Changing “Hen to Fox,” “Hike to Chase” & Struggle to Success!

In the last post, we looked at some activities to build words that tutors can use with learners who need some help with letters, sounds, sound patterns and how they go together to make words. In this post, we’ll look at another activity that teaches these building blocks of words: “Changing Hen to Fox”. This activity comes from Patricia Cunningham’s 2005 book, Phonics They Use: Words for Reading and Writing, 4th Edition.

In this activity, the tutor introduces a small number of words and talks with the learner about the vowel and consonant sounds they make. Then, they choose one word and begin making changes to a single letter (vowel or consonant) at a time. As they go, the tutor and learning talk about the changing sounds, the letters that make those sounds and where they go in the new word.

In this video, below, we look at two examples shared by Cunningham (2005) and two other examples created by ReadWriteServe.

In this ShowMe video, we look at examples of the "Changing Hen to Fox" activity that tutors can use with learners to teach letter sounds and words.

In this ShowMe video, we look at examples of the “Changing Hen to Fox” activity that tutors can use with learners to teach letter sounds and words.

As you can see, Changing Hen to Fox is a good activity for teaching consonant and vowel sounds but also consonant and vowel combinations. Here is a list of additional words that Cunningham shares in Phonics They Use (2005):

hen-to-foxTutors can make their own word combinations by taking a word that has letters and sounds a learner is struggling with when reading. For example, if a tutor sees a learner struggle wit the word chase while reading a book, the tutor might create an activity that helps the learner work through letter and sound changes like this:

chase…chose…choke…broke…brake…rake…lake…late…plate…place…race…trace

Be careful not to make the sound and letter changes too complex or to spend too much tutoring time with activities to teach letters and sounds. You always want to put skills like this into practice by reading good books together with your learner.

Keep on tutoring and more learners will be changing struggle to strength!

 

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Under construction: Some building blocks of reading

Emergent readers and struggling readers often need some practice with the building blocks of language–letters, the sounds they make when we put them together in print, and the words they make. While the larger goal of reading is comprehension, readers need to know how to work with letters, sounds and words so that they can construct meaning as they read.

Where do you start when you are tutoring a young reader struggling with letters and sounds? Our instincts often suggest that we teach the parts (letters and sounds) before we teach the whole (the words they make). However, tutors can teach important print and sound concepts by moving the other direction–from the whole (words) to the parts (letters and sounds). Let’s look at an example. The photos below show how a tutor can take a new word–wander–and use it to teach other words.

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For example, when we look together at wander, we find other words like wand, and, end, ran, wade and so on. As you and the student or learner “deconstruct” words, you can talk about the sounds letter make when they form new words. For example, the /a/ in wander and wand has a different sound than the /a/ in and and ran. You can take the word ran and talk about making new words by adding different letters (consonants) to the beginning of the word so that you get can, fan, and man. You can also teach spelling rules like how the at the end of many words gives the first vowel a long sound as in wade. We often call this the “silent e” or “magic e” that is common in many English words like came, made, home, same, and tide.

Let’s look at some other examples of constructing words in the video below. As you view the video, which was created using the ShowMe app, think about how you could use these teaching ideas with kids you tutor.

showme

A ShowMe video of constructing words to teach letters, sounds and sound patterns as well as word endings and word families.

As you can see from the examples in the video, there’s a lot you can teach from just a few words including vowel and consonant sounds, blends, digraphs, spelling rules, word families and other patterns and exceptions.

Keep in mind that constructing words is just one part of reading although for emergent and struggling readers it is important to learn. If you are working with a child who needs help with letters, sounds and patterns, build a few minutes of practice into your tutoring sessions but don’t set aside reading books together to focus on constructing words. It’s just one piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, we want readers to put these skills into practice and the only way they will do that is with lots of reading.

Want more ideas for constructing words? Check out the Making Words books written by Patricia M. Cunningham and Dorothy P. Hall. They are great resource for activities like this to teach children more about how letters and sounds go together to make words.

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Love at first “sight”: Teaching high-frequency sight words

English is a word lovers dream! Linguists believe English has the largest vocabulary of the 6,000 languages on Earth. On June 10, 2009 the Global Language Monitor noted that English language passed the million word threshold (the millionth word was Web 2.0 according to the group). While linguists say it’s impossible to know the exact number, the Merriam-Webster Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged contains some 470,000 entries so whatever the number, it’s a lot of words.

