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Volunteer Tutor Tips - Page Five

by Debra Sea



Celebrate Black History Month

I wish I would've found this earlier in the month instead of at the end!  This week's tutor tip celebrates Black history month.  The paragraphs below describe the history of Black History Month.  It was a difficult task to select the most interesting/inspiring person from the list at!  Today's highlighted person is Whoopi Goldberg.  The paragraphs below describe Whoopi's life.  I had no idea that she was a high school dropout with dyslexia, that she worked at a beautician in a mortuary or that she has a PhD from New York University.  Celebrate Black History month by sharing this info with your students - or go to the link above to select your own most interesting and inspiring person.!


Carter G. Woodson, (1875-1950) noted Black scholar and historian and son of former slaves, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, which was later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).He initiated Black History Week, February 12, 1926. For many years the 2nd week of February (chosen so as to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln) was celebrated by Black people in the United States. In 1976, as part of the nation's Bicentennial, it was expanded and became established as Black History Month, and is now celebrated all over North America.

Whoopi !

Goldberg, Whoopi 1949 --
Actress, comedienne. Born Caryn Elaine Johnson on November 13, 1949 (some sources say 1950 or 1955), in New York City. Goldberg and her younger brother, Clyde, were raised by their mother, Emma, in a housing project in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Goldbergs father abandoned the family, and her single mother worked at a variety of jobsincluding teaching and nursingto make ends meet. Goldberg changed her name when she decided that her given name was too boring. She claims to be half Jewish and half Catholic, and Goldberg is attributed to her family history. With her trademark dreadlocks, wide impish grin, and piercing humor, Goldberg is best known for her adept portrayals in both comedic and dramatic roles, as well as her groundbreaking work in the Hollywood film industry as an African-American woman. Goldberg unknowingly suffered from dyslexia, which affected her studies and ultimately induced her to drop out of high school at the age of 17.

In 1974, Goldberg moved to California, living variously for the next seven years in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. At one point during this time she worked as a mortuary beautician while pursuing a career in show business. During her stay in San Francisco, she won a Bay Area Theatre Award for her portrayal of comedienne Moms Mabley in a one-woman show.

Shortly after receiving this honor, she returned to New York. In 1983, she starred in the enormously popular The Spook Show. The one-woman Off-Broadway production featured her own original comedy material that addressed the issue of race in America with unique profundity, style, and wit. Among her most poignant and typically contradictory creations are Little Girl, an African-American child obsessed with having blond hair; and Fontaine, a junkie who also happens to hold a doctorate in literature.

By 1984, director Mike Nichols had moved The Spook Show to a Broadway stage, and in 1985, Goldberg won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for the recording of skits taken from the show. At the same time, she began to receive significant attention from Hollywood insiders. Director Steven Spielberg cast Goldberg in the leading female role of his 1985 production of The Color Purple (adapted from the novel by Alice Walker), a film that went on to earn 10 Academy Award and five Golden Globe nominations. Goldberg herself received an Oscar nomination and her first Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Goldbergs success with The Color Purple launched a highly visible acting career. Since 1985, she has appeared in over 80 film and television productions. Her early film credits include the spy comedy Jumpin Jack Flash (1986), directed by Penny Marshall; Fatal Beauty (1987), costarring Sam Elliott; Claras Heart (1988); Homer & Eddie (1989), costarring James Belushi; and the civil rights period drama, The Long Walk Home (1990), costarring Sissy Spacek.

Goldberg won numerous awards for her supporting role as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost (1990), including an Oscar (becoming only the second African-American actress ever to win) and her second Golden Globe. The film, starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, was a public favorite. That same year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People named Goldberg the Black Entertainer of the Year, and she also collected an Excellence Award at the Women in Film Festival.

In 1991, Goldberg appeared in the comedy Soapdish with an all-star cast featuring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, and Elisabeth Shue, among others. She then appeared as Detective Susan Avery in Robert Altmans well received parody of the Hollywood movie business, The Player (1992), starring Tim Robbins. Also in 1992, she starred in the enormously popular Sister Act as a world-weary lounge singer disguised as a nun hiding from the mob. Directed by Emile Ardolino, Sister Act earned Goldberg an American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture, as well as another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy. The surprising success of this film led to Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), directed by Bill Duke, and featuring Maggie Smith (reprising her role as Mother Superior), James Coburn, and then-unknown R&B artist Lauryn Hill.

