As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to talk to...
Years ago, there was never any dispute: when you listed a bunch of things in a sentence and finished with the word 'and ________.', there should always have been a comma before the 'and', i.e. "I have lived in France, Germany, Italy, and China."
The modern grammarians (is that even a word, haha) seem to think that the final comma should be omitted because they claim it is redundant. They claim that without the comma, everything should be adequately clear, for example: "I have lived in France, Germany, Italy and China." Is that really clear? I beg to differ, and for two reasons.
First, the comma's use is not just as a separator of things; it is also used as a pause device. Without the last comma, that sentence reads: "I have lived in France (pause) Germany (pause) Italy and China (said quickly together)." That's not correct at all and we all know it. It should read: "I have lived in France (pause) Germany (pause) Italy (pause)...
Flashcards have been used for a long time by students that want to broaden their vocabulary, whether for learning a second language or increasing one's vocabulary of your primary language. Before computers, students often used index cards and wrote a word on one side, and the meaning of the word, or the equivalent word in another language on the other side. Now there are all sorts of flashcard websites and flashcard software programs available that basically do the same thing electronically.
But regardless of the medium you use, there are some ways to use flashcards that are better than others. I'm going to recommend one way that I find very helpful. Instead of just randomly selecting 20 or 50 or 100 words, and trying to memorize them via flashcards, select vocabulary words that are in context. What this means is that it's better to create flashcards based on a reading passage or book or essay you've read, and then selecting words from what you've read and creating flashcards for...
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
For most fluent readers, it can be hard to imagine how the sight word "have" can be tricky for emerging readers. Yet many parents drilling the Dolch sight words find "have" is misread over and over again, made to rhyme with "gave" and "behave".
The child is likely making this mistake because he or she is diligently applying the guidance that a silent final E makes the preceding vowel say its name. And for many English speakers, that's the only purpose known for a silent final E. But, that only explains half of the words with a silent final E and has nothing to do with why there is a silent final E in "have".
So, why is there a silent final E in "have"? Check out rule #3 in the list posted here: https://www.logicofenglish.com/resources/spelling-rules. Rule 3 states that English words do not end in I, U, V, or J. The silent final E in "have" is there to prevent the word from ending in V, just as...
Writing is a skill. Just like with any other talents--being musical, athletic, artistic, some people are just better at writing than others. That doesn't mean you can't develop writing skills. It just takes more practice!
Many of my weak writers are excellent at math. I create formulas for a thesis, topic sentence, and each paragraph. If you can remember a formula, you can write an essay. I encourage daily reading. The more we read, the more vocabulary and sentence structure we are exposed to. This works its way into the brain, and enables recall when it comes time to write.
I also encourage my students to write about what they read. We do simple things like summarizing, list questions they may have, draw or describe the setting, predict what happens next, or even come up with an alternate title for the book. All of these things help people to become better readers, and that makes us good writers...
Many parents that come to me treat their child's disability as a disease. They feel that the right thing to do, is find a cure. They are unaware that their child's disability is a sign of great gifts and talents. It is my job as a tutor and teacher, to guide parents and students as they unlock their child's hidden gifts and talents, while helping that child discover that they also can learn.
EX: New Feature: Spelling /ay/ at end of word, as in play or stay.
Engaging guided discovery using magnets. Teaching spelling for a sound unit that has more than one spelling option requires imprinting with specificity. Guiding the student in a discovery experience, rather than ‘talking’ an explanation can accomplish this.
For example: There are many ways to spell the phonemic sound: long/a/. Where long/a/ comes at the end of a word like play, guided discovery technique using magnets is one recognized method for demonstrating to the student where the sound falls within the word, and on that basis, how to spell the sound when in that position.
In the word /play/, student pulls down one magnet for each phoneme (sound) heard (not the letter name). Student pulls down 3 magnets saying their individual sounds simultaneously to the movement of its corresponding magnet as follows: One magnet for /p/, one for /l/, and one for the long /a/ sound....
