Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We started by reviewing her note-taking style. Her lecture notes have already improved from prior to the last test, but they were not all organized in a fashion that allows for efficient review and understanding of categories, cause, and effect. We reviewed the basics of historical perspective and analysis, especially the notion that terms like "America" and "Congress" do not represent unanimous actors, but various individuals with constantly-evolving ideals and opinions. We then discussed specific events that will be covered on the next test, and the student demonstrated that she could not only recite the facts, but also (after some review and discussion) explain changing opinions and causal relationships. I believe these skills will help the student on her next test."
"First session. The student presented all the materials she had from class (text book, "crash course" book, one quiz, one essay portion of a test, teacher website and materials, her notes). She does not appear to have any issues with knowledge (facts/information) and is able to recall a reasonable amount of key terms (people, places, documents, dates, etc.) as seen in the test essays. She understands what they are and their purpose and is able to apply that information to the assessments presented. She appears to need guidance in analysis, evaluation, and synthesis. Considering her previous success in history and current success in other courses, I would assume she is fully capable of these higher order thinking skills, she just needs more guidance - both training and skills from a teacher/tutor and the ability to guide herself. Her study skills appear solid, but she needs to add to her process to make up the difference. This is not unreasonable for an AP course. The first thing I am asking her to do is to ask herself "why" when reviewing her class notes. Asking "why" will begin the process of making connections between causes and effects, sequencing of events, alternate choices in history, and can begin to steer her towards evaluating the key actions of history. From this we will discuss judging events in their time versus judging events from a historical perspective of the present. I will be presenting her with various other sources of information to see a variety of interpretations. She was already introduced to a web series on US history and I have encouraged her to view those lessons before and/or after teacher lecture on the same topics. I will present her with additional internet supports, both written and video, along with some supporting documentaries. Taking in multiple points of view should help the student not only to better identify her teacher's point of view on the material, but will show her how to craft her own. Lastly, in our next session, I will show her a book on preparing for the AP exam for US history which is in common use in most other AP programs, even if the student does not intend to sit for the test. If it looks like something that could help I would encourage her to purchase her own copy."
"In yesterday's session we focused on a sample US History exam question that was assigned as practice by her teacher. The assignment is to write an argumentative essay that draws from several included historical documents and the student's knowledge of US history to support a yes or no answer to an assigned question. I suggested a strategy for her to adopt and practice in responding to questions in this format. First, make sure that you understand exactly what the question is asking. In this case the question was slightly ambiguous, and we had to examine the context created by the documents in order to ensure that we had the right question in mind. Second, determine, on the basis of the content of the question, what sorts of evidence will be relevant in an answer. Third, read through the documents once, underlining and numbering any material that strikes her as evidentially relevant. After reading each document, she should determine which answer to the question it generally supports and note this with her pencil underneath the document. Fourth, I suggested that she determine which answer to the essay question gains the most evidential support given the distribution and strength of the evidence contained in the documents and choose that as her answer. Fifth, she should decide on a structure for the essay. Sixth, she should write the essay. With the planning mapped out on the pages in front of her, writing the essay will be fairly easy and I suggested that she focus on finding the right amount of time to devote to each task as she continues working with these practice questions. I suggested that, in general, it will be helpful to spend a significant amount of time planning before she actually starts writing. For example, the test allots 40 minutes for each question and it may make sense to spend as much as half of that time or more planning out the essay, but I emphasized that the specific proportions will depend on what works best for her, and that the only way to determine what works best will be to engage in mindful practice. She will write her essay this weekend and turn it in on Monday."