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Questions & Answers
about ONLINE tutoring with a Learning Coach

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What kind of tutoring do you do and what grade levels?

We tutor ONLINE all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade, in Reading, Writing, and Math. Our specialty is struggling learners. In addition, all instructors hold one or more college degrees, and most work as teachers in schools. The Personal Instructional Coaches (PIC) for Reading have an additional Orton-Gillingham training from IMSE and training from Linda-Mood Bell (e.g. Visualizing & Verbalizing and Seeing Stars). These trainings support the instructors in working with struggling learners such as: ◦ Students with dyslexia ◦ Students that need extra support to assist with phonological deficits ◦ Phonics instruction ◦ Students with ADHD ◦ Short-term memory -Long-term memory ◦ Executive functioning - ASD Students


​Do you do any IN-PERSON tutoring, and would you come to my house?

The Personal Instructional Coaches (PIC) do not drive student’s homes for in- person instruction, but on very rare occasions, may have a student go to their location. This is due to scheduling, as our appointments are ten minutes apart. Most of our students are able to work well online due to the accommodations provided. So, this will be determined on a selective, as needed basis. Having an IEP or 504 is not usually a reason where this type of accommodation may be needed but perhaps age or special ability will considered.


How do we get started, and how much does it cost?

A diagnostic assessment is needed before tutoring can start. It usually takes two, 90 minute sessions, for Reading or Math. We like to test on the weekends when the student has not been in school all day, however, summer scheduling can be more flexible. The cost for diagnostic testing is $150 for each 90 minute session. The purpose of testing is to find all of the strengths and weaknesses of the student. From the diagnostic testing, we develop an action plan before tutoring. The cost of the diagnostic testing does not include the cost of a report or reviewing the results with the parent. However, it does give the PIC just what is needed to formulate an educational instructional plan. Instruction is ready to begin after diagnostic testing. Instructional packages offer the best savings which average $80 per session as compared to individual weekly sessions which cost $95 per session. The session is broken down: 50 minutes face-to-face contact with your child on Zoom with a LIVE instructor, and 10 minutes recording the lesson. After each lesson, the notes are emailed to you and the PIC plans for the next lesson. To get the $80 rate, all sessions are to be prepaid for the month. Another prepaid option is $85 per session on auto-prepay weekly with a credit or debit card on file.


What kinds of diagnostic assessments do you use? I have an educational evaluation and and IEP/504 already. Is that enough?

Testing is completed LIVE through Zoom, on the computer, and with one of the instructors, NOT on a computer program. The best information to gather from a struggling learner is when the learner is tested live with an instructor watching and listening to how the learner is responding to the questions. This cannot be accomplished on a single computerized assessment. We use a battery of diagnostic assessments which change based on how the student performs from one test to the next. What is important is that we gather data from all aspects of reading (phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, & writing) OR math (computation fluency and concepts & application) in order to make a full diagnostic plan to intervene with the learners instructional needs based on the strengths and weaknesses. In reading, assessments such as: -DAR by Riverside -PAST by Dr. Kilpatrick -Words Their Way Spelling Inventory by Dr. Baer -OG Intermediate Spelling Inventory by IMSE -DIBELS 8th Edition by the University of Oregon -Peabody - Oral Vocabulary -CORE Vocabulary Screener -IRI by Burns & Roe We must administer our diagnostic assessments as they provide specific information on the strengths and weaknesses of the learner. We need to know exactly what the learner knows and understands and what they are specifically struggling with. This is different information than what would be in the IEP/504 or the educational evaluation. The information from a 504 or IEP is helpful for us to read and understand along with our assessments.

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How do I find out the results of the diagnostic tests?

