July 28, 2010

Using the power of words to put dreams into action

By Susan Craton, originally published in The Washington Post, 6/17/10

Lloyd Brothers, a father of three, leans over the paper in front of him, takes a deep breath and reads aloud his assignment for a first-year level English class he attends at the College of Southern Maryland.

“Winners are the people that have dreams and goals in life. I’m one that didn’t have goals or dreams. I was just living. . . . As I got older I wanted a better life for myself, so I had to change. In fact, I’m a miracle today. God gave me a second opportunity on life.”

As he reads, his longtime literacy tutor, Laura Lang, sits next to him, listening. She knows he labored over those words. “Nice job. Very good,” she says after he finishes.

Just about every Monday for the past four years, Brothers has worked with Lang at the Lexington Park Library to improve his reading and writing skills. Lang is one of about 55 active tutors who volunteer with the Literacy Council of St. Mary’s County, which provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to adults.

About 8 percent of adults in St. Mary’s County are illiterate — defined as lacking basic prose skills — according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, and the statewide adult illiteracy rate is 11 percent. The 2003 study has the most up-to-date statistics, said Bernie Kohn, director of communications and media relations at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which oversees adult education in Maryland.

“It’s much higher than you realize,” said Mary Beth Brown, director of the Literacy Council of St. Mary’s. “It’s really quite shocking.”

Although Brothers, 45, was not illiterate when he began the program — he tested at about an eighth-grade reading level — his struggles with reading and writing had negative effects. He could not help his children with their homework, could not give readings in church, could not read instructions to the sports teams he coached, he said.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

July 20, 2010

Counselor says tutoring program will soon be in need of funds

By Eileen Werbitsky, originally published in BuffaloNews.com on 5/10/10

A successful tutoring program in the Holland School District is in need of funding as federal stimulus funding that created it will dry up on June 30.

Melissa Wagner, guidance counselor and program coordinator, recently offered Holland School Board members a glimpse of the program’s success since its start-up in December.

Between January and March, tutoring users rose from 212 to 429 students. Overall hours spent with a tutor also increased, from 101 hours to 251 hours. The impact on student grade point average (GPA) was astounding, Wagner said.

High school students who were tutored on a regular basis, or at least once a week, increased their overall GPA by 4.8 percent. Tutored middle school students saw an overall increase of 2.8 percent, she said.

Program tutors are compensated at $5 per hour, which is paid through a Visa gift card. The program is supervised by three instructors, one for each of the district buildings, who are paid $20 per hour.

High School Principal James Biryla was quick to note that the tutors are not necessarily straight-A students, but that they rise to the occasion, and the partnership is mutually beneficial. “We tell the tutors, ‘You are an example to others,’ ” Deborah Tatar, high school teacher and program coordinator, said, “and it affects them.”

Among 21 students who regularly tutor at Holland, GPA increased 1.18 percent. Tatar added, “A lot of neat relationships have developed. When you come into the library, you can’t tell who is tutoring and who is being tutored.”

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,High School,Peer-Tutoring

July 12, 2010

Saturday classes boost grades

by J.P. Antonacci, originally posted in mississaugau.com, May 02, 2010

In large high school classes, underachieving students often don’t get the help they need. But a University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) tutoring program that just wrapped up its inaugural session unlocked their potential by pairing the slumping students with UTM student mentors.

The results were impressive; after just four weeks of one-on-one sessions with a tutor, nearly every student enrolled in the Saturday Program saw their grades improve, some by up to 30 per cent. “It’s about opening doors for these students. The tutors would like to see them have the ability to work to their full potential now and well into the future,” said tutor Lindsey Arseneau, on hand to applaud the 15 students from Erindale Secondary School who received their certificates at a graduation ceremony yesterday at UTM.

The free program – sponsored by UTM, Peel District School Board, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and Mississauga Academy of Medicine – targets high school students who are in danger of failing one or more core subjects, such as English, math and science. Along with homework help, students attend career and learning skills workshops.

Despite her initial nerves, Faith Caines took her teacher’s advice and enrolled in the program because of her “terrible” English marks. Along with boosting her grade by 10 per cent, Caines overcame her shyness with help from her tutor, fourth-year undergraduate Sabina Trebinjac.

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Filed under: Community,Peer-Tutoring

July 3, 2010

Tutoring collaboration helps AVID students succeed

by Cassandra Kramer, originally published in the UDaily on 5/21/10

University of Delaware junior Katie Strouss is studying to become a teacher. This past winter, Strouss, a Spanish education major, had the opportunity to practice her teaching skills by participating in a program that positively challenges high school students to succeed in school using specialized instruction.

“I learned to be confident as a teacher because I felt the students growing more confident,” said Strouss. “I think the most valuable part of AVID is that it’s possible for students to be hands on with their learning, and it’s almost always better that way.”

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a national program designed to help increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges. The focus is placed on students in the academic middle. These students are encouraged to take difficult courses, like Advanced Placement, and with the help of an AVID tutor, meet and exceed the academic goals for each class.

Six years ago, the Christina School District (Christina) introduced this program at three of its middle schools. In 2008, UD partnered with Christina and began using UD education students as the AVID tutors for the program.

“This program is perfect for young students to learn how to work with their own information and to be secure in finding answers,” said Strouss, who participated in the AVID program as a requirement for her EDUC 413 class, Adolescent Development and Educational Psychology. “Students through the AVID program become independent, which is such an important characteristic to have in college.”

AVID uses methodology like Cornell note-taking, group collaboration and inquiry skills development to create a college-going culture for students.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,High School,Peer-Tutoring

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