What kind of student can use extra literacy help
• The scope of the problem:
– NAEP* found that 37 percent of fourth graders are not
able to meet basic reading levels
– 20 percent of students have a learning disability
• Of these children, the majority (80-90 percent) have
reading disabilities
– In Virginia, 15 to 16 percent of kindergarteners start
school without rudimentary literacy foundations
Evidence That Tutoring Works from the
U.S. Department of Education
* National Assessment of Educational Progress
Is tutoring the same as homework help
• Many parents do hire tutors to help their students
with homework
• But tutoring can encompass larger areas of academic
– Literacy tutoring often focuses on students' remedial
needs — areas in which the student could use extra
• In these situations, the tutor finds where the child is
functioning comfortably, and builds from there
• Given the limited time a tutor has with a student (often
two or three sessions a week), the focus for a child who's
struggling with reading needs to be on remediation,
rather than homework help
How tutoring models differ
– Format
• One-on-one
• Small-group
• Larger student to tutor ratio
– Curriculum
• "Out of a box," pre-established plans
– Most basal reading companies have such plans
– These plans often consist of re-teaching material that
students didn't get the first time around
– Personnel
• Experts such as reading specialists or highly trained teachers
deliver individualized tutoring to struggling readers
• Volunteers or paraprofessionals (usually closely trained and
supervised in an ongoing way) tutor students
Find out What Reading Research Says About Volunteer Tutoring
Tutoring program locations
• Both in and out-of-school
• During school hours, after school, and before school
• On-site at school building, in other kinds of buildings,
in homes
For information about the different kinds of tutors and tutoring
programs, see From Poor to Soar: Finding the Help
Your Child Needs
Tutoring program costs
• Cost is a consideration (and limitation) for both
parents and schools choosing a tutoring program
• One-on-one tutoring is often expensive, but it can
certainly be a good investment in a child's future
• Cost can be mitigated by smart use of resources
– For example, have reading specialists or other experts
• Train the tutors
• Plan the program
• Supervise tutors' work
– This will save money over having experts work one-onone with individual students
How parents can find out about local tutoring options
• There are a lot of choices, it can be overwhelming
• Start by talking to the classroom teacher
• Look for a program that can help with the child's
specific difficulty, Kingsbury for example
• Consult the school principal, he or she can help
navigate the field
– For example, the principal will know if the school
participates in a program that provides up to $2,000
worth of free tutoring if parents qualify for a reduced
Seeking Help for a Struggling Reader: 8 Steps for Parents
Tutoring and children’s attitudes
Literacy setbacks can affect a child’s emotional wellbeing
Children are smart, and they quickly sense when they are being
successful in school
If school becomes a place of anxiety and fear, then that's going to
– Their self-esteem
– Their desire to go to school
– Their desire to participate, raise their hand
Reading success has strong effect on emotional development
and wellbeing — everybody wants to be successful
Tutoring can help address both literacy and emotional skills by:
– Using games or things that a child is interested in to help them see
that they can be successful
– Starting where a child is successful, and build on those successes
How teachers know which kids
should get tutoring
• Assessment
• Determine what progress children make in response
to instruction
– Is instruction tailored to the child's specific level and
comprehensive (meeting the entire array of literacy
– If so, and the child is still not making adequate
progress, then the teacher should make arrangements
to have additional instruction
• In a small group, or
• One-on-one tutoring
Is elementary school too young
Absolutely not, because:
• The "achievement gap" is best addressed early
– This gap — well-documented by researchers — is a disparity
between the performance of groups of students, particularly
between students of different socio-economic status
– Too often when a child from a low-income home comes to
school as a kindergartener, they might be a few months
behind their peers
• Children must learn the mechanics of reading early
– Educators often say: from kindergarten through third grade,
you learn to read; but from fourth grade on, you read to learn
– Learning to read gives children the capability that they need
to be successful
Parents, teachers, and tutors working together
• It's a critical dynamic
• Generally, the initial request for tutoring comes from
the parent
• Myth: parents shouldn't tell teacher that child is
receiving tutoring
– Fact: most teachers can usually tell, and that's a good
• Tutoring is much more effective if everyone is
working on the same goal at the same time
– Communication is essential to create this dynamic
• Parents, the tutor, and the teacher should talk on a
regular basis and reaffirm that everyone is on the
same page
Questions parents should ask
Start with the basics, because not all tutoring sessions are created
• What are the qualifications of the people who are doing the
• Are they certified teachers?