While English has lots and lots of words, a small number of these words take up a huge amount of space in our spoken and written English. You know these words: the, a, he, she, it, of, in with, up, all, there, am, little, from, away, walk, tell, soon, fast, slow, good. These are sight words or high-frequency sight words, so called because they are, indeed, found in great frequency in spoken and written English. Depending on how you count them, sight words account for as much as 75% of of the words used in text used by children learning to read and about 50% of the words we read and use in written and spoken English.

Sight words are important in learning to read because when a reader knows all or most sight words, they can concentrate their time and effort on the few words that they don’t know when they read. Learning these words by sight helps, too, because many of these words have irregular spelling patterns are aren’t decodable. Here are a few examples of sight words with irregular spellings: they, eight, of, the, was. 

Tutors need to help young, emergent and struggling readers master sight words they haven’t yet learned. Many of the strategies for teaching sight words focus on memorization. That’s because many sight words do not have decodable spelling patterns. However, literacy scholars Nell Duke and Heidi Anne Mesmer writing for the International Reading Association (see their excellent post) argue that focusing solely on rote memorization is not an effective way to teach sight words. They suggest teaching the word units (letters and sounds) as you teach the sight words. Other research points to teaching sight words using a multi sensory approach–that is, seeing, hearing and tactile (touching) the words.

Here are some strategies for teaching sight words tutors can to help children with learning sight words:

See & Say: Tutors create flash cards by writing sight words on index cards or similar slips of paper. Teach a few words at a time–you can use a child’s age as an index so about six words at a time for a six year old. Add a few words each week and go over them for a few minutes each time you and the child work together. Over time you can sort the sight word cards into to categories: “Words I Know” and “Words I’m Working On”. Get a clasp envelope or ziplock bag for each group and write “Words I Know” and “Words I’m Working On” on the front. The “Words I Know” bag will grow over time which helps give a sense of accomplishment. Focus on teaching the “Words I’m Working On” words but occasionally review the “Words I Know”. Remember to also spend time on the word units–the letters and sounds–for words that are decodable. You can spread out several cards and have the child do word sorts of words that have the same initial consonant sound or middle vowel sound, for example.

Draw It Out: This is a multi sensory approach to teaching sight words. You can use the sight word cards described above or just call out words you are working on. Have the child (learner) air write the words using their finger as they say the word. You can also get shaving cream and have the child write them out in the shaving cream on a clean surface like a table or desk top. When introducing new sight words, the tutor might have the learner look at the word first then draw it out but as time goes on they can do it without looking at the word before they spell it out.

Sight Word Bingo or Wordo: Tutors can create Bingo or Wordo cards in a word processor (or download a template from the RWS tutoring website) like the one pictured below. The tutor can call out the words and the learner/student can put a coin or token on the space with that word. If two or more learners are playing, each child can take a turn calling out a word. You can play until a row or column is filled or all the squares. There is a variation of the game called Read it, Roll it, Write it (also pictured below) in which the learner rolls a die, reads a word form that column, and then writes out the word for practice. Like Wordo, you continue until  column, row or the entire board is filled.

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Sight Word Swat: This is a fun game that helps build speed in identifying sight words. Write out sight words on index cards or slips of paper and lay them out face up so the words show. The tutor calls out a word and the learner swats that word with a hand or fly swatter as quickly as they can.

Tips on Teaching Sight Words

Reading is a process of many parts–understanding words and word parts, reading those words fluently, making sense of what you are reading (comprehension)–so we can’t focus on just one aspect when tutoring. However, sight words are something that tutors should weave into their sessions regularly with a few minutes of instruction each time you work with a learner struggling with sight words. Practice sight words with flash cards, play Wordo or draw them out but also look for sight words in the text the learner is reading. Tutors should also have learners look at the elements that go into sight words–the letters and sounds. Look for patterns by having the learner identify and group sight words that have the same beginning sound or middle sound.

Learning sight words can pay big dividends in reading. Do the math! If approximately 50% of text are made using these high frequency words, that leaves a reader more time and mental capacity to focus on new and more challenging words.

Additional Resources

Here are some links to additional resources for teaching sight words. You can search for other ideas on the Internet or on Pinterest.

