Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I am not doing that

Yesterday, I worked with the child who told me she did not want to be taught anything.  In fact, if you remember she did not want to learn anything.  We worked longer because she was not ready to quit reading.
I told her yesterday that we were going to add math to our tutoring.  No, we are not was her reply.  I explained that it would not be math like she thought it would.  I used a dry eraser board to show her the new concept.  We only did 5 cards on the board.  I did not use the packet of cards as it would have overwhelmed her.  It is using triangle flashcards.  I drew a triangle on the board.  An example is 5 plus 3.  5 goes in one bottom corner and 3 in the other bottom corner.  The 8 goes in the top of the triangle.  As I wrote I explained that we were making a picture with math so she would be able to remember it better. 
I asked her what 5 plus 3 was and then replied 8. Working one on one or one on two, I can do this and it does not allow her to fail.  I do not know how this would work in a classroom.  After I did 5 plus 3 and 3 plus 5, I did 8 minus 5 and 8 minus 3.  Then I covered up a corner and did them again.  This does not take long.  I did not use the balance board as I had to hurry and sneak this in and she was not going to expose herself to be considered dumb. Next time I will try balance board and flashcards.  I also asked her to do tangrams.  She refused as these are really hard for her.  I did not push this as I had already succeeded with one new concept she was not comfortable did not want to lose the positive.  I allowed her to draw on the board and ignored her while I worked with another child.  I will need to work one on one with her with the tangrams as she learns how to do them.  I will also need to be gentle so she lets her guard down enough to have the confidence to learn. This is sometimes hard as I can let myself tell her to obey when she appears rude instead of listening to what she is really saying when she says, "I am not!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Invalid testing

A young man I am working with is learning to read.  Will he and I have enough time before the school puts him in special education class?  I am not opposed to these classes.  They can really help some children.  The problem is once in them, it is hard to change the label.  This child has shown great improvement.  I wish I could work with him 4 or 5 times a week instead of 2 times a week.  He tests just a little above retarded.  Someone, with a master's degree in social work,  has observed him is an informal setting. This individual says the testing is inaccurate.  It is not the schools fault this child does not test well.   Some children just do not test well.  Will have to see where this will go.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New student in December

A young man who has struggled for years is coming to see if some of these ideas will help him.  I feel overwhelmed.  His family has tried many things to try to help him. He is in middle school.  What makes me think I can do what others have not?
He came and was very cooperative.  When I had him stand on the balance board, he struggled and blamed his boots for slipping.  He took them off and did better.  When I had him follow my hand with his eyes his eyes just did not follow.  It will be exciting to see if he improves.
Another child I have worked with 4 days a week at first and after a month or 6 weeks reduced to twice a week.  She was making D's and F's when we began.  She brought her report card this week and has A's and B's with one C.  It gives me hope.

VT machine

Years ago, 1977, I was injured in a car wreck.  I have struggled with walking since.  I have a new machine called a VT 15 vibrator machine.  Standing on this has allowed me to stand on one foot.  I am going to a chiropractor who is using a cold laser on my lung.  I saw someone in his office get better who has MS. He put the laser on the back of her head and she was walking better when she left his office.  I asked if it would help with my balance.  Using the cross crawl exercises and the cold laser, I can stand on the balance board and even stand on one foot on the board.  I am working on being able to close my eyes and not fall.  This has helped to that I can walk without pain and is giving me much more energy.  How exciting.


Thanksgiving, I took my balance board to the family get together.  While we were there my great nephews
loved the board and could even jump on it and not fall.  Their mom stated that for some reason their school year is going much better this year.  As they were playing, I saw them on a skateboard looking toy.  It is very similar to the balance board, only it is on wheels.  I asked my niece what it was called.  It is a ripstik.  I told her on the days one of them is struggling on their homework to let them go play for 10 to 15 minutes on this.
Her son said for me to say that it is not a Ripstik G or wave board as these are more dangerous.  I know we want to protect our children but sometimes I wonder if we stifle their movement and harm their ablity to learn. I am not recommending this but am saying that children playing with them may be helping their ability to learn.

Sharing what I learn

I am sharing what I am learning and it is so much fun to see what others know.  An example is having someone stand on the balance board and follow an object with their eyes without moving their head while staying balanced.  A teacher suggested having them put a marble in a pie pan and roll it around.  As the marble moves following it with the eyes without moving the head should be a fun way to add to the excecises.
Another friend, a therapist at the hospital, suggested putting a lazer pointer light on a headband and have the person follow it with their eyes as they wrote words.  I wonder if this would help those struggling with spelling.  It might also help during studing for a test.
I have a young friend who dislikes school.  Her parents struggled in school also.  She is going to try to use the balance board to study for a test and to learn lines for drama class and see if it helps. I am having her help me try out ideas for two reasons.  One is she is a wonderful help and also this will give her the knowledge to help others.  She is a silent leader that is often not noticed but leads one or two at a time quietly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My own learning struggles

