Thursday, January 31, 2013

week ending in 2/1/13

I am working with a child who is really struggling in school.  He is so sure he is a failure that when I praise him, he immediately finds fault with himself.  He is beginning to improve but everything is a challenge.  He is kind hearted towards others. Reading the Ben Carson book called Gifted Hands helped.  This child will really stretch my belief of  It is not if you are smart enough to learn but am I smart enough to teach you.  On 1/30/13 I wrote  Today is going much better and we have done a spelling test and the balance board.  When we were doing the test there were 9 words and 4 sentences.  The sentences were easy but there is a block for him.  He tried to find reasons not to do them.  I am hungry.  I am going to throw up because I am so hungry.  I am not good at this.  We got it done with much gently insistence that we were going to keep going.
On 1/31/13 things went much better and I felt like there was much progress.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How do you eat an elephant? or How do you gently teach a struggling learner?

How do you eat one elephant?  The easy answer is one bite at a time.  The same is true when a learner is struggling to learn and is overwhelmed by the amount of work being taught.  Today, there were 4 pages of words for a 6 year old.  Each page had eight words on it.  Thirty-two words looked like too many to learn.  I took and divided the stack of words to match each page and paperclipped each pages words to the correct page. He was supposed to match each word paper to the word on a bingo type page.  There were 9 spaces with a free one in the middle. 
I knew the child already thought that this was too hard to learn.  I told him all the words before I started working with him.  Then I handed him the word papers and helped him match them to the words.  As we matched each word I made a sentence for the word relating to the ice cream we were going to get at McDonalds.  The first time he tried to sound out a couple of words and quickly gave up.  When we made sentences relating to ice cream, the words had value and he received the information better. 
We managed to do this activity 3 times during the day and each time he was more comfortable and did better.  I wish I could work with this child 2 or 3 times a week.  I will get him everytime I can and hope for the best.  He is also struggling on the balance board so we will try to do this once a week.  All in all a postivie day for learning. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Update on young man I tutored last year

Last year, I tutored a 5 year old that was not happy in school. 
He was so miserable last year he did not attend but 3 weeks.  He began having trouble this year and his writing began to be a struggle.  He came to me to tutor during fall break and we did the balance boards and worked on skills again.
When he went back to school, his grandmother ask him if he wrote
the paper because it was so good.  He looked at her and said of course
he wrote the paper.  It looks like he will start tutoring once a week to
provide the support he needs to succeed in school. How exciting to see him succeed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is tutoring? What is reading?

I tutor. What does that mean?  Tutoring to many people means doing the same thing that has been done before just working at the material until it is learned.  This does seem to work for some people.  However, it does not work for too many.  When I do not understand what you are telling me, saying the information many times or in a louder voice does not make me understand.  It can make me feel that I am not really smart.  Some of my students are reading the book The Turkey Walk.  It is about a 15 year old that has been in the third grade for 4 times.  It is fiction and written during the time of walking animals to market.  There was a time that turkeys were walked to market. 
I am using this book to work on reading.  Saying a word without understanding the meaning is not reading.  Understanding a word or meaning and not being able to say the word is not reading either.
Both the ability to sound out the word or say the word and understanding the meaning of the word in the sentence is reading. 
Working with children who would learn regardless is not the way to teach children that struggle to learn.  Usually, as parents or teachers we expect a learner to be able to read a paragraph at a time.  This is the goal. Then we go on to longer reading selections as we succeed.  When a child can say the words but does not understand the meaning of the information, a paragraph is too long. 
When grammer is taught, a sentence is a complete thought.  When reading is taught to a struggling learner, one thought at a time is needed.  This is why I read a sentence and the learner reads a sentence.  We take turns reading a sentence at a time, so the thoughts are separated. This is to help them understand that each sentence is a thought.  Too many are missing this concept.  As the reader reads better, they get to read longer.  Sometimes, I forget and read too long and the learner gets lost.  Then instead of saying you missed the information, I accept the reality that I went too fast and did not teach the material in a way that the learner could learn it.  This can be slow and can take some time.  Using the balance boards again usually helps this.  I have to remember to take the time to use them. Is this my fault or the learners fault? Sometimes it is no one's fault, it is just a reality of working with someone who is learning or teaching.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The mice again

This week I was helping a student with algebra.  She wrote the problem and then the answer.  She was getting them wrong.  I told her she needed to show her work and this was not welcome advice.
When she worked on the balance boards, she struggled.  I realized she was stuck on "This is too hard,"  I realized she needed a mouse story.  I told her about the mice eating the math test and that they must be eating the work she was putting down between the problem and the answer.  This allowed her to laugh and then she could put her work down.  With the help of the balance boards and the ability to laugh, she is able to do the math and get the problems correct.  I have a happy student.
It is so much fun to see someone like math.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The mice ate my math test

I am working with a child who no longer wants to learn.  He has had good teachers but for some reason, he has given up on school.  He had a math text that he thought had too many problems so it did not get done. He refused to do even one problem because he was overwhelmed by the big test. I gave him an F and dismissed the school day.  When I went to write the next math lesson, the test was gone.
Instead of accusing him of trashing the test, I told him I was sorry but I had some really strong and hungry mice.  They had done a terrible thing.  The mice had eaten his math test. He smiled and told me that he had taken the test out and hid it.  When I asked, he volunteered that his friend came over and  he was embarrassed so he hid the test.  He told me where it was and that day he could get the test done.  I was so glad I had not told him I thought he just trashed the test.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Test taking, Teaching test taking skills

One child who was not reading and now makes the honor roll is still struggling with test taking.  This summer she is tutoring for 6 lessons to try to help with test taking.  She still does not read the words fast enough when taking a timed test at formal school.  I noticed she takes a deep breath when the word test is mentioned.  I gave her a word test and she was doing the "take a deep breath" as she said the words.
To correct this, I taught her to take a color test.  She is age 9 or 10 and knows her colors well.
I had her tell me the colors and laughed when she wondered what I was doing.  I told her I was just checking to see if she still knew her colors.  She and I have a trusting enough relationship so even when I ask her to do something that she thinks is silly, she will work with me.
Then I told her that we were going to do something really hard and it was a test.  Her eyes got larger and she took a deep breath.  Then I started holding up a color at a time and asking the color.  She laughed and I told her tests were just this easy and we were going to learn how easy they are.
I next had her read me a list of words and told her it was a test.  We practiced several of these tests so she would understand she did not have to take a deep breath or be afraid.  She was really tired.
The next week, we did the word test and I quickly told her any word she hesitated to say.  The next activity, we did was for me to have her say the words on cards as I turned them over.  She said there were too many to do all at once.  There were about 30 sets of words or 60 cards.  I just kept turning them over and soon we were finished with the stack.  I told her it was never hard to do things when we knew how to do them
She was doing so well, I had her do another test and told her we were going to skip the words she did not know.  I pointed to the word and if she did not say it quickly,  I went on to the next word.  She kept trying, which I did not know if she would give up or keep going.  I was really proud of her. Her mom is afraid of test taking also so we gave mom the color test too to help the child remember tests are easy.  
We have one more week and then a certificate for completion will be given.  I will check on her once school has started to see  how she is doing.  
We also stop and do the balance board when she seems to stumble with confidence.  I noticed yesterday that when she is not as confident she throws the ball at an angle instead of straight.  When I mentioned this, she gained in confidence as we practiced the information she needed when she was on the balance board.
We were counting by 2's and the ball was straight and when we counted by 3's the ball was at an angle. As she felt more confident with her 3's, the ball was straight again.
It is such a joy to see a child smile about learning.