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 ‘Student’

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.

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Snowy Day and Kids Still Learn to Read

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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.

Motivating Kids to Read

Category:Images of California

Image via Wikipedia

Since I work with students in reading, I am always looking for that answer to what motivates children to read.  To be honest, I have learned that motivation is  completely an individual thing.  What motivates one child may not motivate another child.

I was thinking of the kinds of things that we do as educators to motivate kids to read.

  1. Have students read for 15 minutes a night for homework.
  2. Fill out incentive sheets and give our students free pizza or a trip to the amusement park.
  3. Take AR  or Reading Counts quizzes and get points for prizes.

I am sure the list can go on and on with these kinds of activities.  The truth is, this kind of motivation only works for some.  And what I am about to mention, might also only work for some.

Knowing your students and knowing great authors is going to be the best way (in my opinion) of figuring out how to motivate students to read.  Let me share a personal story to help illustrate this idea.

Right now, I have a little girl who just got a DSI for Christmas.  Reading is not very big on her nightly to do things after a long day of school, homework, and dinner with the family.  She wants to sit back, watch some ICarly and play on her DSI.  Who can blame her?  Certainly not I.   Heck, I totally understand that she needs some chill time.

Anyway, I struggle with that idea that my child should read 15 minutes every single night.  I don’t want my child to “have to” read, I want my child to “want to” read.  I don’t want my child to stop at 15 minutes because it is “homework”.  I want my child to continue reading because she is so engaged with her book that she doesn’t want to put it down.

So, in my household I never set a timer.  My kids may set a timer because it sounds fun to them to do so.  It is funny to see what they will do.  (My oldest daughter decided one day that she would read for an hour and kept stopping the timer when she finished a picture book to find a new one.  She didn’t want the time that it took selecting a book to eat into her time of reading for an hour.  This was a goal that she set on her own.)

Two of my girls have Six Hour Reading Club sheets to fill out for Great America.  I have to tell you, on the parent side, I really want my kids to earn these tickets.  It saves mom a lot of money and mom loves to go to amusement parks.  My oldest daughter didn’t want to find a chapter book and I have been trying to get her to fall in love with a series.  She is out of Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House books and looking for something more sophisticated.

I was going to Skype with a class in Pennsylvania and another class in Louisiana simultaneously and read the BFG by Roald Dahl.  The book was sitting on my desk and my daughter found it and starting to share her enthusiasm about this book that her teacher was reading to her.  BAM!!!  I now knew what was going to motivate her.  Another book by Roald Dahl.  I happened to have a copy of James and Giant Peach and asked if she would be interested in reading it.  Not only was she interested in reading it, she went to bed, turned on her night light and read 4 chapters.  Most importantly when I asked her how the book was going for her, she said it was awesome.

Analyzing this situation, because that is what we do as teachers, I was thinking about what led to her enthusiasm to read this book.  It wasn’t really the Six Flags incentive.  (Although it was my incentive to motivate her to find a good book, LOL).  Here is what I came up with.

  1. A teacher who took time out of his day to do a read-aloud time with books that he loved by great authors.
  2. A team of teachers that shared the same excitement for the same book that invited a lady known as The Skyping Reading Tutor to read this great book to them.
  3. A little girl who could feel all this enthusiasm and be motivated to read another book by this author.

O.k. that is a pretty deep list.  Here is a simple list of some things that we can do inspire and motivate our students/children to read.

  1. Be a model of a reader
  2. Share great books with our students
  3. Talk about books with kids
  4. Be familiar with award winning authors
  5. Allow students to self select books
  6. Take your students to the library
  7. Have a great selection of books in the classroom or at home

This is just my opinion and experience as a Reading Specialist.  A true love of reading breeds motivation for kids to read.  Keep sharing your favorite stories with kids, your favorite series, your favorite authors.  It really makes a difference to the children in our lives.

Finding the Right Reading Tutor

reading_book

Image by mcmrbt via Flickr

Whether you are a parent that is looking for the right tutor for your child or a teacher looking for the right tutor for a student, it is important to know that not all tutors are right for students with reading difficulties.  When you look out on the web you will find a host of people who think that they can tutor children in all subjects simply because they have graduated from high school or college.  Even tutoring companies will hire people who simply have graduated from high school or college.  Is this the right fit for a child that is struggling with reading?  In most cases the answer is no.  When we go to the doctor, most of us don’t ask for the least qualified person to see us.  We want the best and most qualified.  It is the same thing when we are looking for the right reading tutor for our child.

A qualified reading tutor usually has a specialty degree from an accredited college or university.  These people have studied and worked with children struggling with reading and know how to identify areas of need that a student is struggling with.   Here are some basic questions that you will want to ask the reading tutor before he/she begins working with your child.

  1.  What type of degree do you have?
  2. How long have you worked with students?
  3. What has your success rate been working with students in reading?
  4. Do you teach a certain reading program?
  5. How do you feel about phonics vs. whole language?

A great reading tutor will let you know that he/she does not teach reading programs that are a one size fits all approach (like Sylvan).  They will tell you that they will personally assess your child to find out exactly what his/her strength and weaknesses in reading are and teach where the instruction is needed.  This may sound like a no brainer in most cases, but you would be surprised in the amount of people that put their faith in reading programs that do not meet individual children’s needs. 

When it comes to the whole phonics vs. whole language thing you really want to look for a reading tutor that does not take sides on this debate and instead incorporates a much more balanced approach.  Most of the time that the tutor spends with your child should be directly in relation to reading.  It shouldn’t be ridden with worksheets and lengthy phonics lessons and it also shouldn’t be ridden with reading tons of books that the reading tutor needs to provide all of the words to the child in order for the child to be successful.  It should incorporate quick mini lessons when needed and tons of on level reading. 

You will also want to find a tutor that is passionate about tutoring.  Children that are struggling with reading do not respond to all people the same when it comes to learning.  They need highly passionate and highly knowledgeable people at their disposal.  They need to trust the person that they are working with and most of all they must like working with the tutor.  Building report is an extremely important part of working with children who struggle with reading because the reading tutor is asking the child to do something that is the last thing in the world that they want to be doing. 

Our struggling readers deserve the best when it comes to getting the support that they need.  Make sure that you are giving them the most knowledgeable, educated, and passionate people who care about making a difference in their life.

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