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Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program

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In today’s technology obsessed society, it seems as if the idea of reading and the progression thereof has increasingly declined. Not just with adults but, unfortunately, with school aged children who are still learning the foundation of reading and writing skills. However, many early readers who struggle with reading run into many other problems relating to assignments which involve critical thinking questions or other questions regarding what was read.

Although reading and learning to read proficiently is awesome, reading comprehension is much more important! Statistics show that “Without comprehension, reading is a frustrating, pointless exercise in word calling. It is no exaggeration to say that how well students develop the ability to comprehend what they read has a profound effect on their entire lives (Texas Educational Agency. (2002)”. I mean let’s be frankly honest, how can one understand a story if he or she has no comprehension of what they’re reading? Doesn’t make sense, right? Right! In addition, reading comprehension transfers from one subject to the next, not just in reading and ELA classes.

So, as the child advances from one grade to the next, reading comprehension levels become more challenging and more advanced. That’s why when I tutor my students with reading, my goal is to teach them the techniques to understand the context of the text which will aid them in becoming strong readers.

Mori Kemp

References:
Texas Educational Agency. (2002). Comprehension Instruction, 4-8. Retrieved from http://www.netxv.net/pm_attach/67/TRI-Comprehension_Instr.pdf.

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“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
― Jim Rohn

I believe in teaching reading and writing together. As a classroom teacher, I observed that both are similar and require comparable scholarly processes. A relationship between the reader/writer and text leads to new knowledge and understanding of text. I noticed that effective readers read for purpose and rely heavily on reactivating prior knowledge to guide their understanding. Writers also activate prior knowledge as it relates to what they are writing and usually have a specific purpose for writing. Writers tend to write to bring meaning to a reader.

The same strategies are applied to teach readers how to understand what they read. A reader will read, reread and make adjustments accordingly (self-correction) to fully understand what they have read. Writers do the same. When writers write they also must think about the topic. The more understanding a writer has about his/her topic, the more developed their writing becomes. Writers must reread what they have written and make revisions to improve their work so the reader can obtain the most meaning out of what was written.

Studies have shown that when reading and writing are taught together, it leads to a higher level of thinking than when either process is taught in isolation (McGinley and Tierney 1989). Because thinking and reasoning are vital parts of the learning process, students will become better thinkers and problem solvers if they are taught both reading and writing together.

Teachers will help their students become better readers, writers, and ultimately independent intellectuals and scholars when both reading and writing are effectively integrated in instruction and classroom lessons.

Roger Poole MAT
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”
― Winston S. Churchill

Teachers believe that every child can become a high achiever and independent learner. How do students transition into high achiever and independent learners? Whether a child is from dual parent middle to upper middle class home or a single parent home living at or near the poverty level, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, a noted educator and author, revealed that it is not socioeconomics that determine the likelihood that your child will become a high achieving student and independent lifelong learner. He surmised that the quantity of interaction between the parent(s) and child plays the most important role in determining if that child will become a high achiever and independent learner.

Dr. Kunjufu noted that there are "basic" characteristics that all high achieving and independent learners have in common regardless of their home environment or social economic status. Students in these homes share the following five characteristics:

1. Parents believe the world is going to be a better place for their children
2. Parents are consistent with the rules in the house
3. Parents are complementary to their children
4. Parents have high expectations for their children
5. Parents believe they are the primary educators of their children

It is important for parents to lay out a plan for their child to succeed in school. A plan that includes high expectations, firm rules for achieving academic success, and assuming responsibility for their child's academic progress, will help to ensure that their child will become a high achiever and lifelong independent learner.

Roger Poole, MAT
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.” ― Stanley Kubrick

You realize that your child is struggling in reading and math and is performing below grade level expectations. You have had parent-teacher conferences to pinpoint more accurately what can be done to help your child. The teacher finally mentions that a tutor may help your child bridge the gap between what is taught in the classroom and what is re-enforced at home (homework). Your child's teacher is the primary source of information. But, a tutor can help your child review and clarify trouble spots. The right tutor can be just what your child need to strengthen weak academic skills and poor learning outcomes.

JoAnn Brewer at Middlebury College outlined the following tips and Strategies for Successful Tutoring in The Tutor Code:

What Tutors Do…
 Explain concepts that students have difficulty understanding
 Use alternative methods and examples to explain and help students understand
 Share successful study strategies based on experience and training
 Believe a student's work should reflect his or her own ability-not yours
 Give positive feedback and reinforcement to help students become more confident in their own abilities
 Keep careful records of each student-tutor contact
 Honor the confidentially of the tutor-student relationship
 Help students become more independent as they go along

What Tutors Do Not…
 Do assignments for students
 Simply edit a student's work (vs. helping them to see areas of improvements)
 Assist in take-home exams
 Grade assignments or discuss assigned grades
 Attempt to judge the acceptability of work from the teacher's point of view.
 Comment on a teacher's grading policy, teaching style, of personality.
 Discuss a student's achievements or abilities with another teacher, parent, or student

Parents will find that working together with their child's tutor will reap benefits that will carry forward throughout their child's learning experience.

Roger Poole, MAT- Middles Grades Education
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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“It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.” ― James Baldwin


An Adolescent's transition from elementary school to middle school can be daunting and difficult for most students. They suddenly find themselves faced with a larger student population, increased academic pressure and the more independence. This sometimes results in a decrease in academic performance and an increase in behavior problems.

