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.