Have you ever wondered what spelling bee champs know about spelling? I have, and my research led me straight to the
31 spelling rules as taught in the Logic of English method. These simple yet powerful rules explain 98% of English words when coupled with
74 phonograms. While that may not be enough to win an elite spelling bee, its a huge step forward for everyday literacy.
The 31 rules are posted here:
https://www.logicofenglish.com/resources/spelling-rules. While most are remarkably simple, they are quite powerful. Consider how the very first rule explains the answers to these tricky word equations:
picnic + ing = picnicking
notice + able = noticeable
Rule 1 states that "C always softens to /s/ when followed by E, I, or Y. Otherwise, C says /k/." Thus, picnicking gets its K because without it, the word would say /picnising/. Likewise, noticeable retains its E because without it, the word would say /notikable/.
English is widely regarded as being full of exceptions, and often logical/literal learners struggle with the ways in which it is commonly taught. Fortunately, though, there is logic to our language, and methods have been developed that carefully distill it into a limited number of spelling rules and phonograms. These concepts are quite simple to learn but very powerful in application, transforming English from a confusing jumble of exceptions to a deliciously rich and robust code.
An introduction to these concepts is posted at
The entire video is informative and inspirational, but if you’re pressed for time and want to sample some of the real meat of the content, jump ahead to the 20 minute mark and watch for about 8 minutes.
I'd love to hear what you think. Is this content helpful? Did you learn anything new? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
An article on math education in the NY Times (July 23, 2014) wrote this about our teacher quality and resulting education: " In addition to misunderstanding math, American students also, on average, write weakly, read poorly, think unscientifically and grasp history only superficially." I would like to focus on my area of English: writing and reading. The article discussed teacher training and techniques to improve teaching results. I would like to add that for us tutors also, techniques to present our subjects are critical to help students. Some tutors are former or current professional teachers; others may be retired people from business, housewives earning extra money, college students, or even working professionals in various fields. It's fine to teach business skills to graduate students if you are an executive, swimming to children if you are a swimming coach, or history to high schoolers if your major is history. Yet, simply tutoring in your major field may not be...
Yes, there is a cure for dyslexia. However, the cure is unreachable for most students. Every child facing the dyslexia label needs an individual "toolbox" with unlimited learning supplies. Those "toolbox" supplies need to be (1) whatever teaching methods (even sometimes) make learning easier for that child, (2) unlimited access to educators whose primary concern is raising the student's self esteem, (3) a waiver from having to read aloud or do math problems in front of the entire class, (4) unlimited access to pictures, stories, and hands-on activities, (5) unlimited access to appropriate technology, (6) information broken into smaller parts and/or color-coded, (7) notes, formulas, word-banks, mnemonics, modified assignments, and (8) a total acceptance of outside the box (giving the student the benefit of the doubt) types of problem solving.
Educational challenges come in about as many shapes and sizes as there are children in schools. The "One...
A great new grammar book, "The Essentials of English Grammar in 90 Minutes" by Prof. Robert Hollander [Dover, $4.95] bridges the gap between basic grammar books (for both children and adults) and higher-level books such as the recommended "Essential English Grammar" by Philip Gucker, also from Dover Publications. This grammar book has almost no quizzes or charts, etc. but
will give you an over-all picture of not only basic, but higher level grammar. Please see my Amazon Review of this nice little addition to the grammar teacher's and learner's bookshelf.
There are several points in grade school that involve a critical shift in the thinking that is required in the school work. Parent's should be aware of these points as they navigate through the abyss of raising a school-aged child and supporting the child as he/she moves forward through the grades.
3rd Grade - The third grader is transitioning from whole number thinking into understanding the concepts of parts. They are exposed to fractions, decimals and percentages. This is a major paradigm shift. Students are also exposed to long division at this point. Supporting children in this phase requires an emphasis on helping the child conceptualize whole things being split into parts. In addition to homework support, tutoring, and supplementary work, parents should introduce cooking chores to children at this time, and make them follow a recipe that has precise measurements. Reading comprehension and writing is also an issue here...
