Monday, November 3, 2008

November 2008: Eldon Peters, Our “Think Fast” Superstar


Background

November 2008 America Learns Strategy of the Month

Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate

Leaders constantly make quick decisions with imperfect or scarce amounts of information. Doctors, politicians, police, entrepreneurs and parents confront these challenges daily. How can tutors and mentors provide the children they're serving with a safe place to practice and develop these essential skills?
Just ask Eldon Peters.

Eldon has mentored for two years through Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate, a mentoring program of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. He created a phenomenal strategy to help his mentee practice the art of making quick decisions when one doesn't have all of the information one would like to have.

Get inspired and see why Eldon is our "Think Fast" Superstar by reading his strategy below.

(PS: Please note that we’ll be taking a hiatus in December to set up our new America Learns Network Superstars site, http://networksuperstars.net.)

More About Eldon

nov08_mentor_eldon2

Graig Meyer, BRMA's coordinator, had this to say about Eldon:

"Eldon Peters is one of our most creative mentors. When I read his logs on America Learns each week, I'm always impressed with his creative strategies for making learning enjoyable. In this strategy, he shows us how to help students take risks without fear of failure. That is an important skill for all young people!"

The Strategy

BIKING TO STRONGER LEADERSHIP SKILLS
(Developing Quick Decision Making Skills)

Created by: Eldon Peters, mentor, Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Topics: - Building Leadership Skills
- Deciding What to do Together
Grade Levels: Fourth - Twelfth
Arrangements: One-on-One
Materials: - Bicycle
- Helmet
- Reflective clothing
- Safe area for biking that your mentee is unfamiliar with
- Optional: map of the area

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: I want my mentee to develop strong leadership qualities, one of which is being able to make quick decisions when one doesn't have all of the information one would like to have. So, I tried to think of a creative and safe way for him to build that skill.

I ended up planning a biking activity where he would need to take the lead. We planned to bike around our local university campus and end up at an ice cream shop.

If you can't take a bike ride, please see alternatives in Step 4.
Step 1: Go on a simple bike ride in a safe area that's new to your mentee.

Ask your mentee to take the lead for at least part of the time.
Step 2: After you ride through the area a bit, stop in a safe place and explain the following:

"Leaders often have to make fast decisions when they don't have a lot of time and don't have all of the information they'd like. Today, we're going to focus on making smart, quick decisions. When quick decisions don't work out, good leaders analyze the situation and make corrections quickly. Sometimes, those decisions that seem bad at first end up opening new opportunities that nobody would have seen otherwise. Your challenge is to make those decisions and then decide what to do with the consequences of your decisions."

Set a target of ending up somewhere, such as an ice cream store. Offer your mentee some initial guidance, such as telling him that the store is in the area you already rode through. Another idea is to give your mentee a basic map of the area and explain that, "We are right here on the map. Somewhere in this area (circle the area), there's a Baskin Robbins. You're going to have to find it. I'm not going to give you any additional directions or rules besides making sure that we're together at all times and that you wear your helmet."

The mentee is not allowed to ask you which way to turn, but rather to lead while you follow. If he goes in the wrong direction, he must correct the problem while still demonstrating confidence and competence.

If your mentee has a tough time finding the place, you can give him additional guidance such as, “Strong leaders don’t operate in complete isolation. You can ask people we pass or somebody in a local store if they know where the Baskin Robbins is.”
Step 3: Once you reach your target, use that time to review with your mentee the lessons learned and how these apply to other real world scenarios.

Questions you may ask include:

a) How are you feeling about this experience?

b) How do you feel about the quality of the decisions that you made?

c) How could you have made better decisions?

d) Do you feel that you made any decisions that didn't have the outcome you desired? Were all of the decisions that didn't lead to favorable outcomes "bad" decisions? What new information came about as a result of those decisions?

e) How does the experience or anything we've discussed over the past several minutes apply to your life right now? How does it apply to the goals you have for yourself?
Step 4: Alternatives to bike riding

What if bike riding doesn't work for you and your mentee? Here are a few other options to reinforce the same skills.

- Trails, Parks, Malls, and City Streets -- You can really accomplish this task by walking in lots of public areas. If you've got a starting place and an end goal in mind, hand the mentee a map (and possible a compass), and let the mentee lead.

- Eating Out -- Take your mentee to a new restaurant and explain that he can only read the menu one time before deciding what he’ll eat. He has to make a quick decision about what to eat, then live with the consequences.

- Create a Game -- Create an imaginary situation where your mentee has to make a series of quick decisions. Perhaps it's a situation where someone is injured and the mentee has to decide how to care for the person and get the care that they need. Or it could be a scenario from the news where the mentee is a leader who has to make a decision that some politicians are grappling with (such as the current issue over whether the federal government should bail out the Big 3 U.S. automakers). In either case, you should set limits on how much time the mentee has to make a decision, and then have a range of positive and negative consequences for him to grapple with.