Once diagnostic testing has been completed, there are four options regarding assessment results to choose from: 1. Just start tutoring immediately. No additional charge. Schedule & go! With this option, the parent will NOT receive the results of the assessments, nor will the results be reviewed orally. 2. Review the results orally with the parent, as the parent takes notes through an ONLINE session for the same fee as a tutoring session ($95). 3. Get a short report (3-5 pages) which will have the results only. The parent will be provided with a digital copy for their records. An online meeting to review the results is included to fully explain everything and ask all the questions they want through Zoom. ($195.) 4. Get the full report (25-30 pages) which explains the strengths & weaknesses by component: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. This report includes a full plan of action for the student in writing, with the materials and strategies being utilized. Plus, we provide recommendations. Also, a digital copy will be provided for the parent's records. $595. This will include an online meeting to explain everything, and ask all the questions you want!


What happens after testing and the report is written?

After testing, the individualized lesson plan is developed, and a bag of materials is prepared for the student based on the diagnostic assessment results. The materials and online set up fee is $75 which includes either personal or mailed delivery. The assigned Personal Instructional Coaches (PIC) meets with the team to review the results & lesson plan so that explicit instruction is ready to begin. The PIC contacts the parent for scheduling and to exchange pertinent information and online learning sessions can begin.


How does the tutoring process work ONLINE? It didn't go well during COVID and my child has special needs.

The student will log in through our own portal called Tutorbird at our website on the homepage where it says PORTAL LOGIN. There the family can enter to view the calendar and Zoom link to enter the online learning session. The student AND the tutor both have a document camera which enables both the student and the tutor to see each other's hands, notebooks, books, and any materials being used. So they can see each other's faces AND hands/work created. This means there is no work being held up to the camera. The parent will need to purchase the document camera (about $100) when tutoring with Southern Instructional Solutions. We will let you know which ipevo document camera to get as it is important for the tutor and student to have the same camera. In addition, the student gets a bag of supplies and materials after diagnostic testing has been completed based on the results ($75 materials & delivery fee). The tutor has the exact same supplies. This way, when the student and tutor are online together, they both have the same PHYSICAL materials to make tutoring a hands-on experience even though it is online. SIS will let you know exactly which document camera to purchase so that the student and tutor have the same camera. It’s easy to operate, and we train the students how to use it during the first 10 minutes of class! Plug & play. (NOTE: It does not work on an iPad.)


What curriculum do you use? Is it research based?

Our program is based on the latest research in the Science of Reading and uses a variety of strategies, procedures, curriculum, and methodologies and not all students are alike, so one approach will not work for all students. Once the diagnostic assessment is administered, then the right resources and curriculum for your learner can be determined. SIS's Personal Instructional Coaches (PIC) are trained in IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham’s methodology and all five pillars of literacy plus language comprehension, spelling, and writing – to drive measurable gains for all students. These components include: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. IMSE follows a structured literacy program which is also IDA accredited. IMSE's approach is explicit, direct instruction that is sequential, structured, and multi-sensory. Therefore, the materials used in the program vary depending on the needs of the student. Also, some of the Reading instructors are trained in Linda-Mood Bell's Programs. Visualizing & Verbalizing is used specifically for students who are fluent in their phonics and fluency but not comprehending well. The Seeing Stars program is specifically for students who need further support with their Foundational Skills in order to read: phonological awareness, phonics, and fluency. Soon more of those programs will be added. In addition to IMSE’s Orton Gillingham and Linda-Mood Bell's programs, we also use other research based best practices such as: ◦ Dr. Donald Bear’s research on word study ◦ Dr. Rasinski’s research on fluency instruction ◦ Kelly Cartwright’s research on word callers & Transactional Strategy Instruction (TSI) - Project CRISS research on creating independence through student owned strategies Your child will get a materials bag of with handpicked curricular items to target all his/her needs after being tested. Examples of what you may find in the bag will be: chips, whisper phone, mirror, pop-it used for phonological awareness; whiteboard with dry erase markers & eraser, finger tapping card, vowel tents, phonics readers for phonics instruction; an echo phone, highlighters to mark phrase lines, text sets on a USB drive for fluency rereading practice; and interactive notebook with a supply box full of highlighters, pencils, crayons, tape, scissors for vocabulary & comprehension work.