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A model for active reading and tutoring

Learning to read is not unlike learning to play an instrument. Both require time, materials, and instruction. As for time, we know that for both early experiences matter–for readers early experiences with books that come from adult read aloud from an early age and for buddying musicians there’s research that early exposure to music is important. Good books and good music are key ingredients as is good instruction. But what should that instruction look like? Let’s consider the following example of learning to play the violin.

You want to help a child to learn to play violin so you go out and buy a violin for our young musician. Perhaps you find some good music to listen to as well and listen to that together. You buy a beginner violin lesson book and sit down together and provide some instruction to get things going. “Here’s how to hold the violin and bow. Let me show you how to read the music and play the notes.” After our young musician has the basics down you step back and let her practice and grow into a budding virtuoso.

Wait, you say, there’s more to learning to play the violin than a few lessons. Where are the years of lessons and instruction? Of course, learning to play an instrument requires ongoing support in the form of teaching. Reading is no different. We can teach kids the basics but they need practice and ongoing support from teachers and, for some, from tutors. But how much teaching, tutoring and support should we give? What is the right balance in tutoring between tutor and learner? Let’s take a look at Dialogic Reading (DR),  an approach to reading instruction that provides a supportive social context to balance the roles of tutors and learners.

Dialogic Reading

Dialogic Reading is an active, shared-reading approach developed by Zevenbergen and Whitehurst (2003) used with pre-schoolers. While their work focused on beginning readers, Dialogic Reading offers a model for working with older students who struggle in learning to read. DR provides tutors, parents and others working with young or struggling readers scaffolding techniques. These techniques are described using two acronyms–PEER and CROWD–which are explained below.

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The CROWD acronym suggests types of questions or prompts that tutors can use. For example, questions to help the learner recall information (R), more open-ended questions (O) and distancing prompts (D) to generate higher level thinking about the text. The PEER acronym gives tutors a structure for balancing the tutor and learner roles during tutoring. PEER suggests that good tutoring begins with good questions or prompts (P) that give learners a chance to take an active role in the tutoring process. Yes, the tutor evaluates and expands (the two E’s) on the learner’s response, but note that Dialogic Reading doesn’t encourage tutors to jump to correcting learners or feeding them answers. The PEER model suggests that tutors begin with what learner know and can say before providing help, and CROWD gives tutors different kinds of questions or prompts to use to get learners thinking about what they are reading. Dialogic Reading provides for an interactive reading experience.

An Example of Dialogic Reading

The cover of A Bad Case of Stripes, a picture storybook by David Shannon. Let’s look at a brief example of Dialogic Reading. Katrina is tutoring a second-grade student, Sam. The two have just selected the book, A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon (1998). It’s a book that interests Sam–he said it looks like it is funny–and seems to be at his instructional reading level (it’s not too difficult and not too easy).

Katrina: Sam, take a look at the cover of the book. Can you tell me what you think this book will be about? [an open-ended question]

Sam: A girl who gets sick and turns different colors.

Katrina: That’s a good guess. Yes, that’s Camilla and she gets sick and changes colors and they try to figure out what’s wrong with her. [Evaluating and expanding on Sam’s answer]

After a book walk/picture talk of the book, Katrina asks Sam to begin reading the book. She stops Sam periodically to ask questions and prompt him for an answer.

Katrina: When Camilla’s mother ran in the room and saw her for the first time, she said, “Oh my heavens! You’re completely covered with ______!” [Completion prompt]

Sam: Stripes! 

Katrina: Yes. Camilla’s supposed to go to school. What do you think she’ll do?” [Wh- prompt]

Sam: I guess she’ll have to go but she might get laughed at. 

Katrina: Let’s see what happens. Turn the page and keep reading. 

This is just a snippet of what Dialogic Reading can look like. Notice that because it is an interactive form of reading, it may take more time to read the book. That’s okay! You can work through the book over a few tutoring sessions or read only part of it if you need to move on to another book. Be sure to find a “just right” book–one that’s not too easy or too difficult but one that the learner needs some support. You know it’s a just right book if the student makes some mistakes but also understands most of what is going on in the book.

Benefits of Dialogic Reading

Research suggests that Dialogic Reading and active models of reading like it promote vocabulary growth and increased comprehension with struggling readers and English language learners. It can make reading and tutoring a more active process and help tutors to lead with questions and prompts and avoid jumping in right away to correct mistakes.