For 33 years I have struggled with balance.   This was from a car wreck.  I think it is one reason I have such a desire to help others.  It is getting better but has been a long road.  I often walked two and a half miles. Then I did not walk at all and was on crutches for about two years.  Then some days I could walk and some days I would fall.  It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I have tried many things.  Each has helped some.  In June of  2008, I could think clearly for 12 days in a row.  For a couple of days,  during this time, it felt like butterflies in the back of my head.  Currently, I am going to someone who uses cold lazer and it is helping my balance.  I stand on a balance board and the lazer is on the back of my head.  I am walking smoother also.  I am working on closing my eyes while I am standing on the board.  The board is placed about a foot in front of a door frame so I will not fall forwards and someone stands behind me so I do not fall backwards. This  has taken a lot of energy but is also very exciting.  I have to be careful not to overdo and allow myself the time to heal. This is exciting.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reading Chapter books

Sometime back a third grader informed me that she was not reading chapter books.  They were just too big and too long.  I read a couple of chapter books to her in tutoring with her telling me they were too hard.  We discussed each chapter and what happened.  I also stopped and asked what she thought was going to happen.  I often tell the people I teach that it is always easy to do something that you know how to do well.
She told me that the ones she was supposed to read were longer than the ones I was reading to her.  I laughed and told her we would get to the bigger ones.  Today, she was excited and told me that last week she read a chapter book that had 9 chapters and it was easy.  I have continued to use the rocket phonics as we worked on her compresentation also. I am smiling.
Also, notice I teach one on one or one to two instead of twenty to one with lots of paperwork to be completed and someone else to please.  I please myself and my student as we play games to teach.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My teacher thinks I am not trying

Today, I worked with a child who is already, in early November, being told he will need to repeat third grade.  I have worked with him before.  He has ADHD.  He has a wonderful teacher.  He just needs more than she has the time to provide.  Hopefully, I can work with him enough and teach those helping him at home how to help him.
The first time I told him he was smart, he stopped and looked at me. Puzzled, he said, "Not many people tell me that."  I told him that, "I could not help it that other people were wrong.  He just looked at me.  I asked if that was ok with him.  He seemed to think about the idea.
Back to today.  He was out of school because of surgery.  The school sent home many papers to do while he was recovering.  He had a placement test in math he had taken and done poorly on.  I noticed today also that he does not write his letters but instead draws them.  When I tried to figure out what the test wanted, he tried to hurry me.  I told him I had to try to understand out what the paper wanted before I could help him.  He said the teacher told him he had hurried to do the paper and did not try.  He told me he did try but just did not understand how to work the problems.  I used the back paper of a tic tac paper to write the problems on so it was bigger and not crowded.  Often children who struggle to learn need more space and one problem at a time so as not to be confused.  I used the back of the paper so we could play tic tac toe when we had done a couple of problems.  This is a built in reward.  As we were working, I realized his brain was going fasted than mine.  I told him that his brain needed to slow down and allow me to catch up with what he was doing.  When he added 45 to 25, he carried the 1 to the tens column.  Instead of adding 1 and 4 and 2, he added 5 and 2.  When I realized what he was doing, I told him he was doing a step in his head and I did not know what he had done at first.  This allowed him to slow down and not try as hard so he could tell me step by step what he was doing.  Then we could find his mistake and fix it.
I played Farkle with him after we did the math and had him keep score.  When he was adding the score, I told him the answer quickly when he hesitated because he needs to learn to build confidence in his addition.

Word or Vocabulary usage

Yesterday, I worked with a child who was concerned about a test.  She had a test in science and had done poorly on the study guide.  The teacher had given the class the right answers to the ones they had missed.  Why then did this student insist she needed help?  First, I had her stand and work on the balance board so she could regroup and think in a different direction.  Then I looked at the question and asked her why it was hard for her to remember the answer.  The question asked what instrument had to be invented before the cell could be studied.  The answer was microscope.  She did not understand what instrument meant in the science context.  I explained that it was a tool like her uncle used to build something.  It was like a hammer and nails, or saw he used.  When we talked about how it meant a tool, she could understand and remember the answer. Several of the questions had words that she just had no understanding to build on.  How often do we forget what it is like to have a clue missing when we learned something?  As we were  studing for the test I had her stand on the balance board to repeat the answers once she understood the questions asked and correct answers.  She did not have the book so when I did not remember one word meaning, she was surprised when I called and had a friend google the word meaning.  I think one reason she will ask me questions is she sees me ask others.  She still said I could not say I did not know the answer.  I laughed and told her I did this all the time.
Have you ever known you should know something but just not been able to come up with the answer?  When we allow children to see our weaknesses, we allow them to learn without the embarrassment of not knowing.

