June 30, 2014

United Way offers new tutoring pilot program

By Mary Lou Valenzuela, originally published in azcentral.com on 5/29/14.

(Photo: United Way)

As a Wells Fargo executive, Yolanda Stokes is a busy woman. She didn’t always have the time to drive 40 minutes from work to volunteer at J.R. Davis Elementary in south Phoenix. But as a former student in the Roosevelt School District, she wanted to give back. So when she found out about the United Way’s new tutoring opportunity, which allows her to work with a student remotely, she immediately signed up.

“I can sit at my work desk and give a gift that is immeasurable to a student that is so appreciative and so deserving,” she said.

Each week, Yolanda helps second-grader Jaffett Reyes with his reading. She calls into his classroom from her office phone and reviews reading-comprehension activities and stories from a computer interface they can both see. Yolanda and Jaffett are part of United Way’s tutoring pilot that uses TutorMate technology and volunteerism to improve children’s literacy. Volunteers partner with first-, second- and third-graders in the Roosevelt School District and set weekly appointments to provide support during 30-minute tutoring sessions. The pilot is the first of its kind in the Valley, United Way officials said.

“In just a few months, reading and confidence have improved, behaviors have improved and students that had a difficult time focusing are really putting forth the effort so they can participate,” said Anita McFarland, principal of J.R. Davis Elementary School. “Initially, we were worried participation would be viewed negatively by the students’ peers, but instead of feeling singled out, they feel chosen … every student wishes they could be one of the lucky ones to receive a weekly phone call.”

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Technology,Tutoring Practices

June 25, 2014

Literacy Volunteers Earns Tutor Training Grant

Originally published in the Dunn County News on 6/13/14

Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley (LVCV) was recently awarded an Eau Claire Community Foundation Grant in the amount of $7,317 for Top Tutor Training.

The Top Tutor Training funds will provide workshops and additional training opportunities for Literacy Volunteer tutors and staff. Specifically LVCV will present one 2-day Learning to Achieve training workshop and a series of four half-day Student Achievement in Reading (STAR) training. STAR is a comprehensive toolkit and training package built upon evidence-based reading instructional strategies.

STAR helps adult educators improve reading outcomes among intermediate-level (4-8th grade) learners. STAR features assessments on each component of reading, and provides explicit instruction that maximizes learners’ active engagement. Learning to Achieve is based on the most recent Learning Disabilities (LD) research. The purpose is to identify tools and techniques that effectively serve adults with LD. This training also addresses core concepts like self-advocacy and self-determination.

Last year, LVCV helped 542 students through core literacy programs in One-to-One Tutoring, Workplace Education, Corrections, GED, Citizenship and Family Literacy. In 2013, 216 volunteers logged 9,542 hours of tutoring. It is estimated that there are nearly 20,000 adults in our community living with low literacy, so many more tutors are needed. One of the goals of LVCV is to focus on recruitment and retention of volunteers.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Funding

June 18, 2014

22 Powerful Productivity Tips for Tutors and Their Students

by Bob Lasiewicz, Managing Director, Crossroads of Learning

I recently read an article that shared a terrific set of tips for being more productive, all backed up by current research. Many of them can be utilized to improve the environment in which tutoring takes place or to influence the behavior and habits of students to improve their ability to learn and thrive.

Eat a banana or something like it. Researchers from UCLA found that the brain works best when there’s about 25 grams of glucose in the blood stream; that’s about as much as what’s in a banana. Suggesting a light snack before a tutoring session is something to consider.

Buy some houseplants. Scientists at the University of Exeter conducted 90 experiments that found houseplants not only improve creativity (45%) and overall wellbeing (47%), they also give your ability to concentrate and focus a boost, spurring greater productivity. Tutoring centers should definitely think about houseplants when designing their center along with computers, furniture and textbooks.

Control your temperature. A study from Cornell tested the impact of temperature on productivity, finding that when working in temperatures below 68 degrees, employees made 44% more mistakes than at an optimal room temperature of 77 degrees. Going easy on the AC could actually improve results from a tutoring session.

Slice up some lemons. Workers made 54% less errors when they smelled lemons, 33% fewer mistakes with jasmine, and 20% fewer with lavender. Sounds like a little lemon-peel could go a long way to improving accuracy when tutoring students.

Chew some gum. Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales discovered that chewing gum not only reduces levels of occupational stress, but those who chew gum are able to complete a greater load of work. The culprit? Increased cortisol, which brings on lower levels of perceived stress and improved arousal and alertness. So let’s all try to forget those teachers who never let us chew gum in class!

Don’t try to multi-task. A 2001 study by Rubinstein et. al found that participants lost tremendous amounts of time switching between multiple tasks, and even more time as those tasks got more complex. Another study by Robert Rogers and Stephen Monsell showed participants were slower when they had to switch tasks than when they repeated them. The net loss? As high as 40% of your productivity. Along with some other great advice in the list about managing e-mail and social media, tutors can share strategies to help students break some strong habits in order to get the most out of their study time.

Look at Cute Animals. Researcher Hiroshi Nittono from Japan (of course) conducted a study that showed that looking at pictures of cute puppies, pandas, kittens and cats won’t just improve your mood – it actually makes you more productive. It’s easy to forget that the mood of a tutoring can be just as important as the content.

Other entries in the article discuss the impact of working under natural light, music/ambient noise, wake-up time, adequate sleep, taking naps, procrastination, work blocks, time-tracking, perfectionism, exercise and more. To review the complete list, click here.

Filed under: Research

June 9, 2014

Ameren employees tutor students at Belleville grade school

by Jamie Forsythe, Belleville News-Democrat, originally published 5/13/14

Ellis Elementary School third-grader J’Mya Lee, 9, was having trouble with her spelling, math and reading. Ameren Illinois volunteers stepped in to tutor J’Mya and other students as part of the school’s tutoring program where community members provide extra support to children who need it. “It helped me a lot. I started to get A’s,” J’Mya said. “I could read better and spell all of my words better.”

Third-grader Mackenzie Geminn, 9, said the tutoring has helped her as well. “We had a math test and the last time I didn’t do so good,” Mackenzie said. “With the tutoring, I got an A.”

Ameren Community Relations Coordinator Paula Nixon said the program has not only benefited the children but the Ameren employees as well. This school year, Ameren volunteers tutored students at Ellis Elementary every Tuesday. In all, 11 Ameren employees — who went through appropriate background checks — worked with the students, with a handful coming to the school every week.

Ameren employee Steve Wahn of Waterloo said he jumped at the opportunity to support the community that Ameren serves. “It feels really good to help out the kids,” Wahn said. He especially enjoyed helping Ellis fourth-grader Myzel Drummond. “It was a joy working with him,” Wahn said. “He was a lot of fun to be with.”

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

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