Like what you’re reading?

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How did we get a hold of this strategy?

Since 2005, Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate has used the America Learns Performance Measurement & Learning Network to track the progress of and provide ongoing guidance and support to its mentors. The Network helps organizations like BRMA to increase their impact while reducing substantial costs and workloads around volunteer tracking, evaluation and support. A key aspect of the Network allows organizations to constantly capture the amazing strategies their volunteers create (like Eldon’s strategy) and to share those strategies among their volunteers when the volunteers feel that it’s timely and meaningful to do so.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October 2008: Patrick Tenbrink, Math Word Problem Superstar


Background

NSMlogo_Oct2008
duke

Picture a fourth grader. You're helping her with math homework one day and she is presented with a word problem. She reads it and tells you that she doesn't understand it. She begins to feel bored. Her focus disappears. You're feeling confused because the student knows how to solve this type of problem.

You should ask yourself, "What would Patrick Tenbrink do?"

image Patrick is a junior at Duke University majoring in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy. He's currently taking an educational psychology service learning course through Duke's Program in Education that requires students to volunteer as tutors.

Patrick created an awesome strategy just for this type of situation. Check it out below.

PS: Check out a great article that DUKETODAY wrote about Patrick being recognized as one of our Network Superstars.

The Strategy

WORD PROBLEM HUMOR

Created by: Patrick Tenbrink, service learning student, Duke University’s Program in Education (America Learns Network member since Feb., 2007)
Topic: - Math Word/Story Problems
Grade Level Strategy Was Originally Used With: Fourth
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group; Large Group

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: Dull math word problems leading to distraction and loss of motivation
Step 1: I took a normal word problem with several characters. I gave them funny names and put them in real life/real 4th grade situations.
"Bozley wants to buy 14 rubber snakes, 3 packages of chocolate chip cookies, and 27 tiny cowboy hats. He has $12.35. Each snake is 93 cents, a package of cookies is $1.98, one tiny cowboy hat is $3.47."
Step 2: I inserted situations that would capture the fourth grader's imagination. This lets the student create a mental image of what was happening.
"How much money will Bozley need to borrow from his friend Doofus in order to buy all the items he wishes to buy?"
Some thoughts from the America Learns Team: Patrick is reminding us that when a student seems to be unable to complete a word problem, it isn’t necessarily due to the student not understanding the content. The student may simply find the problem to be incredibly dull.

Years of literacy research and logic tell us that students are more interested in reading when they read about topics that interest them. Patrick applied that knowledge to his mathematics tutoring practice, bringing engaging stories to word problems so that his student would take interest in the assignment. This is a practice that students can do on their own when tutors, teachers and other homework assistants aren’t available.

Thoughts? How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Patrick by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

Monday, September 1, 2008

September 2008, Special Edition: Labels, Shmabels


Background

image

americareadslogoThis month's strategy was actually submitted to the Network back in 2004 by an America Reads Federal Work/Study tutor at the University of Utah in 2004. The tutor does a phenomenal job driving home the positive impact that a tutor or mentor can make in a young person's life.

We encourage a number of the organizations we serve to share this strategy with their volunteers during training workshops at the beginning of the school year.

While we normally only highlight brand new strategies to the Network here, given the number of volunteers this resource has helped, we wanted to share it with you today.

The Strategy

IT CAN BE DONE!
DON’T LET ACADEMIC LABELS BE A HINDRANCE

Created by: University of Utah America Reads Tutor
Topic: Engagement & Motivation
Grade Level Strategy Was Originally Used With: Third
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group; Large Group

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: Motivating a child to learn math.

A NOTE FROM THE AMERICA LEARNS TEAM: Even though this resource was written in the context of math tutoring, its moral is applicable to every form of academic assistance (be sure to read the entire story!).
Step 1: I tutor kids in reading, but sometimes I also tutor them in math. I went to the fourth grade classroom that I work in and took one of the girls with me into the hallway to work on her times tables. Her teacher mentioned to me that I shouldn't worry if she didn't understand very well because she was in the bottom level of the class and should be in special ed for all of her subjects.
Step 2: Together, my student and I went over each set of numbers starting from the highest level that she hadn't passed. We made a deal that she would study between our tutoring sessions and she was true to her word. Within two weeks she had passed the sixes and sevens. When we got to eights however, it seemed that we had hit a road block.
Step 3: For three weeks we tried to understand how to count eights so that she could pass that level. She was doing wonderfully during our sessions, but couldn't perform during the test. During our tutoring session on the third week I stopped her a few minutes early so that we could talk about the test. I told her how well she was doing during our sessions and how impressed I was with her dedication to learning. I also told her that I was a little perplexed that she hadn't yet passed her eights. At this point I told her that I knew she could pass that test, but she needed to know that she could too. I told her that I had confidence in her. She knew those numbers forward and backward. She just needed to have a little confidence in herself.
Sep 4: Sure enough, the next time I saw her, she told me that she had not only passed the eights, but the nines as well. She even continued to brag and tell me how easy the tens and elevens were. It doesn't matter if someone tells you that your student is special ed or resource or reading recovery. With hard work and dedication on both parts and a lot of positive reinforcement from you, it can be done.