Friday, October 22, 2010


This morning my grandson and daughter in law helped me make a video to enter the contest that Dave Ramsey has for a give away.  I would like to help struggling learners with a balance board. It is exciting
to try new things.  The give away is for 5000 dollars.  It is what would you do if you could give away 1000 dollars a day for 5 days.  Wouldn't it be exciting if I could win this. Thank you so much for the help.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making airplanes, being successful

One day it was my turn to teach a 4-H group at camp.  There were about 30 children in the class to make airplanes.
To prepare, the night before I went through my house and picked every type of paper I could find to
make airplanes.  There was some paper provided but so often that is the same old thing.  One paper I picked was cupcake papers.  I tried several times to make an airplane from it.  I had no success so this was a good choice to let the brain create. 
I like to teach a class on something I do not do well.  This encourages students, especially children, to try something new.  I told the students, age 9 to about 14 or 15 that I could not get the cupcake paper airplane to work and did not know if it would work. 
Three of the older boys in class assured me it was alright because I was right it just would not work.  Their Dads worked designing airplanes.  The best airplanes were made by a couple of the younger boys using the cupcake papers.
My purpose was not just making airplanes.  I told them to never let someone tell them they could not do something just because the other person could not understand how to do it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Having your child's eyes checked by a doctor

One child I tutor quickly becomes exhausted when she reads.  When I asked about having her eyes checked, the mom said they were checked at school.  Many times parents think this is enough.
Anytime a child struggles in school, complains of a headache or says their eyes hurt when they read needs to have an eye test at an eye doctor to see if they need glasses.  We will see what the test shows.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

94 on a test

The child I tutored yesterday made a 94 on her test. I calIed to see how she did on the test. I am so excited.  So is she. So is mom. The comment was made that maybe this will encourage her to try harder.  She is trying.  She is writing her assignment. It means nothing when the words she is writing have no meaning.  So often it is assumed by those who read well and do well in school that someone is just not trying hard enough.  That is like saying that someone in a wheelchair could walk if they would just try harder.  However just because we cannot see the wheelchair of someone struggling does not mean trying harder is the answer. 
Teaching harder is not the answer either.  Teaching harder means that more written work is assigned and more work is done.  A different method needs to be used to teach.  The skills used in BrainCenterWorkout is a place to start but also teaching in the subject area is needed. The child does not have time to learn skills and keep up in school at the same time so both are needed to keep up.  As the child learns the BrainCenter
Workout they should have the skills to keep up once the compresentation is taught. How exciting!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The joy of Tutoring

I am having so much joy as I reconnect with the children I tutor.  Just today, one child had no compresentation of why it was important that the early explorers of this country used the waterways
to explore.  When I asked her why she pushed her younger brother in a stoller instead of carrying him, she explained he was too heavy to carry very far.  As I explained that the explorers using a boat or canoe on the
water to carry their things was like her using a stroller for her brother, she seemed to understand better.
Years ago I was trying to explain to a group of children about a horse's bit.  When a child does not ride there is no compresension.  When I explained that a bit was like a steering wheel on a car, it was understandable.
The game apples to apples helps with this also. I found so many ideas and books on my trip to share with the children I tutor. 

Friday, October 8, 2010


Denver has a wonderful place.  It helps people of all ages who struggle with learning or coordination.  It is
the Brain Workout Center.  There we met a husband wife team who teach children and adults how to
use their brain, eyes, and body together to work together to learn.   If you have a child or friend who struggles to learn and you would like to help them call and go see what these people have learned and are teaching.
Hopefully, several people will chose to start a business doing this all over the country as the drop out rate
is too high and the number of people in this country who struggle to read is too high.
They call this the Total Learning Program and it teaches self-observation, self-control and self-correction.
Their web site is http://www.brainworkoutcenter.com/

Monday, September 27, 2010


Sudoku teaches children to think.  I have tried to teach the 3 sisters to do sudoku without success.  I had tried on paper and on a dry erase board.  Most children like the dry erase board. These do too.  I was still not teaching in a way they needed.  Just because I am trying, or nice or what description you want to use, does not mean it is the way the student needs to learn. I realized that I needed a hands on way to teach this.  I have a sudoku game with tiles.  It is a nine box game.  I think it also teaches children that numbers are fun.  How many children or adults that struggle to learn dislike math? Too many in my opinion. 
I took the game and placed the given numbers on the board.  Then I assigned each girl a row of three boxes.
I showed them how to pick out the numbers their box needed.  At this point, I was not making myself clear "I kept saying you are smart and we can learn this".  Once we picked out the numbers for each box they wanted to mix them all up.  I  helped them seperate them again and kept gently but insistantly saying, "Do not mix them, this is important".  I showed them to find the number that was in the most boxes.  The oldest girl all of a sudden smiled and I knew she was catching on. Once she caught on the next one decided she was smart enough to learn too.  It brings joy to me to see this.  Wonder why I tutor? 
We also played mother may I at the end of tutoring.  I found both younger girls need to work on oral communication.  We will not tutor for two weeks, so I may start with mother may I next time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Please test this child to see if you can find something to help him learn

A young mother I know asked me to test one of her sons.  When he sat down, he informed me he did not really want to do this.  When I had him do the exercise where you put your thumb on each finger in order,
he did surprising well with his attitude. In fact he is the first child I have worked with that could do the exercise well that had learning challenges.  As I encouraged him to do as I ask with other exercises, his eyes began looking tired.
I asked if his eyes hurt and he replied, " No, but I have a headache."  I requested the mom have his eyes checked and he needs glasses.  Maybe, this school year will go better.  When a child struggles in school, please have the eyes checked.  This mom had had the child to the doctor and he seemed fine.  However she also had testing results that showed a learning problem of some kind.  Thankfully, Mom kept looking.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's for breakfast?

