is so perfect for read alouds.  The voice that is present in his writings is very powerful.  I was so glad to have had the opportunity to read it for an audience.

I was introduced to Mrs. Thompson’s class by another fantastic educator, Mr. Snyder.  Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Snyder have been reading buddy classes.  They are both reading the same book as a read aloud to their class.  Mr. Snyder’s class is in Pennsylvania and getting a lot of snow recently.  We were going to try to Skype his class, Mrs. Thompson’s class, and I together, but the weather didn’t cooperate with our plan.  Hopefully, we will be able to connect all of us together.  You will have to keep reading to see if we can connect Wisconsin, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and the BFG all at once.  Will the weather cooperate?  There is only one way to find out!  Stay tuned!

Fairytales All Tangled Up in Canada

Cover of "The Three Little Wolves and the...

Cover via Amazon

I just spent about 20 minutes with a very enthusiastic class.  They were so much fun.  This group of students is from Coronach, Saskatchewan,Canada.  One of the things that they are grateful for are their houses and food.  I told them that I am also grateful that we have houses and food here.

I learned that Coronach, Saskatchewan,Canada is right above Montana and that they are right over the border.  The closest city to them is in the United States.  Wow, that must be so cool.  I wonder if they think that is as cool as I do.  When I mentioned that this class is 1,072 miles away and that it would take me 18 hours and 57 minutes to get there they were completely amazed.  I am still amazed that I can talk to people so far away all from the comfort of my home.  I love technology and what it is capable of doing. (In the near future I am going to be working with some students in Germany).

Today the story that I read was The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Ms. Elder’s class has been finishing up a unit on Fairytales.  The students shared with me that they got the opportunity to go to the movies and see Tangled.  I explained that The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig were just like Tangled because they are versions of a fairytale, but not the exact original of the fairytale.

When we got to the part where the pig brought out the dynamite, I was scared to go to the next page.  The class was very eager to see this house explode and you will have to read it yourself to find out if indeed the explodes or not.  Take a look at the video of our wonderful adventure together and see the enthusiasm emanate from this group of students.

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