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 ‘kindergarten’ Category

The Skyping Reading Tutor In Kernersville, North Carolina

When I was in the school system as a reading specialist I started my day reading a story to the entire school on the morning news.  It was a wonderful way to start off our day.  Today I get to do something very similar and that is volunteer in classrooms all over the world and read stories to classrooms.

Today I had the pleasure of reading to a group of Kindergarten students in Kernersville, North Carolina.  It is such a pleasure to meet so many bright smiling faces early in the morning.  I love it.  My own children had just gotten on the bus and these kids were already at school ready for their day. They were all seated patiently at the carpet waiting for me to come into their classroom.

They were amazed that we were talking to each other and were 815 miles away from each other.  Some of them had experience with talking to people via Skype and many others had not.  One little boy shared with me that he gets to talk to his Grandpa in Mexico via Skype.  That is the beautiful thing about Skype.  Never has there ever existed a way to talk to people far away without paying a ton of money.  Now, not only do people get to talk to love ones, but they can see them as well.

Today I read the story Dragon’s Halloween by Dav Pilkey.  It was very exciting because Halloween is right around the corner and many of the children in the classroom are experiencing the same dilemma that Dragon was experiencing.   Dragon was trying to pick out a Halloween costume but couldn’t decide which one he wanted to be.  So, he decided to wear them all.  It didn’t work out so well for Dragon, but of course it had a wonderful ending.  I love this chapter so much that I am going to share it with you as well.  Click on the video and enjoy.

 

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.

Learning About Australia in Texas and Wisconsin

Good Day Mate!  These were the first words that my 2nd grade student I work with in Australia said to me.  It was so cute and so wonderful, I think that I will remember it for the rest of my life.

The day that I began working with Brooklyn was actually a day that my whole life changed.  I began to realize that I really can work with any student from around the globe and help them improve their reading ability.  As I listened to Brooklyn read, I was able to tell exactly what she was missing in her reading instruction and today I provide it for her all from the comfort of my home. My tutoring company has officially launched into an International status.

I am able to work with Brooklyn on Friday nights at 6:00 or 7:00 my time and it is 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning on Saturday.  I joke with Brooklyn and ask her how the future is.  At first she was confused, she probably still is a little bit, but she is beginning to understand that when I go to bed her day has really just began.

Today I was in Ms. Bright’s classroom in San Antonio, Texas and guess what?  They just happened to be studying about Australia.  It was really cool to learn more details about Australia as I was preparing for this visit.  The most amazing fact for me is that there are only 18.3 million people that live there.  That is the same amount of people that live in New York.  However, it is as large at the United States.  Therefore, it is a much less populated country than the United States.

The students in Ms. Bright’s class prepared some great questions for Brooklyn.  We are going to see if we can get Brooklyn and her mom to share some answers in the form of a video that we can send to Ms. Bright’s class.  Their wonderful questions were the following:

  1. What is Christmas time like in Australia?
  2. Does Brooklyn like to read?
  3. What kinds of books does Brooklyn like to read?
  4. What is life like in Australia?

To see what our experience was like today, click on the video below. 

Spring in North Carolina and Wisconsin

Map of North Carolina

Image via Wikipedia

It is officially Spring.  The calendar recognizes it, but Wisconsin doesn’t really observe it until May.

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to find out what Spring is like in North Carolina.  I heard Kindergarten students in Ms. Kidds class talk about dandelions, flowers, mowing the grass, and buds on trees.  These are visions that will have to be on hold for me until next month.

I had mentioned that it was 40 degrees outside and that is really warm for us compared to what it has been.  Ms. Kidd had said that they don’t even go outside if it is 40 degrees because that is way too cold.

So, what was the temperature in North Carolina?  Well, it was a wonderful 75 degrees.  A temperature that I can only dream about in the summer.  We actually may have 70 degrees this weekend, but it is not the normal temperature for this time of year.

Today I read a non-fiction book called Spring is Here by Shaun Taylor.  In this book there is a caterpillar that is eating a leaf.  I asked the students why the caterpillar was eating a leaf and he said because it was hungry.  I just love kids responses.  They are great.  I responded that that made me think of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle because the caterpillar in that story is very hungry.  How cool that in a Kindergarten class we were able to make a text to text connection.  I think all of the students in that class were familiar with that book and could relate to that connection.

When I read books to kids I love to ask questions and hear their responses.  I love to get them thinking about what they are listening to.  Listening comprehension is a skill that needs to be developed just as much as reading comprehension.  In fact, it is important to develop this skill before and while kids learn to read.  Kids need to understand that reading is about making meaning and if making meaning is not happening, then there is no point.

Ms. Kidd had her wonderful students all where tie dyed t-shirts with there names on them.  It was so wonderful.  I love being to call on kids by their name.  She also had her students come up to the front of the room when they wanted to share information with me.  It was absolutely wonderful.  It is amazing that these kindergarten students are learning such important communication skills.  What a great tool Skype is.  Thank you Ms. Kidd for allowing me to share time with your class and do what I love to do best.  Read books to kids.

You may be wondering how you can have the Skyping Reading Tutor come to your class.  It is pretty simple.  It is free and all you have to do is fill out a registration form.  From there I will let you know when I have an opening and you will let me know if you are available.  Until then, keep skyping.

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.

Happy Birthday Kansas!!

Happy Birthday!

Image via Wikipedia

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Kansas,

Happy Birthday to you!

Kansas turned 150 years old today and the only way that I could find out that wonderful bit of information was by skyping with Mrs. Atkinson’s Kindergarten class in Louisburg, Kansas.  They were such a wonderful group of students that have been learning all about penguins.  I had the opportunity to share a fiction and a non-fiction story about Penguins.  The fiction book was called Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice and the non-fiction book was called Penguins.  These kids are so smart, they knew that real penguins do not actually wear ice skates.  That is one of the reasons that makes this book a fiction book.  When I explain fiction and non-fiction to kids I explain that fiction is false and non-fiction is not false (that means true).  This tends to help them remember which kind of book it is.

After reading both of these books the children shared some other wonderful information that they knew about penguins.  They told me that the daddy takes care of the baby and that the mama does the hunting.  They also told me that when the mama comes back she shares her food with her beak.  That was a nice way of saying she regurgitates the food into their mouths.

Penguins only live at the zoo in Wisconsin and I bet the same is true for Kansas.  One thing that I learned is that there is snow in Kansas this time of year.  These kids are used to sledding and having a great time, just like the kids here in Wisconsin.  However, in the summer they have much warmer weather than we have.  It can get to over 100 degrees.  Typical Wisconsin weather for the summer is between 70 degrees and 89 degrees.  It is not too often that we have weather in the 90’s, but it does happen a couple of times throughout the summer.  It is the end of January and the days are getting longer, which means that the weather will be getting warmer soon.  Till then, stay warm!

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