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To paraphrase the Disney song, the struggle is as old as time: how to get boys interested in reading? An avid reader my whole life, I never understood my male friends and cousins who fidgeted and giggled all the way through reading time. Even now, after several years of working with students, I still feel a bit disconnected from people who have never found themselves swept into the throws of a good story. What is it like to miss out on wandering Hogwarts’ moving staircases or journeying to Amsterdam with Hazel Grace and Augustus? After spending four years studying some of the greatest literature ever written—both fictional texts for my literature classes and philosophical arguments in my government courses—I have come to realize that many of us wringing our hands are missing the point. It is not that boys are reading less but that they are consuming their “literature” in different ways. Platforms like video games, text messaging, and social media are so ubiquitous in our everyday... read more

Okay!  This is something that really helped one of my students..  She switched b and d into her third grade year. She struggled so much!  It's simple. Look at the word "bed"...  does it look like a bed?   When she had trouble switching the letters, I would write the word "bed",  and point out the picture in the word. This is the important part.  Actually turn the word "bed" into a picture.  You can even put a stick person laying on top of the bed.  After it "clicked" and she saw the word in her mind, I could just ask her  to think of the word "bed". The next part was asking her to make a bed with her fingers. Make a "b" and "d" with your fingers (like the "okay sign" in each hand).  I then asked her to look at her hands.  Does it look like a bed?  The "b" sound comes first. I would tell her to hold up her "bed" that... read more

IT REQUIRES MORE THAN ACADEMICS TO CREATE SUCCESSFUL LIFE-LONG LEARNERS My tutoring philosophy is about balance. My obligation to my students - which may include roles as teacher, counselor, mentor, and/or role model - is to foster various traits which increase my students' likelihood of success - in school, professionally, and as human beings. According to the Johnson O'Connor Foundation, and various other longitudinal studies, the single best predictor of success both in school and occupation is a large vocabulary. A large vocabulary has been shown to enhance reading comprehension and fluency, improve critical thinking, and make communication in all fields more effective. But, it is also crucial to understand that, as absolutely critical as text based literacy skills are, it is easily possible to have a large vocabulary and still struggle with reading. I know this well from my own daughter’s experience and many of the students I have worked with. So,... read more

Hello everyone,   Based on the needs that I keep seeing children having with reading, writing and comprehension, I wanted to see if you might find it beneficial if I offered a 3-4 person class for Kindergarten/1st graders, one for 2nd/3rd graders and a class for 4th/5th graders, if there might be enough of you interested.  We would meet once a week for an hour, unless the consensus was to meet 2x a week.  Please respond by February 20th if you'd like to be included in these classes.  They would begin in March.  Feel free to check out my profile.  I'm certified in numerous academics and music! Look forward to hearing from you! Laura S.

In 2013, I did this talk with teachers & parents, to explain very simply the many myths and misconceptions we have about learning difficulties. Come, watch me take you into the world of the child who struggles:

From an article I wrote for ' The Alternative' last year:   Have you ever considered a world where you couldn’t read? Not just books or newspapers, but menus, the labels on your medicine bottle, signs, subtitles or even the latest issue of your favourite magazine. Words permeate the world we live in. As a special educator, I started working with children who have learning difficulties in 2004 and the inaccessibility of a reluctant reader to the world of books, ideas and the company of visionary thinkers has both troubled and motivated me. As thinkers like Oprah Winfrey have shared, books can become the beacon of hope for those who live in hard, colourless and impoverished worlds. The lessons of tolerance, harmony, hope and possibilities exist within the pages of a book as do characters and settings of every hue. Books allow us to experience the catharsis and depth of our emotions through the life journeys of those we read about. Consider Rohan, a 11 year old who... read more

Being a struggling reader can affect a child's entire school experience. Everyday functioning in the content areas as well as confidence levels and enthusiasm towards school take a big hit for many students who experience reading difficulties. Part of my practice as a special education teacher and tutor who works with struggling readers is to turn reading into something that can be fun and rewarding, rather than laborious and confidence-killing. I've found that one of the biggest motivators for my struggling readers is to incorporate technology into acquiring and practicing reading skills.   I've recently experienced great success through a new federally funded program for individual's with print disabilities called Book Share. Through this program, students can download hundreds of thousands of texts for free. I have all of my eligible students signed up for this program. Then we open the downloaded books on the iPad through an app called Voice Dream. There is a $9.99... read more

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