1. Introduction

Objectives: In this unit you will
  1. Learn about informal and formal assessments
  2. Practice setting long-term and short-term goals
  3. Analyze the components of and practice creating a lesson plan
  4. Design your first meeting with your student
  5. Recognize the importance of record keeping and the role of the organization in your tutoring
Estimated time for completing this section: 3 hours

In the first three units, you examined the characteristics of the adult learner and studied the steps in teaching reading and writing to your adult student. In this session, you will start thinking about getting ready to meet your student. You will also be introduced to the tools you will need to help her reach her literacy goals, measure her progress, and report your tutoring activities to your program coordinator.
Required assignment
Contact your local adult literacy
program coordinator and find out about:
    • Your tutoring responsibilities and tutor job description
    • How soon you can expect to be matched with a student.
    • What kinds of staff support you will receive
    • How you are expected to report on your student's progress
    • The reporting and assessment forms you will be required to use
    • How often you must submit these forms
    Optional: Checklist for progress in this unit.
    Click here to download a PDF checklist that will help you keep track of your progress through this unit. You may save the document in your files. It will not save in this blog.

    2. Meeting Your Student

    Think about the characteristics of the adult learner, and then think about meeting your new student for the first time. Remember, too, about managing the tutoring environment. Then think about the following:

    • Knowing that adults have a great deal to contribute toward their own learning, how might you plan that first meeting?
    • Where will you meet?
    • How will you dress?
    • What factors will drive these decisions?
    • How will you learn about your student's reading abilities and difficulties while putting her at ease?

      Point to ponder

      1. Think about what you already know about making a first impression and putting a new acquaintance at ease.

        Read about the first meeting. Choose one of the following:

        • Then, think about what you have learned in your readings about meeting an adult literacy student for the first time.

        • And finally, what do you still need to know about that first meeting? Are your questions program related? If so, you now have some of the questions you might ask your local adult literacy program. Jot them down, and save them for discussion in your meeting with the program manager prior to your first meeting with your student.

        3. Where will you begin the first lesson with your student?

        Imagine that you have just learned that you will be matched with a student as soon as you have completed this course. As you think about that first meeting, your initial excitement gives way to a nagging question: Where do I begin the lesson?

        From the moment we meet someone new, we begin to assess the person through speech, mannerisms, and dress. With your learner, you also make judgments about her literacy skills based on writing samples, application forms, and word-of-mouth.

        Remember, just as your are assessing your student, she is assessing you!

        After years of failure in school, your learner will probably be paralyzed at the thought of taking a test. Yet, in order to teach her effectively, you will need to know where to begin in order to help her achieve her literacy goals. Your program's initial assessment of your student will be both formal and informal. Please click on the required links below and read them.

      2. Formal Assessment
      3. Progress Reports
      4. Formal assessments are generally administered by trained staff. Your literacy organization will require you to send in progress reports at regular intervals. Collectively, these reports are the lifeblood of the organization, for they determine how well the program is helping to eradicate adult illiteracy in the community. Your progress reports influence how much money will be donated and how many grants can successfully be obtained, since these days donors look closely at successful results. The more funding the organization receives, the more students it can serve and the more tutors it can train.

        Diagnostic Inventory is an assessment that is widely distributed by ProLiteracy America to community-based and faith-based organizations. Read the teacher's guide closely, and "practice" giving the test to a friend or family member, before trying it with your new student. This inventory will give you a quick idea of where to start with your student in the first few lessons.

        We suggest that you put your student at ease before going through these exercises, especially if your student has just met you. Explain why these diagnostics are important and how starting at the right place will help them in the long run.

        Suggested Reading: Formative Assessment https://teal.ed.gov/tealguide/formativeassessment

        4. How Will You Plan a Tutoring Session?

        Think about what you will need to know about planning your tutoring sessions before you begin to meet with your student. List what you know in the first column of a KWL chart, and what you need to know in the second column.

        Post your concerns about creating lessons in the "comment" section. Then read what others have written.

