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Project Summer Stride Tutor Training

This post was written by Julia Dixon, Project Summer Stride Tutor.

After tutoring today at Summer Stride, we were offered a training session to learn new strategies, as well as to ask questions and voice comments. First, we were taught ways to help our pupils choose the right level of book to read. For beginner readers, we learned how to use the “Goldilocks Method.” Books are too easy, too hard, or just right for the child. Easy books are good for children to practice fluency and build confidence, while books that are too hard cause children to struggle and feel frustrated. Just right books have only a few challenges which make for good opportunities for teaching a reading strategy. We also learned the 5 Finger Strategy, which can be used with books that have a lot of text on each page. To apply the strategy, the pupil reads one page while the tutor (or student) counts on his or her fingers the amount of mistakes the child makes on that page. If the child makes more than five mistakes, the text is too hard.

Tutors shared challenges they were having with children wanting easy texts and losing interest during a session, especially when challenged by writing or reading. The leader recommended having balance during a session and noted the use of motivators, such as iPad reading applications and the Raz-Kids online program. To achieve balance during a session, she suggested beginning with familiar, easy texts, then moving on to texts with a bit more challenge, but not frustrating. Writing also should not be too hard. One recommendation is shared writing, where the tutor and pupil both write and support one another. We learned about using private speech, which is to have the child say the sentence s/he wants to write and then together count the amount of words. (Early writers tend to forget the sentence they are trying to write.) The tutor then draws with a yellow marker or lightly with a pencil a line for each word. Afterward, the child says each word slowly and writes what sounds s/he hears. It may only be the first sound or both the first and last sound of the word. We are to be encouraging and fill in the remaining letters for the child.

Inventive spelling is another writing strategy that has some controversy, we were told, because children spell words the way they think they sound and may not learn correct spelling. Instead, we learned to try “kid writing.” This is where the child writes how they think the words sounds. Then, after praising the child for his or her efforts at “kid writing,” spell the words correctly underneath their sentence, and this is called “adult writing.”

Along with other tutors, I appreciated having opportunity to learn more reading strategies during the training, as well as having the support provided by the staff and volunteers during tutoring sessions.