READ teachers are experienced and skilled educators who love to teach. Like most teachers, they are caring and creative. With classes unable to meet, they are working hard to find distance-learning opportunities that work for their students. Below is a small glimpse into the extraordinary work they and their tutors are doing to keep READ Center students engaged and learning.
“The tutors for the Chesterfield Technical Center (CTC) class are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! We are implementing an online, virtual learning program. It takes a village and the CTC tutors are leaders in that village. They are troubleshooting audio and video challenges and reading with the students. When I pop in on the small group sessions with tutors and students, I beam with pride. For students who have decided not to participate online, tutors are “at the ready” to work with them on the phone. The CTC students and the tutors are stretching, being stretched and we are growing as a village. I couldn’t be more proud.”
“Many Seventh Street tutors are keeping in touch with our students by aiding with lessons, as well as making sure everyone is ok. Using facetime seems to be the easiest and most effective way to assist our students, in conjunction with phone, email, texting, and the US Postal service. What is so wonderful with our students and tutors is that many are reaching out not only to assist with lessons, but to check up on each other. This ‘distance learning’ is an endeavor that our entire classroom family is attempting; but even more important is the concern and caring being shown in regards to each other’s well-being. Some of the obstacles being faced are language barriers, personal and family issues, and digital skills. I am very proud of our classroom assistant and her initiative in reaching out to another student to offer assistance with lessons, as well as reading together Seedfolks, which is a book the entire class is reading.”
“I text a mini-lesson almost daily, and with thanks to those tutors who have taken on a particular student, in short time 6 students were adopted by 5 tutors. However, the difficulty in connecting with some students and/or getting them to talk about the lessons has been felt by all. Clearly tutoring students via phone is not optimal. Since most of my students do not have computers at home, it is the option available to us. Two tutors have noticeable success stories. In one case, after the tutor had difficulty reaching the student in the afternoon, I suggested trying the morning since that student works in the afternoon and evening. Eventually they worked out a time and had a productive phone session. In the other case, the tutor decided to print out some of the lessons that had been texted and mail them to the student. Once they arrived, the tutor and the student had a productive phone session where both were looking at the material as they spoke. A second mailing has been sent, so I expect another productive session soon.”
Leslie’s class recently began reading “Something Noble” by William Kowalski. The book is a “Rapid Read,” which is designed for adult literacy students. It helps them increase their reading proficiency and confidence. Best of all, they are entertaining stories. Leslie’s students read the book over the phone with tutors. One student loved the book so much, he finished and asked for a new one! Leslie made sure he got it and is now reading with him in the new book.
“Oh My Gosh! My tutors are fantastic!!! They jumped in with both feet and took off. My tutors said it best:
- I think staying connected with the students is the most critical part. The reading aloud and reading comprehension questions seemed to work best for me.
- Worksheets! This incorporates lots of skills—reading, grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing. News for You which presents current events, new concepts & vocabulary —adding writing brief summary.
- Students were generally very focused during these intense, one-on-one sessions.
- Students were able to keep up their skills. The lessons were not a substitute for in person classes, but they helped. The students I had were enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity.
- Meeting for 1 hour—not too short, not too long. Having a detailed agenda, even if we had to modify/deviate. Having the packets with worksheets, reading materials for next several sessions.
Some of our difficulties include: Vowel sounds over the telephone don’t work very well; Having an easy way to check on what homework was assigned to the student; Students not having access to computers.”
Mary’s class uses IXL every week normally, so why should distance learning be any different? Whether practicing vocabulary, reading comprehension, or math, the website enables students to continue learning and progressing at their personal pace. Several students have received certificates for their IXL progress while at home! To read more of Mary’s thoughts on IXL and how it benefits her class, check out this blog.
READ is thankful for its thoughtful, creative, and committed teachers and the dedicated tutors who are supporting their efforts. Everyone needs and deserves a literate life – in good times and especially in trying times.