Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"Today we reviewed and began targeting the student's weaknesses. Specifically, in math we began with algebraic expressions and covered the basic idea of expressions, as well as how to solve and evaluate them. We then studied inequalities, including graphing inequalities and the transitive properties of expressions and inequalities. We next covered slope, slope-intercept form, perpendicular lines and how to graph each of these or determine slope from a graph. In the reading section, we practice chunking and paraphrasing text as a comprehension strategy for dense literary passages. Additionally, we integrated a vocabulary component by using the words that he had missed on his vocab test throughout the session. Afterwards, he was able to solve each of the problems that he had originally missed. In future sessions, we will come back to the diagnostic and the weaknesses found there, especially including the poetry comprehension and harder-level math concepts, such as applying expressions or equations. He was assigned some work to prepare for next session: 1 math, 1 reading, and 3-5 vocab tests (depending on how difficult he finds them)."
"I coached the student on his placement exam math skills. We are still working on nailing down his tendency to make errors when reading test questions."
"Because this was the student's first session, we began by talking about what she perceives to be her strengths and challenges, and what her priorities are in terms of preparing for the test. She asked if we could go over what to expect from the test in general before focusing on a particular section, so we discussed the test format and what kinds of questions she could anticipate for each section. I explained the scoring of the test, and let her know that her scores will only be compared with those of other 8th-graders, so that there isn't pressure to compete with 11th-graders or to get every question on the test right. Once the student felt a little bit better oriented to the test format and expectations, we moved into section-specific preparation. She asked that we concentrate on the vocabulary-based Verbal section, so we worked on both vocabulary enrichment and strategies for making educated guesses when there are unfamiliar words in a question or its answer choices. We discussed how the sound of a word can give clues as to its positive or negative tone, and how the addition of a prefix can influence the tone of a word, and how more-familiar related words can help her to decode unfamiliar but similar-looking words in both Synonym and Analogy questions. We also practiced articulating the relationships between pairs of words in Analogy questions. As we encountered words in both question types that were unfamiliar to her, we looked at which ones could be broken down into recognizable roots or prefixes, and went over what some of the more common roots mean. She is extremely bright; her biggest challenge seems to be test anxiety that affects her focus, makes her second-guess her answers, and sometimes impacts her ability to apply what she knows. I talked with her about some ways to help reduce that anxiety and mitigate its effects on her concentration and time management. In particular, we practiced re-writing negative self-talk into positive, taking a few moments to breathe deeply and re-focus herself on just the one next question, and reminding herself that there's no pressure or expectation for her to know the answers to questions that are aimed at 9th- through 11th-graders. In point of fact, she did so well with the vocabulary that we looked at that she *was* able to answer many questions that were clearly above her grade level. She's very concerned with doing her best, and gives no cause to worry that she might take the lack of pressure to answer every question right as license to put in less effort. Rather, because she finds it more difficult to maintain her focus under pressure, I believe she'll have an easier time accessing what she knows when she can apply it to the many questions that involve at least some familiar material while thinking of the more advanced questions as a potential source of 'bonus points', instead of as intimidating but mandatory. With that outlook in mind, she asked for advice about when to guess vs. when to leave a question blank, so we wrapped up our session with some tips for gauging the best course of action in different potential guessing situations."