Video: Reading Comprehension Strategies

Video: Reading Comprehension Strategies

Posted October 15th, 2014 by Shalyn with No Comments

Have you ever read a book with a student (or even your own children), and realized that they were listening to the words but were having a difficult time understanding what was happening in the story? These kids were having difficulty with reading comprehension, a complex skill that students commonly struggle with.

Reading comprehension is an extremely complex thinking process that requires students to take the words and sentences that are written, understand what they mean independently and then process their meaning when they’re connected together. To many of us, reading a book and understanding what’s happening in the story may seem like second nature – we’ve been doing it so long that it’s automatic. But for students, it’s a skill that takes a lot of time and practice to become good at, and it’s one of the most vital skills for success in school and life.

Every single time you read with a student, whether it’s during tutoring or in your own life, you’re helping them develop this fundamental skill. It’s not as difficult as it sounds!

Check out our most recent Tutor Tips video below for some great ideas on simple strategies and questions you can use with students to help them improve their reading comprehension every time you read together!

Want more great tips on how to help students with reading comprehension? Check out our “9 Secrets to Help Kids Read Better” blog post or the reading strategies in our Tutor Tips and Techniques!




The Results Are In! #FallforSOW

Posted October 8th, 2014 by Claire with No Comments

Helping kids succeed is truly a community effort, and luckily we get to see the Indianapolis community rally around the kids we serve every day. The passion for education that exists among individuals and corporations in our city is amazing, and our latest campaign, #FallforSOW, was a particularly impressive example of the support our kids have.

#FallforSOW was developed by SPOKES, School on Wheels’ community outreach group.  Through social, networking and educational events, SPOKES works to engage the Indianapolis community in a dialogue regarding the challenges faced by homeless youth as they strive for educational success. SPOKES also helps fill some of School on Wheels’ unmet needs by hosting supply drives, recruiting tutors, serving as advocates in the community and participating in fundraising efforts and events.

This year five corporations joined us for this two-month-long challenge that kicked off August 1, encouraging their employees to collect backpacks and gift cards to help us secure school supplies. These companies posted pictures of what they had collected each week, sharing these images on Facebook and Twitter, and challenging their employees to give even more. Clearly these employees stepped up to the challenge because the results of the drive, which ended September 30, are in and we have some very special winners to congratulate.

Fall for SOW Results

Ice Miller collected the most gift cards, bringing in $490

Royal United Mortgage collected the most backpacks, bringing in 109 backpacks

Other participating corporations included Ernst & Young, Kite Realty and Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Together these corporations, along with Ice Miller and Royal United Mortgage, raised $965 in gift cards and donations as well as collected 173 backpacks. Thanks to efforts like this, we are able to equip our kids with the right supplies to give them what they need to succeed each school day. Thank you to the participating companies and to SPOKES for helping students experiencing homelessness achieve academic success! We couldn’t do it without you.

Inspired to get more involved in supporting our kids? Check out other ways that people have given creatively or learn more about SPOKES today!




Guest Post: 2014 Serve Indiana Award

Posted October 1st, 2014 by Leon Golden with No Comments


School on Wheels is proud to announce that on October 1st we accepted the 2014 Serve Indiana Award for Excellence in Volunteer programs at the IUPUI Campus Center. Serve Indiana is a state office that exists to advance service and volunteerism by informing, connecting, and promoting opportunities and resources that enrich the lives of Hoosiers. We are very lucky to have such dedicated volunteers that work to enrich the lives of the homeless children and families we serve each week. We were honored to have been nominated by volunteer Leon Golden, a three-year veteran tutor at Salvation Army Barton Center, who exemplifies the commitment and passion we seek from the Hoosiers who help us meet our mission each year. Thank you, Leon!

2014 Awardees

2014 Serve Indiana Award Winners

Currently in my third year as an Indy School on Wheels tutor, I’m excited that this organization has won the Serve Indiana Award for Excellence in Volunteer Programs. I was pleased to offer my nomination because of the great work that School on Wheels does with children in our community impacted by homelessness. This award will no doubt further School on Wheels’ mission and make a real difference in the lives of these precious children and their parents.

The importance of education and its role in providing students with the tools to realize their dreams is something dear to my heart; particularly, children faced with multiple challenges fighting an uphill battle. These children need people who will advocate on their behalf, and even more than that, people who will be there to provide help on homework, mentorship, and serve as a source of stability in their oftentimes turbulent lives. Indy School on Wheels is an organization that does an exemplary job of meeting many of these children’s needs.

While the challenges I’ve faced in my own life have not been of the magnitude that many of these children have faced, I do relate to many of them on some level. The role played by many of the adult figures in my life that helped me to succeed, is now a role that I have the opportunity to play in a child’s life.I’ve been thrilled to see School on Wheels extend their programs to IPS schools, with plans to add additional programs in the future.

2014 School on Wheels Staff

School on Wheels staff members and Leon!

I’m thrilled to be a School on Wheels volunteer and I’m proud to be associated with such a great organization!

