Our Top Distance Tutor, Debby's thoughts on Distance Learning:
My favorite part of each day at the Fluency Factory comes at 6:30 when I gather my files, a favorite timer, and a cup of tea and head to the back office computer. I click on the “zoom” icon and in a few moments I can see into the computer room of one of our farthest reaching students. This student is Joy and I’ve been working with her four times a week for over a year now. She has proven to be one of the most interesting cases we have here at the Fluency Factory. This is because she lives over 300 miles away in Philadelphia, PA and is a dyslexic English Language Learner (ELL). I am very pleased to say that she has been doing great, despite the many challenges facing her.
Most parents don’t realize that we can teach remotely, but we’ve been doing this for five years and have succeeded with each of these students despite the distance. We have found creative ways to implement our research based teaching style, complete with timings, charts, and even widgets. We’ve had to be especially creative when planning for Joy because of her unique situation. When she first came to us, she was entering 5th grade, but her reading level was that of a kindergarten student. Since then, it has climbed by two years! This is an excellent gain for any student, but considering the obstacles in her way, it is remarkable progress. At home her family only speaks Spanish, so she needs to practice speaking English as well learn to read it. We’ve had fun figuring out new ways to teach in order to best meet her needs.
In using our lowest level reading program, we had to find a way to physically present important materials. While Skype worked for other students, this was a special case. Discovering a video conferencing and screen sharing program helped significantly. Now we can remotely teach practically any material to our students, regardless of skill level. The other issue was her ELL status. Learning how to sound out words is of no use if the student does not know what the word means. We consulted an ELL teacher to create our own lessons with pictures to aid comprehension and some basic English grammar. We keep the same charts for Joy as we do any other kid and we hold her to high standards to ensure mastery over the material. She even earns widgets for hard work, which she can use on a shopping spree at the mall or on amazon. With this plan in place, Joy soared and quickly moved through her lessons.
I personally started working with Joy about a month after she first began.When I first met her, she was quiet, withdrawn, and lacked confidence in her abilities. I constantly tried to engage her in conversation, but she’d only give me one word responses. I knew that it was important for her to start speaking with me in order to develop her English skills, so I created slideshows with paintings for her to describe or used funny pictures of cats in our lessons. As our hours together continued and her confidence in reading grew, she began to come out of her shell and a vibrant personality emerged. Now, she is sassy, funny, and straight up outspoken. Right now we are reading “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier. Our work with Joy has further developed the Fluency Factory’s remote tutoring capabilities and has absolutely improved my ingenuity and flexibility as a teacher. We look forward to many more remote students in the future and remain thankful for the opportunity to help Joy.
Most parents do not realize that the Fluency Factory has the ability to teach remotely. We have been using this teaching method for five years and have succeeded with each of the students despite the distance. We have found creative ways to implement our research based teaching style, complete with timings, charts, and even our system of earning widgets.
We have developed ways to teach even our lowest level reading programs, by utilizing Zoom's screen sharing capabilities. Now we can remotely teach practically any material to our students, regardless of skill level or subject matter.
noun: distance learning
a method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or classes are conducted by correspondence or over the Internet, without the student's needing to attend a school or college. Also called distance education.