Want to know more about Dialogic Reading? Here are some resources you might find helpful:

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Two metaphors for reading that can help us be better tutors

In this post, we look at literacy tutoring through the lens of two metaphors. The first metaphor suggests that reading is like a mathematical equation in which the whole of reading is the sum of its parts. The second uses a cooking metaphor to describe the relationship between the parts (the ingredients) to the whole in the reading process (the final dish) to make the point that while the ingredients matter, the final dish is more than the sum of its parts or ingredients. 

Reading is a process that is both parts and whole. The parts–fluency, decoding, vocabulary, comprehension, etc.–come together to create a larger whole in which readers make meaning and build a foundation for future success. Tutoring often focuses on the parts of reading, the skills, but the the ultimate goal of reading is success when those parts come together. Clearly, the parts and whole of reading matter, so let’s look at this through the lens of two metaphors to get a better sense of the relationship between parts and whole. The first metaphor is that of a mathematical equation that suggests that reading might be thought of as the sum of its parts. The second metaphor looks at reading as a kind of recipe in which the parts, ingredients to follow the metaphor, come together into something greater than the parts.

First, let’s do some math.

An Equation for Reading Success

(Phonemic Awareness + Alphabetic Principle)

+Fluency

+Vocabulary

+Comprehension

+Good Books

__________________________________

= SUCCESSFUL READING

The above equation suggests that reading can be thought of as a kind of mathematical formula in which readers who are successful at reading “add up” the subparts or components of reading in more or less equal measure. This metaphor describes a linear process for reading that begins by teaching the parts and once those are mastered, readers move on to using those parts in more holistic ways. We see this metaphor played out in tutoring sessions where tutors spend much of their time teaching the components of reading–explicit instruction on phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding, and sight words as well as practice with fluency, and introduction of vocabulary–before utilizing those skills by reading whole texts (books). Tutors who use the math model of reading often bring in books that are written to teach specific words (sight words and vocabulary) or word families, for example, and spend less time having students or learners use those skills reading books or texts until some level of mastery.

Let’s cook up a different metaphor for reading.

A Recipe for Reading Success

  • Phonemic Awareness, 3 Tablespoons
  • Alphabetic Principle, 1/4 Cup
  • Fluency with text, 1/2 Cup
  • Vocabulary, 1-1/4 Cups
  • Comprehension, 2-1/2 Cups
  • Good books and texts, 3 or more Cups
  • Reasons to read, add liberally

Directions: Blend phonemic awareness with the alphabetic principle, let stew. Introduce  1 cup of good books and slowly blend in fluency. While mixing, begin to add vocabulary and comprehension. Stir vigorously as you pour in reasons to read. Let the mixture come to a slow boil as you add more good books and texts. Turn down heat and let simmer over time until the flavors blend.


This metaphor suggests that reading is a bit like a recipe. We take the ingredients–the components of reading–and work with a child to bring those ingredients together to make something wonderful. Tutoring, in this metaphoric model, is the act of helping that child with the mixing and stirring of the ingredients so that they make that a single savory dish. Tutors who draw on this model are like cooks. They help the learner blend together the ingredients but along the way test out how the whole, emerging mixture tastes. They bring out the ingredients together but the focus is on the dish, the whole. We see this in tutoring sessions where the focus in on reading books and texts and then teaching learners the skills with which they struggle. It’s a movement from whole to parts and back to whole.

Not All Metaphors are Equal: Cooking vs. Addition

Clearly both skills and the more holistic process of reading matter to reading success, and both of these metaphors suggest that tutors pay attention to those parts so that students can be successful with the process. However, the cooking metaphor gets at an important truth about reading–that those parts are always in the service of the whole and that good tutors, like good cooks, work on the parts (the ingredients) but always bring reading back to the whole (the dish).

What do these metaphors suggest for tutors? First, that reading is a process with important components that we can teach. Second, that those components or ingredients are not separate or more important that the process. Third, that tutoring should give learners lots of practice “tasting” the whole by reading books and texts but also explicit support on the parts or ingredients where needed.

Here’s what a recipe for reading success might look like in a tutoring session. First, the tutor introduces the learner to a few books, three or four that fit with the learner’s interests. The books shouldn’t be too easy or too difficult but books the learner needs some help with. The learner picks one and then together the tutor and learner do a book walk/picture talk and review the book. Then the learner begins to read from the book with some support from the tutor. As the learner reads, the tutor takes note of things the learner struggles with–sight words, fluency, important vocabulary words, difficulty with words that follow patterns (word families). After the learner reads all or part of the book, depending on time and length of the book, the tutor provides explicit instruction to help the learner with some of the things he or she struggled with when reading the book. Then they go back to the book and keep reading or reread it. Over time, the tutor and learner move on to other books and other mini-lessons to teach needed skills.

