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.