tutoring highlights

I have been tutoring an awesome little guy 2 days a week this month. I am trying to do lots of fun and hands-on things that relate to real life skills. Here are a few highlights of the activities we have done together.

Vowel hunt with fridge magnets and a cookie sheet

Vowel hunt with fridge magnets and a cookie sheet

Order the alphabet correctly (can be timed to compete against last time's record)

Order the alphabet correctly (can be timed to compete against last time’s record)

Two-digit addition and subtraction with pebbles (ones) and twigs (tens) - great way to bring natural resources into math as manipulatives!

Two-digit addition and subtraction with pebbles (ones) and twigs (tens) – great way to bring natural resources into math as manipulatives!

Fractions with licorice and chocolate bars - make math yummy

Fractions with licorice and chocolate bars – make math yummy

Went to the grocery store, picked out and bought items to make smoothies! They were dee-lish!

Went to the grocery store, picked out and bought items to make smoothies! They were dee-lish!

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Smoothie recipe

Smoothie recipe

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Nature scavenger hunt - something fuzzy Love this activity, because it gets kids reading the clues and they are responsible for finding all of the items. You can make a list tailored specifically to things in your immediate area that kids can easily find.

Nature scavenger hunt – something fuzzy
Love this activity, because it gets kids reading the clues and they are responsible for finding all of the items. You can make a list tailored specifically to things in your immediate area that kids can easily find.

sound switch reading game

I was just surfing the net, collecting ideas for a tutoring lesson plan and came across this little gem… I call it “Sound Switch.”

Sound Switch game

  • Choose a simple word like ‘take’ and let child choose one sound to remove (ex. ‘k’)
  • Replace the removed sound with another to make a word (ex. ‘l’ to make tale or tail)
  • Keep going until all of the word’s sounds have been replaced
  • Good words to use: mail, fun, bump, chunk, slice, pan, gave, same, like, small

Just thought I’d share this quick little update! Tutoring is quickly coming to a close, which makes me sad because the last few sessions have been really great – probably the best yet! I have found two activities that click really well with my student.

1. We have worked on a lot of sounds over the summer, and after reflection, I realized that the last few were rushed through by me. So to really enforce the ones that hadn’t stuck as well, I made a little game. I wrote out the sounds (like ch, ow, ar, etc) on ‘flashcards’ and showed them to the student. If he verbalizes the sound correctly, he gets to keep the flashcard. If he answers incorrectly, I keep the flashcard (to review the troublesome ones later) and he has to do something for me.  I make up little tasks for him to do (like pushups, stacking chairs, walking like a seal, folding a blanket, etc. – it can be ANYTHING!). My student likes to keep his hands busy, so I have found this activity VERY helpful and beneficial for both of us – he loves the challenge and competitive-ness of getting them right (and especially loves when his stack of sounds is way larger than mine at the end of the game). This game is also really easy to mix up and make harder (for example, one time through, I gave him a 3-Mississippi time limit to come up with the answer and he enjoyed that a lot as well!).

2. I have a list of common but tricky words (where, were, their, why, who, etc…) that are written out on a piece of paper. Each day we work on them, he uses a different coloured pen (I started with red and have continued to go through the rainbow). Each time the student reads a word correctly, he underlines it in the colour of the day. This makes it really easy for not only the student, but also the instructor, to see the progress and recognize the trickiest words. I have found that this constant review of these words really helps to enforce them and he is improving every time!

I hope that these sessions will really help him when he gets back to school in a few weeks! I know it has helped me to continue to grow as a teacher! 🙂

tutoring recap (sessions 1, 2 and 3)

I have had my first three sessions with my new ‘summer student’ and I feel like I have already learned a few good lessons – as well as accumulating a lot more questions, too!

The student is going into Grade 5 in the fall but struggles considerably with reading. Right now, he is only at a mid-Kindergarten level of reading so I am really hoping to enforce the basic rules of reading over the summer so he can continue to grow as a young reader!

He is a very shy young guy, so I feel like he is still warming up to me after 3 sessions, but I hope that he will feel more comfortable with me as we go on! His teacher mentioned to me that he really likes using technology, so I have been researching useful online resources and incorporating a ‘tech’ aspect into every session thus far. He seems to be enjoying it but I think I should be incorporating technology that isn’t just on my laptop. My goal is to download some apps for the iPad and try those as well! Goodness knows how many educational apps are at our fingertips! If you have any suggestions of great apps for inspiring or assisting young readers, please let me know!

I found our first session very helpful in planning for the following meetings because I finally had first-hand experience with how far the student was and what exactly needed to be focused on. I soon realized that the basics of reading still needed reinforcement, so have worked on ‘Silent E’ words and ‘When 2 Vowels Go Walking’ concepts since. His teacher mentioned that he would need continual repetition to solidly grasp a concept, so I hope to keep reviewing these concepts in future meetings. In true future-teacher fashion, I enjoy making up my own little, student-personalized worksheets for my tutoring students, so that has been a good exercise for me to really focus in on what the student needs.

The one thing I found slightly disheartening today was how disinterested he seemed. Granted, no one wants to have to go to ‘school’ during the summer time, but I honestly am trying to throw in as much fun and ‘gamey’ style stuff as I can! Today was a lot of working on rules and worksheets, so maybe I needed to put a few more activity-style items on the agenda! Also, his mom mentioned when she walked in that he was ‘grumpy’ today, so perhaps today was just an unlucky day to have lots of word work rather than games.

Next time, I think I should at least mix up the straight pen and paper stuff with movement or an activity or something so it isn’t a big chunk of ‘the boring.’

One thing I have noticed is that the student really likes to fidget and I made the mistake of putting all the writing utensils in front of him for his use, which just ended up in him playing with the pens and pencils instead of paying attention. Since then, I have tried to keep all the loose items on my side of the table to avoid distraction as much as possible.

Today was our only meeting this week, as I am headed off for my ONLY days off this summer on Thursday! But after my 5-day weekend, you can bet I will be right back to the grind to try and help my student as much as possible!

I realize that this particular student’s growth is very slow and takes a lot of repetition, so I have to make realistic goals and not expect him to improve drastically just from 2 hours/week of work. But I do hope that he can continue to have opportunities to read and doesn’t slip backwards over the summer – which is the sad truth for lots of kids! If I can help to improve his reading repertoire even a little bit, I will have achieved something great!

One last thought before I go…

English is such a weird language where lots of basic rules won’t apply to an unfortunately big number of words. When I think back on myself learning to read, it honestly amazes me that I did it, or that any kid does it for that matter! It is something that is really taken for granted in our society (we automatically assume that EVERYONE can read, and those who can’t are at a major disadvantage). It is really about repeating and repeating and repeating and then repeating AGAIN! Some of the most used words follow no rhyme or reason whatsoever and I think that is one of my other goals for my tutoring is to familiarize my student with these high frequency words that he will use every day!

This got me thinking though… We use the same words ALL THE TIME. And just because I know how to read now, I don’t have any need to expand my vocabulary and learn how to read new words. So I have made a bit of a personal goal to work on expanding my personal vocabulary and actively look up words I don’t know so I am always learning. After all, you can NEVER be too old to learn. And that is a pivotal idea behind being a teacher, don’t you think?