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Riley announces help with homework on the way

REGION-We have all been there. Sometimes when students do not know the answer to a certain math problem, or cannot think of a creative way to illustrate their thoughts for a big term paper there may not be anyone around to help after school hours. Fortunately, for Alabama students, help may be only a click away.

Governor Bob Riley and State Librarian Rebecca Mitchell announced Wednesday at the Pelham Public Library beginning August 1, students can get homework help from expert tutors from 3 p.m. to midnight daily by going to the website www.homeworkalabama.org. The service will be available to Alabama students in fourth through 12th grade.

Riley said this was just another attempt to help Alabama become a major player in the world of education.

“We are committed to providing children all across the state with the best learning opportunities possible, and that commitment doesn’t stop when the school day ends,” Riley said. “Today’s technology offers new ways to improve student achievement and give our children the one-on-one help they need after school. Alabama will not let this opportunity that helps our students pass us by.”

Live homework help will be available seven days a week in the subjects of math, science, social studies and English.

Students can connect to a tutor through any computer with Internet access, including computers at their local public library or at home. Students must type in their zip code to use the free service.

Mitchell said 20 years from now the children in Alabama classrooms would be the people we depend on to lead Alabama into the future. She said because of this, they deserve all the help we can give them early in life.

“The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) and the public libraries of our state feel that children are both the future and our state’s most precious resource,” Mitchell said. “With the implementation of homeworkalabama.org from Tutor.com, public libraries will be offering another method for delivering information to assist students beyond the traditional classroom setting.

Live homework help online is the latest in an ongoing effort by public libraries to provide assistance to both the students and the school systems of Alabama.

We look forward to the continued partnerships between local public libraries and local public schools.”

Once they log on, students select their grade level and the subject. Tutor.com selects and trains the tutors, who are current and retired teachers, graduate students and college professors.

Every tutor must pass a security check.

In addition, before they are hired, prospective tutors submit resumes and teaching samples that show how they would help a child solve particular problems, complete technology training, participate in mock sample sessions, undergo a 30-day probation period and work with a mentor.

The system is also set up to make sure students do not get tutors to do their homework for them. Tutors are trained to prevent these problems and company policy forbids it. Sessions are also recorded and monitored.

The tutors help students with homework through the use of instant messaging, an interactive virtual “chalkboard” and shared Web browsing.

Drawing and diagramming features allow tutors to demonstrate math and science concepts.

When the session is completed, students can print their session for future reference or share it with a parent or teacher.

Both students and tutors complete surveys, which are shared with the Alabama Public Library Service and the individual public libraries each month.

The success of the program in Shelby County prompted APLS to commit $300,000 in Institute of Museum and Library Services federal funds so the after-school tutoring service can be offered through all 219 public libraries in Alabama.

Barbara Roberts, Director of the Harrison Regional Library, said the program would help students at all levels and abilities.

“Homework Alabama is a program that will help all of our children because it will help struggling students as well as gifted students, students from affluent areas as well as impoverished areas,” Roberts said. “It will truly level the playing field and offer the same service to each and every child in this state regardless of where they live or the income of their parents.

The children of this state are our future and the public libraries of this state have always known that in order to do what is best for all our children, we must assist the public schools in any way we can.

This is just the latest in a long line of cooperative programs between public libraries and public schools.”