• What is the class size?
– Is it one-on-one?
– Is it small group?
– Is it a larger group session?
Is there a curriculum that they follow?
As a parent, how often am I going to get progress reports?
How will I know how my child is doing?
Just how much tutoring is my child going to get?
– One hour a week?
– More than that?
– How many weeks?
What makes a good tutoring program
A variety of things:
• Qualifications of the tutor and program leaders
• Group size
• A tutor who is good match for your child
– Who cares about children, and your child in particular
– Who knows how to relate to your child
– Who is skilled in the particular area where your child is
the weakest
• So check into qualifications, but also check that the
tutor is a strong personality match for your child
What makes a good tutor
A good literacy tutor should:
Love to work with children
Love to read, and be a reader him- or herself
– Because communicating of that love for reading definitely comes
Be very familiar with literacy development
– How children learn to read
– How all the components becoming a reader interrelate
• The synchrony of literacy development  understanding that spelling of
words (orthography) feeds reading fluency, which feeds comprehension,
and how all that relates to writing
Be familiar with how to assess components of literacy
Know how to plan instruction to meet the child's individual needs
If the tutor him- or herself is not the expert in these things, then program
leaders certainly need to be
Be committed to literacy
Be committed to putting forth their all into this very intimate
Signs of a poor tutoring program
If the following pieces are missing, it may signal a poor tutoring program:
The program itself should be sound, proven effective
Goals have to be well-defined
Goals should be realistic
– There are steps to learning to read:
Early on, a child works mainly on decoding, figuring out the phonics, learning phonics
Then sight words, fluency
Then vocabulary, comprehension, and skills that show that the child is beginning to
automatize the basic decoding
None of these things happen quickly, especially if a student is dyslexic or has
another learning disability. It takes time
Look for signs of success, that the child is making improvement, even slow and
The child should not really hate to go to tutoring
– If they do, it's a warning sign
– It takes a few lessons for the rapport to build between a child and a tutor
– But if things continue poorly, it's time to talk with the tutor and perhaps honestly
assess whether that's a good match
The program should be appropriate for the individual child and focus on his or her
needs and strengths
What parents should look for
Look for:
• A program that is not just a repeat of what goes on during the
school day
• Qualified teachers, certified teachers, college students, or tutors
who might provide a role model
• Academics
• Enrichment – field trips or community service
• A program that is engaging, so students will want to keep coming
back to day after day
• Cultural relevance, so that activities and books are meaningful to
the child
• A low student/teacher ratio (the lower the better)
One-on-one can be ideal
But some students also learn very well by having peer interaction
Small groups are definitely better than large groups
Definitely no more than ten to one
Differentiated instruction and tutoring
Differentiated instruction provides students different avenues to
learn. The instruction is tailored to fit the strengths and needs of
the student
Even in a small group of three, children aren’t identical. Each will
have their own constellation of strengths and weaknesses
A good tutor will individualize, even within a small group
For example,
– Even if their reading levels are the same, they'll have slightly different
needs in other components of reading
– They'll certainly have different personalities and approaches to tasks
– Different children have different attention spans for certain kinds of
These kinds of differences add up to the need for differentiating
How a tutor can individualize within a small group
Example: tutoring a group of three students, all reading on a
mid-first grade level
• I know that I can at least plan the same level of text
• But I might choose a specific subject matter to engage one
– E.g., Anne really likes to read about horses, and doesn't even
want to persevere through anything unless it's about horses.
Carole really, really likes to read about Star Wars
• Or I might change part of the lesson to meet their phonics
– E.g., Carole may know all of her short vowels, but might be
working on her consonant blends in phonics instruction.