- Leon Golden, School on Wheels Tutor

Want to get more involved with our programs? Apply to tutor today!




10 Tips for Working With High Energy Kids

Posted September 24th, 2014 by Samantha with No Comments

Have you ever worked with a child who has high energy? Almost anyone who has experience working with children would probably say “yes!”  Our tutors are always looking for new tips to help their students focus, which is the reason we decided to turn this topic into a tutor discussion this past month. We love to offer our tutors a wide variety of workshops and discussions so they can learn more about our kids and gain tips that will help them have a more productive tutoring hour. Plus, we love to see their smiling faces!

Why Can't Jimmy Sit Still?We are so lucky to have tutors with a wide range of knowledge and experience. I often find that they are the best resource when it comes to tips on a successful tutoring hour. Sandra L. Tunis, Ph.D. has been a tutor with School on Wheels for over a year and she has a background in psychology, specifically neuroscience research.  She also has experience as a mother to a son who was diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  In fact, Sandra wrote a book regarding her experience as a parent to a child with ADHD, Why Can’t Jimmy Sit Still?  Helping Children Understand ADHD.

Sandra was our facilitator for this discussion and shared great tips and information on working with high energy children.  Below are 10 major points that Sandra made, as well as some tips from tutors who attended the discussion:

1. It is important to note that ADHD and ADD are different and both have a wide spectrum of behaviors (hyperactivity, impulsivity).

2. As tutors, we are not here to diagnose. Rather, we are here to optimize the tutoring hour and manage the negative behaviors.

3. It is helpful to express your own vulnerability to the student.  It can be anything from telling the student, “I am not strong in math” or “I had a long day.”

Example: Sandra has a hearing impairment and always tells the children. It helps them to feel comfortable and also helps the children know that you are on their same team.

4. There are certain actions or happenings that trigger bad behavior. Transitions are a big trigger. It is important to acknowledge these triggers and set clear limits.

Example: “I notice walking to get a pencil in a calm manner is hard for you; it is distracting the other students.  Could we try walking my way this week and see how it goes?”

5. It is important to clearly and verbally let the children know what you expect.

6. Set up the tutoring hour for them verbally.

Example: “First, we will do the writing prompt.  Next, we will complete your homework and finally we can choose a book or fun educational game to play.

7. Some students respond better to hearing one task at a time so they do not feel overwhelmed. Keep this in mind while providing structure for the tutoring hour.

8. Each child is different, but some non-traditional methods may work to get the kids to re-focus.

Examples: Have the child stand during the hour, getting energy out. Sitting all day can be tough for high energy children. Take a 3 minute break from the work and stretch, do yoga, jumping jacks.

9. Make sure you are giving the children positive praise. They are so used to hearing “Don’t do this” and “No.” Sometimes all they need is some positive reinforcement.

10. Repetition is key! The children are listening and retaining the guidelines you are setting.  They may just need to hear them a couple of times for it to resonate.

These are just a few of the main points and helpful suggestions that came from our discussion.  I would like to thank Sandra for donating her time and knowledge not only to our students every week, but also to our staff and fellow tutors during this session!

Want more tips for tutoring? Check out our Tutor Resources.

Do you have an area of expertise related to tutoring, children or education that you would be willing to share with us? Contact us or let us know in the comments below!




Meet the Staff: Amber Ewing

Posted September 17th, 2014 by Shalyn with No Comments

Each month, we’ll be introducing you to a new School on Wheels staff member so you can learn more about the people who make our programs run successfully! This month, we’ll highlight Amber Ewing, the newest addition to our School on Wheels family. We’re so happy to have her – and we hope you’re excited to meet her!

Amber      Amber   Amber

Amber, what’s your role at School on Wheels?
I’m the Director of Development.

What did you do before you came here?
My entire career has been in development – fourteen years at United Way of Central Indiana prior to coming to School on Wheels. Though my role changed quite a bit while I was there, the gist of what I did was to help local companies with their fundraising campaigns, coordinate trainings and events, and get donors and companies more involved in giving back to our community.

Why did you decide to join the School on Wheels team?
Once I started learning more about the organization and had a chance to meet Sally, I knew this was the right fit! Helping children impacted by homelessness and working to break the cycle of poverty are both critically important in the Indianapolis community.

What are you most excited about in your new position?
I’m excited to help the organization achieve and exceed the fundraising goals for the year and to begin to work on long term goals to assure that School on Wheels can continue to provide this essential programming. I’m also looking forward to participating in the tutoring program and seeing firsthand the great work that is being done.

What’s your favorite thing about your job so far?
The people! I’m beginning to think that happiness seeps through the bright orange walls in this office! Everyone who comes into this office is amazing – staff and volunteers alike.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I have a slight addiction to gummy bears (specifically Haribo Gold-Bear) but don’t eat the green ones.

Want to learn more about our School on Wheels staff members? Check out our Staff page or our other Meet the Staff blog posts!