        The next five sections are designed to help you plan your lessons before, during, and after each tutoring session. Please be sure to click on each link below and read all the information before continuing on in this unit.
        Fill in the third column of the KWL chart. Did we answer your questions? What other information do you still need in order to create lessons? Write down your questions and contact your program director to discuss the issues.

        NOTE: Each literacy program will have developed different policies and procedures regarding the above.

        5. How Will you Inform Your Program About Your Student's Progress
        Reports, journals, and logs will help you keep a record of your student's activities and the progress she is making. Each program develops its own procedure and uses its own forms which they distribute to their volunteers.
        Click on the link below to view a sample tutor report form:
        In filling out forms and sending reports, please make sure to follow your organization's procedures. This form of communication is extremely important to the organization, both in providing crucial support to you and your student, and reporting outcomes to funders, the lifeline for any nonprofit organization.

        Do's and Dont's of Tutor Reports
        1. Do maintain a daily or weekly log of your tutoring activities.
        2. Don't estimate hours or assessments. Ever.
        3. Do send your report in on time.
        4. Do fill out all required fields such as number of meetings per week, hours spent tutoring, hours spent lesson planning, goals met, sessions missed.
        5. Don't assume that if you've missed a reporting deadline that you don't have to send your reports in. Send them in as soon as you are able.
        6. Do notify the organization immediately of any major shifts or changes in your tutoring.
        7. Don't wait for program staff to call you about your reports.

        6. Student Progress
        In the previous module you considered the characteristics of the adult learner and how they impact you as a tutor and affect your adult student. Your student's life experiences and active interest in her own progress will aid you in customizing lessons to meet her goals. In learner-centered learning, it is important to use your student's goals and experiences to motivate her. You will also learn to help your student identify:
        • what she knows,
        • what she knows some of the time, and
        • what she does not know at all.
        Because your student has most likely experienced years of frustration in school, she can assist you in identifying her reading strengths and gaps. This self-awareness is one of the many characteristics that set an adult student apart from a child. In this unit, you will learn how to strengthen your student's reading skills as you follow the principles of learner-centered learning.

        7. Required Assignment
        Create an agenda for your first meeting with your adult student, which has been scheduled for two hours at your local literacy organization. Include a timeline, materials you will use, how you will assess your student, and your first short lesson. Use your tutor manual as a guide, or discuss your first session with your literacy program director.
        Need help designing a short lesson plan? Click here for online lesson plan forms.

        8. Congratulations, you have completed your training

        Next Steps: Call your local literacy organization and let them know that you have completed this course. You can now begin the process of being matched with a student. Contact your local literacy provider for a certificate. We only print out certificates that are requested by program managers who have evaluated a tutor who has taken this online workshop.

        Each adult literacy organization follows a different procedure for matching students and tutors. Some will make the match right away; others might ask you to wait a few weeks as they recruit a student for you or find one that is available during your tutoring hours.

        If you are matched right away, you will use the information you learned in this workshop immediately. You may return to this site frequently to review the information you just learned.

        For this site we also provide additional links to tutoring strategies, lesson plans, and other materials that you might find useful in the option activities and links.

        Going Forward: Your best resource for tutoring will be your local literacy program. Try some of these ideas:
        • Ask for an experienced tutor to mentor you.
        • Visit the literacy organization's library.
        • Talk with the program manager to find community resources.
        • Network with a group of tutors to support each other.
        • Read your organization's newsletter for ideas and tutor tips.
        • Join a national organization such as ProLiteracy America.
        If you do not live near a literacy program, but you are tutoring a student, click on our website at The Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center, http://www.valrc.org/, then click on "Resources" in the tab at the top to access our many literacy and instructional sites.

        If you are not continuing this training, please fill out our short survey,which will take 2-5 minutes.Your input will help us with future planning!

        Congratulations! You have successfully completed the online training. If you would like a tutoring certificate, please ask your organization's program manager to contact us. We will then send her a certificate to sign and hand to you. Thank you for providing feedback and best wishes for a successful and rewarding tutoring experience.

        Please click here to return to previous unit.

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