Whereas Anne doesn't know all of the short vowels. And so
I'm going to have to differentiate those parts of the lesson
Individualized instruction and working one-on-one
Individualized instruction does not necessarily mean working one-on-one
It is possible to individualize in small groups
A meta-analysis* of research about the effects of group size in short-term tutoring
found significantly better effects for smaller group sizes
– Particularly groups of three or smaller, as opposed to groups of 10 or more
– There were no consistent differences between groups of three and groups of
Other research** finds that students don't all progress at the same rate
– Within a group of three: two students may really take off, whereas one may not
– So, over time, the need for differentiation grows stronger
– It may be important and necessary to reconfigure that group to allow working
one-on-one with certain students
* Elbaum, B, Vaughn, S., Hughes, M.T., Moodly, S.W. (2000). How Effective Are One-to-One Tutoring Programs in Reading for Elementary
Students at Risk for Reading Failure? A Meta-Analysis of the Intervention Research. Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 92, no.4, pp.
** Vellutino, F. R., Scanlon, D. M., Zhang, H., Schatschneider, C. (2008). Using Response to Kindergarten and First Grade Intervention to
Identify Children At-Risk for Long-Term Reading Difficulties. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 437-480.
Tailored lesson plans don’t preclude a
structured curriculum
• A curriculum is useful because it can help:
– Guarantee that the lessons are linked to the
expectations of the school system or state standards
– Focus tutors on a wide breadth of skills
– Provide an overview of all of the items that will be
covered over the course of the tutoring program, while
allowing plenty of room for differentiation
– Maintain program pacing
Basic Tips for Reading Tutors
Tutoring session frequency and length
Sessions should be as long as they need to be
Depends on the child. A study* that followed kindergarteners through
fourth grade found that:
– Students who were easily remediated  took off very quickly, caught
up to grade level expectations, and maintained those gains over time
 did so within one semester
– Students who made moderate growth needed more than one
semester, perhaps a year or a year and a half
– Students who made slow growth in response to excellent tutoring,
one-on-one every day for thirty minutes, really required much longer
The study concluded that a student's response to high quality
intervention should be part of a diagnosis of whether a child has a
learning disability
– Look at the student's response to the intervention  it can determine
if the difficulty arises from lack of strong or appropriate instruction
versus potential cognitive deficits
– One way to get such data is by providing high quality tutoring and
watching children's progress over time
* Vellutino, F. R., et al. (1996). Cognitive Profiles of Difficult-to-Remediate and Readily Remediated Poor Readers: Early
Intervention as a Vehicle for Distinguishing Between Cognitive and Experiential Deficits as Basic Causes of Specific
Reading Disability. Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 88, no. 4, pp. 601-38.
The role of assessment
• Assessment is critical
• Everyone – the tutor, the teacher, and the parent –
wants to know if it's working
• Use authentic assessment all along the way
– Even once a week
– Or once every two weeks
• Report on how the child is progressing towards the
• Talk to the tutor about more formal assessments
– These take place in schools or when a child goes for a
psychological assessment
– It will help tutors, teachers, and parents know how their
child is progressing
How long until tutoring shows results
Assessment  keeping a finger on the pulse  is the key
– Constantly monitor student's progress in:
Decoding accuracy
Vocabulary growth
Assess not only during the school year, but also for potential loss
over the summer
Monitor a child's progress in these areas and it will be clear how
long the tutoring has to be
Students need tutoring and extra help as long as they need it
– For students with specific reading disabilities, this maybe throughout
their entire schooling
Waiting before getting additional help
• Don't wait, get going as soon as children walk in the door
of school (typically is in kindergarten)
• Universal preschool would help prevent reading problems
• Once in kindergarten, there are assessments known to be
highly reliable predictors of who's going to have difficulty
learning to read
– For example, assessments that measure
• Alphabet knowledge
• Basic awareness of speech sounds like rhyming and beginning
• As soon as a child who is having difficulties or is lacking in
a fundamental emergent literacy foundation is identified,
they should receive special attention immediately
What a tutor should do if a child
doesn't seem to be progressing?
