Do you have students who read was below grade level? Sometimes these children are just learning to speak English, have moved often, or have not attended school regularly. Most children who lag in reading can make progress if they have a combination of help in the classroom and one-on-one tutoring.
Struggling readers do best when they're reading materials that they enjoy and in which they miss no more than five words for every hundred they read. To find out if books meet this criteria, select some easy ones and ask the child to read a few pages. Two series that work well are Eek: Stories to Make you Shriek! By Jane O'Connor (Putnam) and Early Reader Science (Bridgestone Books).
10 Steps to Successful Tutoring
Once you've chosen the first book, the tutoring follows a predictable pattern. All you have to do is monitor the students progress. Here's how a tutoring session can work. Mr. Turner is the tutor, the child is Max.
1. Today Mr. Turner and Max are looking at a new book. They note people, places, and objects; talk about what's happening in the pictures; and read headings and labels.
2. Max reads one page by himself, figuring out words in whatever way he can.
3. "That's great," Mr. Turner says, pointing out what the child has done well. Max has sounded out an unfamiliar word, used picture clues, and gone back to correct the end of a sentence.
4. Mr. Turner then focuses on each word Max did not read correctly. He points out how the picture, the letters in the word, and the sense of the sentence might help decode that word.
5. Mr. Turner writes each missed word, along with its page number, on an index card.
6. After they've repeated this process for several pages, they return to the first page read that day. Mr. Turner displays the missed words, but they don't pronounce them. Max reads the page again and makes a check next to any word he gets right this time. He and Mr. Turner talk about the words that Max read incorrectly and how he can figure them out.
7. Max continues to reread pages. When he finishes each page, he proudly checks words that he's correctly read. He can "retire" words with three checks. Mr. Turner helps him with those that he's read incorrectly.
8. At the end of the session, they talk about what they've accomplished and Max writes a sentence or two in his notebook, summarizing what he read.
9. Finally, they put the word cards in an envelope, which they clip to the book, so they'll be ready for the next day's reading.
10. At the end of the session, Max writes about a short summary of what they read today — with a little help from his tutor.
Children feel a great sense of accomplishment as they start accumulating fewer and fewer index-card words. That's a sign that it's time to move on to slightly harder books.
Samantha is nine years old. She goes to Washington School. She is in the fourth grade. Mrs. Cunningham is her teacher. She likes Washington School. She likes Mrs. Cunningham, too.
This child, and her tutor, Mrs. Shaw, read the paragraph together. Mrs. Shaw then writes each sentence on a strip and cuts it into words. Samantha reassembles the words to match each sentence in the paragraph. In time, she makes the whole paragraph by matching and assembling the cut-apart words.
Samantha writes a sentence at the end of each day. She might choose her favorite sentence from the paragraph and try to write it herself, with a little spelling help from Mrs. Shaw.
When Samantha can read the whole paragraph, she goes on to the second page:
Samantha has six brothers and sisters. Their names are Robert, David, Manuel, Thomas, Patrice, and Jackie. They live on Willow Road. Her father works at the Ford place. Her mother works at Ken's Quik-Mart. Her cousin, Travis, lives with them too.
The tutor and the child continue following this procedure, creating pages for Samantha's book. Mrs. Shaw reviews them with Samantha until she can fluently read each page.
Where to Find Tutors
1. 1. Ask parents who drop off or pick up at schools every day. Though many parents are on a tight schedule, some will make time to tutor if they know they are needed and have a workable tutoring plan.
2. Is there a capable lunchroom worker or bus driver with 30 minutes a day to spare? Some part -time workers would love to have a chance to make a difference in the life of a child.
3. A nearby high school that begins or ends earlier or later than your school may be a great source. Many high schools encourage volunteer service, including tutoring.