Month: November 2015

Nov 30

Giving Tuesday 2015

Join the Giving Tuesday Movement and Give Back!

School on Wheels will be participating in this year’s GivingTuesday!

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

This holiday season give thanks for the children in your life by supporting those who need your help.

For as little as $10 a month, you can make a recurring donation that will help School on Wheels tutor more homeless children and youth.

You can also help by sharing with your friends and family how you are giving this #GivingTuesday using this hashtag and recruit others to give.

Make a contribution today!

Nov 25

HomeWalk 2015

On November 21, 2015, team School on Wheels participated in the United Way HomeWalk, a walk dedicated to eradicating homelessness in Los Angeles. This was our team’s second year participating and the turnout was outrageous!

As one of the largest groups, School on Wheels walked together with students, parents and volunteers in support of our organization and the fight to end homelessness. More than 300 supporters registered to walk with our team which is a record number for our organization!

We are very appreciative for everyone who supported us in this year’s walk and contributed their effort to make this a memorable event. Thank you all!

We have some more photos from the event on our Facebook page too!

Nov 17

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 11/17/2015

Question: Do you have any suggestions for keeping my student engaged during the holidays? His mother has already approached me about taking a few weeks off in December, and I’m worried about losing the progress we’ve made.

All students experience learning loss over the holiday season. Unfortunately for homeless students, these breaks affect them more acutely and can exacerbate their already existing academic gaps. Fortunately, tutors can help mitigate these learning gaps. The best way to lessen the learning loss your student will experience over the upcoming breaks is to provide your student’s parent with engaging educational activities that they can do together. A successful educational activity should be three things:

  1. Simple – Design an activity that is relatively straightforward. For a lot of parents, time is a precious commodity. Create a simple activity that they can do for an hour every day or every other day.
  2. Realistic – Find an activity that will work with your student’s parents’ schedule and within the limitations of their housing situation. Be realistic about what a student can and is willing to accomplish during the break.
  3. Fun – Use the break as an opportunity to explore a student’s educational interests outside of worksheets and book reports. ELA and math should be components within the activity, not necessarily the focus of the activity. Think creatively!

Some sample activities are:

  1. A journal – This project is straightforward and integrates into a student’s existing holiday plans. Have your student keep and short journal of what they did during their holiday vacation. Younger students can combine words with drawings and collages. To increase the success of this activity, have your students practice keeping a journal before the holiday season starts. Try creating a sample entry together at your last session before the holidays begin.
  2. Independent research activity or self directed art/craft project – Have your student take control of their learning by assisting them in creating a research/art project. Have them research a subject that interests them and then present their research in a creative way when you reconvene after the holidays. Possible topics include: a biography of a famous person they admire or the history of a sport they like. If your student doesn’t have regular internet access, decide on a topic ahead of time and gather and print internet resources for your student before the break starts. Spend your last session before the holidays begin reviewing the gathered resources and outlining the structure of their presentation.   
  3. Reading a book – Recommend a book to your student to read over the holiday break. The Skid Row Learning Center has a large library of novels and picture books for tutors! Also, consider lending your student a copy of a novel that you enjoy.

About the tutor: Emile joined School on Wheels in 2015 as an AmeriCorps Summer VISTA before becoming the Learning Center Support. He previously worked as a LAUSD substitute Elementary School teacher and a graphic designer at Scholastic Book Fairs.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

*Note: Ask A Tutor will be taking a short break and will return on Tuesday, December 8th.


Nov 14

Tutoring Students with Special Needs

It can be a challenge to work with students with ADHD or other special needs, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. In this workshop, special needs advocate Danielle Wiltchik emphasizes tutoring to address the behavior, not the diagnosis, and she offers helpful tips and techniques to make sessions more productive for both tutor and student. Topics include dealing with homework difficulties, improving attention and lowering stress through mindfulness, and understanding the myths and misconceptions of ADHD.

View/Download Slideshow of the Workshop (PDF)

About the presenter:

Danielle Wiltchik is a special education tutor with master licensure in mild/moderate needs and a master’s degree in Special Education Cognitive Disabilities. She has over 16 years of experience teaching children with differentiated abilities in private and public settings across the grade levels. A parent of two boys, she is also the owner of Special Needs OC, a private consulting and service provider that specializes in supporting individuals and families with Learning Differences, ADHD, Autism, and other disabilities across the lifespan.

Visit our Workshop Library to see past workshops and to read more about our upcoming workshops and to RSVP, please view our Events Calendar

Nov 10

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 11/10/2015

Question: Do you have any suggestions for engaging my student’s mom? She always polite and says thanks but doesn’t ask about what we’re doing at all. I’d like to suggest that she goes over his multiplication tables because he is making slow progress memorizing them.

Timesia Garcia: Being a School on Wheels tutor, you will learn that you cannot solve every issue you encounter while working with the student(s) you tutor. Sometimes, an attempt at solving these issues may seem as if you are crossing boundaries (and you might be). There are a number of reasons the parent may not seem as interested in their child’s education as you’d hoped. The parent probably has a lot on their mind about other issues and we have to remember that.

