20 November 2015

America Reads 2015-2016 Third Blog Prompt




ATTN: America Reads Tutors

Tell about a student(s) who you are tutoring that is making progress or a student that is having challenges. (Do not use the student's real name). Have you noticed changes with this tutor since you started working with them? Has your community partner?  As an America Reads tutor what strategies are you using to help the student? Do you have ideas for other tutors?


51 comments:

  1. Starting to work at America Reads, you quickly notice the differences of each child you tutor. You notice the easy ones, the nice ones, the difficult ones, and the ones who need the most help. I happened to start tutoring one of the ones who was difficult, and needed the most help. We will refer to her as Kayla. My advice for helping a student such as this? Keep at it! Find ways to keep the reading interesting and keep the student motivated! This helped a lot in Kayla's case. When I started working with her, it was really difficult. She could only read a word or two and got really discouraged whenever she got something wrong. Right now, she can almost read a full sentence with little to no help. It's amazing seeing the progression a student makes!
    ~KW

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    1. You are doing a great job by finding ways to connect, thanks for the ideas!

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    2. It is amazing that you are changing lives and you are helping build confidence. Great work!

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    3. You are amazing by continuing to work with her; no matter the challenge. Soon you will reap the reward with this student! Great job and keep it up!

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    4. Great job not getting discouraged when you found that you were assigned to a difficult child. They are the ones who need you the most. It sounds like you are doing everything right! It does our hearts good when we see success in our studends!!

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    6. I totally agree! Showing a student that you are not giving upon them, gives them the motivation to not give up on themselves either. To a child, if an adult keeps working with them, it shows that they believe in them. When you can get that student to realize you believe in them (which in this case you have!), that is where the magic happens :) Awesome job!
      B.L.

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  2. I have not been doing as much tutor this semester with my position as office staff, but I have been working with a resource teacher who is having a difficult time reaching a student in one of her math groups. From my experience as a tutor I was able to give her suggestions. the main issue she is having is the student does not want to participate actively in the lesson or even verbally respond to questions. I was able to relate his behavior to another student I had dealt with. I think it helped the teacher to have a new perspective on the situation and at least gave her some new things to try and address.
    Cls

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    1. I think teachers do a great job, but even at times they don't always have the perception to see everything as they are challenged with many students. I think suggesting ideas to them in a tactful way can build the relationships for everyone!

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    2. That is very impressive that tutoring has provided you the experiences to share with other teachers to help to connect with their students. Those are skills that will last a life time and those skills will always be frequently used.

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    3. I think finding the skills to talk with the teachers to connect with their students is amazing. It's needed so that the teachers can work with the students on a more one and one level.

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  3. I just started tutor at the YMCA, we didn't do any reading much only active like going outside and just helping out snack time. American Read is such a great way to tutor kid who need a role model.

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    1. Even when you are outside, you can teach children while you are there about taking turns, being fair, being safe. Look for opportunities and you will find them ;)

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    2. You can always ask the kids to read with you during their center times. They really love that and they love the interaction when you read with them.

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    3. I was feeling the same way, feeling more like a babysitter than a tutor. I asked the Preschool teacher is I could implement reading with the children into one of the centers at centertime. She was very open to this suggestion and also has me read to the group during reading time. We have so much to offer, don't be afraid to share your ideas!!

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    4. I agree that the America Reads program is a great role model for kids to look up to! Great insight! ~KW

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  4. Working with children at YMCA is different than the schools, mainly because i feel that sometimes the children need more babysitting than teaching. This can cause interuptions to those trying to learn and those trying to teach..in particular there is a boy I have been trying to work with that may have some attention deficit issues, and so last week i tried to do more interactive playing like role playing with him and it worked more effectively than just "overseeing" the kids. We were in the play area where two boys were playing with the "kitchen" area, I had them pretending to make certain foods like pizza, I asked them what ingredients they would put on their pizza, if they would cook in microwave or oven and if they wanted hot cocoa or milk, It gave them more ideas in their play, and not just throwing toys at one another..I think implementing more creativity will help them to think more as they play in their group.

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    1. This is what's cool about working with the little ones. Sometimes it takes me a minute to switch my brain into kid mode, but that's part of what I enjoy. Figuring out how to make ANYTHING a learning experience. When we play with play doh, I turn it into letters and shapes and have them tell me what they are. Love it.