Today, I need to eat breakfast.  I cannot do eggs again.  I had them too many days last week.  I have had no sugar or flour for two weeks now.  I lost 5.4 pounds last week.  I had potato chips yesterday.  I know I cannot have chips for breakfast very often.  I want to be healthy also.  Well since I cannot figure out what
to have for breakfast, I guess I will fix rice for the freezer.  I also started baked potatoes in the crock pot for supper. I could have a spoon of almond butter or sunflower butter, but then I would still be hungry.
Well, my pan of rice turned out nicely and is cooling.  I know I will put a tablespoon of almond butter in a bowl of rice. I ate that and have felt well all morning and now I can think enough to do my errands.  Now it is time for lunch and I feel well.  What a nice feeling.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

tutoring a tired child

Today the child I tutor was tired.  Today could have been a miserable time.  We started off working with the hands on fractions.  These are plastic pieces that are whole, then halves, then thirds and so on. This child needed to relax.  She was tired from school.  Later she said her eyes were tired. After she played with the fraction pieces we read out of the rocket phonics book.  She missed several words. I think it was because her eyes were tired.  We went back to playing concentration with the letter sound cards from rocket phonics.
We had graduated from these but when I am tired I make more mistakes and this child needed a little more
support. All in all we had a successful tutoring session. We will review more so there is a little more confidence built.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My defination of a tutor

Today, I was in an office and talking about some of my teaching materials.  Someone said, "Oh you are a
teacher."  I replied, "No, I am a tutor."  What is the difference?  Sometimes some teachers do tutor outside of the formal school classroom.  A teacher is too often required to teach to the test.  He or she has to fill out
too much paperwork.  The teacher is required to teach from books that may or may not be best for each student.  If a student needs a different teaching method, often the teacher does not have the time or is not
allowed to teach differently.  Yes there are exceptions to this but it is too often too true.
A tutor can choose to tutor a student or not.  How often can a teacher refuse a student?  A tutor can chose what material to use.  A teacher is often told what material to use.. A parent can change tutors. How hard is it  for a parent to change a student out of a poor teacher's class.  Sometimes, a good teacher and a student will have a personality clash. How hard is it to change that student or teacher.  A tutor can go as slow or as fast as needed to help the student.  A teacher has between 20 and 30 students/  It stretches me to work with 3. 
The students I work with are struggling in the classroom and often need one on one help.  My hat is off to the teachers who do a great job of teaching. Hopefully the students who need more help can find a good tutor also.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

group tutoring

Today I worked with a group of three sisters again. I began by teaching them about sudoku.  I used 4 squares to begin.  When I tried 6 squares, it was too confusing. We will work on this again next week.
I have some stamps that will make this more hands on for the girls.
It is so exciting to see how much the rocket phonics work.  I tried letting the girls play concentration
by themselves and the older two do fine. I will need to work with the youngest one (2nd grade) more
one on one.  The older girl is doing well with understanding the stories in rocket phonics.  We began
working on Math U See today.  We began by letting the girls play with the hands on blocks.  I wanted  to
see how much they understood the base 10 concept.The oldest girl understood the 10 blue strips of ten
to make the red 100 block.  She also did well with finding which ones add up to 10.  I am not sure why
she is struggling with math.  The younger girls will need more help. Working with three at a time is more exhausting for me but seems to be easier for them.

Tongue Twisters

One little boy is struggling with saying some of his words correctly.  I suggested to his mom that she work with him learning to say the tongue twisters.  We discussed some ideas and she came up with a good idea for her child.  This is why parents need to be involved with their child's education, regardless of where they officially go to school.  There are things and ideas that a parent will know for their child that it takes a tutor or teacher too long to figure out. Someone in the day to day parenting role will just have more opportunity to know the child. I will get her the tongue twisters and she will put them on his ipod to listen to on his way to and from school. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Color Me Pink

Back to reporting on the child I am tutoring individually.  Yesterday, I used cards on pink, yellow and red paper.  Each card had a word on the most used word list.  Each card also had a matching card.  We used these to play concentration.  We turn over 4 to 6 cards each turn to hurry the game.  There were 32 cards total and 16 different words.  I allowed her to pick the first color deck.  She chose pink and the game was fun and she enjoyed herself.  Then I chose yellow to see how she would do.  The game was not fun, she struggled and it took much longer.  She seemed tired at the end of the game.  Her mother and I agreed to try putting her spelling words on pink paper when she is learning them to see if it makes things easier.  I am pushing her in the rocket phonics book as she is doing well.  We finished page 86.  The words are in blue with the phonic sound under the word when it is different from the spelling.  Also the picture helps with comprehension because you decide if the group of words is in the picture. This is a second grade child who is 8.  We should finish the first section of rocket phonics next tutor session and begin Level 2.  She is doing so well that instead of giving stickers during tutoring I give her a full page at the end.  We plan to have less stickers with Level 2 as she should not need them.  She gave me two stickers because I am such a good tutor.  Such an enjoyable child teach.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tutoring Day 11

