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

Posts tagged ‘Skype’

Just Tutored on an iPad

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I get the wonderful opportunity to work with some amazing families that are extremely resilient.  My wonderful student Julia’s dad was out of town and took the laptop with him that Julia uses for tutoring.  Her amazing mom, thought about how she could solve this conundrum.  She came up with setting up her iPad. She connected her system to Skype, gave me a call, and we had a regular session together.

I was so amazed.  I had never envisioned myself tutoring a child in reading over an iPad.  The concept just blows my mind away.  Just 2 years ago, this concept would not have even been possible.  I personally wouldn’t suggest tutoring over anything smaller than an iPad because it would be difficult to see the words.  An iPad however, was just right.

For me, there wasn’t anything that I had to do differently to tutor Julia.  After her mom had everything set up for Julia, there wasn’t anything different that Julia had to do either.  She got to take her iPad to a quiet spot, lay down with a comfy blanket, and continue to get better at reading.

I love what I do and experiences like this have me loving it even more.  I am so grateful to be able to tutor children in reading from the comfort of my own home and keep as much of a balanced life as possible with three kids and a dog.

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.

Snowy Day and Kids Still Learn to Read

Skype Technologies S.A. logo

Image via Wikipedia

Today in Southeastern WI we are in the middle of a snowstorm.  Now snowstorms are usually something that keeps kids indoors and safe.  Many kids will miss out of school and have to make up the school time later on.  When it comes to tutoring, there is no way someone is going to travel in a blizzard so that their child can get better at reading.

Well, all of my students were safe today and had a tutoring session with each of them.  How can that be?  Well as many of you know I do all of my tutoring online using Skype.  Skype allows me to see the students and for the students to see me.  Skype allows my students and I to share a screen and read with one another.  We can work on individual words that kids are struggling with, read books, talk about books, and increase their fluency skills all from the comfort of our homes.

This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp since the technology to do this is very new.  But, the important thing is does it work?  Many people worry about that one on one time not being meaningful or they see the computer as a cold way to work with children.  Do children view it this way?  I think not.  In fact, I am normally able to raise a student’s reading level in the first 3 months a full year.  That is with only 12 hours of instruction.  (Sylvan claims that they can raise reading levels a whole year with 32 hours of instruction).  On the computer, I have been able to raise reading levels a whole year with just 8-12 hours of instruction.  Kids find this kind of learning motivating and any way that is motivating and works is something that we need to continue to do.

Tutoring online is also a much more affordable way for parents to support their children in reading.  With the rise in gas prices, parents no longer need to travel back and forth to a tutoring center.  Also, some tutors offer specials like free evaluations and progress reports that Sylvan will charge heavily for.  If you are serious about getting help for your child in the area of reading, then check out tutoring companies that offer this kind of service.  My company is called Bright IDEA Reading and you can find out more information at http://www.theskypingreadingtutor.com.  Enjoy the weather wherever you are and stay safe!

 

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.

What is a blog

Aerial view of Kansas City, Kansas, looking so...

Image via Wikipedia

I had the most interesting conversation with a group of 3rd graders in Tescott, Kansas this morning.  Our conversation turned into the different things that we read today.  I started mentioning the many different things that I read such as books, ebooks, blogs, e-mails and texts.  When I mentioned blogs, one of the students asked what blog is. So, I started explaining what a blog is and then I remembered that I write a blog.  It is really funny when I remember that I write a blog, you will have to watch the video.

So, I start to tell the students about my blog and how I write about the interactions that I have with schools through Skype and reading in their classrooms.  When I mentioned that they would have to read about themselves on my blog, they thought that was pretty cool.

As an educator it donned on me that even though our students are born into this decade of technology, they don’t always know what all of it is for or how to use it.  I have learned how to use these tools on my own since they did not exist when I went to school, but I think back on it and realize how much easier it would have been if someone had taught me how to do it.  I not only love writing on my own blog, but I also love reading other people’s blogs and responding to them.  I think that it is so cool that we can communicate with people from all over the world through simple tools like blogs and Skype.  I absolutely love it!!!

Check out the video to see this amazing group of students.

Our World Really is Changing

The Tandy TRS-80, the first Tandy computer and...

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.personalizemedia.com/media/socmedcounter.swf

So I was taking a look at this link and it really put into perspective for me how our world is changing at the global level.  To think that the computer has completely revolutionized the way we socialize, purchase items, share photography, and learn.  It is not something that I could have envisioned 15 years ago when I graduated high school where we didn’t even have any computers in the classroom.

In fact, when I was going through my teacher certification classes it was not required that we even take a computer class.  I feel like I am dating myself and I am only 34 years old.  I am in awe that teaching and learning have gone through such huge changes during the end of last decade and the current decade.