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    2. Working with the YMCA is a lot different than with the schools. Thanks for mentioning creativity! I think a lot of people neglect that we are supposed to be imaginative and creative with the kids, instead of just reading with them. It helps them as students if we make interacting with us fun instead of homework. ~KW

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    3. That's a great idea. I believed that as adults we should be helping them to expand their vocabulary and imagination. Thanks for the great tip.

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    4. That is so true. It can be hard to find a way in to the kids' attention, but once you do, it is great to find ways to expand their views on things. The structure of the YMCA may be less conducive to traditional learning, but the opportunity to help the kids learn and grow is there if you look for it. It can be as simple as asking them what is this color or letter in objects surrounding them. This also helps them associate the things they know with the environment around them. Awesome idea with the role playing.

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  5. I have been working at YMCA a lot with the pre schoolers. I have been assigned to work with the students that are struggling. I know they are just barely in the stage of understanding what words and numbers are but you would not believe how excited they are to have you read to them. I have one student who never ever talks and one day I just sat and read to him and kept reading even though he kept changing out the book he wanted to read to him. Within the half hour of us reading he started to try and put together words and no one has ever really heard him talk or even really try to. I know that sometimes it seems discouraging because it can be hard to keep students attention but if you keep reading and even just change books frequently, anything helps to help students become successful in reading and putting together words. This has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. You get to watch students learn and grow and be apart of that learning process. It is so amazing to know that you are helping to enrich lives.
    JK

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    1. Reading with the kids, and seeing them gain an interest is rewarding in more ways then one. I once worked with a student who was like that, didn't talk, and once I worked with her, she slowly improved and became one of my better readers.

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    2. Reading with these little ones is sooooo important. When they hear words used in the proper context they are able to grasp the concepts more easily. Instead of just saying words, the child is putting meaning to the words, sentences and stories. It is awesome that the child is receptive to your skills of tutoring and beginning to say words. Great job!!

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    3. I absolutely love reading time with the little ones. It makes me warm and fuzzy when I hear 'will you read this to me?'. It's definitely a learning process for me to figure out what each kid needs in order to connect. I agree with Jami in saying this is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. This experience has definitely helped me get in touch with my kid side. A side that hadn't been tapped for a while, so I'm kinda stoked about that.

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    4. So much of learning is based in repetition. Showing your willingness to spend the time going over the many books helps the concept of written words representing spoken words; they gradually start to sink in for the kids. When I first read to the kids, I had a hard time finding any kids that wanted me to read to them. Last time I was there, I was surrounded by kids in a circle even behind me that couldn't get close enough. Children crave knowledge. We just need to help them understand what it is they are hearing and seeing around them. They really soak it up like sponges.

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    5. So much of learning is based in repetition. Showing your willingness to spend the time going over the many books helps the concept of written words representing spoken words; they gradually start to sink in for the kids. When I first read to the kids, I had a hard time finding any kids that wanted me to read to them. Last time I was there, I was surrounded by kids in a circle even behind me that couldn't get close enough. Children crave knowledge. We just need to help them understand what it is they are hearing and seeing around them. They really soak it up like sponges.

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  6. Since I have been tutoring at Nibley Park, I have been experiencing the challenges and the improvements with each of the children I work with. Since I have been tutoring, I have one student who is at the very basic level of reading and vocabulary; and what I have noticed about this student is that she has a challenge, but this doesn’t stop her. She is trying everyday to improve, but it is at a slower speed. Then I have others who have challenges with staying focused on the lessons, readings, and they will read too fast and slur the words.

    But with these challenges, I have been noticing improvements, and the community partner has as well, with these students I work with. All of this has been because I have been using different strategies and ideas, different from what I have done before. Some of these strategies include: using the whiteboard with vocabulary words that can be put into sentences. And with that I have been having them find words that work, and put them into sentences, and then we see if the sentence they make works or not. Some other strategies I have used are: having the students repeat the words they miss, over and over again, until they can read the word on their own without mistakes.

    I have noticed that these strategies have helped my students in immense ways. I am surprised at how much they have improved with these strategies. I am so proud of these students, for even though they have these struggles, they also have their improvements.

