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.

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.

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