Welcome to Write Away the brand new
writing forum for Project Read learners!

We've redesigned our blog so that adult learners working at Project Read can share what they have written with other learners, tutors, and the public. There are a few simple guidelines to be aware of.
  1. This is a moderated site, so submissions and comments will first be reviewed before being approved and published.
  2. Adult learners submitting their writing have the option of using their first name (only) or using "anonymous" for authorship.
  3. We wish to honor the writing efforts of the adult learner/authors, so no major copy editing will be applied, but we may suggest minor corrections in consultation with the author.
  4. Only active Project Read learners are eligible to submit their writing to the Write Away blog and there are two ways of doing this: send submissions via email to projectread@sfpl.org, or stop by the office with a hard copy of your writing.
  5. The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not represent those of the San Francisco Public Library and/or the City and County of San Francisco.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Invisible Tutor Workshop Handouts

Howdy Folks,

On Tuesday, April 24, 2007, Randy, Leon, and Brian facilitated a workshop designed to help tutors work with their learners in creating engaging assignments that promote independent learning and maintain momentum in the tutor's absence.

Below you will find the text as well as downloadable JPG conversions of the workshop outline and computer tips handout.
We will soon post MS Word and PDF versions of these 2 documents in the Instructional Resources section of the Project Read SFPL Website (www.projectreadsf.org).

Please let us know if these documents prove helpful and/or strike you as in need of a smidge of revision.

All the best, Brian



Project Read
Continuing Education Class for Tutors
April 24, 2007

The Invisible Tutor


General Suggestions


1. Before you take time off from tutoring, talk with your learner about what he/she would like to accomplish while you are away.

  • Reinforce skills which have already been introduced in your tutoring sessions: phonics, spelling, writing/grammar, etc.
  • Finish an assignment that he/she has already begun: newsletter article, distance learning exercise, journal writing, etc.
  • Work on new exercises/assignments: spelling/writing workbooks, computer learning software, etc.

2. As a team, talk about the preparation your learner will need in order to work independently while you are away.

  • What resources will your learner need access to--computer lab software/Internet access, writing journal, workbook exercises?
  • What can you do to make it easier for your learner to work successfully on these assignments? For example, you probably want to review each exercise you are assigning and go over specific examples together in order to model exactly what your learner is being asked to do.

3. Come up with an agreed upon timeline for when your learner should finish the assignments. You might even suggest that you both stay in contact via e-mail while you are gone. This could be a way for your learner to keep you updated on his progress and maybe even ask questions.

4. If necessary, you may want to speak with the Project Read staff,
about what your learner will be working on while you are away, in order to coordinate support.






The Invisible Tutor Workshop – Computer Tips


Spell It Deluxe (CD)

  • Go through the word list binders with your learner to find lists that he/she finds interesting. Photocopy and write due dates on them to remind your learner which ones to do and when.
  • Create custom word lists from the extensive selection built into Spell It.


ReadPlease (Fully installed on our computers)

  • Work with your learner to create some ReadPlease documents and save them in a folder. Could be news stories, fiction, personal writing, language experience stories, lessons that need revision/correction, etc. Possibly end with questions for learner to type answers to.
  • Set assignment of finding information on the web (SF Gate, wikipedia, etc.) and cutting, pasting, and saving into ReadPlease.
  • Put some vocabulary words in ReadPlease for learner to write sentences around.


California Distance Learning Project (Link from our Learning Lab Links Page)

  • Look through the categories and stories to pick a few that interest your learner. Print out the pages that show the stories, circle the stories, and put in learner’s lab folder.
  • Pick a few stories and prepare some follow up lessons to them. Vocabulary, researching related stories, etc.

Ultimate Phonics (CD)

  • Pick specific lessons that target sounds you are working on. Print out the word lists ahead of time.
  • Use the Ultimate Phonics manual to plan some lessons.

E-mail (Learning Lab Links page or http://www.yahoo.com/)

  • Ask your learner to e-mail the completed or in-progress assignments to you while you are away.
  • Structure some e-mail based lessons that go back and forth.


Blog (Learning Lab Links page or http://www.blogger.com/)

  • Work with Brian to create a blog that you and learner can both log into. Practice with learner. Set up schedule of posting some daily events, writing, photos, etc.