Students entering middle school are concerned with an array of problems and concerns. Simple things such as getting to class on time, finding and remembering locker and combinations, keeping up with study materials, getting on the right bus to go home, maneuvering through the crowded hallways and remembering what class to go to are all major concerns for most entering this new territory.

Some teachers noted entering middle school students lack basic skills and social maturity. With the increase in responsibility, added peer pressure, adjusting to new grading standards and procedures, loss of free time, and reduced parental involvement, many middle grade students find themselves inadequately equipped to handle the transition.

Elementary school teachers can help by emphasizing the positive aspects of middle school, gradually preparing students for the academic challenges of middle school, including opportunities for cooperative learning, encouraging participation in student government and teaching problem solving and study skills.

Middle school teachers can help by encouraging participation in extra-curricular activities, encouraging parental involvement, encouraging parents to be guest speakers, making the school a community resource center, scheduling tours of the new school, and providing opportunities for students to meet each other.

Teachers, both at the elementary and middle grade levels, parents and students, should work together to ensure a successful transition. By working together, all stakeholders can assist the middle grade student successful transition from elementary school.

Roger Poole, MAT
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ― Henry Ford
What is geography? That is a good question. When I was growing up in central Florida, it was a place to live. It was home. It was hot days and warm nights living in a tropical like city. At that time, global warming was not a hot topic of discussion and not that much consideration or thought was given to emissions of toxic elements into the atmosphere. There was no real attention to what the world would look like in 10, 15, or 20 years if global warming did exists. We now know differently.
Geography spans a wide spectrum of topics and issues. Earth Day, global warming, protecting endangered species and plants, and considering human resources were not important when I was growing up in sunny Florida. Geography not only considers physical geography but also cultural geography. Geography looks at the people, places and the effects of the contribution one has on our global environment. No longer can geography encompass the limited view that it once did. .
With the internet and technology at our fingertips, the world is much smaller. With a click of a mouse, or touch on our phones, we can go to places like the Amazon Rain Forest, China, South Africa, and Rwanda. We can now explore natural resources, societies, and politics that are important to our communities. With so much technology and information at our disposal, we can see firsthand what the "hot" topics are and make our own judgment as to what is fair and just.
The same scope that the students view and discuss geography should be the same premise that we use to teach geography to our children. As educators/parents, we must bring the world to them. Most of our children have never been outside of their neighborhood or state and have far less knowledge of a global world. Aside from local issues, as educator/ parents, we can bridge the gap to expand their understanding of the people, places, and politics that make up our world. As educators/parents, we can assist our children in exploring areas of geography that they never thought of before or go places that they only viewed in pictures or television. As educators/parents, we can be the catalyst in assuring that our children go beyond the seen and develop an appreciation for geography and the role it plays on our global society and their lives.

Roger Poole, MAT
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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“I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” ― Helen Keller

When I was in elementary school, I used to wonder why my third grade teacher was adamant about us learning our multiplication table by memory. We just had to know them. By memory. She suggested that if our class did not learn how to multiply in the third grade, we would have trouble in fourth grade when division was introduced. She was right.

I was so motivated not to fail the third grade that I took my teacher very seriously. My mother did too. I was given a 6x9 flashcard with the multiplication factors (0-12) on a table. My mother told me to learn just one factor at a time. Factors 0 and 1 were easy. I memorized all my 2s, then all my 3s, and so on. I memorized the entire table up to 12s.

To ensure that I was on task my mother would give me mini drills. She would call out, what is 8x4? I would yell out 32. She would call out again, what is 9x8? I would shout out 72. What is 7x5? I would blurt out 35. She would do this over and over. Any and every moment was a short drill on multiplication. Sometimes when I took too long to answer and she would make me start over by learning that factor until I memorized it to heart. Needless to say I passed the third grade and learned division in the fourth grade. I made the transition.

It was not until I taught in middle school that I realized what justice had been served by my elementary school teacher and my mother. Although I taught English/Language Arts (ELA) my team math teacher was next door. We had to stand at our post/door after each class period to monitor our surroundings. She would have this look of aggravation mixed with disappointment on her face. The basic course in our district for all sixth grade students was Algebra. I did say Algebra. Every student in the sixth grade learned Algebra. Her words were usually the same. My students don’t know how to multiply. How am I going to teach them anything if they don’t know how to multiply?

The problem with learning Algebra is that a student needs to have mastered addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in that order. Most students had not become proficient at multiplication or division. Fifth graders were promoted to sixth grade in hopes that by some miracle they would learn what they needed to successfully pass Algebra in middle school. That did not happen.

What resulted was a classroom full of frustrated sixth graders. Students viewed Algebra like it was Greek, Latin or a foreign language. Teachers with neither the time nor support have the luxury to go back and re-teach a skill that was supposed to be mastered two years ago in elementary school. Students ended up failing or barely passing sixth grade Algebra.
Parents can do a lot to assist their child learn how to multiply starting with memorizing the multiplication table. Old school flash cards can help also. Systems and tricks may offer short term benefits but in the long term will prove inadequate. Memorization is the best way for your child to learn his/her multiplication table.
Visit www.mathmammoth.com/lessons/multiplication_tables.php. This site along with others will offer ideas on how they can help their child master multiplication.

Roger Poole, MAT
Monroe Langston Tutoring Program
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