Hello everyone! Hola a todos!
Learning a second language like Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means because...
Answer: at birth.
Just last week, I met a young man in third grade at a convention where I was exhibiting. In talking with this young man’s parents they disclosed that he was not reading well and struggled quite a bit. Since Dad was a late reader, they just figured their son would bloom into a reader, eventually, also. Though alarmed, I respected the parents’ belief.
I did relay some tips about reading skill development however, in hopes of enlightenment so they could guide their son’s reading success more. I offered a free modified reading assessment to provide a gauge for the parents of their son’s current grade level reading ability.
A shock to all…he screened at a pre-primer reading ability level in word call. His comprehension was good but was assessed at this pre-kindergarten grade level, after all.
Where should these parents start?
Phoneme awareness and sight word recognition leaped out first and foremost. This young man’s ability...
This afternoon, I found myself writing to one of my ESL students:
I am imagining you and your dog having a fine time at the cabin as I write this.
I bet you are in the cabin as well. In the first sentence at the cabin is correct, just as you would say "I am at home" rather than
in home. It would also be correct to say "I'm in the house" rather than outside in the yard.
When you are at home, the yard is included. When you are in the house, the yard is excluded. With
cabin, the same word is used both ways. When you are at the cabin, the exterior property is included, but when you are
in the cabin, it is excluded.
By the way, while you might be in your yard, you would be on your property.
Preposition problems are common to all but the most advanced English language learners, including many native speakers. After sending my student this email, I realized the word
F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby presents the dark side of the American Dream and does so with unusual panache. The shimmering surface of Fitzgerald's prose style mirrors the daylight optimism of the dream, reflecting the ideal of a society wherein talent and hard work routinely get rewarded and upward mobility is based at least as much on merit as on luck or charm or who you know.
Ruthlessness or deceit … but who could need such things?
The narrator, Nick Carraway, likewise begins this adventure with a fair measure of this robust American optimism. He envies the high society spoons in his new top drawer of polished acquaintances, interpreting their frivolity and hedonism as an abundance of life.
Yet as the narrative progresses, this bright-eyed optimism dims. Nick sees, on the one hand, heirs to inherited wealth who are arrogant, bigoted, selfish, and only superficially cultured – Tom Buchanan and his ilk. On the other hand, he sees those who are...
The Orton-Gillingham methodology is a method of reading instruction that focuses on multi-sensory learning. The basic idea is that some students, particularly students with learning issues like dyslexia, benefit from using their senses to activate and retrain parts of the brain that are used in reading. As a result, Orton-Gillingham based instruction features a lot of interesting hands-on activities.
From my own experience as a teacher and tutor, Orton-Gillingham methodologies work very well when they are used as intended and when instruction is not rushed. Reading issues often develop over years and sometimes take years to successfully address. Students must be receive systematic instruction in phonics where they do not move onto the next step until they demonstrate mastery of the current step. Some students move through the levels in days while others can take months.
Some tutors will be less than forthcoming about how long reading instruction can take, but I prefer to be...
Draw a hopscotch outline with chalk or tape and write the letters of a spelling word in the squares. Your child says the letters out loud as he hops. Erase one letter at a time until he can successfully spell the word without hopping, and then move onto the next spelling word.
2. Ball Toss
Toss a ball back and forth to reinforce spelling in a fun way. Each time your child catches the ball, they say the next letter of the spelling word.
3. Hide and Seek
Write their spelling words on note cards, and tape them in unusual places, such as on the back of cabinet doors, in your child's closet or in her pencil or jewelry box. When they find a word, they bring the card to you and spells the word.
4. Street Signs/Store Names
Have your child learn to read street signs and store names around your neighborhood. This will help them learn where they live, colors and sight words all at the same time!