• First, try it a different way
– Because different students have different learning styles
• Spend some time talking to the classroom teacher
– Find out what's working in the classroom
– Find out what isn't working
• Talk to the parent
• Seek help from additional resources
– E.g., BELL puts people through extensive training
• Ongoing training to refine tutoring skills
• A lead teacher is placed at every site to observe tutoring
sessions, give tutors suggestions and feedback, and model
different approaches
To learn some specific strategies, see Reading For Meaning:
Tutoring Elementary Students to Enhance Comprehension
Minimum requirements for training and qualifications
Complicated, much depends on context and the scale of the program
For example:
– The university-associated McGuffy Reading Center uses graduate
students, so the minimum requirement is getting into grad school
– In a Book Buddies adaptation in NYC, volunteers are required to:
Participate in a week-long onsite training
Pass quizzes and tests
Provide a writing sample and demonstrate their own literacy
Be a high school graduate
Be able to read and write well themselves
– In Book Buddies in Charlottesville, Va.,
Volunteers are recruited, trained by reading specialists
Reading specialists write the lesson plans, provide the materials, and provide ongoing
training to volunteer tutors throughout the year
Very minimum requirement for volunteers is a lack of a criminal record
Also, an interview process seeks to determine if volunteers have some experience
with children, a demonstrated love of reading, and commitment to literacy
– Larger scale tutoring programs have to be much more rigorous about
minimal requirements and screening
Choosing continuous versus short-term
tutor training
• BELL  which provides tutors for over 12,000 children in
five different states  takes training very seriously
• In addition to a rigorous screening process, tutors
– Go though 15 to 20 hours of e-learning
• Web-based, interactive program
• Must pass every segment before they're actually hired
– Go through additional classroom instruction (after the elearning component)
– Are observed by a lead teacher and a site manager
• They will model improved methods of delivering tutoring, as
– Are reviewed
• BELL finds ongoing training is critical in terms of delivering
a high quality, effective program
Tutor supervision and support
• Ongoing supervision, quality control, and feedback
are absolutely essentially to any good tutoring
• The best way for tutors to learn is by seeing good
tutoring modeled and receiving constructive, specific
• Parents should be very suspect of tutoring programs
where tutors are left on their own
• It's critical to have ongoing fidelity mechanisms in
Tips for Volunteer Tutors
What good student/tutor relationships look like
• Interpersonal relationships are very important
– Because we learn better in situations that are meaningful to
• If everything's going right, a good student/tutor relationship
should be a positive experience
– Child should look forward (or at least neutral about going) to
– While some children complain a little, there shouldn't be
major complaints about going to tutoring
– Goal: kids look forward to their tutoring session because they
are beginning to see learning success
• A good student/tutor relationship is such an important part
of tutoring, it’s almost taken for granted. It's fundamental
• At Kingston, parents rate their child's tutor each semester
– Helps assure good student/tutor relationship
– Helps with quality assurance
How to interview potential tutors
• Look beyond a resume
• Look at the tutor's commitment and passion for making a
difference in the life of that child
• BELL uses a multi-stage screening process:
– First, potential tutors have to provide a writing sample
• If they're going to be tutoring in literacy, they must be able to
write a coherent, grammatically correct sentence
• Then they are asked about their motivation, why are they doing
– Is this a mechanism of gaining income?
