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With the end of the current school year quickly approaching, I am interested in obtaining tutoring jobs for the summer month, e.g., June, July and August. My main focus would be in the areas of phonics, reading, language and math for grades K through 4. The subject lessons could address preparatory, remedial, maintenance and extended skills.
I am a retired Regular Education/Special Education teacher - with 35 years of experience. I have held positions in a public school setting as a Primary Regular Education classroom teacher and as a resource room teacher for grades 1 - 4. In addition, I have taught as a Primary Education Learning Disabilities/Attention Deficit Disorder Specialist in a private school setting. While in this private school setting, I also tutored for seven continuous years at the Primary Level for Regular Education, as well as for Special Education students. I have been trained in a number of specialized curricula in phonics/reading, language, and Math which I applied in my classroom and tutoring settings.
In my tutoring sessions, I also implemented strategies through the "Wilson Reading Program" to address instruction in phonics, spelling, and comprehension. Also, comprehension activities were reinforced through the use of "Project Read" techniques. In language reinforcement lessons, the details of grammar were taken from the "Kansas Strategies" program. I used a number of different programs for Math instruction, i.e., "Touch Math", "Mental Math", "Macmillan/McGraw Math", and "Semple Math".
My tutoring sessions were designed to teach strategies to assist in skill development which could be applied to various curricula. This was accomplished through direct skill instruction methodology and game formats. I beleive it is essential for the student to learn as well as enjoy the activities in order to achieve success and gain self-confidence.
In conjunction with my master's degree program in learning disabilitites and general special education, I studied the causes, characteristics, and treatment of both ADD and ADHD. Although they both can have neurophysiological and genetic causes for inattention, they present differently in children. A student with ADD demonstrates passive behaviors and self-distractions through an inability to filter out multiple stimuli. Children with ADHD possess inattentive behaviors, but are also impulsive and hyperactive. It is also possible for individuals to be diagnosed with both conditions (ADD and ADHD). These differences demand treatment that is highly individualized.
Thankfully, this background knowledge prepared me to better meet the needs of my young students at a private school devoted to the education of children with learning disabilities and attentional disorders. Some of my students arrived with diagnoses, treatments, and or medications which required teacher/parent/physician behavior monitoring through periodic completion of rating charts and behavior management programs. It was my responsibility to closely observe and evaluate my other students. Whenever attentional concerns were suspected, I initiated parent discussion to develop appropriate behavior accomodations through positive reinforcements on a least restrictive basis. Further action(behavior modification program or physician referral - always a last resort)was always a joint decision with parents. The obvious goal was to develop an appropriate learning environment in the best interest of each student. Once this was established, successful learning and progress occurred and the student's self-confidence was restored.
For the past twenty-five years, I have had the privilege to teach young children with reading problems. Fortunately, my graduate work in learning disabilities and my on-going training at professional seminars and conferences has provided valuable incite from brain research, reading lab studies,acquisition of skill comparisons, and student observations. Learning to read is a developmental process comprised of sequential steps. Any disruption, i.e. a learning disability, a different learning style, a missed step, low self-esteem, or reduced motivation, along the way can result in a reading problem, a learning disability, or dyslexia in students with average to superior intelligence. A learning disability occurs when there is a disruption in information transmitted to the brain and returned to the senses. Dyslexia results when this interruption relates to stimuli the child sees through letter reversals, doubles, disorder,omission, or word reversals.
The delivery of specialized instruction, as early as possible, can have positive results when learning style needs - visual, auditory, tactile, or kinesthetic - are addressed. Teacher directed lessons in a sequential, cumulative program provide opportunities to master sound-symbol relationships, accurate letter formations, vocabulary development, comprehension skills, and reading strategies. Frequent practice and repitition, encouragement, and praise sets the stage for on-going progress. Once the student realizes that success can be achieved, motivation increases and self-esteem soars. It is thrilling to witness.
From the very beginning of my teaching education and training, I acquired substantial knowledge in the methods and materials needed to develop a full-day program at the elementary level with an initial licensure for grades K - 6th. Beyond the core subjects of reading, language and math, I was also prepared to address the content areas of science and social studies. Although specific topics and procedures varied according to the requirements of my assigned grades, the general focus included history, geography, sociology, cultures, current events, famous people, science, and holidays. My lessons were comprised of the presentation of information, through textbooks, videos, CDs, guest speakers, and supplementary resources, vocabulary development, hands-on projects, experiments, and written observations/reports. It was enjoyable to witness my students' excitement to share their prior knowledge, expand their learning, and successfully master the concepts.