This recipe for reading success doesn’t ask learners to wait until they have mastered certain skills before they put them into practice. It’s a process that moves from reading of good books (the whole), to teaching of the parts through mini-lessons, and back to the whole. It’s recursive and ongoing. To use a sports metaphor, it provides learners with practice on the skills but doesn’t make them wait long before putting those skills to use by playing scrimmages or games. Can you imagine the coach who does only drills but doesn’t allow his or her team to play the game until they have mastered all the skills?

In following posts we will look more deeply at the process of tutoring and the parts of tutoring so that tutors and learners can cook up a healthy dish of reading success!

 

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A checklist for making a good first impression, Part 3

This is the third and final post about helping tutors get tutoring off to a good start with new students (learners). In parts one and two, we looked at creating a plan for the first session or two to help establish trust, set expectations, assess initial needs, and ask good questions. In this post, we pull these ideas together into a checklist for tutors to use during the first two sessions with students. 

So your first appointment with your student (learner) is just around the corner and you want to make a good impression and get things off to a good start. In the first two posts of this series, we outlined a four-part plan for the first two meetings between a tutor and learner that includes: 1) relationship building, 2) establishing expectations, 3) assessing initial needs, and 4) asking good questions.

We share here a checklist to help tutors cover these points during their initial meetings with the learner:

Day 1

  1. Introductions: Tutors should come prepared with a brief introduction (30 seconds to a minute) about who they are and why they are there to help and ask the learner to “tell me a little about you.” Keep it short…there’s time to get to know each other better.
  2. Ice Breaker: Plan to do an activity that allows you, the tutor, and learner to get to know each other. Ideas include the acrostic name poem, 2 truths and a lie, and the memory game.
  3. Questions or Discussion: The ice breaker will give you some general information but it’s good to follow up with some questions and discussion. What subjects does the student like and dislike? What do you like to do outside of school? What do they want/need help with? How can I, the tutor, best help you? Don’t ask too many questions and don’t probe too deeply–just get a sense of how you can help.
  4. Read Aloud: Bring a few books with you to tutoring that span a range of ability and interests. Pick out three or four and do a quick introduction of each and ask the learner to select one. Do a book walk/picture talk and then get the learner to read aloud from the book. Listen and watch to see what the learner’s strengths and challenges are. You don’t have to finish the book but read far enough to get a good idea of the student’s reading.

Day 2

  1. Ice Breaker: Do another get-to-know-each-other activity. This helps the tutor gain more insight into the learner and helps build trust.
  2. Expectations Discussion: Take some time to talk about tutoring. Discuss your expectations for the tutoring sessions and ask the student what he or she wants and needs from these. Write these down or use the RWS Tutor/Learner Agreement. This is helpful down the road if tutoring gets off track. It is something tutors can refer back to if the learner is easily distracted or often comes to tutoring unprepared.
  3. Read Aloud and/or Begin Tutoring:  In short, get started. Tutors can bring out the book they read aloud during the first tutoring session and have the learner continue reading that or focus on work the learner brought to the tutoring session with them.

Of course, things will vary depending on how much time you have and if the student has an urgent need for help (if so, then spread these initial activities out over more sessions). Be flexible but have a plan.

Here’s a plan a tutor made before beginning tutoring with a new student, Jayden.

This tutor is going into the first meeting with Jayden prepared. The tutor has noted that he  needs to get some materials like paper, markers and books before these sessions. Since Jayden is in second grade, the tutors knows to find books around that grade level with some being easier and some more challenging. Most importantly, the plans this tutor has made will help him get to know Jayden and allow them to establish trust and rapport. That’s a good foundation to build on!

Want to know more about how to get started in tutoring? Check out the Tutoring 101 section of the ReadWriteServe Tutoring website. ReadWriteServe is a program of the Center for Adolescent Literacies at UNC Charlotte.

 

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First impressions in tutoring, Part 2

This is the second of a three-part series of posts to help tutors get tutoring off to a good start with new students (learners). In part one, we looked at creating a plan for the first session or two to help establish trust and set expectations for future tutoring sessions. In this post, we discuss assessing learners’ needs and using questions to engage students in vital conversations to create a more balanced and interactive experience.