– Do they really want to make a difference in the life of a
– Then a phone screen
– Then an in-person interview
– Then they have to complete the online e-learning system
• By the time a tutor has gone through all of those stages,
it’s pretty certain that they're tutoring for the right reasons
Fostering volunteer retention and satisfaction
When volunteer tutors see success with their tutee, it goes a
long way towards creating satisfaction
– When they see their child learn to become a proficient, eager
reader, they know they’ve made a difference in the life of that
child. And they're eager to repeat that experience
Volunteers appreciate a planned experience where there's a
definite lesson plan, a framework, a structure
Some volunteers have remarked that they appreciate:
Organized and prepared materials
Training and support in delivering the lessons plan
Feedback at the end of each lesson plan
A coordinator who listens
Showing how to do a lesson properly, or changing it, or taking
another tack
Volunteers who form a close bond with their student are
highly motivated to return
They need to feel good about what they do
Tutoring programs for children with
learning disabilities
It affects tutor selection and training
It affects how lessons are planned
Kingsbury's tutoring program, geared toward children with learning disabilities
(LD), specifically trains all tutors to work with students with LD
All tutors also learn about dyslexia, since it is the most common learning
Tutors must take two graduate-level courses
Tutoring for children with LD is really remediation, so it is vital to start where the
student is at
Good communication (with the student, and also parents and teachers) is key
to determining where the child's strengths and weaknesses are
Teaching methods should take advantage of students' strengths rather than
their weaknesses
Building the student's interest areas into the lesson is a good idea
It affects time
A longer-term effort, usually
Let children know that this longer timeline is okay
Many famous people have been successful in spite of the fact that they didn't learn to
read at seven years old
With the proper help, you too will be successful
Learn more about Finding a Good Reading Tutor for Your Child With LD
Considerations for working with inner-city kids
• Be sensitive and be culturally aware
• At BELL, for example
– Books that share relevant stories of hope, overcoming
obstacles, community, and democracy are selected
– Every tutor's training includes a culturally relevant segment
– Each tutor is trained to be aware of the student’s home
• Staff makes sure they understand who the child can (and
cannot) go home with
• Very focused on the child's safety
– A premium is placed on tutors who can transmit both hope
and academic skills to the child
• Role models who prove that, whatever situation you find yourself
born into, it does not limit your possibilities to succeed in the
– Lessons address self-esteem issues as well
Including parents who find school intimidating
Make it a positive experience
Too often, parents only get a call from school when their child has
acted up
To change this dynamic, BELL:
– Phones every parent with positive news (when parents start getting
positive calls, they are more and more willing to become part of the
education system)
• With a pre-program welcome call
• With a call in the first week saying something like, "Anne did a
phenomenal job today in read aloud. And you should be so proud of her"
– Sends progress reports that focus on the positive to every parent
– Explains to parents how important they are to their child's success in
Tutoring programs can make measurable improvements in how
parents see themselves as engaged players in their child's
Serving English language learners
well and appropriately
1. Find out as much as possible about the native
language, and about their schooling history
2. Pay particular attention to vocabulary and language
development in adjusting a tutoring program for
English language learners (ELLs)
– ELLs do quite well at the word-level instruction in tutoring
– But because background knowledge and vocabulary play
such a big role in text-level processing and comprehension,
this is an area in which ELL students will often struggle
– So text-level instruction will need particular emphasis in
working with English language learners
– Even ELLs who appear to have good social vocabulary 
often referred to as basic interpersonal communicative skills
 may have huge gaps in their academic vocabulary
– Sometimes unexpected, so that terms that we take for
granted, like paragraph or stanza, need to be explained
Serving English language learners (cont.)
3. Find out about the cultural background of students
– Don't want to commit any taboos inadvertently
– Two suggested books for tutors:
• Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (The Bestselling Guide to Doing
Business in More than 60 Countries) about cultural mores of
social interactions and taboos you don't want to commit
• Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other
Problems (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers), a
great little book which lists the phonemes that are in English that
don't exist in other languages, as well as some of the most
glaring differences in syntax
– If tutors know what English sounds don't even exist in a
student's native language, then they can be careful and
explicit in teaching
– For example, drawing attention to how the tutor’s mouth
moves to make a sound, and providing a mirror so the
student can practice
Good parent involvement despite a language barrier
• A challenging problem
– Especially challenging if no one in the tutoring program
speaks that language
• Where possible, find someone who can speak the
native language
– Even when tutoring is in English, often vocabulary
questions or conceptual issues came up. Tutors can
switch into the native language get it straightened out
and then switch back into English
• Find out about the parents' language as well as their
cultural expectations
• Collaboration is key to working not only with native
English speakers, but particularly with English
language learners
Other ways to engage English language learners
BELL, for example:
• Tries to find a site leader and tutors who are fluent in
the predominant languages
• Makes a point of having the parent/teacher
conferences in the parent's native language, if
• Prints all outreach materials (such as the parent
handbook) in the languages needed (Spanish,
Haitian Creole, Bengali)
• Reaches out to the parents and makes them
comfortable in whatever the native language is
What about online tutoring or other
technologies that provide extra help?