During my graduate work, I participated in detailed methods courses for teaching science and social studies to students with learning disabilities, attention deficits, developmental delays, and/or emotional, behavioral, physical, and mental challenges. Science and social studies themes were still presented, but modifications and/or accommodations were applied to meet individual needs and limitations. At my last teaching assignment of twelve years in a private school for students with varying special needs, I successfully implemented a science curriculum ("Real Science") which addressed topics in Life, Physical, and Earth Sciences. Most data was presented through direct instruction, teacher-led activities, supervised experiments, and review games. The same curriculum was adopted for Social Studies with subjects in World and American History, local and foreign Sociology, Cultures, and Current Events. The majority of information was delivered through teacher read-alouds, videos, CDs, guest speakers, and field trips. The students enjoyed sharing personal experiences from their backgrounds and comparing their traditions to the customs of others. They developed pride in their accomplishments.
Another important aspect of an elementary teacher's responsibility is the establishment of an inviting classroom atmosphere, environment, and functionality. There needs to be interesting centers or spaces in the room that provide for some organized movement of students and challenges individual thinking or provides quiet downtime. Students need to feel comfortable with their teacher and fellow students in order to be successful. The opportunities and challenges of learning demand positive encouragement and praise. Mistakes are acceptable and become chances to learn. A few basic rules are required, with dependable consequences, to establish respect for all. Organization skills, personal responsibility, and personal boundaries need to be taught from the basics at the primary level to expanded formats at the upper elementary level. In so doing, students will prosper and succeed.
Math instruction is another area of study that is vitally important for all students, because numerous concepts are involved and need to be retained throughout one’s life. Initial lessons need to introduce number recognition and printing, oral counting (1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s), patterning, 1:1 correspondence, and the matching of dot patterns to numerals 1 through 9. With mastery of these tasks, the student can advance to the basic procedures of addition and subtraction with emphasis on concrete object manipulation, internalizing of basic facts, mental math calculations, and early algebraic concepts. Place value and fraction build can be introduced early on with visual models and auditory stories to connect these abstract concepts to concretes, i.e., base ten blocks, Cuisenaire rods, pizza slices or shape segments. At the same time, attention needs to be given to the basic identification, value-recognition, and tabulation of various coins. Time concepts need to be introduced gradually, by becoming familiar with the components of analog and digital clocks with opportunity to read and make specific times from the hour, half-hour, quarter-hour, three quarter-hour, five minute and one minute intervals. Exposure to basic story problems, focused on plus, minus, times, and money computations, also need to be addressed. Once a rudimentary understanding of each of these basic concepts has been achieved, elementary students can progress to the processes of multiplication and division, as well as expanded work with place value, fractions, decimal, money and time. Due to the higher demand of cumulative math comprehension, retention, and manipulation in the secondary grades, it is vital that a solid foundation be achieved.
My original undergraduate studies included methods in math instruction, and my graduate studies included detailed, remedial math strategies which I applied during my practicum. During the past 35 years of teaching, I have implemented many math curricula. The most recently used cyclical curriculum was a new product by “Macmillan/McGraw-Hill” in which I received specific training. Additionally, I have participated in hands-on training sessions for “Making Math Real”, “TouchMath”, and “Mental Math”. These particular programs would be an excellent supportive accommodation for any struggling student. My tutoring sessions would be designed to meet the specific needs of the individual student; whether it be the current curriculum or the above named sources.
Although the conformity to strict grammatical rules and usage has strayed in today’s world, it is my opinion that all students must receive detailed instruction in grammar. There is a wide range of programs available, but my preferences would be a combination of “Daily Oral Language” and either the “Project Read” language strand or the “Kansas Strategies” curricula – of which I have received extensive training and implementation. Detailed sequential, cumulative lessons teach the parts of speech, punctuation, and complete sentence components; e.g., from simple sentences to compound sentences to complex sentences; and, finally to paragraph writing. Simultaneous creative writing opportunities, such as the “Young Author” program, should be present to develop imagination and teach the writing process steps of: topic selection, web/plan development, outline, rough-draft, peer and teacher conference, edit and publish. Part of the conference and edit steps should include application checks for learned grammatical skills to ensure the use of complete sentences. Finally, I believe that young students should be exposed to penmanship lessons in both the print and cursive formats. From workshops, seminars and adoption, I have discovered that “Handwriting Without Tears” is an excellent program for the acquisition of accurate numeral and letter formations.
