"The student and I started the session by looking at the sample essay that I had him write after our previous session. His grammar and vocabulary were mostly in good shape; we did discuss a few points of punctuation, usage and essay organization. Since he's interested in music and plays an instrument, we talked through a comparison between essay structure and song structure and how each body paragraph is like a verse: it can start with a general statement but needs to include specifics for the "lyrics" of the essay to have the greatest effect. Once we started working with the songwriting analogy, several aspects of the writing process seemed to make more sense to him. He can now think of different transitional words and phrases as corresponding to different phases or types of changes in a song's musical arrangement and use his musical experience to help him choose transitions that work to bridge the different ideas and examples in his essay.
After working on the essay section, we turned our attention to math. In particular, we practiced:
* drawing a quick line drawing to get a visual idea of word problems involving geometry or number lines;
* using what we know about math (basic rules) to eliminate wrong answers with as few calculations as possible (or no calculations, in some cases);
* when plugging in a number or one of the answer choices is faster than using the calculator to solve the problem from start to finish;
* solving for only the first or last digit to eliminate wrong answer choices more quickly; and
* trying answer C first when the answer choices are numbers, since the answer choices appear in order from smallest to greatest or vice versa (so if C is wrong, knowing whether the answer needs to be larger or smaller allows him to eliminate either A & B or D & E immediately).
He was very responsive to the strategies we discussed and practiced and seemed to feel a lot less intimidated by the math questions by the end of our session. It was exciting to watch him "get" how the shortcuts can save him time and frustration while increasing his ability to find the right answers!"