• Online tutoring can help fix a particular spot that a
child is having difficulty with
– E.g., a small problem with one particular vowel
– Online exercises practicing this vowel might be very
engaging and beneficial to the child
• But an online program is probably not going to be
adequate if the child is having difficulty with reading
at a basic level
– It can't replace an individual person
– Tutors can look at diagnostic work and assessments
and plan a program appropriate to the individual child
Has NCLB changed the number and quality
of tutoring programs available?
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law created a funding stream called
Supplemental Educational Services (SES)
SES provides a voucher, essentially, to parents of low-income children
Because of SES, many new providers have sprung up in the last few years
Worth up to $2,000
Parents can choose among state-approved providers
They offer varied programs
Some programs provide as little as 10 hours of tutoring for that $2,000 voucher
Others, like BELL, will provide well in excess of 100 hours
Parents should consider such factors as
How many hours
Class size
Qualifications of the tutors
The end result is most important
Every really good provider will share outcomes
If they don't or won't, keep looking
Do parents and grandparents make good
volunteer tutors?
• Now is a unique time in history: there is a greater
focus on national service, college students'
volunteering, and Baby Boomers' volunteering
– 5 million Baby Boomers are retiring every year
– Many are thinking of being of service in retirement
– Many voice a desire to work with children and
• A group called Experience Corps is recruiting seniors
to come and provide great tutoring
Two recent studies found Experience Corps volunteers
improved outcomes for children, and also improved
their own health, both physical and mental
How long should extra tutoring last — all the way
through high school, or a grading period?
• There are students will need tutoring and extra support
throughout their schooling
• But it's certainly not the 20 percent that are currently
designated as learning disabled
• By providing early intervention, that percentage can be
decreased dramatically
– Start assessing as soon as students walk into kindergarten
– Provide additional instruction to make up for lost opportunities
or lack of experiences
– Begin in small groups, then, if needed, move to more
intensive one-on-one tutoring
• Research suggests the proportion of students who will
need continued support over the long haul is under 3
How long should extra tutoring last? (cont.)
The best way to determine how long tutoring should last is
– Do and a pre-post tests of students periodically
• E.g. throughout a school-year program, during a summer program
– Some students close the achievement gap quickly, within the one
summer for example
– For others it will take longer
– Typically: the more students get involve, the more they want to keep
coming back, and the greater the gains
Some tutoring programs are a "package deal"
– Required to sign up for 20 sessions, whether needed or not
– With this kind of arrangement, be doubly careful to see the
assessments and ensure the student is getting the help he or she
– The student may need fewer or more sessions, so trying to pre-pay
or pre-decide how long tutoring will be needed could be a mistake
Can older kids serve as mentors for younger,
struggling readers?
The same essential qualifications apply to young tutors as older tutors. They
Be committed to the process
Enjoy working with children
Love reading
Often commitment is the most difficult area for adolescent volunteers
But supporting them as tutors goes a long way to sustaining commitment:
Train them
Provide a consistent structured lesson plan
Organize materials ahead of time for them
Show them to do each component of the lesson plan
Model the behaviors
Demonstrate each part and observe them as they do it to provide immediate feedback
rather then let problems develop
An important part of Kingston's program is to end a lesson with the tutor
reading aloud to the student
Promotes a love of reading and the written text, even when children are
struggling to read by themselves
Having high school students read aloud to younger peers is especially
rewarding to both, because
Younger students really do love working with teenagers
– It's a great advantage in creating a strong student/tutor relationship
– Teens are role models for younger students
What should tutoring for a kindergartener look like?