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How many times a week will my child need to tutor?

The number of sessions vary depending on the strengths, weaknesses, and special circumstances of the student. A minimum of two times a week is needed for any student not on grade level. Often the schedules when school is in session make it hard to do much more than three. We do not tutor any struggling student once a week. The further the student is behind, the more frequent tutoring the student needs. Often parents double up sessions over the summer to give students a boost but tutoring JUST over the summer is not going to be enough time for a student to catch up. This is a practice we do not offer. Just keep in mind, the more often you tutor, the quicker the child will catch up. To make comparisons, try calling any Linda-Mood Bell Academy. Through your conversations, it will become apparent the intensity of hours and number or back to back sessions your child would need to get to grade level. This comparison would help you understand our efforts in tutoring.


How many sessions will it take to bring my child up to grade level?

There is no magic number for this question. There are several factors that account for how long it takes the learner to get to grade level. For example: ◦ Consistency of tutoring sessions ◦ Task completion with short homework assignments left to complete between tutoring sessions ◦ Where instruction needs to begin and how many learning gaps need to be filled ◦ If the child has a diagnosed exceptionality or multiple deficits ◦ The treatment used to assist with the diagnosed exceptionality - Regular attendance and a regular schedule ( few cancellations and movement of classes) - Maturity, focus, and/or attitude or the student... -A growth mindset is important -Short term and long term memory capacity and retention rates -Oral vocabulary level -IQ level -Prior intervention, therapies, etc. Expect at least 80-120 hours of instruction for a struggling learner before the level of impact can be determined and the next steps planned out.


Is there homework after tutoring? My child is already swamped with homework at school.

Yes! Homework practice is usually assigned but not ALL the time. When it is assigned, it is SHORT (5-15 minutes worth which the student WILL know how to do). However, it is important to complete the small assignments left behind, which are found in an email to the parent after each tutoring session, to help the learner meet the targeted goal. If the homework is not completed, this will interfere with short term and long term memory retention. In addition, this means the "practice and review" work will need to be completed during the tutoring session which will make the number of sessions needed longer and interfere with the potential progress to be made. Examples of homework practice are: ◦ Rereading the decodable reader 3x to someone for fluency practice ◦ Complete 5 phonics workbook pages ◦ Decode 5-10 words following the syllable division procedure ◦ Make corrections to words spelled incorrectly in a previously written one-sentence summary ◦ Write an answer to ONE question after reading the text previously read together - Write a one sentence summary after reading text By not completing homework assignments, this causes two things: 1) Longer/if at all for the child to catch up or understand the concept, 2) Prolonging the amount of time the child needs to be tutored as we will be completing the assignment together, 3) Cause the child to not academically progress as there is not enough practice time and more tutoring is either not in the child's schedule or in the family's budget. Priorities matter. Just make time to remember just a little homework. It might seem easy but it is just what is needed to help catch up. Homework offers that repeated & spaced practice to help get that skills or strategy to move from short term to long term memory and be able to retrieve instantly when needed.


How will I know if tutoring is working?

Success with tutoring looks different for every student. Look for indicators that tutoring is working such as: ◦ The teacher says he/she is starting to participate in class by raising his/her hand to answer questions or becoming less disruptive because he/she knows how to complete the work ◦ Grades slowly start to improve in school in the subject area tutored and might help other subject areas, too! ◦ He/she becomes a happier child because the child is proud of the work they are able to accomplish and able to participate in class to answer questions or help others ◦ He /she becomes more confident in their learning as they thinking through the answers in their mind and have it correct as the teacher shares the answer ◦ Homework starts to become less of a struggle or more independent in finishing it quicker with more free time to play or do things they enjoy ◦ There are no more tears, less whining, or temper tantrums both in class and out of class when it comes to school ◦ He/she asks for you to read to them or picks up a book to read alone... maybe even ask for money to buy a book from the Book Fair when it comes to school ◦ He/she listens to an audio recording of a book (may or may not follow along with the printed book) ◦ Gets invited to the awards ceremony, and/or brings home a certificate or award earned at school… or even went to the “treasure box” ◦ The “AR” test was passed for the first time in a long time or this year... the points goal was FINALLY reached! ◦ In addition, we progress monitor during the tutoring sessions every 15-20 sessions if the student has been consistent and we explain the results in the follow up email and/or will try to meet with you online near the end of tutoring to try to explain the results... You will see for yourself what is happening!