Yesterday was Day 11 working with this child.  She has an excellent memory and memorizes things so well, it interferes with her reading.  You will think she is reading when she is parroting something she read a few days earlier.  I had her read a story we had read earlier and she was doing so well,. I was surprised until I realized she had memorized the story.  I figured this out when the words did not match a time or two. She sounded just like she was reading.  We had discussed the story enough that she understood the meaning and could appear to read. We had only read it once. We will not read another story twice for a long time.  I change things around so she will not become so used to my routine that she does a routine instead of learning the material.  It is challenging to stay ahead of her but also why  I tutor.  I added some different Tangram puzzles and they were too hard.  She was doing the other Tangram's so well, I thought she was ready for these. I have missed something here so I will go back and find where she memorized what we were doing.  I dropped the ball when I did not realize she memorized the puzzles instead of understanding them. It is so exciting and fun to teach her. Next week, we are off from tutoring so we can rest and regroup.  Hopefully, I can write up some other tutoring I have done with some other students. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tutoring Day 10

Today was the tenth time to tutor.  I made cards to send home to play with mom.  They had 3  large ovals, stars and triangles;  3 medium ovals, stars and triangles and 3 small ovals, stars and triangles.  Red, blue and green were the colors chosen for each group.  A set can  be a large red, blue and green triangle.  It can be a red large, medium, and small triangle.  The child and I showed Mom how to play.
Next we played, concentration with the rocket phonic sound cards.  It was my turn to go first.  I do not care who goes first but to succeed children and people have to learn how to take turns. She thought we would re do page 48 because she had not done it perfectly yesterday.  Instead, I went on to page 55 and 56 because they are brighter and more fun.  They also have pictures to find that the words represent.  Then, we went back and played 36-sound bingo on page 51.  I was doing the tutor-teacher mode of  I call the sounds and the student puts the markers on the sound.  After 5 or 6 sounds, I could tell this was not fun for her.  I asked if she wanted to call the sounds and have me put the markers on.  This worked well as she did not space out or give up on what I wanted her to do.  I placed the book in front of her for easier reading for her.
We were both smiling doing the bingo this way.
We counted money.  I have several (about 12 half dollars) and one silver dollar.  Then I have several dollars in quarters, dimes, nickels and then about 4 dollars in pennies. We counted pennies together.  She said 1 and
I said 2 and so on.  Then we traded numbers and I started with 1. When we got to a hundred, I showed her what other money was a dollar.  She struggles with counting by 5's so we always work this in. 
We read a book about a moose who thought everyone else was a moose too.  She read a sentence and then I read one.  She was really doing well reading.  A younger child ( about age 3) came up to listen. When the student realized the young child was listening, she immediately froze up and struggled.  I finished reading the book.  I told her the young child liked listening to us read so much because we were doing such a good job. We will work on the idea again tomorrow that she was reading so well someone else wanted to listen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I do not want to learn to read

How heartbreaking for a 9 year old to say, "I do not want to learn to read."  This is a child  has already failed in the school system.  She is embarrassed and does not want to try anymore. 
When I told her I would test her she said, "No."  This was a simple statement.  How do you tutor someone who has given up?  I tried to set up an appointment to work with her individually.  The first time the student could not come.  The second time, I could not come. 
Finally, I decided to try something different.  We set up a two to three hour session to work with her and two of her sisters.  I also had two boys about the same ages as the girls come.  The boys already knew the games that I wanted to teach.  The oldest girl and boy are both in the 5th grade.  The three younger children are in the second grade.  The 9 year old has been retained. She gets to do second grade again. 
I started with having the fifth grade boy and the nine year old play dominos.  I had the fifth grade girl and second grade boy play tri-ominos. I worked with the youngest girl on making sets and reading and learning skills.  Then, I traded and worked with the youngest boy on reading.  He had already had some success with this material I work with.  Then I had the nine year old and youngest boy and myself play the rocket phonics cards.  This is played as a concentration game.  The nine year old got to decide how many cards we could turn over.  She chose 4.  After 3 turns each, I changed her turn to 8 turnovers while leaving the youngest boy and myself at 4. I have worked with the youngest boy enough that he understands making the play more even so he did not complain or think this was unfair.  In the end, she had 13 sets, he had 12 sets and I had 11 sets. This meant she won first, he won second and I lost.  I could not convince them that I won third.
She had a good time and learned a few sounds.  This may not be the best way to teach but when someone has given up, changes need to be made.
Lastly, I played Train Dominos with all 5 children.  Now this is a boring game to me but it taught the girls some skills they needed and leveled the playing field as the boys do not know this game well.  We will see how next time goes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I need to do my work perfectly

