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Staying Safe in a Toxic World, Issue #32 of The Change Agent

This issue of The Change Agent explores the local environment and tells stories of environmental clean-ups and community efforts to identify and deal with pollution sources. With an emphasis on math and science, activities help students think about large and small numbers, percents, ratios, and scale. A one-pager on “Smart Moves: Take Control of Math” offers strategies for confronting difficult [Read on...]

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Reading comprehension strategies that work:

Notice what you understand and what you do not and find ways to figure out what you don’t’ understand. Students need to know a range of effective ways to study once they realize they do not know a subject well enough. Figuring out why a fact is true is a powerful way to remember it. More [Read on...]

Mental Models, Part 2


Mental models are complex networks of information about a topic (an office, buying something, walking down the street) that change as we learn.
They affect how we understand what we read and hear.
People share similar models for common events.
Mental models help thinking: they are efficient and organized, create expectations, provide memory cues, and include problem-solving models.
Mental models are closely tied to [Read on...]

Mental Models

Mental Models Are Organized

Mental models are not just collections of related facts, they are organized. Experts in fields, especially, have more specific information grouped under more general ideas. Novices’ mental models tend to be jumbled, even when they have the same information as experts. For example, I was teaching a class at a university. On the first day of the [Read on...]

The SQ4R Reading Method

There are many instructional methods designed to improve comprehension. One of those methods is the SQ4R method. The SQ4R method stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Relate, and Review.

Survey: Before reading anything with your student, survey what you will be reading together. Help your student skim over titles, headings, captions, graphs, and introductory and concluding paragraphs. Make sure as they [Read on...]

Use English

Teachers should remember to use the “real world” in their class rooms. The more the students are exposed to the language as something useful, the more they will be interested in learning it. Studies show that when you know some English, you can learn more just by using it.

My point is to practice English with your student. I know many [Read on...]

Repeated Readings

Repeated readings have been shown to increase reading rate and accuracy. Students transfer the skills they acquire to other texts. Provide your student with a selection on his or her reading level. Use your copy to mark the student’s errors. Follow this routine:

1. Time the student reading for one minute. Mark the stopping point on your copy of the selection.

2. [Read on...]

Similar Sounding Words

Words that sound similar can sometimes be confusing. Have your student think of times when they have confused two similar words. Write down the words and their meanings. Read the following sentences to students, putting emphasis on the underlined word. Have students write down how they would spell the word.

1. Kevin read the story aloud .

2. The recipe called for [Read on...]

How do You Know They Really Understand?

Tutor: “Wow. You read that really well. Did you understand it?”
Student: “Yes, I think so.”
Tutor: “Great! Now you are ready for the test tomorrow.”

A lot of talk is made about comprehension being the main goal of reading. While this is true, the question becomes how tutors know when a student does or does not understand. The answer is.with practice. Practice [Read on...]

Reading Critically-Using Figures of Speech

Two concerns that every tutor should address in the area of literature are that 1) students must be exposed to a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, and 2) they must learn to analyze and evaluate whatever they hear or read.

Activities that require students to draw conclusions and support their opinions will make comprehension skills meaningful and useful. Keep [Read on...]

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