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.