Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We finished reading about Paul Revere, studied up on the Pacific coast region, and learned about the native people of the Pacific coast as well."
"Today we started with a decoding activity. I gave the student six sets of words. Each set of words shared a common sound made by a vowel team (oi, ea, oy, ide,ee) Each set of words also contained a word with a different vowel sound or made the same vowel sound with different letters. I asked the student to identify the word in each set with a vowel pair that makes a different sound. She identified the word "moin" as the word with a different vowel sound in the "oi" group, but it did share the same sound. This error could be a result of difficulty with the initial "m" sound, and it also suggests her decoding ability with the "oi" vowel team has not fully generalized to pseudo-words. I will add more words with an initial "m" sound to subsequent lessons; if a pattern of difficulty emerges with the initial "m" sound, it will be addressed in phonic instruction. The student also identified the word "leap" as making a different vowel sound than words in the "ee" vowel team group. The word contains the same sound, but makes the sound is made with a different vowel team. I reviewed the error with the student; she chose the word because of it contained different letters, not because it made a different sound; she evaluated the question incorrectly, but she understood the correct answer when we discussed it. Next I gave the student a group of letter boxes. Each letter box contained consonants, digraphs, and one vowel team sound (oy, oi, ea) For each of three letter boxes, I read her a list of five words; all words contained a shared vowel sound, and each list had at least one nonsense word. She spelled 14/15 words correctly, including words with initial consonant blends. She initially spelled the word cheap "sheap"; when I reviewed the error with her, saying the word "cheap" aloud twice, she corrected her error and said she "didn't hear me" correctly. I will further explore similar sounding digraphs in future lessons to help the student sharpen her ability to distinguish similar phonemes. I chose not to include a spelling task for each vowel team covered in this lesson; I will include vowel teams in encoding for the next lesson. I want to see how well the student recognizes vowel team sounds without a reviewing their sounds before encoding. Next, I showed the student groups of words written on note cards. The words were divided into three vowel teams (oi, oy, and oe) We reviewed one vowel team group at a time; all cards sharing a vowel team also shared a card color; each vowel team was written on its own card as well. I pointed to each word and the vowel team card and asked the student to read it aloud. She read all the words aloud correctly, including the nonsense word "floe"; I asked her if any vowel teams made the same sound with different letters; she correctly identified "oi" and "oy" and said the shared sound. Using the vowel team cards "oi" and "oe" and consonant cards "d" "n" and "p", the student correctly pronounced the word; she hesitated in her initial attempt. When I instructed her to "break the word apart into sounds you know" she pronounced the word correctly. The point of this exercise was to show the student that she can break any word, even a nonsense word, into sounds she recognizes; if she divides a word into sounds she recognizes and then synthesizes them, she will decode correctly. The student gave me a nonsense word to decode, for fun. I showed her how I used the cards to identify each sound and then put them together to decode her word. She will be allowed to do this in future lessons as well; she will have to confirm my decoding. In reading comprehension, I introduced the student to short passages centered on different reading subskills: Finding Facts, Sequence, Context Clues, Main Idea, Conclusion, and Inference. She and I discussed the meaning of each subtopic, and she read a short paragraph-length passage for each subskill and answered comprehension questions. She answered 4/5 questions correctly for "facts" ; I will teach her how to use "active questioning" as she reads to monitor her comprehension. She answered all questions correctly for sequencing and context. I will focus now on two skill areas: Finding Facts and Getting the Main Idea. Developing these two skills in tandem should help the student focus on the content of what she is reading. The more cognitive resources she uses to focus on and comprehend what she is reading, the less likely her prior knowledge and imagination will supersede the actual story. I sent the student home with a packet, a reading activity for each subskill; I asked her to mark when she needs to look back at the story to answer comprehension questions with an "LB" -shorthand for look-back. I allowed her to read some passages silently; during this lesson. This take home assignment should give me a better baseline measurement of where she lies on all sub-skills. I will start with facts and main idea, but her performance on the other sub-skills will dictate how I interweave all the skills in subsequent lessons"
"This was my first session with this student. I must say that it was a delight to work with him. He is very eager to read and learn. During this session, he read three books and completed a reading assignment which required him to write two complete sentences about one of the books he had read. In addition, he practiced reading skills using the app provided by his school. He completed two full exercises. One of the exercises required him to determine the needed digraphs (combination of letters) to make completed works. The second exercise focused on helping him distinguish between the confusing consonants "p," "b," and "d," and it required him to listen carefully to the words provided and select the missing letter to create the correct word. From my observation, the student is very strong reader for his age. Sometimes, instead of reading the words on the page, he would "read" by looking at the picture. However, I have noticed that this is a common issue with children because, sometimes, teachers direct children to look at the picture when they get stuck on a word. When I would redirect him to look back at the words, he did so with no problem. One of the books contained some complicated words that caused him to struggle with pronouncing them. In order to assist him with them, I wrote the words on a sheet of paper and placed the phonetic marks over the letters so that he could sound them out. I was very pleased with his ability to do so, and he stayed calm when he struggled. That is an awesome characteristic to have. One final point: He did not simply read the books to get through the story. He constantly stopped and asked thought-provoking questions based on his reading. This is the sign of having great critical thinking skills."