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The Virginia End of Course Reading SOL was changed in 2013, and "making inferences" was a weaker area on the test for many students. Making inferences from the information in a reading passage can be challenging for students, and even more so for ESL students who often interpret text in a more literal or concrete fashion, than native speakers do. An inference is an educated guess or prediction about the information that we read. To infer is like being a detective, gathering the evidence, and then trying to see a bigger picture from that evidence or information. We process the information in our minds, and then take that information another step and draw a conclusion about the information. To make an inference is a higher order thinking process.  It is more sophisticated than simply repeating the main idea of the text. In an SOL multiple choice question, if the question asks the reader to infer information, then the correct answer is NOT in the... read more

Making sure that you understand the question asked in a reading SOL is just as important as understanding the passage. Always read the question before you begin reading the passage.  Know your reason or purpose in reading the passage by knowing what the question wants ahead of time. Here is my first installment in key words you will find in many SOL questions.  Understanding these words and what they "signal" helps you better answer the question!  Think about the words you see in reading questions that ask you how often, how much or show an inconsistency in the information: However-inconsistency in information, or added information Sometimes-at times, now and then Always-opposite of never Never-opposite of always Mostly-generally, almost always Except-the thing or things that are not included, not answered, not addressed  When you read a question containing one of these words,... read more

Reading is an important skill which I specialize in tutoring with students  Reading is one of the most important ways we learn, especially in school.  Subjects like Social Studies, History, and Literature utilize this imporatnt skill.  We also need to know how to read and understand instructions for various things like even putting together something we receive in the mail or buy like a bicycle or using intricate applications on our cell phones.  Even in cooking, we need to read instructions on how to put the ingredients together.

Here are some of my favorite resources that cover multiple subject areas in a single resource. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.     (All grades) www.wyzant.com/resources/answers - homework help from real tutors and teachers (All grades) http://www.wyzant.com/resources/lessons - lessons and tutorials from real tutors and teachers (Varies) FactMonster.com – Formulas, practice, and basic information for chapter reviews or previews. (PreK-8, 12) SheppardSoftware.com – Math, Language Arts, Science, Health and History games, + SAT vocab flash cards (K-8) Softschools.com – Flashcards, practice lessons, and general guidance in all core subjects (K-6) Eduplace.com – Online textbook-based lessons and practice for elementary school students- a GREAT resource if you’ve left your textbook at school or if you need more worksheets to... read more

Here are some of my favorite Language Arts resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.     (K-2) Starfall.com – Practice, tutorials, and assistance with students learning phonics. (K-5) Tumblebooks.com – A free, online library of e-books for students K-5; younger students can choose to have this software read to them as they read along (K-3) Storylineonline.net – Read along to your favorite children’s stories with celebrity narrators like James Earl Jones. Sorted by title, author, and narrator. (K-12) Readwritethink.org – Click on “Parent and After School Resources,” for a great list, sorted by grade level, to help your child practice a variety of different skill sets at home (ex: giving an interview, thinking citrically, writing activities, etc) (K-5) Learninglab.org *- Provides great lessons on life skills (self-esteem, bullying,... read more

The Winter break is a great time to sharpen math and reading skills by making family holiday foods from recipes, along with sharing family history when discussing recipes. Collaboratively, reading cherished family holiday books and/or watching films of those books and discussing  how the book and film are different is a good way to sharpen comparing and contrasting skills.  Creating a Winter break journal recounting what is happening helps keep writing skills sharp, and also can become a nice piece of family history some day.  The journal could also be a photo journal or a journal of holiday drawings, depending on the student's grade level.  While writing thank you notes for holiday gifts, may seem unexciting, it is a good way to help children develop skills of attractive correspondence.  Letter writing is a necessary life skill which we see, not just in social correspondence, but in cover letters and in personal notes following job interviews. ... read more

As a student myself, winter break is a time for relaxation, and unfortunately, to let many of the skills learned through a semester of college to slip away far more quickly than they were learned. I understand personally how easy it is to let one's brain grow dull over the winter break that we all look so forward to. So what are some ways to keep your brain sharp? And more importantly, what are some fun ways to do so that won't make you feel as though you're actually working scholastically the entire break?   Pick up a fun reading book: Reading is a great way to keep the mind sharp. It's engaging, it encourages critical thinking and imagination, and it challenges the mind to stay focused and recall facts about a story (especially if you don't read the book in one sitting!) To make this a more "social" activity, try to get a group together as a reading or book club. That way, you will all benefit from talking about the book and its contents, the storyline,... read more