However, there are some tactics you can try when it comes to keeping the parent informed on how your student is doing.

  • Before a session, show the parent what you intend to work on with their child. It’s good to walk in with a plan beforehand. Ask if the student needs school supplies or anything else in that time–and see if the parent(s) have any concerns about what their child should work on (homework or extra practice on certain materials).
  • After the session, request to speak with the parent (most times, the student will notify their parent for me). Discuss progress and have the child explain what they accomplished to their parent. Be positive and praise the child’s behavior or progress. Let the parent know what needs improvement and politely suggest they continue to practice and study between tutoring sessions.

By following these guidelines, I have done what I can without imposing myself on the child and parent. I know you want the best for your student, but we can only do so much on our part. I hope this helps.

Jackie Romo: In my experience, parents are actually more interested in what we do during tutoring sessions than we think. However, parents often believe they don’t know enough about math or reading to help their child. In order to engage parents and keep them actively involved in their child’s learning, you may want to try some of these suggestions:

  • Create a short progress report: You don’t have to make elaborate notes, but think about using a checklist system to keep the parent involved and aware of strengths and weaknesses. A checklist may also be helpful for parents to refer to when they speak more formally with their child’s teacher.
  • Share resources: If you have a fun game or engaging activity, why not ask your student to play with their parent throughout the week? For example, there are several multiplication activities that can be done with flashcards. During a session, your student could make their very own set of flashcards (with index cards or paper) and use them to review or play a game with their parent. If the parent is reluctant or too busy, suggest putting them up in their room so that the child can see and review them everyday. Share your ideas and suggestions with parents and they may actually try them out.
  • Don’t be afraid to communicate: If the parent you are working with doesn’t ask about the tutoring session, don’t be afraid to share their child’s progress anyway. In the beginning, try to balance your feedback and focus on the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Communicating with the parent may also help keep your student accountable for his/her learning. If you are in regular communication with your student’s parent, he/she will understand that tutoring time is important and the goal is to make academic progress.

As a tutor, we have to remember that we not only influence our student’s academic progress, but we also support parents in their responsibilities outside of school. By including them in their child’s academic progress, we are helping to build a positive attitude toward learning. Take the initiative and talk to the parent! They’ll thank you for it!

About the Tutors: Timesia Garcia is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about helping others. She studies sociology at a local community college and has been tutoring with School on Wheels for almost two years.

Jackie Romo has been a School in Wheels tutor for nearly 9 years. Aside from tutoring, she teaches first grade in Rowland Heights and recently earned a MS in reading. She is happy to help in any way she can to make your tutoring sessions successful!

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Nov 3

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 11/3/2015

This week, Natalie Platon discusses the challenge of teaching multiplication to a group of students at the Skid Row Learning Center.

Ever since first becoming a tutor at the Skid Row Learning Center in April 2014, I have worked with a wide range of students in terms of academic ability, grade level, social and emotional development, and more. However, out of all the moments I have shared with my students thus far, one of my most challenging moments occurred last summer when I was teaching my students multiplication.

I had been working with the same group of 3rd to 5th grade students all summer and had been testing them daily on their multiplication facts since I worked with them Monday to Friday. To prepare students, I would have them complete a multiplication worksheet before administering a multiplication facts test. The majority of my students were doing well and consistently passing their tests, but I had one student who kept repeatedly failing her 4’s multiplication test. Initially, I designed the worksheet so that students would have to answer the multiplication fact (ex: 4 x 2 = 8), then write it as a repeated addition fact (ex: 4 + 4 = 8), and finally draw a picture of this multiplication fact. However, despite completing this worksheet two days in a row, she still failed the test twice.

I noticed that she was becoming increasingly frustrated whenever she had to take the test, which required students to answer all 12 multiplication facts within two minutes. I encouraged her to be positive and do her best, but she couldn’t help but notice how her peers were passing while she was being left behind. She started shutting down whenever she had to do a multiplication activity. After she failed the test the second time, I realized I had to intervene because the worksheet strategy I was using for everyone else was simply not working for her.

I designed another worksheet that required her to memorize the multiples of the multiplication fact (ex: 4, 8, 12, 16, etc.). This time, however, the worksheet challenged her to answer the questions out of order. Thanks to the new strategy, she was able to visualize the multiplication facts in a different way and recall her facts more effectively. On her fourth try, she successfully passed her 4’s multiplication test. She started becoming excited to learn her multiplication facts, and she eventually caught up with her classmates.

With my role as a tutor, I became aware of the importance of teaching my students in different ways for them to truly understand what they’re learning. Sometimes this means having to do extra work to design new activities or lessons, but it’s definitely worth it when I see my students’ positive reactions after they finally understand a difficult concept.


About the Tutor: Natalie Platon possesses seven years of experience working with K-12th grade students in different capacities and is currently finishing her multiple subjects teaching program with CSU Los Angeles. She has a deep passion for working in diverse and underserved communities and has worked in after-school programs, tutoring organizations, shelters, and schools.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature? Email askatutor [at] or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.