Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"This is my first session with the student. He is very intelligent, and has gone through ESL at his school, but will be released into regular classes in the Fall. His intelligence level in many subjects is 11th grade or above, his fiction interest is 8th or 9th grade, but his understanding of words is somewhere in the elementary school range. We read "A Stillness at Appomattox." I read to him and explained history and meanings along the way, and he chimed in with his knowledge. He has a knowledge of the civil war, and enjoys the subject. I want to find a simpler book that he can read on his own, but I want to read this kind of book with him, take the vocabulary from it and expand on it, and use it to write definitions, write sentences that convey usage, and write about military history to work on grammar and on building solid paragraphs. That's the plan. I want his vocabulary and his writing to catch up to his thinking over the next months."
"We met for the first time. She is a very engaging student. She has several different assignments to complete this summer revolving around the novel 'The Book Thief'. After reviewing the assignments she is to complete, we read together the first chapter, and discussed some of the figurative language found there. She correctly identified alliteration and imagery as we ran across them in the text. We also discussed predicting themes (the book thief suggests that books and criminality will both be themes the author touches on). Perhaps the most challenging portion for her was identifying the speaker in the first chapter. In the book, Death is a compassionate, somewhat harried, and humorous narrator. The entire first chapter is told in Death's voice, from his perspective. However, she found it challenging to overcome her preconception (based on the movie) that the story is only told from the POV of the main character, Liesel. I challenged her on this, asking her to prove how she could tell it was Liesel, or if the text was ambiguous, leaving an opening for another character (who we nicknamed Joe for the purpose of this exercise). After she presented her rationale, I presented points from the text, explaining how Death fit my rationale. Despite this, she was fairly certain it was still Liesel. I challenged her to read the next chapter before my next session with her and to find further supporting evidence that the narrator of the first chapter is Liesel (a 9 year old girl). If she cannot find evidence that it is Liesel narrating, then she is to present a new take on who is narrating. From there, we will look at 'why did the author choose this character to narrate? what purpose does it serve in the story? as a literary device?'. My goal with this is two fold: 1) that she will acknowledge the layers of storytelling (largest being 'why did the author write this', smallest being 'what happened at this particular moment to a character'). From this we will work on identifying the layers in a novel, which will help her better summarize topics and discard irrelevant details. 2) This exercise and the discussion that stems from it will provide her with several points for her first Journal response and starters for her worksheets."
"We started with a freewrite, cursive practice, and ten words for the student to break into sound parts. He brought in an activity from English class that we went over. His English teacher told the class to study these in preparation for the multiple choice test on day 1 of the writing SOLs. We worked on subject-predicate identification and then irregular verbs. I had him copy down the notes from the dry erase board so he can return to the grammar work. We then revisited thesis statements, but he had a lot of difficulty remembering the claim+topic=thesis parts. We worked through it again and moved on to topic sentences. When he cares about a topic, he remembers it much better, as do most people. We finished with beginning his English homework on locating information in reference sources."