How often do we hear someone say, " He or she is smart, they are just lazy."?  How often does a learner say, "I am just lazy, when he or she does not do their schoolwork."?
I worked with such a student this summer. He was not lazy.  He thought he had to do his work perfectly and get all the answers right.  This made it a struggle to do his work.  In fact, not knowing the answer made him unable to do his work. Add several papers in a day and the student appears to become lazy.
He wanted an A+  on his paper.  When we did only one activity at a time, he did well and loved to learn.
When we added a written paper, he wanted me to sit by him and say he got each problem or question right.
This way he could get all the answers right.  I decided that I would only give a grade for doing the work, not the actual work itself. If he finished the paper by himself he got an A+  for completeing the paper.  I assigned the work on one side of the page. This child was finishing first grade and the paper had 8 problems.  He did the work in a timely fashion and I gave him an A+.
I had told him I was only grading if he finished the work.  It was fun to watch him waiting for me to mark his work.  I joyfully went onto another project as I praised him for finishing the page. He looked at me and ask if he could have an A++ then.  I smiled and said he sure could. I added another + as I praised him for finishing the paper again.  He waited a little while and asked, "Can I get an A+++?"  I laughed and put another + on the paper and told him that was enough +'s.  He agreed.
We did the A+++ routine without checking the actual work for several days. After 4 days, I praised him for doing the work and then checked the work.  He missed one problem so I put a A+++ on his paper for finishing his work and a  B on his paper for his work. I praised him for finishing his work and for making a B on his work.  I  did not want the work and finishing to be connected.  Then, I added doing  the front and back of the page. Each time I downplayed the grade for the work and praised the finishing the work grade.
Then he decided maybe I would accept sloppy work.  He got a B for finishing his work. The next day he did better work. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Apples to Apples rules to include younger children

Today, we were playing Apples to Apples for age 9 and up.  My son, late teens, came in and ask to join us in play.  I should have said no.  However, the younger children (ages 7 and 10) were excited that he wanted to play with them.  I use this game to extend word usage and understanding.  We do not play to win and we help each other decide which card to play. 
The official rules are that each player has 5 red (apple cards).  One person turns over the green card. He chooses which red card matches the best.  The person who wins gets the set of cards and then it is the next person's turn to pull the green card.  These official rules require a much higher skill level and leave out the younger, newer readers.
With my rules, one person turns over the green card and all players choose a red card to play. The cards are put into the played stack and it is the next person's turn to turn over a green card. We discuss which cards fit the best and what the words mean.  We also play the opposite meaning when we cannot match the meaning.  We all enjoy playing and we all win because all the cards go into the played stack. It is a slower and more enjoyable game that does not cause fussing and hurt feelings.  Nor do the younger players feel left out.
It was rather funny to see the surprise on my son's face when I informed him he was playing wrong and told him our rules.  We played some our way and some his way.  The 10 year old was excited to have a "I can win game and the younger one felt left out.  I folded my hand and helped the younger one play.  They still had a good time and I will use my rules unless a really older person wants to play.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Test taking skills

Rafe Esquith on page 80 to 83 gives a wonderful example of how to understand the way multi choice questions are written.  The older teen student I showed this information was pleased to finally understand how the answers were formulated for the SAT questions. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teach by Rafe Esquith

I am reading a wonderful new book by Rafe Esquith that was published in 2007. It is called Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire. I found it by accident at the Library.  I wish that all parents, educators and people who love children could be required to read this book.  However, requiring people to read a book seems to take away much of the value.  Telling others about a wonderful book and them choosing to read the book is more productive. I know so many good teachers doing a good job.  They are often tired and sometimes feel like quitting.  This book reminds us why it is important to keep on going. I have read 50 pages of 227 pages. Hopefully, the remaining book will be an encouraging as the first part.
It is so important to read and watch movies that encourage and showcase people doing things they should.
I knew a family with several boys.  They watched a steady and daily diet of a group of movies about an actor swinging threw the trees and the Three Stooges.  Guess how they acted and how much trouble they had in school.    Remember if there is a way we do not want our children to act, then teach them something better.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New students

I tested two new students this past week.  First, I had them do the thumb to each finger. The first child who will be S1 could do all 4 fingers but not smoothly. You could tell she had to really think to do the thumb to finger motion from finger to finger. The second child struggled with doing this. She will be S2.
Hopefully, in another week, they will begin tutoring.  I hope to show mom what I am doing so she can help them at home and it not cost her as much.
My niece, spent $5,000 at a tutoring center for her child this summer.  How long is she going to have to work to pay this loan off? At $100 a month it has taken 2 years for my child to pay off a $2,000 loan with a good, low interest.  Is the tutoring worth the money? Yes it is. How many parents can afford this? I believe by sharing the things that work, hopefully it will help others to help their children and even grown people who struggle to learn.  There is a man who did not learn to read until he was 59 years of age because no one knew how to learn how to teach him.  He needed special color glasses to see the letters correctly.
This week I hope to test some other students.  I have some new information coming in and will share that when I read it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tutoring Day 2 and Day 3

Yesterday was day 3 of tutoring.  We had such a good time.  It is so much fun to see someone who wants to learn succeed.  First we worked on the finger exercises.  On day 2 she did well so I had her put her hands on the table to put her fingers and thumb down in order. I also make a druming sound on the table with my fingers when she does this.  Then we read a small book about ponies.  It had only a few words per page.
I wanted something for quick succeed.  Then we played with the rocket phonic cards with the letters a,e,i,n,k,f,l,m,and h.  After we played concentration with the cards, we read the combinations on page 31.
Now instead of her turning over 3 cards I let her turn over 4 and I turn over 3.  This helps the concentration game go faster and she still gets the sounds.  We are also getting to go again when we find a match.  As there are fewer cards, 10 or less, we only turn over 2 each.
We also played with the cards teaching sets.  Next, I started her reading the book Daniel's Duck.  I chose this one because the words are large and the word paper contrast is easy for the eyes to follow.  We read  page 5 to page 27.  I am teaching her to stop for the period.  I read a sentence and then she reads one.  This way instead of saying no you did not stop for a period, I say wait, "It is my turn." When somone entered the library where we are working she was so busy reading, she did not look up.
Last we did the Tangram's. She put the pieces on the card and then I had her put them on the table to the side. When she needed help, I just adjusted the piece a little.  I also made a tapping noise as she worked on this. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tutoring Day 1

