Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student had gotten the four essays done for homework, so I gave him a writing prompt while I read through his essays. They were overall pretty good; I can really see the improvement from a few months ago. While his introductions are a lot better, they can get a little dull - instead of being formulaic in his writing, I'm trying to get more character and personality into his essays, yet the overall technicalities are very satisfactory. We still needed to work more on conclusions, part of it is his stamina and the other part is confidence I feel. All the conclusion needs- which I've been repeating- is "why is this (reasoning, argument, prompt) important for the reader?" I'm working on a pneumonic or way he can remember this for the end - to finish strong in his essays. I gave him ample time to make good headway with the prompt, about 20 minutes, then I helped provide more 'meat' towards the end. We then were able to go through all 4 essays and talk through any grammatical errors and the conclusions. He's becoming more and more self-aware on the technicality of his writing, as far as redundancy and sentence choppiness. I will enforce the 2-minute rule for our session next week, as that will be the last session until his SSAT exam. We did spend a few minutes passing the ball back and forth, while I read him sentences from one of the essays he was somewhat struggling with. We then passed the ball back and forth while talking through one of the essay prompts. For homework, I gave him a bit more than usual, as next week's plan is to be a bit more light on the content and mostly review before his exam. I want him to rewrite his one essay from this week's homework on China that needed the most work, write the essay on "Out with the old, in with the new- agree or disagree" that we had talked about, and there are 60 synonym and analogy exercises in his SSAT book. I feel as though he's in a fairly stable place as far as writing goes, save for some vocabulary and reminders in his essays (giving examples, more details, more explanations)."
"The student and I met today to have one more review for her math test and to begin working on her essay for English. She began her Ch. 5 math test on Friday and will finish it on Monday. I asked her to answer all the questions she could and then to remember problems that she had trouble with, so that we could review them today. I was proud because she actually wrote down two specific areas that she needed to review, with example problems. This shows improvement on her study skills! We went back to the book and worked through example problems in each area until she felt comfortable with the material. She also told me that she felt confident about the other areas of the math test. We then proceeded to work on her essay for Lord of the Flies. Since the student tends to procrastinate, I have designed mini-assignments that she can complete as she goes instead of tackling the essay as one big assignment. The student has chosen to write about the Beast as the antagonist. I helped her to form an outline of her essay that she can add to as the finishes reading the book. She came up with three reasons to support her choice of the Beast as the antagonist and was thus able to identify the main point of each body paragraph. On Thursday, I had asked her to get a rubric and guidelines from her English teacher. She did have those today, so we reviewed them together. Finally, I asked her to get some Post-It flags so that she can mark quotes/other evidence in the book as she is reading that she would like to include in her essay."
"This was my first session with the student. Because I was assessing his skills, I proceeded with a short lesson and writing, then reading a short passage from H.G. Wells together. What I taught was the structure of a paragraph. I then went over a good example with him and discussed the way the front and the back connected. I then set him to the task of writing a unified paragraph about the Greek god Zeus. He did very well with this task and surprised me with his resourcefulness. We then read the Wells passage, and he asked me about the less familiar words as we went along. He asked me about "tentacular" and "fungoid," wanted to know how the story runs, and was curious about the history of the movies of the story. He showed curiosity and asked if he could read that book, and I offered to read the first paragraph for him. He still seemed interested after, so I said that I would continue using passages from the book for vocabulary as we moved along. We then worked on synonyms for a short list of words. He performed very well. I asked him to write a note to me about how well he liked the lesson, what he thought about The War of the Worlds, and whether he thought the lesson was too hard, too easy, or just right. I will send him an essay prompt in reply and ask him to complete a brief essay before Tuesday."