Free Tutoring via TutorJam’s Access Program

A note from Nathan Arora, Co-Founder and President of Tutor Jam:

I know your time is very valuable so I’ll try to be brief. TutorJam (www.tutorjam.com) is an online tutoring company with offices in Waterloo, Canada and Chapel Hill, NC offering K-12 tutoring to students in math, science, English and social studies. A key part of our founding vision is to ensure that our services also address the educational needs of limited-income families through our Access Program. While we’ve seen excellent growth in our paid tutoring services, we haven’t been able to get the word out to families about the availability of our Access Program’s free tutoring services.

To help build awareness of this free program, we’re initiating a grassroots campaign among bloggers to help promote this service to their community.

While I haven’t used TutorJam, and I can’t attest to it, I do firmly believe in their mission to provide free tutoring to those who most deserve it, so that is why I am sharing their information here. I hope that it helps many of your students.

MakeBeliefsComix.com Online Educational Comics Launches WRITER PROMPTS to Help ESL, Literacy Students Write, Read and Tell Stories

A note from Bill Zimmerman at MakeBeliefsComix, a site I have written about before:

MakeBeliefsComix.com has launched a new WRITER PROMPTS feature that regularly offers educators new ideas to spark students’ imaginations and encourage them to write more.

The new writing tool is a direct result of the overwhelming positive user response to our free web site where children and adults create their own comic strips online and, in so doing, practice language, writing and reading skills. WRITER PROMPTS utilizes interactive techniques that I have pioneered as author, journalist and teacher to help people of all ages find their writers’ voices and express their deepest thoughts. Go to http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/ and click on the WRITER PROMPTS button at the bottom right to connect to these idea prompts at www.billztreasurechest.com/blog/.

At the WRITER PROMPTS blog site selected students’ written responses will be posted, reinforcing students’ writing and language-learning efforts. Please try the new feature and give us your feedback and suggestions. We also will post some of your own suggested writing prompts if you give us permission. Send them to billz@makebeliefscomix.com.

Since we launched our educational comics site in 2006 hundreds of thousands from 175 countries have visited us. And, Google and UNESCO selected MakeBeliefsComix.com as one of the world’s most innovative web sites in fostering literacy and reading (http://www.google.com/literacy/projects.html).

Some sample writing WRITER PROMPTS offered:

  • You are an author rewriting the story of your parents’ lives. How would you change their lives, what would you say? The wonderful thing about being a writer is that you can use your imagination to create different worlds from what you know. If you’re feeling unhappy in real life, for example, you might want to create a world in which you feel h appy. If you are poor, you might want to imagine a story in which the characters are rich. You can change a story about your parents or family into something entirely different.
  • Three children in different parts of the world wake up one morning, each expecting the day to be like all the others. For one, in Mexico, this will turn into the most important day of her life; for another, in China, the day will be the happiest she will ever experience in her life, and for the third, in Chicago, this will become his saddest one. Write one of the children’s diaries for the day.
  • You are a six-year-old Pakistani boy sold into servitude by his family to labor 14 hours a day in a carpet factory. Your enslavement will help settle a $16 family debt. You spend the next six years chained to a rug loom, working 12-hour days for pennies. Then comes the day when you escape to freedom — here’s what happens:

Users of MakeBeliefsComix.com make comics strips by selecting from 15 fun characters with different moods — happy, sad, angry, worried — and write words for blank talk and thought balloons to make characters talk and think. This site is used by educators to teach language, reading and writing skills, and also for students in English-as-a-Second-Language programs to facilitate self-expression and storytelling, as well as computer literacy. Some educational therapists use the online comics with deaf and autistic people to help them understand concepts and communicate. Parents and children can create s tories together, print them to create comic books or email them to friends. Others will find the site a resource to be creative and have fun.

Acting on your feedback, MakeBeliefsComix.com now also enables users to write comic strips in languages other than English, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Portuguese. Many foreign language teachers encourage language practice by having students create comic strips.

Please share http://www.makebeliefscomix.com with your colleagues, students, friends or readers of your publications and favorite listserv groups. It takes a community to build and nurture a rich educational resource.

Sincerely,

Bill Zimmerman
(billz@makebeliefscomix.com or wmz@aol.com)

Props for Wikispaces

Anyone who has ever been in one of my classes or workshops knows that I rely on Wikispaces for almost all of my teaching and professional development. Read more about their new K12 initiative in this article.

A quarter million teachers to get free wikis | Gaming and Culture – CNET News

A San Francisco wiki services provider has just finished a multiyear project under which it gave teachers all over the world 100,000 free wikis. And now, it is doubling up and getting set to give away another quarter million.

The company, Wikispaces, decided in 2006 that it would make helping teachers use the collaborative software to further cooperation between students, both in their own schools and with schools in other cities and countries, a cornerstone of its business.