Any Thoughts? How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 2008, Special Edition: Cyberbullying Toolkit for Tutors & Mentors


Background

Since our first pilot of the America Learns Performance Measurement & Learning Network in 2003, we’ve found that children regularly share concerns with their volunteer tutors and mentors that they do not tell anybody else. Given the rise of cyber harassment (1 in 10 U.S. teens have been bullied online or via their cell phones), it’s essential that volunteer-driven tutoring and mentoring programs equip their volunteers with the resources they need to respond appropriately when students come to them with news that they’re being cyberbullied.

Vanessa Van Petten We worked with teen and Net-Generation expert Vanessa Van Petten (pictured at right -- www.onteenstoday.com) to develop the following toolkit. The toolkit:

  • Offers volunteer tutors and mentors specific steps they can take to help students address online harassment, and

  • Arms volunteers with guidance they can provide to school administrators, parents and guardians if they're unfamiliar with appropriate steps to follow.

The toolkit has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education's Mentoring Resource Center and by the Afterschool Alliance.


The Toolkit

THE CYBERBULLYING TOOLKIT FOR TUTORS & MENTORS

Created by: Vanessa Van Petten (lead author) & Gary Kosman at America Learn
Topics: - Cyber Issues
- Conflict Resolution
Grade Level: First Grade - Twelfth Grade
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group
Materials: This list of cyberbullying response actions to share with your student's/mentee's parents

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: Use this strategy to help determine what you should do when your student tells you that she is having trouble with somebody or is in an uncomfortable situation online or via cell phone messaging.

These situations can occur via a number of media: social networks (Facebook, MySpace), instant messaging services (AIM, Google Talk), Internet chat rooms or even online games. As a result, your student may feel threatened, attacked, uncomfortable, ostracized or left out.

Here’s just a sample of what your student may be a victim of. Somebody may have:

- Written a nasty note or rumor on your student’s Facebook wall for everyone to see;

- Put up embarrassing pictures of your student on her school’s social network;

- Digitally imposed your student’s head onto a naked body and passed it around like it was real;

- Submitted your student’s name and picture to a site like “Hot or Not” for strangers to rate how ugly she is;

- Created a website or blog dedicated to how much they hate your student;

- Bated your student into writing a mean or weird instant message and then posted it all over MySpace or the school;

- Created a fake user account, pretended to be hot, flirted with your student, and then broke up with her, told her that s/he hates her, or told her that she is too ugly for him/her;

- Sent mean cell phone text messages, images or videos directly to your student or to others in school about your student ; or

- Harassed your student’s avatars or video game players on gaming websites.



Step 1: Understand Two Important Aspects of Online Bullying Culture.

It’s Instant & Ongoing.
Before, if you got into a fight at school or found out you were not invited to a party, you were able to come home, vent about it, get a snack, cool off, and have some space and time to think about how you were going to act in school during the next several days. While feelings of hurt or embarrassment may come home with you, there would probably be a break from the action that led you to feel that way.

Now, if somebody is mad at your student, that person can instantly send a text message to a social networking profile to post a mean comment. The second something happens, everybody in the school can know about it because they all get alerts or texts from automated news feeds or plugged-in friends. Teens are posting and checking these updates from cell phones and computers CONSTANTLY, so before what took a few days to spread (or what didn’t spread at all), can now take just a few minutes. And since these messages can be posted and read at any time, they can follow your student wherever she goes, on and off campus. It’s more challenging to find space to cool off and reflect.

It May be Permanent.
Postings on a Facebook wall, text messages and e-mail messages can be deleted. Other things, such as photos or social network announcements, can be posted forever or until the writer removes them.

Also, even if somebody posts an unflattering picture for five minutes on a school network before it’s removed, others can easily download, repost it, and/or pass it around by e-mail undetected. And don’t forget the power of Google. The search engine allows you to pull up past versions of a website, so even if items have been removed, they may still be accessed from historical copies of the site.



Step 2: Pinpoint Your Student's Role.

Discuss the situation with your student to discover her role in the bullying. Generally, you’ll find your student in one of four roles:

Victim:
Your student is being targeted, threatened, attacked, ostracized, left out or abused in some way.

Bully
:
Your student is bullying somebody else or is “flaming.” Flaming is when multiple students throw attacks at one another. When flaming occurs, every participant may be a victim and a bully.