Do you help with homework during the tutoring session? My child has so much homework that takes hours and is not understood!

No, we do not help with homework assignments. We can explain directions in another way but we are not the homework helper. You can find a homework helper at a cheaper price than the specialized instruction we provide. The learner is frustrated with homework and is slow because he/she has learning deficits so we need every minute we have to focus on helping to fill in those weaknesses. The teacher in school is working on grade level work, which is what the homework is, and we are working on the deficits. Eventually, we will meet together in the middle when all the holes are filled. Other ways we support school is by asking about what the student is learning in school to see if it happens to be aligned with the assignments and see if the learner can verbalize his/her learning. If we can determine what the child has learned in school we can help to reinforce that language as often they are unclear.


What if I cannot tutor one day?

The parent needs to give 24-hours notice when canceling an instructional session with the Personal Instructional Coach (PIC). The parent needs to log into the portal his/herself to cancel before the 24 hour time-period and/or reschedule classes rather than texting the instructor to do this. The instructors are busy working... often tutoring... and do not have time to do this. In addition, while the parent is looking at the calendar, the parent can reschedule. If the portal password has been lost, just let SIS know and it can be reset and sent back to the registered email. There is also an APP for the phone so the schedule can always be checked. Students on a package have until the end of the month to use all prepaid sessions. All students will have 15 days to make up for the cancelled session before it expires. It is the parent’s responsibility to check Tutorbird for open time slots to reschedule the student. SIS will make every effort to adjust when necessary to accommodate a family schedule; however, please be considerate of each other’s schedule. Cancellation on the day of the scheduled session will result in full payment applied from the prepaid account, even if it gets rescheduled to another day. Payment is non-refundable and the make-up is not an option without an additional charge. To assist in managing unexpected cancellations, the following options may assist you: o The first 2 “OOPS! I missed my session!" will be excused each school year. o. In addition, each student will get two unannounced SICK cancellations excused. Please let us know as soon as you pick up your child sick from school rather than waiting until tutoring time to tell us. o A reset will start the following school year (September 1 – August 31st). - SIS understands emergencies may occur at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. The parent should contact the PIC as soon as possible and a determination will be made regarding any fee adjustments. Each student will get TWO family emergencies excused cancellations, only. Scheduled appointments, such as a doctor’s visit, will not count as an emergency. After that, emergency no-shows will be reviewed by the SIS team to consider adjustments but no guarantees.

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Do you send out reminder calls or texts about tutoring?

We tutor through a portal called Tutorbird which will send out automatic text messages and emails to remind the family about tutoring. If for some reason, the parent or student does not get it, we are not responsible if the appointment has been forgotten. The APP can also be bookmarked on the phone and kept on the home screen so at any time the family can check the Tutorbird schedule. We are very busy instructing one student after another DAILY, and are unable to send out personal reminders. Therefore, it will be very important for you to keep track of your own schedules the same way you would for work, school, due assignments, football, ballet, etc. It is suggested to put it on a family calendar. It will be very important to PLEASE, not leave the Personal Instructional Coaches (PIC) hanging online wondering where the student is at if it has been forgotten. If you don’t show up after 10 minutes, the PIC may send you a text message or two, but that does not always guarantee you will receive it, so please do your best to remember so additional fees are not incurred if forgotten. Also, the link to connect with the online Instructional session is on the portal’s calendar. Just click on the day and it will open. Click on the word "ONLINE" and it will take the child straight into the zoom session.

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