Tutoring is definitely an option for children in kindergarten
If they already are exhibiting signs that reading and learning to read is going to
be difficult
Tutoring sessions for a young child should be:
Very positive and encouraging
A child needs more sessions per week then an older student
Pay close attention to tutees attention span
– Vary the activities to keep attention sustained
– E.g., maybe a half-hour sessions would be enough, but do three, four, five
different activities over that time
So that students are set up to be successful in school
Engaging, game-like formats are good for this age group
Speaks to the need for universal literacy screening
Research shows that children who come to kindergarten lacking foundational
emergent literacy skills should receive extra support  either in small group
formats or one-on-one
This support should be: more frequent; more varied and game-like; and
developmentally appropriate
What role should the principal play?
The principal's is a very critical role
– He or she is the gateway to that school
– Many providers want to serve a particular school community. But if
the principal is not "on board," it's almost impossible
BELL likes programs in schools, so that students don't "disappear"
after school before tutoring begins
In-school programs are most successful when the principal is:
Supportive of the program
Encouraging children to participate
Encouraging parents to sign up
Viewing tutoring as a positive thing, specifically:
• Tutoring as extended or expanded learning
• Tutoring not as sign of failure, but rather as a sign of giving children every
possible opportunity
It's very educational for a principal to tutor at least for one year
What are the first steps for a teacher to start a
tutoring program for ELL students?
Collaboration is key
– To find out who will be served  their ages, languages, cultures
– To maximize the expertise available to you
When all the teachers who are providing instruction in language, literacy, and content
– The child's exposure concepts and vocabulary terms is more frequent
– The child's exposure to the language, literacy, and content that you're trying to
impart is greater
First step is to get with all the other educators who are involved in teaching the ELL
students and brainstorming what an ELL tutoring program would look like
Collaborate also with parents
Just because parents may not speak English as their primary language, doesn't
mean that they don't need to be involved and supportive. For example:
– A child can go home and read to his or her parents
– A parent can check homework even if they're not in a position to help with
Research proves that it goes a long towards boosting school success if parents are
engaged and supportive of their children
How can a tutor engage a reluctant reader?
• A very successful strategy is to use the child's interests as
a means of engaging them in reading
• Kingston, for example, emphasizes that a tutor's first job is
to form a rapport and strong relationship with the student.
One way to do this: find out the child's interests
– For the child who doesn't like to read, but is very interested in
sports, the sports page or baseball cards are a wonderful
place to start
– For the child who likes making things, help them read the
instructions and follow diagrams to make paper airplanes or
cook brownies
• Writing about those experiences extends student learning
even further
Tutors can learn more about selecting appropriate
reading materials in Hooking Struggling Readers:
Using Books They Can and Want to Read
Can a summer meals program be incorporated with
tutoring in a low income community?
• Title I schools are often designated feeding locations for
children who qualify for free and reduced meals during the
school year
– BELL will often partner with the school system so that
• BELL runs the summer learning program
• The school, through Title I dollars, makes breakfast and lunch
– That way students get academics in the morning, enrichment
in the afternoon, and two very healthy meals every weekday
during the summer
• Research on childhood obesity finds that students who do
not get nutritious meals during the summer have
worsening obesity
– Looking for a summer learning program that is somehow
linked into Title I free and reduced meals programs is a great
opportunity to keep kids healthy
Final thoughts
• Tutoring is a positive experience. In fact, it can be
one of the most powerful ways of enriching and
engaging a student
• Do not think about tutoring as a negative. It is not a
sign of failure. It is an opportunity to enrich children
and prepare them as well as we possibly can for this
next century. It should be valued as such
• Students in many other countries spend more time in
the classroom than U.S. students do, and it shows in
test scores. Tutoring is an opportunity to remedy this
• Tutoring is cost effective. It is an important
investment in our children's future and in our future
as a nation
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