About Active Learning Services
In 1973, Sylvia Keepers established Active Learning Services in Boulder, Colorado. A skilled teacher, Sylvia brings a wealth of experience, enthusiasm and skill to reading tutoring, whether it is teaching a young child to read, helping a teenager get organized, or mentoring another tutor. For over thirty years she has helped young people and adults develop a love of learning as they master the disciplines of reading and writing and move on to successful academic and business careers.
In the quiet, positive learning environment of Active Learning Services, Sylvia’s mentoring approach encourages personal growth as students acquire the literacy skills they need. She also shares her experience and skills with other tutors, teachers, and homeschool parents. In addition, Active Learning Services provides important adult education programs for adult learners and career education opportunities for teachers.
How Tutoring Helps
In the one-on-one tutoring environment, students:
- discover how they learn best
- go beyond completing their work: they understand it
- feel more comfortable asking questions
- develop the ability to become self-directed learners
- form positive habits that extend beyond tutoring
For the learner
- While reading is learned primarily in the classroom, many students need extra time and help to be successful.
- Research shows that reading tutoring is a great way to support learning outside of school.
- Individual tutoring sessions provide more time on task, increased opportunities to read, and immediate feedback.
- Tutoring allows for individual monitoring of progress to ensure that learning is taking place. This includes positive and corrective feedback to help the learner stay on track and not repeat errors.
- Tutoring enhances interpersonal skills as a bond is established with the tutor.
- Parents receive complete and understandable reports on their child’s progress.
- Parents find out how to help their child at home—or when not to!
Why Active Learning Services for Reading Tutoring?
At Active Learning Services, reading tutoring is much more than homework help. It is an opportunity to learn how to learn. At Active Learning, students may focus on school subjects or learning beyond classroom structures and educational curricula. The student may choose skills that have particular relevance to his or her life, learning level, personal needs, or career.
At the heart of the Active Learning program is the development of self-esteem, concentration, and pride. Although these may not be teachable skills in the same way as spelling or grammar, they are the result of successful outcomes possible in individual sessions designed to maximize motivation and minimize frustration.
During her teaching career, Sylvia has developed a series of interconnected, step-wise learning activities to teach all phases of the reading and writing process. Hundreds of students have benefited from these exercises, which cover everything from learning the alphabet to understanding literary symbolism.
These activities are the basis of Sylvia’s own tutoring and the curriculum of her “how to tutor” course for prospective tutors. They also are at the heart of her book, SMART! A Reading Tutor’s Guide.
Active Learning students include:
- Students with learning disabilities, ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, and motivational problems
- Gifted underachievers
- Students seeking enrichment
The Reading Tutoring session
At the initial tutoring session, students receive an informal evaluation to assess their strengths and weaknesses. A plan of action is then mapped out, drawing on both the information gained from the evaluation and on discussions with parents and student.
Individual lessons, typically an hour a week, are held in quiet, attractive surroundings that minimize distraction. As noted, all children concentrate better and retain more in such a setting, especially those with ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia.
We focus on mastering specific reading and writing skills (e.g., sounding out words or improving reading speed), on developing vocabulary and oral expression, and on improving reasoning ability.
Students learn through activities, games and exercises designed to solve specific problems, appeal to a child’s interests and establish a foundation for further learning.
Subjects, Skills, and Courses
- Reading: phonics, comprehension, retention, reading speed; school subjects that require reading such as literature, history, and biology
- Writing: spelling, penmanship, grammar, composition, report-writing, creative writing
- Study skills: listening, note-taking, outlining, test-taking, memorization, time management, self-motivation
- College preparatory: PSAT, ACT, and SAT preparation
- MCAT: verbal reasoning test preparation for pre-med students
- Career development skills: reading, writing, and organization to meet career goals
- How to tutor: the art and business of tutoring reading, writing, and study skills. Opportunities include individual coaching and a master class.
Many students who can read fiction adequately have trouble reading factual material. Reading a textbook, taking notes, and studying for a test from the book can be daunting for them. The problem is partly due to the very different kinds of reading skills required for reading a novel and for textbook reading. Also, most students do not receive specific instruction in school on howto read a textbook. Add to this the fact that many kids think they are reading and remembering textbook material well even when they aren’t.
The result is an essential skill that is sadly neglected. Fortunately though, most students who are otherwise decent readers can learn to read, understand, and remember factual material with a few weeks of instruction and practice. The process can even be fun. (Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration: “painless and mildly interesting” is probably more like it.)
These are some of the key steps Sylvia uses in teaching factual reading:
- Tellbacks: Reading for factual detail
- Why, What Next, and Put it in your own words
- Main Idea
- Putting it all together
- Taking Notes
- Paragraph structure
- Final exam
- Taking lecture notes
Reading for Speed and Comprehension
In about six weeks students are reading at least 50% faster than before they started, with comprehension that is the same or better. Many students double or even triple their reading speed. In this course students learn to pick out the most important points of a paragraph quickly, improve their reading memory, optimize visual tracking, and discover the best methods for skimming and scanning.
Many people who would like to read faster are stymied because they lose comprehension when they try to speed up. A good speed reading course like the one at Active Learning can help readers break the “sound barrier” and read faster without sacrificing comprehension and recall.
People read slowly for a number of reasons, including sub-vocalization (moving the mouth or throat while reading), word-for-word reading rather than seeing text in phrases, problems with visual tracking including losing one’s place on the page, and constant re-reading due to poor concentration. These difficulties not only add to the time it takes to read a passage; they also make for frustration and rob people of reading enjoyment.
Even though these problems are complicated, overcoming them doesn’t have to be. An encouraging thing to know is that slow reading has almost everything to do with visual habits and very little to do with I.Q. That’s good news because it means that in the right circumstances almost anyone can greatly improve his or her reading speed. It’s hard to do on your own, though—sort of like being your own sports coach.
When it comes to reading faster, two things are clear: first, slow reading is a habit, and learning to read more efficiently means replacing old habits with new and better ones. And second, you need a good instructor to help you cut through the guesswork and frustration—to tell you when to change tactics and when to persist.
At Active Learning, students master new skills through a series of exercises and activities designed to smooth out eye movements, zero in on important words and concepts, and direct and maintain concentration.
Be the teacher you’ve always wanted to be. With Sylvia as your guide, learn to tutor students of any age or skill level in reading and writing.
Please contact Sylvia for information about her book, Active Learning tutoring/coaching services, rates, and appointments.