The basis of phonetic instruction begins with an assessment of the student's understanding of phonemic awareness (the knowledge that language is composed of small sounds). Specific test items include detecting rhymes, matching initial sounds, counting sounds, comparing word lengths, matching sounds to letters, and counting syllables. With the results of this screening, the teacher can determine the necessary needs for phonic instruction implementing a sequential, teacher-directed cumulative program. First, multi-sensory skills: i.e., visual, auditory, and tactile, combine to teach and practice short vowel and consonant sound blending in single syllable words. Second, more involved consonant patterns (thr, spl, etc.) and long vowel combinations are introduced along with the concept of syllabication. With on-going practice and repetition, students acquire the ability to decode and encode complex multi-syllable words and they gain confidence as their reading skills develop. Successful acquisition of these basic phonetic rules creates opportunities to obtain further access to more challenging vowel and syllable patterns. In so doing, the student gains reading knowledge that will prepare a pathway for all future learning.
Accordingly, I believe my background in Early Childhood Education at the undergraduate level and in Learning Disabilities at the graduate level; plus, extensive training in phonology from "Project Read" and "The Wilson Reading Program" has prepared me to teach phonics.
My tutoring sessions would start with an assessment using "The Phonemic Awareness Test" by Marilyn Jager Adams, which I have implemented and evaluated for over eight years. These results would determine the specific placement to begin Wilson Instruction. Follow-up lessons would include teacher-led activity in sound card drill, word card decoding, and oral reading of words, sentences and short stories by students. The finger-tapping, tactile strategy would reinforce sound blending and counting - as needed for daily practice. All learned, current, and introductory skills would be practiced in game formats to enable the student to achieve reading and rule autotomaticity.
I believe that the joy of reading needs to be initiated through parental read-aloud and sharing at a child's very young age. This should be continued at school and at home for many years to come. Learning to read is the most important area of study for all students. Early instructional emphasis needs to focus on a three-tiered combination of phonics, sight-word development, and comprehension skills. Teacher directed phonics instruction must include sequential sound-symbol relationships with daily lessons in sound blending and sequencing to ensure adequate decoding and encoding phonetically controlled words. At the same time, it is vital to introduce a specific sight vocabulary with consistent practice to consolidate word recognition, application and spelling. Finally, early comprehension skills can emerge when teacher modeling, student repetition, and practice are applied to meaningful content understanding of word, sentences, and short stories. Next, the comprehension of chapter books is enhanced through the implementation of a basic outline system to identify main and supporting characters, time and place settings, chapter happenings, plot, climax, and conclusion. More advanced comprehension requires further skill development: i.e., main idea versus supporting details, cause and effect, and drawing conclusions. This simultaneous instruction can confirm solid acquisition of reading skills by the end of the third grade. Thus, permitting older students the opportunity to apply their reading ability to learn about other subjects. Confident readers will evolve into successful adults with the possibility of becoming life-long readers and learners.
It is my opinion that all students must receive detailed instruction in writing. There are a wide range of programs available, but my preferences would be a combination of “Daily Oral Language” and either the “Project Read” language strand or the “Kansas Strategies” curricula – of which I have received extensive training and implementation. Detailed sequential, cumulative lessons teach the parts of speech, punctuation, and complete sentence components; e.g., from simple sentences to compound sentences to complex sentences; and, finally to paragraph writing. At this point, students need to learn how to write a complete paragraph on one topic, with an introductory sentence, detail sentences and a conclusion. Lessons need to include practice in writing different types of paragraphs such as expository and persuasive. The next step is factual report writing by following the steps of research, note taking with source identification, outlining, rough draft, editing and publishing. Simultaneous creative writing opportunities, such as the “Young Author” program, should be present to develop imagination and teach the writing process steps of: topic selection, web/plan development, outline, rough-draft, peer and teacher conference, edit and publish. Part of the conference and edit steps should include application checks for learned grammatical skills to ensure the use of complete sentences. Finally, I believe that young students should be exposed to penmanship lessons in both the print and cursive formats.
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