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LitCom Presidential Letter 1/12/2010 Outstanding Tutoring Effort

posted Jan 14, 2010, 8:53 AM by Karis Jackson   [ updated Jan 14, 2010, 8:57 AM ]

January 12, 2010


To: All Literacy in the Community (LitCom)

From: William D. Jackson, President

Regarding: Outstanding Tutoring Progress


Dear LitCom Staff and Tutors,


We are very pleased at the amount of effort many of you are putting in. You are patiently helping your tutees improve in math and reading. Improving academic skills, to permanently close learning gaps, is the essence of your very important Literacy work.


Many tutors found the opportunity to tutor students over the break. You are to be commended. Others did excellent work before and after the break. You too are appreciated. Some of you are not educators. A few have asked the question, how to work with a student if the computer programs are not available and the student has no homework. The following are a few strategies:


LitCom Instructional Strategies:

1.                  The first session must be Assessment Oriented. We need the base line data to complete student learning plans. If you do not have access to our computer lessons, evaluate students based on the methods you will see at the State links listed below in this letter. In your report, list and score the students specific EALR as follows i.e., Johnny Student does not understand the 10s place Vs the 1s or 100s.  Math 2.1.  Core Content:  Place value and the base ten system. 1 Needs help meeting Standards, or 2 Approaching Standards, or 3 Meets Standards or 4 Exceeds Standards. In these early sessions we are looking for the 1s and 2s so that we can help the student improve them. Your job is to find those areas. Students are shy about showing weakness and will gravitate toward their strengths. Be patient. However, make sure to find and report on the areas that need improvement.


2.                  Our goal with homework is SKILL MASTERY not Homework Completion. We make sure the student learns the skills to do the homework themselves. Homework is one of our windows into what the teacher/school expects from a child. Make sure when you write your reports that you discuss specific skill development. Rather than just saying “I helped Sally Student complete her homework or Sally did her homework.” Consider saying things like i.e., Sally’s homework was to read Little Red Ridding Hood. I listened while she read. I noticed she had trouble confusing the I and E sounds. We worked on many examples. She is doing better. You might also say, i.e., I questioned Sally about the main character, the bad guy (wolf), specific details, like how big was the wolf’s nose and the setting in the woods. These reading comprehension questions help Sally become a critical thinker.

3.                  Listening to a student read gives tutors clues into a student’s fluency and vocabulary. Always have at least one book as a back-up strategy. Have your student request a book from his/her teacher and/or school library. Make sure students demonstrate comprehension through continuous questioning and writing as evidence of clear thinking. The document found at the following link, by grade level expectations, gives you examples of what you should  ask/discuss with students as they read to you: Yes this is heavy reading for non-educators. However, you will be so smart once you get it, people may mistake you for a real teacher. Smile.

4.                  Allow your students to challenge you in math and word games, like flash cards etc. Once you know your student, you can engage the student by writing out problems similar to those they work on in school. Your student can help with problems they are having trouble with.

5.                  To borrow from Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “start with the end in mind.” Take some time to review this link You will find the most incredible resources there to help you, help your students.

6.                  All of the above links, among other resources are available at:

7.                  The fastest and best way to get an answer to a question is to email us at . Questions sent here go directly to my personal Blackberry. Give us 24 hour to respond. After that feel free to call me directly, if I can help. My direct number is (206) 322-1544. Help me become a better Literacy President. Share with me how to best help you help your students.


Finally, make learning fun. Tell the students how smart, great and wonderful they are. They take tutoring when they could be playing or doing other things. Smile a lot. There are few joys better than a warm smile on a cold day. Okay, Chocolate chip cookies may be the exception. However, smiles are sugar free. Smile! See, I told you so. Have fun helping your kids learn. And make sure they also have fun learning.


Thank you so much for caring enough about kids to join us. We really appreciate you. Many kids will remember you their entire lives. Don’t you remember that kind person who helped you along your way? Thank you for bringing Literacy to so many communities. Thank you for such outstanding tutoring progress.