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    1. It's amazing seeing the progress a student makes with our help! Just a little help goes a long way! Keep up the great work! ~KW

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    2. That's awesome. Those Ideas are great ideas I will try for myself. I have also found out what helps is breaking up the words by the syllable count when sounding out a word they don't know. For example the word "vo cab ul ar y". I underline to show them how to break it down when they sound out words and they don't even realize that is what I am doing. :) It seems to help!
      B.L.

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  7. I was working on "seatwork" with a 3rd grader last week. As we finished his assignment which was to write 8 sentences and he wrote 10 sentences, he replied, " Miss Beebe is going to be so happy with me!" When I went back to the classroom with him, he ran to Miss Beebe, who looked at his work and praised the student for his hard work and effort. The students face lit up as he felt so proud of himself. I was then talking to Miss Beebe, telling her that I would ask the student the questions and I would write down his response on a piece of paper and then he would copy it onto his paper. She was happy that this student is at least doing "copy" work. That is the beginning of learning to read and write. She then told me that this student needed as much praise as possible from us at school because he does not receive praise at home. When I went to pick this student up the next time, he said, " I really missed you, I am excited to go to the Reading Room with you." Needless to say I am concerned for this student and will do all that I can to continue to encourage him in his schoolwork and he knows that there are people that are proud of him.

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    1. I know it can be difficult to fully understand the struggles some of this children face at home, but you are making a difference You are providing a safe, positive environment for this student. You are recognizing his worth and accomplishments. I had a student that was asked about his Christmas break. He said he spent it with his Grandmother. As commenting about how exciting that must have been, he blurted out that it was because he was scared of his mom. So, he couldn't spend it with her. It can be heart-breaking to hear those things. Just keep being that positive influence and role model.

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  8. I can't think of any one student in particular, but I am noticing during reading time (I mostly work with the preschoolers), they can pretty much 'read' some of the books back to me. They've heard them enough times, they understand the plot, so I like having them read to me. I've also noticed when we color, the kids like to copy what I'm doing, which is cool because it keeps them within the lines on the paper. It's just cool to see development with numbers and shapes and colors just from repetition. They're wicked smart and it's fun to watch their little brains developing.

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  9. I have been reading to the preschoolers, and what I have noticed that some preschoolers know how to read a book. And that they get really excited to read it to someone. This preschoolers are inspiring the other kids to try and learn how to read a book. What I enjoy the most is that when the other kids are trying to read a book and don’t know how to read they will make up a story, and it’s fun to see how creative they are.

    -Jessica H

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    1. I had no idea some of them could read. I am definitely going to pay more attention to what they know. Their creative imaginations are interesting to watch when they go to centers; but I'll have to see what kind of stories they tell, too! Thank you!

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    2. That is so sweet.The children are proving that they want to read and they will make up a story to show it. That's one of the things that I enjoy to see the children trying hard to prove themselves they can read and want to read at us. I know that we are doing a difference and the small seed will grow better and stronger.

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    3. I definitely agree with you Jessica! Half the fun of being a tutor is watching the kids get so excited about reading! It is fun to hear their stories, and learn more about their personalities. It's nice to know what we are doing, reading (or even just listening sometimes) is actually making a difference.
      Rachael Wilkin

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  10. I think I've noticed a lot more change in the tutors themselves than necessarily in the students. Although the students do show growth, it's the way the tutors are able to interact with the students that seems to show the most progress for everyone. As tutors go from thoughts like, "I'll try doing this with such-and-such student," to "I'll do this with that student;" there is a major change. The preschool students have seemed much better behaved, with more opportunities to learn positively, as time has continued. Specifically, I've noticed a student who will be known here as Juan. He has his on-days and his off-days, just like everyone. As people have been able to interact with him and build relationships (whether it be with another student or a given tutor) he has had easier/better/more productive days. He's much more likely to follow directions now than when I first met him, and it looks like he gets along better with the people he sees. From my observations, this is due to increased experience with the tutors and having more chances to interact with others.

    -Nathan Nish

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    1. Wow, I loved hearing that Nathan. I think that our attitudes as tutors can influence a child greatly. The fact that a student interacts better and is more willing to follow directions means that he will be more willing to try in other aspects such as reading as well!

      B.L.