How often do we know we are missing a key to learning?  This is like trying to make a cake without a bowl.  If we cannot keep the ingredients together, the cake will be a mess.  Sometimes, so is a student's mind when they do not have the skills to organize what they are trying to learn.
The child could put her thumb on each finger. It was a struggle and not smooth.  She also had to concentrate to do this.  We will work each time to see how quickly this smooths out.  She wants to learn.  She thought we would go get a book and read.  After all she is there to learn to read better so why are we touching our fingers with our thumb.
Next, we used the rocket phonics cards.  We used all the vowels and letters t,n,m,l, and s. She knows her letters well but does not sound out the sounds.  We played concentration and said the letter sounds as we turned over the cards. She was quick to say n is made a sound kind of like m.  I told her she was right and to watch my mouth.  I said m and then n.  She understood, I think.  I will have to see if she retains the information. I will have to keep on my toes to stay ahead of her.  I made words like it, sun, and is from the cards.
It took some time to teach her how to make sets from the cards with different sizes, shapes and colors.  She is used to there being a very limited number of answers so having several choices was a little confusing at first.  When we played it the second time, she was excited to find the sets.  It will be fun to show her advanced play with more choices as we learn. 
We played with the Ideal brand Tangram Pattern Cards.  I had her do the A 1 card to see how she could do.
Then I had her do it again as I tapped gently on the table.  At first, she watched me tap but I told her; I would just gently tap while she put the shapes on the card.  She looked puzzled but soon had the shapes on the card.  Then we did the A2 card as I tapped.  The tapping helps learning.  Another place to do the tapping and activity is the Brain A
ge game and Big Brain Academy on the DS player. 
Finally, we went and got a book.  I think the student was relieved.  Finally, we were going to read.  I asked if she had read the Pokey Little Puppy.  She said no, so I chose it.   I  read a little and then asked what was going to happen next.  We will finish the book next time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

tutoring a new student, finger drills, rocket phonics

It is so exciting to have a new student.  When I get a new student, it has never been someone that is doing well in school.  It is never a parent or friend that comes and says, " I want you to try to tutor my child or friend because they are doing so well in school.  It is this individual, adult or child, is struggling and maybe you have an idea that might help the individual be a success.  Often this person is a wonderful someone who is judged a failure because he or she does not learn at the rate or way the world thinks he or she should. I hope to post the things I have learned and that I use to help this new student.  Not because I know so much but in hopes of helping someone else, help another student.
One of the things I have learned to do is finger drills.  Touch each finger with the thumb beginning with the pointer finger down to the small finger.  Have the student do each hand individually and then do them together. Have them do the finger drills back and forth on the hands. Then have them do the finger drills as you or the student sings.  Then talk as the student does the drill until they can do them without thinking about what they are doing.  Encourage them to do them at home. This may take weeks and you will do other things as they learn this.
The next think I am going to do is rocket phonics.  I will teach with the matching cards first.  This student is young, (6 or7) so I will make sure she can say the sounds and match the cards first.  {Years ago a young man age 9 got into trouble with his teacher, (she was excellent) because he refused to identify a bird nest as starting with a n for nest.  He had never seen a bird nest in a tree and did not recognize the picture as a bird nest. How was she to know he had never seen a bird nest?  How was he to tell her he had not seen a bird nest? Yet he was in trouble for not cooperating.}  We will begin with the vowels a,e,i,o,and u.  I will add m, s and t to round out the numbers to play with.  We will match with them up first and then turn them over to play.  As an adult, I should be able to win a concentration game.  Therefore, I will even the odds by allowing her to turn over three cards on her turn while I turn over two for my turn. Before you decide this is not fair, please tell me what is fair about an adult winning a game against a 7 year old.  A child who has struggled in school already knows how to fail.  As the child gets better or if I am working with a child who is good at this I may let myself  turn over 3 cards to even the odds. I also like to put the cards in a match stack all together to promote the idea that we won by playing and learning instead of someone has to lose so someone else can win. As we turn over each card the sound is said aloud.
I will let you know how well this goes and how much fun we had, hopefully, Monday evening.  Please try this with a child you see struggling to learn.