Listen to a Story (Use the library and our computers)

  • Go with your learner to the CD and audio book sections of the library to pick some books, stories, radio programs, etc. that your learner is interested in. Have your learner use the computer lab to listen to the stories and complete some written assignments you prepare ahead of time.

Before You Go

  • Work with your learner to choose assignments that are interesting to him/her, further his/her literacy goals, and are not too difficult or complex to undertake on own.
  • Take the time to model the tasks / steps necessary to complete the assignments.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Annual Tutor-Learner Recognition -- June 7, 2007

Please save this date:
Thursday, June 7, 2007
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Project Read's Tutor-Learner Recognition


How has your experience as a learner or tutor
changed your life?

At this year’s recognition event, we would like to encourage both tutors and learners to think about how your life has changed since becoming involved with Project Read. Please write a brief (one page or less) description about a positive experience you have had as a tutor or a learner. If you like, you may share what you have written during the program that evening. Here are just a few ideas that tutors and learners might consider writing about.


1. What was it like for you when you first started at Project Read, and how is it different now?

2. In what ways has your learner or tutor made a difference in your life?

3. What have you learned from working with your adult learner or volunteer tutor?

Please send your submissions, electronically if possible, to Richard by May 18, 2007. You may also bring him a floppy disk or hard copy.


Formal invitations to this June 7th event will be coming your way later in the spring.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tutor Tips from the March 31 & April 3 Round Table Meetings

At the first ever Tutor Round Table meeting held on a Saturday, tutors discussed the following topics:

  • A tutor mentioned that she and her learner are primarily focusing on basic spelling skills and asked for ideas to enhance her instruction.

One method that was discussed was using word patterns to help the learner understand the common ways of spelling the sounds found in the English language.

A tutor also mentioned the importance of bringing multi-sensory techniques into the spelling instruction. One way of doing this is using word tiles (available in the Project Read instructional aids area of the office) or even index cards that can be moved about on the table thus providing kinesthetic reinforcement to what is being taught.

And someone mentioned that repetition is always an important component of instruction. We didn't learn a new literacy skill by doing something only once so why should we expect our adult learners to do so.

  • Another tutor shared some excellent ideas she had for teaching her learner how to print legibly.

To help him remember how to leave enough space between the words he writes, she suggested that he use the erasure end of his pencil as a guide, making sure that there is the space of the erasure between each word.

When teaching her learner how to correctly gage the relative height of upper and lower case letters, she reminded him that lower case letters are one half the height of upper case on the page. For even more assistance in teaching writing, the Project Read office has lined classroom paper available for tutor-learner teams.

  • Tutors also engaged in a helpful discussion of how to teach writing skills.

One tutor mentioned that when her learner turns in a writing sample, 70% of the words he has written might be misspelled. Because of this, she sometimes feels overwhelmed at how much there is to teach.

Other tutors in the meeting reminded her that it is a good thing that her learner has gotten to the point of getting his thoughts down on paper. This is a big step for many adult learners who are very unsure of spelling and grammar. And it is the first essential step in working on what needs to be taught.

One way to approach correcting the learner's many writing errors may be to look for common patterns which can be addressed rather than to try and focus on each individual error on the page. Are there word/syllable sounds that the learner consistently spells incorrectly? If so, try working on some word pattern exercises so he can begin understand the pattern for spelling these sounds. Similarly with punctuation, you can begin to address the forms of punctuation which are giving the learner the most difficulty one at a time.

The Project Read instructional resource collection has some excellent materials to provide a more structured approach to teaching these skills: Patterns in Spelling and Write All About It are two good examples.

At the April 3 Tutor Round Table meeting, tutors discussed these topics:

  • A tutor spoke of the challenge she is having as she tries to teach her learner how to improve his comprehension skills. She is already doing pre and post reading activities for each reading selection they work on.

One suggestion was to ask her learner a specific question about what he is about to read--a literal comprehension question which he can find the answer to within two or three sentences of the text. This may help him stay more focused on what he is reading as he looks for the answer to your question.

A good resource to help teach comprehension skills is Help Yourself: How to Take Advantage of Your Learning Styles by Gail Murphy Sonbuchner. This book includes an excellent chapter covering strategies to help adult learners enhance their understanding and retention of what they read. This book is part of the Project Read instructional resources collection, located in the office, and it is available free to tutor-learner teams.