Helpful Bystander
:
Your student is witnessing someone being hurt or attacked online, and has tried to resolve or mollify the situation (e.g., trying to calm the bully or telling the victim to leave a Facebook group, chat room or gaming area).

Harmful Bystander
:
Your student is observing or knows that bullying is going on, but is not reporting it to anyone other than you.

Here’s a list of questions you can ask to help determine the role your student is playing:

- What, exactly, is happening?

- How do you know the person or people involved?

- Have you seen this person or these people in person? How often? When was the last time you saw them?

- How long has this been happening for?

- How frequently does it happen?

- Who else knows about this? Have you mentioned it to your family? Have you mentioned it to any of your friends?

- Is anything similar happening to people you know?

- How safe do you feel as a result of what’s going on?

- Do you think that the person or people know your real name, address, phone number, and school?



Step 3: Immediate Actions to Take if the Incident is “Playground Gossip” Online

Most online bullying and gossip is “playground gossip.” In practice, it looks like a onetime “dis” or insult such as a curse word in an instant message or a ”de-friending” on Facebook with the intention of hurting feelings. These actions were caused by somebody the student knows, such as neighbors or school acquaintances.

If this is the type of issue your student is dealing with, talk with her about how she’s feeling and how she could address the issue (America Learns Network members should check out various conflict resolution strategies for additional tips on discussing this issue).
Also encourage your student to:

  1. Not engage the bully immediately: Make sure your student does not retaliate or respond to the bully while full of emotion as doing so may provoke the bully to continue or increase the severity or rate of his or her actions. Since Web and cell phone communications do not usually happen while the attacker and victim are face to face, your student will likely be able to take the time she needs before (and if) she responds.

  2. Save all correspondence with the bully (you can do this together): This includes printing instant message conversations, printing and saving all emails, and taking screen shots of harmful comments on Facebook or MySpace before removing them from one’s profile. Encourage your student to also note the time and date of all incidents, the screen names the bully used, the bystanders of the situation, and the names of any chat rooms or games involved.

  3. If the incident was Web-based, to temporarily stop using that particular social networking site/forum/program/game. Encourage her to spend some time reflecting on what happened and deciding what, if any, actions to take.

We encourage you to also contact your supervisor about this in case it’s a part of a larger trend that you may be unaware of, or if it’s the beginning of a trend that you may not be around to learn about. Encourage your supervisor to either tell your student’s parents about it or ask your supervisor if you can inform the parents or guardians.


Sep 4: Steps to Take When the Situation is More Serious

If the incident is anything other than one-time playground gossip, or if it’s any action that was done by somebody your student doesn’t know, report the issue immediately. Be sure to tell your student that you’re going to report the incident because you want to do what’s best for her. Be sure that you keep her updated of what’s going on, and try to include her in as many conversations as possible.

Here’s the list of individuals we recommend that you connect with:

- Try to connect with your supervisor first. Work with her to determine who will notify your student’s parents or guardians
. If your supervisor and the parents are not sure of next steps, consider sharing this list of actions with the parents.

- If your supervisor or your student’s parents are unavailable, try to notify a teacher or school counselor of the incident. Oftentimes, teachers and counselors have been instructed how to address these issues.

- If you can’t reach your supervisor, your student’s parents, teachers or counselors, notify the administrators of the organization you tutor or mentor through.

Once you contact the appropriate individuals, if they are not sure of next steps, share the list of actions with them.



Additional Resources: Check out additional articles on cyberbullying at OnTeensToday.com. Following are some links to other articles written by Vanessa Van Petten. She’d love her you’re your feedback on them.

Any Thoughts? How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about the Toolkit by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 2008: Lis David, Your Spelling Adventure Tour Guide


Background

June 2008's America Learns Global Strategy of the Month
City Year Chicago

Meet Lis David, a corps member with City Year Chicago and the author of the June 2008 America Learns Strategy of the Month.

Lis DavidCalled Adventures in Spelling, the strategy offers tutors, mentors and student teachers a needed alternative to traditional forms of word study and review. We loved playing the game Lis created, and we're sure that you and your students or mentees will love it as well. Check it out below!

More About Lis
Lis decided to serve with City Year Chicago after visiting a friend who was working with children. Learning about his work motivated her to explore opportunities she could have with kids, and to see whether teaching could be a professional option for her. City Year Chicago appealed to her because she liked the idea of the community that City Year works to build among the children it serves.

The Strategy

ADVENTURES IN SPELLING

Created by: Lis David, City Year Chicago (America Learns Network member since 2005)
Topic: Spelling
Grade Levels: Kindergarten – Second
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group
Materials:
- Paper and a marker/pen/pencil to make the board (download a sample)
- One or two dice
- Optional: clip art or relevant images from a magazine or newspaper

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: The kids were getting bored with word sorts and word study activities, so I made a little board game where the kids can review the meaning and spelling of the words as they’re “going through the woods.”