Friday, July 23, 2010

learning to cut left handed

Several years ago, I was keeping a little girl about 4.  She was the age of one of my children.  My children are allowed to cut with regular adult sizzors and pinking shears at a young age.  This is about 2 and a half or three.  I am careful to supervise.  These sizzors cut better than the child size sizzors.  My child wanted to cut, so of course, the other child wanted to cut, also.  I start with the pinking shears as they are rounded on the end and safer. I spent much of the day trying to teach this child to cut. Over the years, many children have learned to cut at my house. 
When her Dad came to pick her up, I asked him; who in her family was left-handed.  I explained that I had never before had a child that I could not teach to cut with pinking shears.  He laughed and said, "No problem."
He sat down and within 5 minutes the child could use the sizzors and cut with them.  What had I done wrong? Nothing.  Her Dad, being left handed, had had the same experience and knew exactly how to show her. I am right handed and did not understand how to teach this child. 
How often do we blame ourselves or more often the child, when we just need to teach or find someone else to teach from a different angle?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

visiting and learning from friends

My husband and I had a wonderful evening tonight.  We went for supper with friends.  They are eating very well and as a result feeling well.  The food was good as well as tasty. It was also healthy.  They are also downsizing for a possible move.  It is a joy to see how they are doing this as we also need to downsize.  It has been hard work for them.  I am encouraging her to write a blog as she has so much to share. They are debt free and have been for years.  It is so enjoyable to exchange ideas and being uplifted by others success.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Learning Computers vs sit still and be quiet

How often do young children take a computer and seemingly use it by second nature?  If you have not tried it, let a 4 to 6 year old use your computer and see what all they can move and rearrange for you.  Yet those same children sometimes cannot do math or write.  Part of this is because they do not see you or other older people writing or doing math.  Think of the difference in the movement of sitting quietly in a classroom doing math and working on a computer.  In a math class, the child is told to sit quietly and sit still and think.  Children think while moving.  Just because adults want them to sit still and be quiet does not mean, quiet and still is best. We are losing too many children in our schools.  Talk is made about needing something different yet the schools are allowed to stiffle learners with quiet and still. I am not saying children should learn math on computers, but rather that they should be allowed to move while learning. I am not suggesting unlimited noise that disturbs other learners.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Multiplication with color

One student could not remember to finish his multiplication problems. So I wrote them out in color.
an example of this is as follows.  Since I am learning to blog myself and use the computer better I
will try to do this one in color.  We have a wonderful library staff who are kind enough to help me
learn to use the computer and how to blog. Thanks Kathy and Mary. See yet another example of
how much we need and are willing to help each other.

                   327        When we multiply by 5 we put the answer in purple.
                     45         When we put the answer in yellow.   I put a green
                 1635           line under addition because green means go and 
               1308             you still need to go to finish the problem.  We write
             _______            the final answer in black because that is the end of
                                         the problem.

Long division, math, math with colors

     Once again I was helping someone with math.  This fourth grader was confused by long division.  He took the problem 5 divided into 25 and got 1.  His reasoning was 5 will not go into 2 so you put a 0 on top.  Then you divide 5 into 5 and it goes 1 time.  When I tried to explain, his blank look and confused ok??, told me, we needed colors for the problem.  I used 5 to start teaching this because I can make a problem that comes out evenly with any large number as long as it ends with 5 or ten.  Also many learners can count  well by 5's.
     I also made a big problem.  Remember it is always easy when you know how.  I say this several times during the problem.  Also, I ask how many times they think I have done this compared to them.  I use crayons to begin with because crayons are non threatening to most children. Sometimes color pencils are confusing to children struggling with math. I think because they represent something adults or older children use.
     I only write one problem on a piece of 8 by 11 inch paper. I wrote the problem 5 divided into 1 5 6 9 2 5.  5 is written in a green color. 15 is written in a purple color because I do not want him to toss the 1. 6 is written in orange. 9 is written in blue, 2 can be green and 5 can be red. The color of each number does not matter as long as they are different and noticeable.  Yellow and other light colors are too hard to see to use.
How many 5 or nickles are in a penny or 1 cent?  He smiled and said none. So I had him put a zero above the 1 in a black color. Then I asked him how many nickles were in 15 cents.  He knew 3. I had him put a 3 above the 3 in a green color. I asked him if he would throw a 10 dollar bill out the window of  his car. He smiled and said no.  I told him that is what he was doing if he left the 1 out of 15. Then I had him multiply 3 times 5 and put the answer in green under the 15. Next I had him bring down the 6 with an orange color.
We do this until the end of the problem.  Also, you as the teacher only get to do three problems a day with the learner.  Usually teaching math with color  like this only takes about a week.  After 2 or three days, I turn a lined paper on its side so we can keep our numbers in line easier.  This child seems to understand. The test will be next week when we do long division again. After 3 weeks, try using a pencil again and see if he can do the problem without color.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Helping others learn and learning from others

     I have a dream where people will share a time where they struggled to learn something and someone else helped them.  Also, I want to have people share times where they helped others learn.  Many times I have heard someone tell someone else that they cannot learn something.  The truth was that the person doing the teaching did not know how to teach this person.  One time I decided that I wanted to learn to crochet a shawl.  I went to the yarn shop and the people were very friendly.  They were happy to show me how to learn to crocket.  The problem was I could not learn it the way they wanted me too.  I went home discouraged and convinced I could not learn to crochet.
     A neighbor told another neighbor about my difficulties.  This neighbor came down and asked if I wanted her to show me how she crocheted.  She said she crocheted backwards but it looked the same when she was finished.  I was able to crochet her way and could learn how to make what I wanted.  How sad when we often think we cannot do something because someone else cannot teach us.