In response to the question about making lessons fun, here are some thoughts (not sure how far "outside the box" they are).
First, try to set the student at ease by assuring them that you are not there to judge them. You are only there to help them, therefore, there are no foolish questions, and it's ok to say, "I don't know" or "I'm not sure."
Second, sit beside them rather than opposite them. Not only is it easier for you and them to read what the other person is reading or writing, but it also fosters a sense of "we're in this together" rather than opposing each other.
Lastly, have some fun. Don't be afraid to mix in a little humor, laugh at yourself (not them, of course), or be light-hearted. While helping a student is serious business, it's not brain surgery. It's also not life or death, even though they may think the next test holds the key to their existence.
For what it's worth...
Recently, I have encountered students and their parents who have the expectations that tutoring for the reading in ACT and the reading in SAT (and PSAT) is quite the same. That can't be farther from the truth. They are different animals, and require different approaches. If a student wishes to be prepared for both, they need to be prepared to have separate lessons.
The ACT is really about construct. In other words, this means how sentences are put together in terms of clauses, phrases, proper punctuation, etc. Most students who read the sentences and passages aloud can usually distinguish which passages are improperly constructed, because they don't sound "right" to a native speaker. Teaching this is about teaching confidence in one's abilities to speak their language properly.
The SAT, on the other hand, is a much more nuanced test. Rarely does this test concern itself with proper and improper construction,...
I have noticed that for many students who request assistance with their ACT English skills, they really require much less help with material knowledge, and much more help with their confidence in already-acquired knowledge.
Recently, I arrived to teach a student who had already taken the ACT. The student's score in English was an 18, and the student and family was disappointed. Just prior to my arrival, the student retook the exam using an off-the-shelf study guide, and fared quite poorly.
I began with the student the first day, having the student simply read the sentences in question aloud. The moment that the student started reading sentences that were incorrect, they sounded incorrect, and the student stopped. Right away, I asked the student why they weren't selected as being "wrong" before, on the test. It was clear that the student reads and writes English as a native language, and is proficient...
My teacher, Dr. Carmen Eturma taught me the Methods and Principles in teaching. She was my teacher in college and in master's. I learned a lot from her---techniques and styles in teaching, writing and translating short but difficult poems to easy ones by using some of the literary devices. It was not really hard to read and understand the poems, if you only knew what to do. I had been so thankful to my teacher (Dr. Eturma), and I saluted her.
The following is a sample of my introductory lesson format, which is a modified Direct Instruction method custom-tailored to the needs of each student:
1) Inventory the student's interests, extracurricular activities, and previous positive experiences in education to establish a set of "what works" for motivating and reassuring the student.
2) Assess what has worked best in the past in terms of study skills and meta cognition, while utilizing my background in Educational Psychology to offer alternate perspectives (as opposed to direct advice) to the student.
3) Allow the student to verbalize their current understanding and tangential questions while I record their ideas and cross-reference their developing knowledge with their course syllabus and Core Content Standards.
4) Utilize Socratic discussion and scaffolding questions, I help the student reinforce their ideas and expand their working knowledge to the next conceptual level of...