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    2. Thanks for your comment Nathan! I haven't thought too much about the tutors becoming better at helping the students, but it's definitely true! I can notice a difference in the way I approach tutoring, and I'm more able to now know what a student needs to excel. It makes a difference when they know we are committed to helping them anyway we can. They know that it is important to us, and hopefully that spills over to them, and helps them in their reading.
      Rachael Wilkin

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  11. I have a couple of students at Nibley who are both Spanish speakers only. I can't really tell how long they have been in the country because they can't really tell me, but neither of them speaks English. One of them seems to be embarrassed speaking it but we have made SOME progress. One of the girls barely even spoke to me when I first picked her up. She is super quiet and very shy it seems. I have used the board games as allies. Once I get her laughing she seems to open up and try harder at reading, I think this one may actually understand the language a bit, but I can't tell because she won't speak much. The second girl is a little more open and talkative and with her I have stuck to basics: colors, numbers, animal names, pronouns and we have slowly started to form sentences. She is struggling with forming sentences and I believe that is mostly because she doesn't want to speak English. Anyway I'm not giving up.. real progress should happen before the end of the school year right?

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  12. Jen
    I have worked at the YMCA only in the morning shift. I work with the little children and I can see a difference with some of the children behavior who speak Spanish. The teacher for the 3 and 4 year old told me about this child who was having trouble speaking and following directions because they were not sure if he was understanding them. One day I was at the YMCA and this little one that I have been talking about heard that I spoke Spanish to other child and he did a funny face to me. Then I started to speak Spanish only with him and for some reason he behave really well and he listened the whole time I was there. The teacher said that he has never behave well as he was doing that day, so I felt really happy that I was helping the kid to feel better at his every day environment. I can say that the YMCA also need people who speak Spanish helping with the children but at least we are there to help as much as we can. I also had other times that some of the children were not following directions from other team members at the YMCA and I decided to speak Spanish to them and they finally follow orders.

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  13. There are two students who stick out to me at the YMCA. Both of them are in 5th and 6th grade yet their reading levels are very low in comparison to the other students. They have their own set of challenges and part of the reason is their attitude towards reading. I realized that had to change if the students were going to make any kind of academic progress. Reading is a skill along with knowing how to play an instrument or draw. With practice and the right attitude to keep persevering, you can always make progress on a skill. We have been practicing reading as a skill for so long in school, that for those who have grown up speaking, reading, and writing English - reading can feel like second nature. How could you stop knowing how to read, right? We forget that it's actually pretty difficult. I reflected back on my own past experiences as a child, and any time I avoided practicing something I struggled with was because I was afraid. I felt that I wasn't getting better and so I would either pretend I was disinterested to hide my shame or embarrassment or complain and not want to do it. I didn't want to try because I was afraid the teacher or whoever was helping me would be frustrated or judge me for not being good. I also was comparing myself to the other students who were doing better. Ultimately, I lacked self-confidence so I lacked the right attitude to keep trying even though things were challenging. We don't know what the student’s experiences with reading have been like. Maybe they lack self-confidence because a teacher, parent, or adult has been frustrated with them before and now they afraid to try. Maybe they have been called out in class or teased by other students because they struggle. They might have issues in other areas of their life that affects in their ability to learn? Who really knows. We can't take back those experiences for them, but what we can do as a tutor it to help the student feel safe, accepted, and supported when they are working with us. I do my best to be aware of my own attitude when I am around them, my attitude towards reading, and my attitude when we are reading together. Body language, tone of voice, and what I do/say when I need to correct any reading errors they make make a world of a difference. Even if I am frustrated, I never let the student know it. When I start feeling frustrated, I just remind myself how it would feel if I was in their shoes. It becomes less stressful for not only me but it is also less stressful for the student. They feel less pressured to be perfect, and can actually focus on just trying and learning without being judged. I always make an effort to also thank them for reading, tell them they did an awesome job and that they worked very hard. Now when I tell them it's their turn to read - they smile or don't complain. I feel that with their change in attitude, their reading levels will eventually change as well :) I had an employee recently tell me they can see the progress with those students which is awesome to hear.

    So the advice I can give other tutors isn't to do any specific trick, but to just ask yourself what kind of attitude are you projecting to those students you tutor that you might be unaware of? When you come in the building are you smiling? Do you look approachable or do you look stressed? What is your tone, body language, and reactions when working with a student one on one conveying? Although you might not be frustrated or bored, could it be mistaken as so? Even a sigh or how we sit can be misconstrued. Saying something simple such as that you love reading can make a big influence!
    B.L.