Goldberg launched her own television talk show, The Whoopi Goldberg Show, in 1992. Featuring Goldberg in one-on-one interviews with prominent political and Hollywood celebrities, the talk show ran for 200 episodes until 1993 when it was cancelled due to low ratings. That year, Goldberg also appeared in the feature film Made in America (1993), costarring her then-boyfriend Ted Danson.

In 1994, 1996, and 1999, she hosted the Academy Awardsmaking her the only woman to ever do so. Since 1986, she has also co-hosted Comic Relief, an annual live showcase of big-ticket comedians (including Comic Relief cohosts Robin Williams and Billy Crystal) to raise money for the homeless.

In 1998, Goldberg began appearing on the celebrity game show Hollywood Squares, for which she won a daytime Emmy Award for two consecutive years. She has appeared in numerous other television productions, most notably Star Trek: Generations (1994).

Goldbergs recent film appearances include The Deep End of the Ocean (1999), starring Michelle Pfeiffer, and Girl, Interrupted (1999), costarring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role).

In the early 1970s, Goldberg was briefly married to the man who had been her drug counselor. The couple had one child, Alexandra, and divorced in 1974. She was married to cameraman David Claessen from 1986 to 1988. Goldberg then had a high-profile romance with actor Ted Danson in the early 1990s. After their breakup, she became engaged to Lyle Trachtenberg, a labor organizer, but their relationship ended in the mid-'90s. Soon after, she began dating actor Frank Langella. The couple split in 2000.

Goldberg holds a Ph.D. in literature from New York University, and an honorary degree from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.


) 2000 A&E Television Networks. All rights reserved.

1982 Citizen
1985 The Color Purple
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash
1987 Fatal Beauty
1987 Burglar
1988 Clara's Heart
1988 The Telephone
1989 Kiss Shot (TV)
1989 Homer & Eddie
1990 The Long Walk Home
1990 Bagdad Cafe (TV series)
1990 Ghost
1991 Soapdish
1992 Sister Act
1992 The Whoopi Goldberg Show (TV series)
1992 The Player
1992 Sarafina!
1993 Made in America
1993 Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
1993 Loaded Weapon I
1994 The Lion King Voice
1994 Corrina, Corrina
1994 The Little Rascals
1994 Star Trek: Generations
1994 Naked in New York
1995 Moonlight and Valentino
1995 Theodore Rex
1995 Boys on the Side
1996 Eddie
1996 Bogus
1996 The Associate
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi
1997 Cinderella (TV)
1997 In the Gloaming (TV)
1997 A Christmas Carol Voice
1998 How Stella Got Her Groove Back
1998 The Rugrats Movie Voice
1998 A Knight in Camelot (TV)
1998 Alegria
1999 Alice in Wonderland (TV)
1999 The Deep End of the Ocean
1999 Girl, Interrupted
1999 The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (TV miniseries)
1999 Jackie's Back! (TV)
2000 Strong Medicine (TV series)
2000 More Dogs Than Bones
2000 The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle
2001 Kingdom Come
2001 Monkeybone

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Celebrate St Patrick's Day - March 17th

This week's tutor tip explores the history of St. Patrick's Day and the customs.  Read this along with your student and at the end of the history section there are a couple of surprise song to sing/read together.   

About St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick was born about 390 AD in Roman Britain. As a youth he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. He escaped six years later and fled to Gaul. After several years of monastic life, he returned to Ireland in 432 AD as a missionary to the people there. Legend has it that he drove all of the snakes out of the country. It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; hence its strong association with his day and name.

St. Patrick is a hero in Ireland. In fact, there are about 60 churches and cathedrals named for him in Ireland alone. One of the most famous cathedrals is St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. These grounds bear the mark of the place where St. Patrick baptized his converts.

Green is associated with Saint Patrick's Day because it is the color of spring, Ireland, and the shamrock.

Leprechauns are also associated with this holiday. According to the legend, the Leprechaun is an Irish fairy. It is told that Leprechauns are unsociable, unfriendly, live alone. Also, they make shoes and possess a hidden pot of gold. The legend says if the Leprechaun is caught by a treasure hunter then he must tell where is treasure is, unless the Leprechaun can trick the hunter and vanish They were probably added later on because greeting card compaines needed something cute to put on their greeting cards.

Good Luck for St. Patrick's Day
Finding a four-leaf clover (that's double the good luck it usually is).

Wearing green. (School children have started a little tradition of their own -- they pinch classmates who don't wear green on this holiday).