The kids love this; it keeps them engaged and they do much better when they like what they are doing.


Step 1: Create the game board.

On a piece of paper, draw a road with a start and finish point. Along the road draw four or five obstacles, like a log in the road or a bear or a river. Next to each obstacle make or glue in a piece of a sentence strip large enough for the kids to write the words in. If you don’t have sentence strips available, you can create a box near the obstacle for the student to write the word. See a sample game board.

Note that if the words you’re working on are adjectives or verbs, just draw a picture representing those words. You can also use clip art or images from magazines/newspapers.


Step 2: You can play the game in a couple of different ways.

1) Spelling Practice Adventure (the game my kids love)
Ask the students to roll the dice. If they reach a space with an obstacle, they must write the word that represents that obstacle to pass it. So if they land on a bear, the need to write “bear.” If they land on a pile of logs, they need to write “logs.” Have them write the words in the strips or in the text box you created.

If a kid writes the word incorrectly, review the spelling with her, and then give her an opportunity to try again on her next turn. If your organization is a member of the America Learns Network, you can access a number of strategies to facilitate this review.


2) Vocabulary Adventure
If you want to turn this into more of a vocabulary exercise, instead of drawing pictures that represent the words, write the words themselves. Your kids will then draw or find a picture to get over the obstacles. (You may even start out by first creating cards of the images that the kids will need. They can then sift through the cards and place the picture on the correct word. You can then stop using the cards and ask the kids to draw the images on their own.)



Extension Activities: Extension #1: Write or tell a story based on the adventure
Ask your kids to write an adventure story based on the obstacles they had to overcome while playing the game. If you’re running out of time at the end of the session, you can also ask the kids to tell you a story based on the game’s obstacles (if you’re working with more than one child, they can take turns adding to the story). You or they can then write out an outline of what they say or draw pictures representing the events in their story. They may have a lot of fun acting out their story afterwards.

Extension #2: Ask students to make their own game boards!
The next time you read a story with your students, ask them to keep track of new words they run into and words they really like from the story. Each of the students can then make their own game boards and play them with one another. Be sure to photocopy your students’ creations as they may come in handy for future students as well!

Thoughts?
How Have You Addressed this Issue?
Have Other Extension Activity Ideas?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Lis by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 2008: Robert Boehler, Coin Value Master


Background

May 2008 America Learns Global Strategy of the Month
IUPUI

If you've ever been a volunteer reading tutor, there's a good chance that your student has presented you with a math question.

Despite any guidance you received during trainings to tell your student's teacher or the student herself that you're just there for reading, it's awfully tough to tell your student, "Sorry, can't help. Let's work on reading instead."

We've seen a countless number of reading tutors experience this challenge over the past five years. Thankfully, we've been lucky to have a number of amazing math tutors in our community who have shared some phenomenal resources. And here's where Robert Boehler comes in. Robert developed an engaging strategy that helped a number of the students served by IUPUI America Counts math coaches to develop a meaningful understanding of coin and dollar values.

Robert BoehlerRobert, who will soon have his own elementary school classroom, told us that when it comes to teaching math, he's all about making sure that his students understand HOW math works (not just how to plug in an algorithm). We're sure that the children you serve will gain a meaningful understanding of these core money-value concepts from the activity.

The Strategy

BANK EXCHANGE
(A GAME TO TEACH COIN VALUES)

Created by: Robert Boehler, America Reads and America Counts Programs at IUPUI (Network member since 2007)
Topics: Money; Financial Literacy; Counting; Addition; Subtraction
Grade Levels: First - Third
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group
Materials:
- One die
- Coin and dollar bill cut-outs (or actual coins and dollar bills)
- Coin equivalencies sheet

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: This is a learning activity that focuses on developing students’ understanding of the value of coins and the concept of equivalent values.
Step 1: Using the coin cut-outs, show students the different denominations of coins, and ask them to tell you the names and values of each one.

Then, ask questions such as the following, and ask students to make the exchanges on their own using the cut-outs.
- “How many pennies are in a nickel?”
- “How many nickels are in a quarter?”
- “How many dimes are in a dollar?”
- “Using the largest value coins, how can you make twenty-five cents?” “fifty cents?”, “one dollar?”

Step 2: Explain the rules of the game to your students.

Inform student(s) that you (the coach) are the banker who has all the money. Students will get money by rolling the die. When students roll an odd number (1, 3, or 5), they’ll get that number in pennies. When they roll an even number, they won’t receive anything.

Tell students that at the beginning of each turn, they’ll be able to ask the banker to exchange their coins for the next highest currency (e.g., five pennies for a nickel).