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  14. I have been working with one student who was the first student I worked one on one with developing his attention. I wrote before about how he responded to the Legos and blocks. Since that time, I have worked with him on occasion. Overall, I do see a big improvement in the way he interacts with other classmates and responds better to the teachers. A frustrating situation occurred the other day when this kid went into a full-blown tantrum, screaming on the floor. It served as a reminder that even though things have been progressing he still needs help adjusting and working within the social roles. I know the teachers get worn out trying to work with him and the other kids. They spend so much more time with him than I do. So, when I get there, I try to give them a break by interacting with him. I remain conscious of him needs, but still try to talk and work with him the same as I would any other student. Just because he is on a different level does not mean he really wants to be treated differently. I try to be firm, but friendly and show an interest in how he is doing.

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  15. I've been working at the YMCA I've noticed growth amoung a lot of the kids there. I work in the ECE program so the kids are ages 3-5. It's been a struggle for some of them but you can still see some progress. There is a kid in the class I'm in and he has some development things going on. He requires a lot of one on one, I've noticed with him that if you give him one word commands he responds better then if you say a whole sentence. He comes to rug like the rest of the students and even lays down during nap time. Which before he would just be running around while the other kids where sleeping. When you get to see the kids go from mixing numbers up to being able to count things out for you is really great progress. We've noticed they had been getting board with the activities tha had been provided to the, and so we found new things for them to do and they have been loving it. With little kids you have to be able to keep their attention for the whole class and that sometimes can be a struggle. But all in all the kids are growing great and learning a lot.

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  16. Yes, I had a 3 year old boy that was having difficulty speaking, focusing and sitting still. Lately I have noticed he has much better understanding and desire to communicate. He will use pointing to try and express what he is wanting. He also is doing better at following directions and listening. This progress has been aided by staying committed to working with him, through a repetitive routine that has given him the chance to feel more confident in his environment and my expectations of him. If there is a problem, don’t give up and keep doing the basic things that you know will help!
    f-h

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    1. I also worked with a little girl that had tons of trouble sitting still and focusing! I found that doing things that were interactive were a lot better for her than just sitting down and reading. Doing puzzles, writing on the whiteboard, or even drawing the characters from the book. Sometimes it is just the little things that help them! I agree that staying committed and being patient is key! Thanks for sharing
      Rachael Wilkin

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  17. There are a few students working at Redwood Elementary that have made huge progress within the few weeks I have been there! One is a little boy who is in 2nd grade, but only reads at a kindergarten level. The first time I read with him, he was very shy and not confident in his reading abilities. I have been able to build a good relationship of trust with him, and he is feeling more confident in his reading abilities. He used to not be able to sound out words very well. He would start to try reading a word and just assume it was a different word that starts in a similar way. Now, a few weeks later though, he is beginning to be able to sound out words better with some direction. It takes more work on my part to be patient and help him know what letters make what sounds while he is trying to figure out what the particular word is. As a tutor, I have found that it is essential to help the student feel comfortable and confident in improving their reading skills. If a child gets discouraged, they will not want to take the effort to get better at reading.

    In some of the other kids that have made big improvements, I recognized that having a lot of confidence made all the difference in them too. I feel so lucky that I get to have an impact on these children's lives to help them find confidence in reading and learning. We really can make a difference, if only small, that will impact the rest of their lives! That is so cool! Keep the big picture in mind when working with these students and you will find yourself teaching in a more loving, patient way.
    Rikki Wilkin

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  18. I am also tutoring over at Redwood Elementary, and I love it! There is one girl in particular who has made a ton of progress since I started working with her last semester. When I first tested her she was at a kindergarten level, and she is in third grade. The progress was very slow, she couldn't stay focused for too long, and she had a lot of trouble when she tried to sound out the words. This semester when I came back and retested her she had jumped almost a level and a half! It was amazing!

    I've learned that being patient is key, letting them fail when they try to read a word, but then teaching them how to sound it out. I've also learned not all kids fit in a cookie cutter package, with this girl in particular I was able to find new ways to keep her interested and she went from hating reading because she couldn't do it, to being so excited every time I walk in because she can't wait to read! It is really amazing to be a part of.
    Rachael Wilkin

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