I have several students who would be glad to read more, if they have books recommended to them that are 'interesting'. I'm compiling a list of books for different grade levels, and would appreciate any recommendations from tutors or parents.   My immediate need is for books for an advanced 5th grader, and a 9th grader who is only interested in sports and the Odyssey!   Also, I have an ESL student who likes interesting non-fiction. Who can recommend something that is good for a college-age student? Maybe a business book, or a biography?   Thanks for joining this conversation.   best, Monica  

Sometimes the problem may be that the child has difficulty discriminating between sounds and that difficulty needs to be addressed first. Some children cannot perceive if two sounds are the same or different and need a lot of guided practice to learn to do this. Here are a couple of suggestions. Go to the website: http://www2.cambridge.org/interchangearcade/sortbytype.do?level=0&type=Cup_word_up. On this site a child practices discriminating between two words or phrases, for example “thirty/thirteen” and “a brown coat/a green coat”. The second website I recommend is: http://brainconnection.positscience.com/brain-teasers/. Have your child play the following games. Sound Dominoes -- "Sound Dominoes is a phoneme matching game that builds short term memory and sound and word recognition ability." Memory -- "In the memory game, listen carefully and find the animal sounds. Click on the window to make the animal appear and hear its sound. Click... read more

When my son Bryon was in elementary school, he had lots of trouble learning how to read. This baffled and upset me because his older brother had been reading since Kindergarten. I knew that I should never compare my children and I knew that just because Bryon was not a good reader did not mean he was in any way less intelligent than his brother. Still, it began to break my heart when I would peer through the half-closed door of a classroom after school and see him struggle with each word. He was stuck in a classroom when the rest of his friends were outside playing. The final straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, was when I saw the teacher who was tasked with tutoring Bryon lose he r temper with him and smacked his head with her hand!     I immediately withdrew him from that tutoring scenario, reported the teacher and searched for a more humane reading program. It came in the form of a family friend who was a university professor and did... read more

It is evident that students do not engage in enough sustained silent reading at home, and this I believe, is causing students to perform poorly in school.  Their vocabulary is not strong, which makes it difficult to decode and identify the meanings of words in a sentence.  Even if you teach Context Clues, if they don't read enough outside of school, then they will never practice this very important skill.  This over time, contributes to the 1 in 5 freshman taking remedial courses at the collegiate level. Reading is so fundamental, and students do not do enough of it, and not enough reading is being enforced.     The reason why students perform poorly is because the limited vocabulary makes comprehension that much harder.  You cannot make sense of anything, and it seems like you are 100% lost and confused.  The pressure of not knowing, rather encourages students to guess for the answer, hoping that it's right. Small groups are very... read more

Lexile and You Does it seem like you are always hearing that word?  Your child is below his or her Lexile?  They need to be at a 540 or at a 1080?  What exactly is a Lexile and how can you make it work for you?   Lexile is a reading meta-matrix that actually takes reading material and assigns it "value".  The "value" is referred to as its Lexile score or simply as its Lexile.  It is simply a numerical device for charting reading material.  As with all reading values, there are anticipated levels each student will reach at each grade.  You will hear them referred to as benchmarks.  They also have other names and phrases teachers use, though.  Perhaps you have heard expressions like 'just right books', or 'on level', or 'on grade level'.  These are all used to refer to books meeting Lexile expectations.  Not all books are created equal in the Lexile system.  Higher value is awarded... read more

When addressing general learning - especially in K-6 - we must keep in mind that subjects cannot be separated from one another. An obvious example is science, which requires mathematics, writing, and usually reading. Mathematics word problems, of course, require skill in reading and logic. If we consider social studies, we quickly realize that reading, writing, science, and math concepts are usually necessary for appropriate learning experiences. The common element in all our learning is, of course, language, which we began learning before we were even born. As we grew and learned, we imitated our parents' oral language and learned to associate words with things we observed in our environment. Eventually, we began learning to read, which is simply associating written symbols with oral language. Reading opened us up to a variety of learning, but we had to practice reading on its own, for its own sake, as well as in the other subject areas. This is why schools nowadays often... read more