The first person to exchange their coins for a one-dollar bill wins! If you need to end the game before you reach a dollar, note that a student who has one dime will win over the student with ten pennies, since a dime has a higher currency than a penny. Emphasize this point with your students before starting to play.

Step 3: As you play the game…

Your students should be continually observing and counting their coins in order to know when they can exchange their coins for the next highest currency. If they do not initiate the coin exchange on their own, remind them of the beginning exercise where they traded up to greater coin denominations (five pennies for a nickel). If they need further assistance ask questions such as, “which coin has the same value as your five pennies?” Or “are your five dimes the highest coin values you can have to make fifty cents?”

If needed, provide your students with copies of a coin equivalencies worksheet. Let them use the sheet to help them determine when they can exchange their smaller currency coins for higher value coins with the banker. As they become more proficient in understanding coin value equivalencies, challenge them to play without the guide.

Step 4: The first person who exchanges their coins for a one-dollar bill wins!

Note: a student who has earned a value of $1.00 in coins is not an automatic winner since the student has not successfully traded their coins for higher currencies.

Step 5: Moving into financial literacy

You can continue to play and extend this game to meet your students’ needs. For example, you can change the amount of money each student receives with each roll, assign a specific number on the die where the student must give money back to the banker (this is particularly effective in helping your students understand the concept of making change), or alter the winning amount of money students must obtain.

CentCity’s Two Cents

centscity

Felix Brandon Lloyd, founder and Principal of the global financial literacy firm CentsCity, notes that the strategy also begins to help students focus on financial literacy skills:

"The very last paragraph in the strategy is where things get most interesting to me. The idea of certain values on the die requiring the student to give back money (or perhaps even requiring another student to give back or donate money to a common pot) adds an even more dynamic element and seems to be where the main skill sets being reinforced become more sophisticated for this age group."

Thoughts?
How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Robert by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 2008: Amber Jones, Map Maker Extraordinaire


Background

April 2008 America Learns Strategy of the Month
image

All of us know that tutoring and mentoring relationships don't happen in a bubble. This month's Strategy of the Month author gives us a way to prevent any sense of a bubble from forming.

Meet Amber Jones, a coach with IUPUI's America Reads and America Counts Programs. An undergrad Social Work major, Amber took a strategy out of a professional social worker's toolkit and applied it beautifully to her tutoring practice.

The strategy involves creating an "eco-map", a great tool that volunteer tutors and mentors can use to better understand their student or mentee's overall attitudes towards life and school, as well their home environments and family relationships.

A Little More About Amber

Amber Jones

When we asked Amber the reasons she coaches, she shared that, "Getting paid to hang out with kids has always been something I look for in part-time employment. Tutoring graciously reminds me how tough it was to be a kid. Without even seeing the statistics, it has always been easy to tell that our interactions with students benefit them in one way or another. I love this job because it is a chance to give new perspectives to those who might feel stuck inside the box."

We hope Amber's strategy will give you a new perspective on how to build closer relationships with the children and/or adults you serve.

The Strategy

ECO-MAP

Created by: Amber Jones, America Reads and America Counts Programs at IUPUI (America Learns Network member since 2007)
Topics: - Getting to Know Your Student/Mentee
- Your Relationship with Your Student/Mentee
- Your Relationship with Teachers/Staff
- Your Relationship with Parents/Guardians
Grade Levels: Second - Adult
Arrangements: One-on-One
Materials:
- Lightly-colored paper
- Pencil with eraser
- Table
- Optional: sample eco-map

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Situation: I find that the students have very complex family arrangements that may lead to stressful environments. This, in turn, affects learner attitudes and emotional health while at school.

With an eco-map, you can better understand what the learners' home life is like as well as their interactions with micro- mezzo- and macro- level social systems. Eco-maps are a useful tool for social workers and coaches alike since trust is such an important aspect of working with kids. Getting to know your student is the first major step toward building that trust.



Step 1: First, I prepared my own eco-map to share with the student (click the image below to download and print out a sample).

Sample Eco-Map (small)

I illustrated my connection to social systems such as my family, school, and work with circles, squares, squiggly lines, and dashed lines. Then, I explained why I chose the connections such as a darkened line toward working as a reading coach. Since I enjoy working as a coach, the line connecting me to my job was clear and dark.



Step 2: Second, I gave the learner a sheet of paper with a lightly drawn circle about 2 or 3 inches in diameter.

With a pencil, the learner draws a smaller circle or square (circle for girl, square for boy) with his or her name in it. The rest of the lightly drawn circle should contain everyone else living in the learner's household including pets (note that your learner can add "ears" to those boxes containing pets' names).



Step 3: When the central circle of housemates has been established, the learner should list other people the parents or guardians are involved with such as spouses in separate households or blood relatives living outside the home.

