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Tutor Tip of the Month

Moving Ahead From What We Know

* Find a treasure trove of tutor tips like these at the web site of Contra Costa County Library’s literacy program,Project Second Chance!

There is a general principle in teaching that instruction should move from the known to the unknown. Sometimes that seems like a no-brainer. Sometimes we take a second look at our teaching and realize that we could have made much better use of what our students already knew before we tried to teach something new.
Marilyn Mills commented on this in her work with her football-loving student. She gave the example of teaching the “soft sound” of C (/s/) after months of drilling its more common “hard sound” (/k/). She said her student would have shut down if she had simply taught the rule: C says /s/ when it is followed by E, I or Y. Instead, she read some football phrases to him and let him see that he was already familiar with words in which C said /s/.
Two football stories from The Contra Costa Times had these “soft C” words:

San Fran(ci)sco
Jerry Ri(ce)

After working with words like these, Marilyn's student was open to learning about the alternate sound of C. It didn't feel like such a new idea.
Good luck finding the example words that you need from your student's hobbies and interests! You will probably find “known” words that will help you teach “unknown” words.

Source: 2/07,


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