Overview of Tutoring

Overview of RWS Tutoring

Our approach is to help tutors meet learners (K-12 students) at their point of need with regard to literacy and reading. Because our approach is to meet every learner at his or her point of need we don't offer a script or set of scripted lessons. We offer research-based strategies to help students with their challenges in reading and literacy. These most often include:

Element Description

Comprehension is the “so what” of reading. Comprehension refers to the understanding that results from reading. 

Word Work:

Sight Words & Vocabulary

Words form the elements of reading and learning from texts. The most common words are called Sight Words while words we encounter in subjects like math, science, social students and other subjects are Vocabulary Words.

  • Vocabulary refers to the meanings of words, not their spelling or pronunciation. Vocabulary words are new words that students must learn. 
  • Sight words are the most common words that make up our spoken and written language. Fifty percent of all text is made up of the most common 100 sight words.


Fluency is the ability to read accurately, effortlessly, at the appropriate pace, and with expression. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on figuring out the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means.

Phonics & Decoding

Phonics and decoding have to do with looking at the letters of a word, figuring out what sounds those letters make, and putting the sounds together to read the word.

The ReadWriteServe approach is to find out what a learner most needs and provide instruction to support that need. Our program doesn't assume all struggling readers struggle with comprehension, for example. Some students who struggle reading the words on the page (who have problems with fluency and decoding) actually comprehend what they read despite their struggles with the words. On the other hand, there are many readers who read fluently (whose reading sounds good) but who don't comprehend what they read--they just don't get it. For more on this, read the blog post, A Tale of Two Students, at the RWS Tutoring blog. The RWS tutoring program provides a flexible but structured approach to meeting the diverse needs of different learners. It's flexible to the extent that trained tutors make decisions about what to include in each tutoring session based on the what each learner needs but those choices fit within a structured framework. Most importantly, RWS offers training and support--ideas for tutors working with K-12 learners.

The ReadWriteServe Commitment

At ReadWriteServe, we commit to provide training, resources and ongoing support for tutors and mentors working with K-12 learners. This includes

  • Face-to-face training workshops
  • RWS Tutor Handbooks, lesson plan formats, strategies, and evaluation tools
  • Additional online modules (in development)
  • The RWS Tutor blog, a place for further ideas and discussion

Two commitments we ask of all RWS Tutors

  1. Set a time commitment that is reasonable and stick with it. We ask that you commit to meeting with a learner once a week if possible.
  2. Whatever your schedule, please keep your commitment to our student partners.  Be ethical and responsible in all that you do in your work with student partners. Tutors are mentors and role models.