Blog

Aiming High!

By Faith Network of the East Bay
November 29th,2012

“If any of you have finished your bookworm sheet, please come see me; I have a special prize for you!” was the announcement that Merle made during our last tutoring session. Merle is the Reading Clinic Coordinator for La Escuelita, and upon hearing her announcement, Erick pulled out his bookworm. There are twenty spaces on it for the titles of twenty books, and we had five of those twenty slots filled.

Erick frowned at his paper, so I suggested, “Let’s start by reading two books right away, then we can do other things!” So he immediately brightened and picked a book with a chameleon on its cover and a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk story called The Magic Beans. Between the books he paused and asked, “What do you think the prize is?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied. “But it sounds like something special.”

Soon enough, we will both know what the prize is…After all, we were able to get one more book in after we worked on some phonics. How fitting that it was a book about two kids that shoot for the moon and go there in a spaceship!

The Middle-of-the-Beginning

By Faith Network of the East Bay
November 26th,2012

My student is so enthusiastic, that meeting him was more like a plunge into his life than the casual greetings that I usually have with my peers.
In quick succession, I learned that Erick likes the Mario Brothers, tigers, spiders, animals in general, video games, blue, playing video games with his friends, Super Smash Bothers, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS…there were so many things that he liked, many of them related to Mario. Erick also has siblings, including a younger sister that he reads to sometimes.

In the few weeks that we have met to learn together, Erick has mastered over 150 sight words–these are words that do not follow phonics rules, yet make up about 70% of what you are reading right now! (Some examples: the, has, these, about, right, you, what, many, little, I etc.)
We take game breaks because Erick has so much energy. Once I wrote a sentence for him to read and asked him show me with our play figures as we worked on short ‘o’ sounds: “The frog jumped over the block.” Instead of taking the little frog and hopping it over the block, he put a box of crayons on the ground and leaped over it as well as any frog could hope.

We’ve flown through five short books already, and I’m looking forward to introducing more complex books. I hope that as our material gets more challenging, Erick will continue to leap forward with as much enthusiasm as he put into being the frog…or perhaps he was imagining himself as Super Mario?

Becoming a reading tutor

By Faith Network of the East Bay
November 13th,2012

If you have been following our blog, you might know that I (Madalyn) have started tutoring at La Escuelita on Wednesdays.

It’s hard to immediately tell about all the joyful, funny, fulfilling, learning moments that happen during tutoring, so for this first post, I will elaborate on two aspects of the process of becoming a tutor: getting my Livescan and tutoring training.

Livescan: I didn’t think this would be interesting, but Elaine at Prints on the Run (where we recommend you get your Livescan done if you live in Oakland) is such a fun and caring person that I must write about her. She is a fingerprint expert who not only did my fingerprinting, but also gave me tips on how I could improve my fingerprints (mainly, moisturize more to get rid of the minute cracks on my fingertips).
Two thumbprints up to Elaine for making it so pleasant for Faith Network volunteers to get their Livescans done!

Literacy Training: This was invaluable. Rebecca (our Succeeding by Reading program director) fed our stomachs and minds with tasty snacks and a wealth of information about early childhood literacy. I got a binder that detailed various aspects of a learning reader’s process. My class of ten tutors practiced our phonics skills, previewed some of the materials we would be using, and shared about our own young reading experiences. It was great to meet other tutors, some of whom were retired, had part-time jobs, or were taking time from work to volunteer. Some had worked with children before or in education, and others had no experience but wanted to meet a need in the community.
I was fortunate that I was in the same class as two other tutors that also volunteer at La Escuelita. When I saw them the next week, we all had the same things to say about the training: Fun! Informative! Helpful! Motivating!

Stay tuned for my first interactions with my student, Erick!

  • I want to volunteer, BUT I don't know where to start.