For instance, Mom's boyfriend has two kids and lives in his own home. This would be illustrated by drawing a line from Mom in the central circle connecting to an additional circle containing the boyfriend with his two kids. Maybe the learner draws a squiggly connection because the Mom and boyfriend don't always get along. Types of connections should be noted in a key (see the key at the top left of the attached example to get an idea of how different line types in the eco-map we made represented different things).



Step 4: Next, ask how the learner feels about school/his or her teacher. (If you're working with an adult learner who is not in school outside of your work together, you may ask about his or her work.)

Write "school" or the teachers name in another area of the page and connect the student to this new bubble with an appropriate line. For example, the student really connects with their current teacher or coach. S/he would write "Ms. Jones" on an area of the page surrounding the central circle and connect "me" with "Ms. Jones" using a darkened line. The key would note that the darkened line equals a strong connection.



Step 5: Using any other places, people, or organizations the learner is involved with, illustrate how the learner connects to his or her social environment.

More examples might be afterschool daycare, babysitters, favorite past times, vacation spots, grandparents, best friends, cousins, jobs, chores, clubs, sports, coaches, classes, or major fears.



Step 6: America Learns Note:

Once your learner creates his eco-map, spend some time with it to consider how you'll use this information right now and what additional information you need to learn so that you can better serve him. If you made an eco-map of your own relationships to share with your learner, ask him if he has any questions about the relationships in your life.

Remember that this map is just a snapshot of your learners' present relationships. Think about whether and how you'd like to update the maps or your knowledge of your learners' relationships as you continue to build a relationship.

Thoughts?
How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Amber by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March 2008: Part 2 of the Adult Literacy Double Feature


Background

March 2008 America Learns Strategy of the Month
Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles

Since October 2003, we've highlighted strategies for 52 straight months via our Strategy of the Month e-newsletter. This month marks the first time we're highlighting two strategies at once (to see the other strategy for this month, click here). It's also the first time that we're recognizing strategies from an adult literacy program.

The strategies come from volunteers with the Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles. The organization's Volunteer for Literacy Program strengthens and builds the capacity of literacy providers in the Greater Los Angeles community by recruiting and training volunteers to help improve the basic literacy skills of adults within and outside of the workforce. Providers include public schools, libraries, WorkSource Centers, and other community-based organizations.

As you're about to learn, the Literacy Network is also home to incredibly passionate, innovative volunteers.

Office of English Language Development - U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition highlighted these volunteers for their being recognized as America Learns Strategy of the Month authors.   Canada's National Adult Literacy Database and the Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center also posted news about the strategies on their websites.

Meet Joyce Tamanaha-Ho

Joyce Tamanaha-Ho

Joyce (left) and her Learning Partner

Joyce works one-on-one with an ESL learner once a week at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library. When we asked her to share some information about herself, she wrote:

I'm a product of California public schools, from kindergarten through graduate school. By profession, I'm a public high school English/journalism teacher who has been taking an extended break from classroom teaching to be a full-time mom.

Tutoring at my local public library allows me to continue to give back to my community what so many have given me - an opportunity to be well-educated and civic-minded.

Joyce's strategy involves helping adult learners to better understand American culture and colloquialisms by reading and discussing "Ask Amy" columns together. Check it out below!

The Strategy

LEARNING ABOUT AMERICAN CULTURE AND COLLOQUIALISMS THROUGH NEWSPAPER COLUMNS

Created by: Joyce Tamanaha-Ho, Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles
(America Learns Network member since 2007)
Topics: English Language Learners; Vocabulary Development
Grade Levels: Seventh - Adult
Arrangements: One-on-One
Materials:
- "Ask Amy" columns from newspaper or an editorial column
- Highlighter and pen/pencil
- This vocabulary chart

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: My learning partner expressed an interest in learning more about colloquialisms and slang. Rather that start with a list of colloquialisms, I decided to use the "Ask Amy" column of our newspaper. This way, my learning partner would be able to:

1) Read about Americans in their own words, dealing with life's everyday dilemmas;

2) Learn about American culture and attitudes; and

3) Learn how to compose a short letter.

   
Step 1: Among other charts, I prepared a three-column vocabulary chart to be used each week to keep track of the following in our readings: colloquialisms/slang, definitions, and examples of ways those words can be used.
   
Step 2: Over the course of the week, I collected "Ask Amy" columns that were rich in colloquialisms and slang. (I now keep a bank of them.) You can photocopy them so that your learning partner can keep track of what you've read together and take a copy home.
   
Step 3: To begin the tutoring process, I read the column aloud, one paragraph at a time, while my learning partner follows along and uses a highlighter to note any words or phrases that are new or confusing for her.
   
Step 4: We stop at the end of each paragraph to discuss any questions she has. This is usually where we have the chance to talk about American culture and opinions.
   
Step 5: I then write the words/phrases that she highlights on the chart (and use this time to also point out words that have multiple meanings/uses).

