The ACT Reading section tests four different types of passages: prose fiction, social science, humanities and natural science. Students should develop specific test-taking skills to answer the questions correctly, rather than reading to understand for discussion. For example, in working with students to prepare for the ACT, I found that some correct answers are camouflaged. In other words, a student must to be careful to interpret the question correctly and read every single word in the answer. Otherwise, correct answers appear incorrect and visa-versa. So. we work on using techniques that systematically help them find the correct answers.
An important goal for educators of elementary school students is that their students receive an excellent foundation from which they can later build. This means presenting learning materials in a way the student can relate. For instance, I had one student who had a hard time reading. So, we spent hours practicing reading with books he enjoyed. In this case, they were animal books. For some reason, he related well with animals.
Another important goal in working with elementary age students is that their attitude needs to be taken into consideration. At this young age, we want to foster a positive attitude about learning.
In this way, my tutoring of elementary students is individualized according to the student's needs.
The subject of English is important to master for success, since communication is at the crux of upward mobility in our society. Students who properly learn how to express themselves and interpret others will succeed in their endeavors. English used to be challenging for me because, as a child, I was not interested in reading or writing. In this way, I can relate to students. I do my very best to present English is a way that puts the least amount of stress on my students because this is not the subject to be turned-off by, if one wants to successful. Oftentimes, I talk to students about the link between learning English and realizing dreams.
Some of my most rewarding work is with ESL students. There is a fifth-grader I have tutored for two years, who has made great strides in reading comprehension; yet, she panics each time the STAAR comes around because she's very conscientious about her work in learning English. I have the utmost respect for students like her. Currently, I am tutoring a woman, a public speaker for the Indian community, to help her fine tune her pronunciation of English.
Grammar, at times, can be a daunting task for students simply because it covers so much material. I like to reduce their stress level about grammar and present the rules in an easy-to-understand, organized way. For example, many of my students have taken notes on word usage. We talk about how words like effect/affect are misused. Oftentimes, we laugh over how grammar is misused in sentences. Learning grammar can be enjoyable, if presented in a way that is relatable to students.
To be a valuable literature coach to students, I believe the tutor must possess a love for this type of reading. Oftentimes, I ask students for the name of their favorite author or the title of their favorite piece of literature. Most students are amazed that a tutor would even want to know that. Yet, I have been extremely successful in opening up the world of literature to students through personal experiences. In showing my passion for literature, I share personal insights from my favorite pieces, like 'Les Miserables' or 'A Brave New World'.
Learning phonics can be fun! There are many different ways to approach phonics. Here are a few examples of how children learn phonics. INITIAL CONSONANT CORRESPONDENCE - Teach one letter sound using a storybook. Call the child's attention to the one letter sound throughout the book. SORTING CONSONANT SOUNDS - Set up two columns with an illustration of a sound at the top of each column. (i.e., M:moon, S:socks) Give the child a stack of cards with illustrations and ask him/her to place the card under the right column. Another good technique includes using RHYMES, such as poetry, to reinforce the sound of letters.
Most importantly, the tutor needs to cover the scope and sequence chart for phonics. This includes initial consonants, short vowels, consonant clusters and long vowels. When children experience phonics in a fun way, they process words by patterns of sounds. This process becomes second-nature to the child, as he/she builds a foundation for reading. In this way, learning phonics is an important, fundamental step to become a successful reader.
Proofreading is difficult at times for students because they may want someone to edit their work. My approach is different. I empower students to be effective writers by asking questions over certain sections of their writing. Students learn to improve as writers by reflecting on their own writing, rather than from others editing their work for them. Constructive feedback is key here.
Reading comprehension is sometimes difficult for young students. There are so many skills required for them to comprehend the text; students need to be able to sound out words, follow punctuation and think about what the author is trying to say while keeping it all straight in their head. Since this can be extremely hard, I break it down for my students. We tackle one part at a time and I give positive feedback through praise as they accomplish. It seems to work perfectly!
The SAT Critical Reading section challenges most students. After tutoring for several years in this area, I found that when students understand how to interpret the different types of questions, they answer more questions correctly. The five different types of questions are Author Purpose, Author Tone, Detail, Inference and Vocabulary-in-Context.
My experience in tutoring high school students to prepare for the SAT Writing section involves allowing students to write in their own voice, while providing feedback to improve sentence structure, grammar and word choice. Writing an effective SAT persuasive essay requires a cohesive flow of ideas through the use of an active voice. One of my students aced the Writing section of the SAT (scored 800) after working with me during just one summer!
I have taught school for over four years and tutored for over 17 years. During this time, the STAAR exam has replaced the TAAS and TAKS assessments. I have provided test-taking strategies and advice on how to prepare for these standardized tests. For example, I found that when taking the STAAR reading test, it really helps young students if they summarize each paragraph before answering any questions, since the passages are quite long.
The development of study skills directly impacts student success. Study skills used over time helps students get into a habit of learning. Some examples, include using (a)organizers to stay on task, (b) planners to complete short-term or long-term assignments on time (c)headings, maps, charts and graphs for better comprehension, (d)rehearsal and mnenomics to remember information for memory recall, and/or (e) space to find an appropriate place to study. Each student has a unique set of skills that will contribute to his/her academic success. Therefore, it is important to foster the development of study skills as early as possible since they relate so closely to student success.
Some students find some tasks more challenging than others. One of my students was told by her teachers that she could not follow instructions. This student internalized this criticism and personally felt defeated whenever given instructions. My approach was to work with her over time to convince her that she could follow instructions. We began with a very simple set of instructions. I said, "Please walk over to the wall and turn on the light switch." Then over time she was given a complex set of instructions that she properly followed. Eventually, she believed enough in herself to properly follow elaborate instructions on her own. The same approach works well for study skills. First, pinpoint the challenge. Second, ask the student to establish a unique method or approach (usually through questioning). Third, provide time for practice until the skill is internalized. Finally, remind the student of this achievement often enough until the student completely identifies with the new behavior. In short, skill-building does not happen quickly, but rather develops over time with practice.
Writing is one of my favorite subjects and past-times. School teachers do not have enough time to provide individual feedback to each student in their class for each type of writing. Therefore, I have students take notes and write practice essays on descriptive, expository, narrative and persuasive prompts. Did you know there are four different ways to organize details in descriptive writing? They are chronological order, order of impression, order of expression and spatial order! Additionally, there are five different types of expository writing. In this way, it is important for students to see the big picture - know all the different types of writing, and the smaller picture - what type of writing is best to approach a specific prompt.