Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"1) The student had begun a quiz on Ancient Civilizations (40-50 or so questions), so we began there. I probed her on some questions we had just read about recently, and she scored a 92%! 2) We spent the rest of the session on English, Lesson 17. We first read a letter that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter Scottie one summer while she was away at camp. The style of the letter was very foreign to the student. Fitzgerald basically suggested that Scottie worry about the important things (courage, cleanliness, horsemanship) and not about the rest (competition with other kids, boys, the past, the future...all the stuff you can't do anything about). The student answered 10 questions well, some only with probing, but she got the gist. After the letter, the lesson moved to grammar and vocab. There were some words turned into nouns and some focus on adverbs. After we catch up in English, we can revisit adverbs. The lesson ended with some main idea questions on author's purpose. The student submitted the lesson. The next lesson involves writing a persuasive essay. She tells me that this is new for her, but I think we can do it in 1 1/2 sessions."
"Covered alphabet comprehension and letter/sound association, mostly. Also covered number comprehension, basic addition, and subtraction."
"I kicked off the session by presenting the student with eight to ten outlines/ templates specifically for prewrites for expository essays. I let her take some time with these and select the one or two she felt most comfortable with visually and thought made the most sense in the line with the writing task ahead. I thought she'd go with one of the ones closest to the mind maps we've explored previously (or a less stiff, linear format anyway), but, interestingly, she decided on a more bullet point oriented outline. Obviously I wanted her to go with her gut on this -- what she felt would be the most helpful in working through her ideas on the prompt and how she might want to structure these to ensure evidence for each point was clearly detailed -- but in the end this probably is not what is going to support her way of thinking most when she moves from the outline to drafting stage for this particular prompt. I say this not only because her first instinct is to think more abstractly, creatively (with rich language and in metaphor) before nailing down the concrete, but because after she walked me through the outline she put together she began mapping select points further on a separate piece of paper in more of a graphic organizer fashion. All this shows me that we need to continue working on what constitutes evidence and folding it into the big picture points she is quick to get to without sacrificing a flow or prewrite that supports her way of thinking. Her analytical abilities and emotional intelligence are a true gift; it is simply a question of working with her to show how evidence (proper nouns, dates, quotations, specific) only serves to advance her points. To help her solidify her outline, I used the Socratic method -- pushing her to show me how her approach and her examples could be developed into something bullet proof. As we've been working on the past couple of weeks, I continuously brought things back to the prompt. After we'd pretty extensively gone through her outline, I asked her if she had in fact answered the question in the prompt. I made the point that sometimes this is the most challenging aspect of expository writing stemming from a prompt or question. Being engaged in one's own ideas and outline in the early stages of writing is extremely important and the student does a phenomenal job of this, but at the end of the day, if we look at most rubrics associated with test prompts, priority one for earning the top grade or score is making sure the question in play has been fully addressed. All the examples in the world won't make up for an incomplete or inappropriate response or answer. I talked about this being the driving force behind draft one. I emphasized the fact that she clearly considered the prompt and began formulating an answer to the question therein when outlining, but when taken together all of her points should leave no doubt in a critical reader's mind. Her task for next week is unsurprising: put together a first draft. Before leaving we spoke a bit about her schedule for the week and time management. Obviously with her schoolwork and other priorities, completing items weekly for me, for tutoring may not be realistic. Thus, we took a little time to map her week ahead and discuss time management. I think she is pretty good with what time she has. The greater challenge is her taking the time to engage in material or finding (self) relevance in material that she does not automatically relate to. This is something I will work with her on in the weeks to come."