November 28, 2009

Donate tax credit to fund tutoring

by Carol Peck, The Arizona Republic, originally published 11/8/09

Each year at this time, I like to remind readers of one opportunity to make a difference in students’ education. Arizona’s public schools have experienced an unusually difficult year. The state’s precarious financial position has left them facing difficult decisions. One of the most noticeable is larger classes.

Previously, I’ve written about the need to significantly reduce class size for struggling students, one strategy from the “Lead with Five” report. But in this economy, lack of money prevents making such an investment. However, schools can use another strategy from “Lead with Five,” providing tutoring for struggling students.

Some students will do fine in larger classes; those receiving extra support at home from involved, educated parents will continue to excel. But students without this support will potentially fall further behind their grade level.

For these students, after-school tutoring provided by teachers or trained tutors can make the difference. This is where you can help.

“We started an after-school tutoring program last year that targeted 40 fifth-grade students,” said Mike Henderson, principal of Galveston Elementary in Chandler.

“We planned to expand the program to third- through sixth-grade. Unfortunately, with our school budgets being so limited, we have not been able to kick off our program yet this year,” he added. “Tax-credit donations could help us reach these struggling readers.”

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Funding

November 22, 2009

Washtenaw Literacy Tutors and Learners Share Motivation

Originally published by Reuters on 11/2/09

Case Study illustrates a powerful and moving outcome achieved by a committed tutor/learner pair

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ — Washtenaw Literacy, a non-profit organization devoted to eradicating adult illiteracy, has the daily privilege of seeing real-life case studies that showcase the impact of literacy needs on
everyday life.  The demand for the free one-on-one tutoring programs that Washtenaw Literacy’s volunteer tutors provide is high.  More tutors are needed.  Please read the story of Esther and Veronica below and consider
volunteering.

Esther Brunssen has been a Washtenaw Literacy English group tutor and a group coordinator prior to tutoring one-on-one. An emigrant from the Netherlands, Esther feels empathy for English learners and is enthusiastic about helping them achieve their learning goals.

This summer Esther began tutoring Veronica Miranda, an English learner through Washtenaw Literacy’s one-on-one tutoring program. A special education teacher, Veronica enjoyed teaching children with visual-impairments in Argentina. Veronica wished to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a high score in order to pursue teaching certification, social work or other studies at a Michigan college.  Universities require this test of prospective foreign students.  Learning about Veronica’s goal triggered Esther’s own desire to pursue higher studies.

Now, Esther and Veronica are preparing together to take the TOEFL exam. Esther says: “it’s so much better when we both do it than alone.” Both women negotiate child care issues in order to attend tutoring sessions, including  Washtenaw Literacy’s ESL tutoring groups that offer specialized practice with TOEFL questions. “I appreciate the tutors more now,” mentions Esther, who is now attending as a learner.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

November 13, 2009

Math Is Not Hard: A Simple Tutoring Method That Is Changing The World

by  Julia Moulden, originally published in The Huffington Post, 10/24/09

“Math is the easiest subject for kids to learn.”

Say what?

Yup, that’s what John Mighton believes. And he’s got everything he needs to back up this counter-intuitive assertion.

Let’s start with the commonly-held view. “Math is hard.” Even Barbie said it. We somehow grow up thinking that either you’re born with the math gene or you’re not. And if you’re not, well, good luck to you. Like most people, you’ll begin to falter in grade school, think it’s hopeless, and give up. Sound like you? Your kids? Your students?

What if there were a different way of looking at math? Well, there is. And John Mighton is its champion. This new way says this: every child can learn how to do math. Every child. And that learning in this new way opens the door to everything else.

Our story begins where it must, with John. In his thirties, he began tutoring students in math as a way to supplement his income as a playwright (more on that later). His childhood interest in math rekindled (like you and me, he figured he didn’t have the math gene), he decided to go back to school to become a mathematician. Even though he’d tutored for years, before long he found himself struggling and flunked a couple of tests. Paralyzed by insecurity, he convinced himself that he had reached a threshold he’d never get beyond. But then he started to think about what he’d learned as a tutor. That if he broke things down for students into small increments, if they had a chance to practice and learn, they could inevitably continue. He realized that the same thing was true for him, too. This was John’s first “a-ha!” moment. A powerful enough realization that he went on to earn his PhD.

Looking for a way to give back to his community, he decided to try to help more kids with math. One day, it occurred to him that mathematicians don’t always make the best teachers of the subject, because math comes easily to them. And here comes the second “a-ha!”. “Because I’d struggled with math myself, as a tutor I wasn’t inclined to blame the student. If the student didn’t understand, I assumed there was something wrong with my explanation.”

How powerful is that? Eager to get his revolutionary approach to teaching math into the hands of teachers, John created a not-for-profit organization called JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies). Today, JUMP is getting spectacular results with all kinds of kids. For instance, after working with JUMP, an entire class of Grade 3 students, including so-called slow learners, scored over 90% on a Grade 6 math test. A group of British children who had been written off as too unruly responded so enthusiastically and had such impressive results that the school board adopted the program. I could go on and on.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community,Leadership,Pedagogy,Tutoring Practices

November 5, 2009

Arne Duncan in Atlanta: Perfect storm for reform

by Maureen Downey, originally published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 10/26/09

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan began his “Perfect Storm for Reform” speech to the National Black Child Development Institute Monday in Atlanta by recognizing his childhood tutor who was in the audience.
In Atlanta Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for a new focus on early childhood education. (US DOE)

In Atlanta Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for a new focus on early childhood education. (US DOE)

Nine years older than Duncan, Kerrie L. Holley was one of the South Chicago kids who attended the after-school math and reading program run by Duncan’s no-nonsense mother, Sue. In attending the center from age 7 to college, Holley said he came to see Sue Duncan as a second mother. Her approach included having older kids at the center tutor younger ones.

Holley, a math whiz, said the bright, young Arne didn’t need tutoring.”That was a bit of an overstatement,” said Holley after the speech. “I was tutoring him in algebra when he was in the sixth grade.” Both Holley and Duncan went onto big things from Sue Duncan’s program, which she began in 1961 and still operates today with her other son Owen. Based in San Francisco with IBM, Holley was named an IBM Fellow in 2006, IBM’s highest technical leadership position.  And in 2004, Holley was named one of the 50 most important blacks in research science.

Many of his critics contend that the brainy Duncan only knows the world of the elite private schools that he attended, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Harvard. But Holley pointed out that Duncan began coming to his mother’s center as a newborn and virtually grew up there, coming every day after school and learning and playing alongside South Chicago kids. Duncan saw firsthand the circumstances and challenges of the lives of children in poverty on a daily basis.

And Duncan told the audience of 2,000 that he believes those challenges can be overcome because he saw it happen many times in the children who attended his mother’s tutoring program. “Every child can learn and thrive despite poverty, despite problems at home, despite neighborhood violence,” Duncan said.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Government,NCLB

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