Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student completed a worksheet requiring him to differentiate the possessive pronoun its from the contraction it's. He read 8 sentences, each containing either its or it's. He had to circle "right"ù or "wrong"ù for each sentence. He answered 5/8 questions correctly. He needs to focus on a substitution method: plugging either the pronoun or the contraction into a sentence to see which is correct. He then answered 8 fill-in questions. He had to fill in a sentence with either its or it's. I gave him a chance to double check his work. He corrected three answers on his own. He still had one error. He completed a similar worksheet for they're, their, and there. He identified the correct usage 7/8 times. He is certainly improving with these homophones. I chose these worksheets for a very simple reason: the student has a habit of confusing these contractions and pronouns (though there is sometimes an adverb) in his own writing. I want him to learn how to use them correctly, so that his writing on the placement exam is positively evaluated. He completed a "What Happens Next"ù worksheet. He read three separate paragraphs. Each paragraph had details that the reader should use to make an inference about what happens next. He was required to write out his answers in complete sentences. He answered 2/3 questions correctly. The student is having trouble distinguishing between using a serial comma and a comma with a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses. I gave the student a chance to review his writing before he turned it over to me. He did correct some errors, and punctuated his sentences correctly. His story had a clear beginning, middle, and end. Some of his sentences were too complicated, and hence, improperly punctuated. I am thinking of adding an activity to distinguish necessary details from superfluous details, and perhaps an activity to eliminate unnecessary words. The rest of his story was well organized, with a few common errors. He used "too"ù when he should have used "to,"ù though he could explain the difference between the homophones. I gave him a new writing prompt. He answered three multiple choice questions about the picture I created. The questions were all designed to help him focus on the details of the picture. He realized my intentions when I asked him why I had him answer the questions before he started writing. He replied, "So I can use the answers when I write."ù I confirmed his answer and encouraged him to do this when he writes his story. I gave the student a vocab review on the first two vocab units; he struggled with the fill in the blank questions. He answered 1/4 questions correctly. He also struggled with the short answer questions. I have given him verbal quizzes when he finishes each unit, and he always does really well, is able to define the specific words and the specific prefixes, but I will increase the thoroughness of this review. The student did well on his unit three review. He answered many short answer questions correctly. He answered his roots practice questions correctly (the roots pre and sub), and answered five synonym questions correctly. He answered 6/8 analogies correctly. I will be sure to include more cause-effect and more outcome-consequence style analogies in future lessons. I asked the student to complete an expository reading passage for homework; that is, read the passage and answer five comprehension questions. He answered 2/4 questions correctly. He identified the primary purpose of the passage correctly and used context clues to decode the meaning of a word in a sentence. I introduced him to a different kind of mapping technique: phrasing the main idea of a paragraph as a question. He was very receptive to this idea. We worked through the passage again, writing mapping questions for each paragraph (the idea is that many mapping questions anticipate comprehension questions); he answered the questions independently and scored 5/5. He used the same mapping technique for an expository passage on composting. He read the passage aloud. I helped him formulate the mapping questions, but he answered the questions independently. He scored 5/5. The difference in his comprehension scores when he uses the techniques I have shown him are drastic. When he correctly applies mapping, he answers every question correctly. I left him with a reading passage to complete for homework, with the directions "Map with Questions"ù written on it. Over time, he may internalize this active questioning skill. In the next session, I will show him how he can not only ask questions, but highlight the answers to the questions in the passage. I have chosen to break the skill into increments because I am concerned about him following the steps in sequence. He should think of questions before he underlines any information in the paragraph. If his questions are well phrased, I will begin showing him how to underline correctly."
"We spent the first half of the session on synonyms and analogies. We were able to complete only 10 synonym problems and 6 analogies. He struggles with pronunciation so words he does know aren't apparent to him. I taught him to use a sticky note, piece of paper, or even his finger to separate the syllables. There were many words in the first few problems of each section that he didn't know. I wrote the words that caused him a problem on a sticky note and pasted it to the front of the verbal packet. He should create flashcards for these words finding mnemonics when possible. On the analogies, he was good at identifying synonyms but struggled with other word relationships. We spent the second half of the session on math. His strength lies in knowing what to do (operations and sequencing) in word problems. His weakness is basic math concepts, especially multiplication, division, fractions, and number lines. It would serve him well to begin memorizing his multiplication table. He says they are working on it in school. Not knowing even the two's holds him back from moving quickly through the test problems. We were only able to cover seven problems in 40 minutes. His homework is to 1) create flashcards for and learn new words on sticky note 2) create flashcards for the multiplication table 3) do as much of any practice test as he can and 4) practice material for our next session."
"He did a great job understanding the different concepts of the math session and understanding the relationships of analogies. He was able to answer all the question once I explained the concept once. We worked on perimeter and area of all shapes, adding and subtracting using word problems, and we worked on sequences and probability."
"The student and I focused primarily on math in this session, learning a number of concepts such as the equation of a line, and the formula for slope. We also learned about a number of angle relationships. The student and I also spent some time reviewing his reading homework, where I reminded him that he MUST prove his answer in the passage. We will begin our next lesson by going over his writing prompt and spending a good chunk of time discussing grammar rules and sentence structure."
"The student and I looked at specific terminology relating to animals, which he is becoming more familiar with as he works on his vocabulary. We also looked at two passages from the critical reading section, which he interpreted well, although he got a bit confused by a passage from Jane Austen's "Emma." Passages from the 1800s tend to be tricky to read because they aren't phrased quite like modern English and use outdated terminology. We will practice more with readings from this time period next session, since it is almost certain that at least one passage from the mid-1800s will appear on the test."
"The student and I met for the first time today and reviewed each section of the SSAT, focusing most of our attention on the verbal and math. She shows strong instincts on both, but can use more practice and needs to build up her vocabulary in the next few months. I got her started on a vocab list that she will work on mostly on her own, and I also suggested a few different ways to study it. The more difficult math gave her a little trouble, but we reviewed some of the larger concepts, and I showed her some shortcuts to certain answers. Her reading comprehension was strong. For next week, she will take a verbal section and two math sections in a practice test, and when we meet again we will review it. Again, she has great instincts when it comes to the test and seems diligent - I have confidence she will be able to improve her score in the time she has before the test."