I explain the definition of the word/phrase and ask my learning partner to write that on the chart. We come up with examples of when the colloquial word/phrase can be used and then write a sentence with the word in the third column of the chart. Encourage your learning partner to create sentences that discuss experiences or issues in her life.

   
Step 6: When we finish the article, my learning partner reads the selection aloud by herself.

By the end of the session, she has been acquainted with new American colloquialisms/slang, and has a chart to take home as a reference and for future review.

Thoughts?
How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Joyce by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

March 2008: Part 1 of the Adult Literacy Double Feature


Background

America Learns March 2008 Strategy of the Month
Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles

Since October 2003, we've highlighted strategies for 52 straight months via our Strategy of the Month e-newsletter. This month marks the first time we're highlighting two strategies at once (to see the other strategy for this month, click here). It's also the first time that we're recognizing strategies from an adult literacy program.

The strategies come from volunteers with the Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles. The organization's Volunteer for Literacy Program strengthens and builds the capacity of literacy providers in the Greater Los Angeles community by recruiting and training volunteers to help improve the basic literacy skills of adults within and outside of the workforce. Providers include public schools, libraries, WorkSource Centers, and other community-based organizations.

As you're about to learn, the Literacy Network is also home to incredibly passionate, innovative volunteers.

Office of English Language Development - U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition highlighted these volunteers for their being recognized as America Learns Strategy of the Month authors.   Canada's National Adult Literacy Database and the Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center also posted news about the strategies on their websites.

Meet Maria Barham

Maria Barham

Maria tutors more than 20 hours a month at the Burbank Adult School, where she primarily serves low-level ESL learners. Originally from Australia (where she was a high school English teacher), she now enjoys helping students from many different countries and language backgrounds as they learn the language and culture of Southern California and the U.S. as a whole.

Robyn Wasserman, the Literacy Network's volunteer program coordinator, described Maria as "a fantastic volunteer who pays a lot of attention to detail and cares about the success of the learners. She creates lessons and activities that engage the learners while teaching them life skills."

Maria's strategy involves helping her learning partners who are unfamiliar with the Roman alphabet script to more easily recognize and pronounce the letters of the English alphabet. We hope that you and any adult learners you support will benefit from Maria's success, and that you'll especially appreciate and learn from the detailed guidance she offers in Step 1 around providing instructions to in English to those who do not yet speak the language.

The Strategy

ALPHABET AWARENESS FOR LEARNERS UNFAMILIAR WITH THE ROMAN SCRIPT/ENGLISH ALPHABET

Created by: Maria Barham, Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles
(America Learns Network member since 2007)
Topics: Alphabet; English Language Learners
Grade Levels: Adult
Arrangements: Two to five learners
Materials: A page with the alphabet printed on it

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: I used this strategy to help teach the alphabet to a group of illiterate students who were not familiar with Roman script / the English alphabet.

My students had previously learned how to say the alphabet and how to write both capital and lower case letters. As speakers of a language that does not use the Roman script, the students were very hesitant about pronouncing the letters and were confusing letters such as C & S, G & J, M & N etc.



Step 1: Students were given a page with the 26 letters of the alphabet in the correct order.

They were taught the meaning of 'listen and circle'.

- Teach the word 'listen' by holding your hand behind your ear and saying slowly, "listen". Students physically hold their hand behind their ear and repeat "listen".

- Teach the word 'circle' by modeling to the students how to circle a letter of the alphabet on their page. Say "Circle A" and then draw a circle around the letter A on your page. Say "Circle B" and draw a circle around the letter B on your page. Have the students copy you by circling the letter A and then B on their worksheet.



Step 2: The teacher calls out one letter of the alphabet, such as C. Students find C on their worksheet and circle it. Partners check each other's work for the correct answer. The teacher continues to call out more letters until the students are comfortable with listening, circling and checking their partner's work.


Step 3: Now each student takes a turn at calling out one letter of the alphabet. The rest of the group circles the correct letter on their worksheets. Continue taking turns until all 26 letters are circled.


Step 4: Next, ask how the learner feels about school/his or her teacher. (If you're working with an adult learner who is not in school outside of your work together, you may ask about his or her work.)

Write "school" or the teachers name in another area of the page and connect the student to this new bubble with an appropriate line. For example, the student really connects with their current teacher or coach. S/he would write "Ms. Jones" on an area of the page surrounding the central circle and connect "me" with "Ms. Jones" using a darkened line. The key would note that the darkened line equals a strong connection.



Step 5: Using any other places, people, or organizations the learner is involved with, illustrate how the learner connects to his or her social environment.

More examples might be afterschool daycare, babysitters, favorite past times, vacation spots, grandparents, best friends, cousins, jobs, chores, clubs, sports, coaches, classes, or major fears.

Thoughts?
How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Maria by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.