Kissing the blarney stone.

copied from:

Wee Little Patrick( tune Yankee Doodle)

Patrick is a leprechaun
He has a sack of gold
He hides it in a special place
Between two stumps, I'm told

I think I once saw Patrick
Out in the woods at play
He smiled and laughed and winked his eye
And then he ran away

Don't try to follow Patrick
To find his treasure sack
He'll twist and jump and run away
And he never will come back.

(sung to I'm a little teapot)
I'm a little Leprechaun short and green,
Here is my shamrock but I can't be seen,
When you pull my feather,hear me scream (everyone scream)
I'm a little Leprechaun,short and green.

copied from:


Why is it called a hamburger if there is no ham in it??? 

This weeks tutor tip answer's the above question and more!  How many hamburgers do you eat a week?  How many does your student eat?  At the end of the hamburger history section, is a section on the nutritional content of fast food for you to review with your student.

The History of Hamburgers

About Hamburgers
Your Guide to Hamburgers

The origin of the hamburger is clouded in history and controversy. In Medieval times the Tartars, a band or warriors from the plains of Central Asia would place pieces of beef under their saddles while they rode. This would tenderize the meat that would then be eaten raw. This is the legend of the origin of the
modern dish, Beef Tartare.  In the nineteenth century, German immigrants brought a dish called Hamburg Style Beef to the United States, which had traveled to the seaport city of Hamburg, Germany from Russia. This dish was a raw, chopped piece of beef and is believed to be the primitive ancestor of the modern hamburger.

Now several people who claim to be the descendents of the hamburger's inventor dispute what happened next. The popular story is that the first hamburger was served up at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. This sandwich was made with a cooked patty of ground beef on a hard roll. Of course there are earlier references but this might very well be the first time a cooked patty hit the bun.

Mass distribution of the fast food hamburger started with White Castle in 1921. White Castle was such an immediate success that dozens of imitators jumped up and quickly failed. This tiny hamburger originally sold for 5 cents. Later the tell tale holes were added to the patty to speed up cooking times and eliminate the need for flipping.

In 1934 the Wimpy Burger appeared. Named for Popeye's hamburger eating character, this burger went for the upscale market at 10 cents a burger. In keeping with the founder's wishes, all 1,500 restaurants were closed down when he died in 1978. The 1930's also saw the advent of the drive-in. Drive-in's changed the landscape of burgers forever by allowing diners to remain in their cars and therefore creating the concept of drive up service that remains the mainstay of the fast food industry.

By the late 1930's, Bob Wain of Bob's Big Boy, introduced the first double patty burger. Variety in Hamburgers was beginning and like White Castle the Big Boy found a lot of imitators. But it wasn't until 1948 when the first McDonald's opened that the modern fast food Hamburger was set to revolutionize the way we eat. This first McDonald's didn't sell Hamburger's though; it was a Hot Dog stand. Ray Kroc, who would create the McDonald's empire, joined the team in 1954. By then the Hot Dog's had been replaced by Hamburgers. The Big Mac was introduced in 1968.

If you doubt the importance of the Hamburger on American Culture then consider this: Americans on average eat 3 hamburger's a week. And McDonald's alone has sold 12 hamburgers for every person in the world. Nearly 7% on the United State's workforce had their first job at McDonald's. Hamburgers account for nearly 60% on all the sandwiches eaten. So next time you pick up a hamburger, remember it's not just a sandwich, it's an economy. And don't forget the fries. French fries consume 7.5% of the United States Potatoes.

Copied from

We are surrounded by hundreds of different fast food restaurants offering loads of tasty and greasy food. Here are some of America's favorite fast food restaurants and recommendations on which sandwiches will cause the least damage. To make the comparison simple, we will break down three of the most famous sandwiches eaten at each restaurant by grams of fat, as well as the content of carbohydrates and calories. likes to rate its suggestions so that the sandwiches will be ranked according to how bad they are for one's general health. This basically means that foods with high scores can be eaten more often than those with low scores. For those on a strict diet, it might mean you'll be able to cheat twice a week instead of only once. Good stuff. And for those of you who don't follow a diet, it may be a good way to add only two inches to your waist as opposed to five. Here is a simple way to compare your favorite grease bins, or rather fast food restaurants. Please go to this link to check your favorite sandwich!