I have always had a huge interest in technology since my inception to it and have always had thoughts of how to motivate kids to read with it.  The link above shows how many minutes people are spending on skype.  It is mesmerizing to me that now people can connect all over the world for free.  Connecting with people from other countries was not something that I would have ever thought of doing when I was a kid.  (I remember one time calling a 1-800 number to talk to the roadrunner and I got in a lot of trouble.)

Now people can use Skype to learn.  I am one example of someone who is doing this.  I have chosen to digitize the resources that I would use in a one on one session with students and use Skype as a venue to teach reading.  Many people can’t fathom how I would go about this process and I completely see where they are coming from.   Ten years ago I certainly couldn’t have fathomed it either.

Today I met one of my students that I have been working with for the past month.  We happen to go to the same church and we met for the first time via Skype.  The family told me that I am a celebrity in their home.  What an interesting concept.  Can you imagine how education could change if students saw their teachers as celebrities?

I have seen this wonderful little girl make huge improvements in her reading and I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with her.  It is awesome being able to work with children all over the country and I am looking forward to expanding my horizan and working with children all over the world.

 

Should We Use 21st Century Tools to Teach our Kids?

YouTube

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This seems to be the hottest debate in education everywhere I turn. It seems to be the thing that everyone has an opinion about, but not everyone seems to have all of the knowledge. Since I use Skype a lot, along with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube I absolutely believe that it is prevalent that students learn how to use these tools to learn and not just socialize. In fact, I would go as far as to say, much of the learning that I do today as a life-long learner includes them. If I want to know how to do something that I have never done before, then I am going to look for a how-to video on how to do it. To find a good how – to video I am apt to go to HowCast because of the success I have had with that site. Knowing where to go on the web is important when I need to learn something. Otherwise, I waste a lot of valuable time.

There are two sides to the debate of whether to use 21st century tools or not. There are the people that use the tools that have their opinion that we should definitely teach our students how to be learners using these tools. Then there is the other side of debate, which tends to include people of another generation where these tools did not exist in their own learning therefore they think that they do not need to be present today. It makes me laugh to hear people who hardly ever use these tools have an opinion on how we should not be using these tools in the classroom.

A well respected researcher in the field of reading, Richard Allington, is one of those people that has a strong opinion about a lot of issues and he loves to state them. Although I respect Richard Allington and the work he has done in the field of reading, I wonder if he actually listens to some of his own responses. Listen to this, “I’m an old guy. I’ve never Tweeted, Skyped, Facebooked, or YouTubed.” He goes on to say, “But I’m still stuck on fostering 18th-century literacy skills in citizens.” Then he talks about how we shouldn’t be using funds for technology and that we should be using this money to purchase books. I completely agree that we should be using money for books, but there needs to be a balance with technology. There is no doubt about that. What I find funny is that this man believes in fostering an 18th -Century literacy skills.

So, I started looking up pictures of 18th century classrooms. Here is what I found. I am pretty sure that this is not going to motivate our learners today.

I don’t even see a hint of a major focus of literacy inside of this classroom. Do you? In fact, I was looking up literacy rates, which differ based on definition and it happened to be 50% of the population being able to read in the United States. It is now between 65% and 85%. I am pretty sure we do not want to go backwards with results.

I walked into a classroom at a historical museum and on the desks was a reader called the McGuffy Eclectic Reader. There were 6 of these that the students used as they progressed through reading in grades k-8. They were super tiny books, not a lot of words, but served their purpose. See, not everyone actually needed to know how to read back in that time. It wasn’t a prevalent skill as it is today.

However, how much literacy is needed in order to engage on the web and in society today? If you can’t read, then you can’t do much can you in either of those arenas?

I see 21st Century tools as opening up the world to do things better than we have ever done them before. We have so many ways to open the doors to literacy without needing as much money as we needed before for books that get outdated quickly and need to be replaced. We can get digital copies of books that last a lifetime and never need to be replaced. How cool is that?

I did research with a group of students 2 years ago incorporating videos from YouTube, Karaoke, and a simple vowel pattern chart to see if these tools would motivate kids to read. The results were outstanding. The kids that were in the program increased their skills 3x more than the students at the same reading level not in the program. Check out my group of students that were featured on Fox 6 News. http://www.fox6now.com/videobeta/09f8d175-ae5d-4d00-9d34-883b306d3e45/Entertainment/American-Idol-s-Danny-Gok

My personal belief is that the world is changing and that we need to change with it, or be doomed by it. Let’s open up our minds, and let’s open up the web. I personally use this blog to share my positive interactions that I have with students by volunteering in classrooms all over the world. This isn’t something that could ever been done 20 years ago. I don’t think I could have even conceptualized it. But I have to tell you, I am loving it. I am loving every second of using these amazing resources to motivate children to read. Maybe the next book that Dr. Allington could write could be titled

How to Motivate All Children to Read Using 21st Century Tools

    Hmmmm……..Not a bad title, maybe this will be the title of my next book.

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