As we discussed in the first post of this series, it’s important to make a good first impression when you begin the tutoring year. In fact, it’s better in many ways to focus less on tutoring and more on getting to know each other in the first meeting or two with your learner. This helps the tutor and learner begin to build a strong and positive relationship and establish important expectations for their time together. It’s also a good time for the tutor to begin to assess the learner’s needs and to foster dialogue by asking good questions.

Assessing initial needs

There are two broad categories of assessment–formal and informal. Formal assessments include state standardized tests and measures of IQ, for example. Formal assessments are usually administered to many students (thousands or millions) and provide information including statistics that educators use to make conclusions about students–that a student is reading above, at or below level for their age as compared to all those other students who have taken the test. Informal assessment focuses on content and performance–how a student is doing when reading a particular book. Both are useful but lead to different kinds of decisions. Teacher made tests, running records (an assessment of mistakes or miscues when reading  particular book or text), rubric scores, and the percent of words read correctly are all informal assessments.

Informal assessments are the bread and butter of tutoring. Yes, it can be useful to know that a learner is reading below grade level, as measured by a standardized test, but that does not tell us how to help a student during tutoring. Informal assessment like listening to a child read tells us what we need to teach a student when they are reading a specific text or book. For example, when a learner reads a book out loud and the tutor listens, the tutor can see what words he or she needs to teach, teach skills like rereading and varying reading rate or speed, or stopping and asking questions to check for understanding.

During the first meeting or two, tutors should take time for informal assessment. Bring a few books of varying levels and topics to the session. For example, if you are working with a second grade student, bring some books on different topics that you think span a difficulty range from Kindergarten to third grade. Introduce three or four and have the learner select one. Do a quick book walk/picture talk by reviewing the cover and title and turning the pages making guesses about what the story is about. Then have the learner go back to the beginning and read some of the book to aloud. Also, at logical stopping places like the end of a paragraph or page, ask the learner questions like, “What is going on in the story?” This kind of retelling helps tutors get a sense of comprehension. The tutor should pay attention and take some notes. What kind of words is the learner missing or struggling with? What about fluency and reading rate? Is there comprehension?

This is just an initial read aloud but gives tutors a sense of where the learner may need help–sight words, decoding, comprehension, fluency or more likely,  a mixture of several. This kind of informal assessment is powerful and is something effective tutors do constantly by listening to students as they work together over time to monitor progress and meet ongoing and new needs.

Asking questions

Too often tutoring looks or sounds like something we do to students rather than with students. Tutors tend to have authority and age on their side which can make tutoring one-sided with the tutor leading and the student/learner following. Tutoring is more effective when students are engaged as partners in the process. Tutors can foster more active engagement from learners by asking questions and waiting for answers–something that’s important to do in the first meeting or two.

Here are some good questions to ask the learner early on when the tutor and learner are getting to know each other:

  • How can I help you?
  • What would you like us to work on together? 
  • What should I know about you that will help us when we meet for tutoring? 
  • What are you good at? What do you need help on? 

When tutors ask these kinds of questions and listen intently to the answers, it communicates to students that they have a voice in the tutoring. It also gives tutors valuable insights into the leaner and where they want and need help. Tutors can make these exchanges more meaningful by asking follow up questions like, “Tell me more about that,” or “Can you share an example?”

Questions are not only useful during the “get to know each other” phase of tutoring but are something effective tutors use constantly while tutoring. For example, before or after reading or helping a student, tutors can ask, “What do you think we need to work on?” When a learner encounters a new or difficult word, it’s tempting to tell the learner what the word is; however, rather than fixing the problem by providing the word, the tutor can ask, “Well, what do you know about that word? Give it a try.” The learner may not be able to read the entire word but if they get the initial sounds, that’s a good start. It’s something to build on and teaches the learners that they have strategies when they encounter new words.

Questions are a way to balance tutor and learner talk and to prompt learners to see what they do know before giving up. Questions are also a great form of informal assessment…they give tutors important information about the learner and his or her reading. Moreover, questions create dialogue which helps build a more positive relationship and fosters greater trust.

If you are new to tutoring and wondered what to do in your first meeting or two, think about the ideas we’ve shared in these posts. In our third and final post of this series, we will put this together into a plan and provide tutors with a checklist of ideas for the first two meetings with students.

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