Evidently, most of these harmless looking sandwiches will increase your fat intake faster than you can chew. Note that the statistics don't include mayonnaise or any additional perks often added to most sandwiches. Fast food sandwiches usually come hand in hand with french fries or chips, so don't forget to include condiments and side orders in your caloric and fat gram calculations.

copied from

The Cracked Pot

In this time of war and turmoil, the next tutor tips will take a completely different tack - that of positive and thought provoking fables, which offer a look at the brighter side of life.  Please enjoy these with your student. 

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said,

"As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. But in love's plan nothing goes to waste! As love calls you to your appointed tasks don't be afraid of your flaws.

You are indeed special!

Carrot, Egg, Herb Tea

This week's tutor tip is a fable for you to read and discuss with your student.  How do you deal with adversity?  I hope that you are as inspired as I was by this story.

Carrot, Egg, Herb Tea

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil.

In one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed herb tea. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. Then he ladled the herb tea out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her he asked. "Darling, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and herb tea," she replied.

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

She humbly asked. "What does it mean Father?"

He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The herb tea was unique, however. After boiling in water, it had changed the water.

"Which are you?" he asked his daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or herb tea coffee bean?"

Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with pain and adversity do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?

Are you the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart? Were you a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a divorce, or a layoff have you become hardened and stiff. Your shell looks the same, but are you bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and heart?

Or are you like the herb tea? It changes the hot water, the thing that is bringing the pain, to its peak flavor reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better.

If you are like the herb tea, when things are at their worst, you get better and make things better around you.

How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg, or herb tea?


The value of time

I have often thought about the relative value of the passage of time.  Today's tutor tip explores this theme in a series of examples.  The bottom line for me is to try to embrace and appreciate every moment in my life - good and bad and I hope that you can do the same.   

To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of one minute:
Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.


Being thankful for what you have in life can have many benefits and today's tutor tip examines the other side of the coin - or having an attitude of gratitude.

The Other Side of the Coin

I'm thankful for the taxes I pay
because it means that I'm employed.

I'm thankful for the mess to clean after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

I'm thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat.

I'm thankful for my shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.

I'm thankful for a lawn that needs mowing,
windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home.

I'm thankful for all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.

I'm thankful for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.

I'm thankful for my huge heating bill
because it means I am warm.

I'm thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.

I'm thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing
because it means I have clothes to wear.

I'm thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means I have been productive.

I'm thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I'm alive.

I'm thankful for getting too much email
because it lets me know I have friends who are thinking of me.

Copied from by  Cindy Ludwig.

The Blind Men and the Elephant 

By reading the delightful poem - The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe:

  • Students will develop sensitivity to others' points of view. 
  • Students will understand the importance of having as much information as possible before coming to conclusions. 

The Blind Men and the Elephant

by John Godfrey Saxe

American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based the following poem on a fable which was told in India many years ago.

It was six men of Indostan 
To learning much inclined, 
Who went to see the Elephant 
(Though all of them were blind), 
That each by observation 
Might satisfy his mind 

The First approached the Elephant, 
And happening to fall 
Against his broad and sturdy side, 
At once began to bawl: 
“God bless me! but the Elephant 
Is very like a wall!” 

The Second, feeling of the tusk, 
Cried, “Ho! what have we here 
So very round and smooth and sharp? 
To me ’tis mighty clear 
This wonder of an Elephant 
Is very like a spear!” 

The Third approached the animal, 
And happening to take 
The squirming trunk within his hands, 
Thus boldly up and spake: 
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant 
Is very like a snake!” 

The Fourth reached out an eager hand, 
And felt about the knee. 
“What most this wondrous beast is like 
Is mighty plain,” quoth he; 
“ ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant 
Is very like a tree!” 

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, 
Said: “E’en the blindest man 
Can tell what this resembles most; 
Deny the fact who can 
This marvel of an Elephant 
Is very like a fan!” 

The Sixth no sooner had begun 
About the beast to grope, 
Than, seizing on the swinging tail 
That fell within his scope, 
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant 
Is very like a rope!” 

And so these men of Indostan 
Disputed loud and long, 
Each in his own opinion 
Exceeding stiff and strong, 
Though each was partly in the right, 
And all were in the wrong! 


So oft in theologic wars, 
The disputants, I ween, 
Rail on in utter ignorance 
Of what each other mean, 
And prate about an Elephant 
Not one of them has seen! 

Merriam Webster Dictionary Website

I have recently rediscovered the Merriam Webster dictionary website - . What a great site! Check out the interactive puzzle below as an exercise for your students. 

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