I have an old version of this story my mother bought for me, it's at least a 30-year-old book, so it's a little soft around the edges, yet I still keep it on my bookshelf. Reading is Fundamental was the focus of a PSA I saw on regular rotation when I was growing up in New York. Books are still valuable to me, and a fundamental start to learning a little bit of everything. I recently made this book part of an interactive reading lesson for one of my classes. I hope that at some point in the future I will be able to implement this book, or may be even To Kill A Mockingbird, another great story, as part of an actual reading lesson.

If you are struggling to encourage a reluctant reader to read for at least 30 minutes per day, this website may help.  I began using this with Beginning English as a Second Language (ESL) students but have found that it also works well for K-6 readers as well.  Here are the instructions for accessing this FREE site:     Go to http://larryferlazzo.com/englishbeg.html#stories a. Under the heading marked Stories, click on Tumblebooks b. Click on Tumblebook Library c. Click on Story Books or Non-fiction Books d. Choose a book and then click Read Online

A few months ago a concerned mom shared that her children, who were at the time my creative writing students, do not like to read when she asks them to. She added that they become spacey and can’t answer her follow up questions for discussion. She also wanted to know if I had any suggestions for her. Well, of course I had! I suggested to her what I suggest to every parent I meet with such concerns and to parents who simply want to be involved in their children’s reading. Choose and Book on your Child’s  Reading Level Help your child find books on his/her independent reading level (depending on how your child’s reading has been assessed, Grade Level Equivalent (1.0 to 12.9), Guided Reading (A-Z), DRA (A,1-80), Lexile Measure (200L-1600L)). It is important for children to read on their independent reading levels so that the materials read will not be too easy and lead them to boredom,... read more

After having been away from school all summer many students can get out of the "school" mood or mode and returning can be quite difficult. So at least 1 week before school starts students can turn the TV off, pick up their favorite book and start reading in 15 minute blocks. The goal is to get them absorbed in their favorite topic or book that they will have read beyond 15 minutes and not even know it.   Daisy

If you are like me and have a lot of things to do during the day, you may find yourself asking, "when the heck am I gonna have time to do my schoolwork?!".  Here are my top four pointers that I think will help you stay on top of your game while also keeping you from letting all the good times pass you by! Because let's face it, all-nighters are never fun, and neither is missing out on a good, themed birthday party.   1.  Know your weaknesses and cater to them. Worst subjects--we all have them.  Figure out what yours is and devote the majority of the little time you have to that subject.  Seems pretty obvious, but it needs to be said.   2.  Learn how to take notes while reading. If you get used to reading with a pen in your hand, you'll be able to take notes much more quickly.  This will also help you learn the language of the book, which will make it much easier to find key phrases that are important to remember... read more

My first grade student blew me away today. He not only read the word, 'interesting,' all by himself -- but he also knew exactly how many syllables it has!  After a full year tutoring, we have a great connection and each weekly session has its surprises.  I find I learn from my students, just as they learn from me.  Age does not seem to matter, each individual has his or her own personality and interests.   We read a book about bats today.  With terms like hibernation and echolocation, it was inevitable that we discussed a few definitions during the reading.  First graders can be quite inquisitive, and we were pressed for time.  So, I continued reading and before we finished, I learned something I did not know.  Of course, I knew the early American settlers once lived in 'colonies.'  Somehow, though, it never occurred to me that large groups of bats also live in colonies!  I also never thought about how the closeup photos... read more

Reading is an important skill you will use your whole life long.  It is one of the main if not THE main way we learn.  Reading can improve your grades and help you when you graduate and do the job you wnat to do for your life.  People who read well can get bettter jobs and achieve thier goals in life more quickly.  I think Reading can be fun, too.  Read something you enjoy, even a joke or riddle, a topic you enjoy, like dinosaurs or different kinds of cars.     I, myself, love to read and I love to pass that love and skill onto my students.  Good readers are successful students and achieve success in life.  So pick up a book and enjoy yourself   By Miriam V.

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