Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"Since our last session, the student was able to score her practice placement exam, and we discovered that she'd done remarkably well. The sections in which she could improve the most were Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning. For this session, we created several ratio tables and average circles, small diagrams which allow her to complete these question types while slowing down the speed at which she works. As she tends to work fast, I also suggested a few other ideas that might help her slow down: I noticed that she'd often write problems vertically, solve them, and then use the answers to create subsequent problems. I asked her to stop doing this and to write every single problem separately. Additionally, we practiced plugging in answer choices for variables and giving variables random values when the answer choices were algebraic equations. Both of these concepts were readily grasped by the student, but I noticed that in doing the latter she would occasionally fail to label her variables, so I asked her to write out what every variable stood for every time. Lastly, I noticed that she was having some issues with decimals and fundamental geometric tenets, so we reviewed decimals and will return to geometry next week."
"Vocab Review The student got 16/20 on his unit four vocab test. The test consisted of twenty questions; 15 questions were multiple choice (6 synonym questions, 6 analogy questions, 2 "define the relationship between the words as synonyms, antonyms, or there is no relationship"ù questions, and 6 context clue questions). He missed one "define the relationship question"ù, when he identified synonyms as antonyms; we reviewed the definitions of the words (which will be included on his next assessment), and he corrected his error. He misidentified a synonym of "conventional"ù as "new"ù rather than "ordinary;"ù we corrected this error together. He answered three analogies incorrectly; one analogy question purposely contained an unknown (one we have not reviewed yet) word in the correct answer; the other answer choices were illogical, and I wanted the student to use the process of elimination to select the correct answer; I discussed this with him, and advised him to always take his best guess if he can eliminate at least two answer choices. He answered the other analogy question incorrectly because he confused antonyms as synonyms. When we reviewed the question, he quickly corrected his error. We will continue to work on these analogy questions, as well as antonyms vs synonyms, in future sessions to increase his comfort level with them. I sent him home with the next vocab unit, which he will be assessed on next week. The words he missed on this assessment will be included again on his assessment next week. Math Review The student completed a math review packet as part of this lesson. For the first part of the review, he was given two numbers in a sequence; he was asked to predict the next number in the sequence. He answered 3/3 questions correctly. He then completed two fraction addition problems. In the first problem, he simplified the two fractions correctly before adding them, but he added the denominators as well as the numerators. When we reviewed the problem, he realized his error and corrected it. He added two mixed numbers correctly. We completed the fraction multiplication and division problems together. He answered another word problem incorrectly; this word problem contained the phrases "is halved"ù and "evenly divisible;"ù these were novel phrases that I will review with him in future lessons. The wording of this problem was intentionally novel, as I was trying to dually assess his math vocabulary skills and his ability to infer the meaning of unknown words from words he knows. I will include similar problems on future assessments. I am confident that the student can solve these problems with practice. He and I then reviewed calculating a number that is a percentage of another number (What is 12% of 20) by converting the percentage into a decimal and multiplying the decimal by the number. (When he encounters similar problems in the future, I will remind him that percentages can be converted into decimals, and decimals can be converted into fractions, so these types of problems can be treated as fraction multiplication.) He correctly computed the sum of two mixed numbers in decimal form and identified its equivalent expressed as a fraction. Next, he and I discussed the meaning of ratio, a comparison of quantities. He then completed a ratio worksheet in which he had to compare the ratio of two shapes in a pattern. He wrote a ratio for the two individual shapes, and then a ratio for a specific shape and the total number of shapes. All ratios were correctly written in simplified form. Lastly, he and I discussed calculating rates. I showed him how to calculate an unknown rate from a known rate by setting up a proportion. We will spend more time on this in the next lesson, as I want to solidify his understanding of proportions and how they can be used. Reading: The student completed a reading passage for homework. He used mapping and wrote notes in the margin. He mapped with phrases; some were exemplary "the meaning of the fourth of July"ù; other phrases were not specific enough "It was proved wrong"ù; the "it"ù in the phrase refers to the fallacy that the Declaration of Independence was signed at a single convention, with all signers present. Consequently, he answered 4/5 questions correctly, and the question he missed asked "The passage implies that?,"ù to which he answered "John Adams was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence."ù This was not stated in the passage explicitly; It was stated that John Adams believed the 2nd of July would be celebrated as the day of Independence, because that is the date that a resolution was passed declaring the American colonies free. It is possible that he thought this "resolution"ù was the Declaration of Independence. The correct answer was that there was no one signing of the Declaration of Independence, and it is this fact that the "it"ù in the student's note should have referred to. This result suggests that perhaps he needs to map in the form of questions, which I encouraged him to do. By phrasing the main idea of the paragraph in the form of a question, then perhaps he will understand what the information in a paragraph can answer, factually and implicitly. The student and I read a passage on the history of flight. Before reading, I went over a strategy for classifying questions about the passage as general or specific, with the understanding that specific questions should be tackled first. He labeled all the questions correctly; as he read the passage, I encouraged him to ask questions to himself, questions based on the information in the passage, and to underline the answers to the questions in the passage. I advised him to write down the questions if he had trouble remembering them; he underlined information that was pertinent to all the passage questions; I asked him, after he was done, what question did you ask yourself here. He always replied appropriately. He scored 5/5 on the passage. This new strategy should give him some flexibility in how he approaches the reading comprehension section. I sent him home with reading passages and instructions to follow the method we used in this lesson: classify the questions, read the passage with active questioning and underlining, and then answer the questions "specific first, general last. Writing: The student wrote an essay about his dream vacation to Hawaii. His essay had some unique creative elements and we discussed ways to improve it even more. He ended his introduction with a storytelling, narrative phrase (he spoke to the reader: "The rest of this is that with a little more details because I don't want to spoil the rest of the story."ù) This is a creative finish, but I think the sentence would have created the impression he wanted had it been written as: "The rest of my essay will tell about the vacation I want to take with a little more detail, but I won't reveal all the details here, because I don't want to spoil the story. Read on."ù This sentence is clearer than the original sentence: the "that"ù in the original sentence is clearly a reference to the vacation described in previous sentences, but I think it is unnecessarily vague. In addition, the original construction doesn't fit the storyteller hook that the student hoped to create: it is better to say something like "I would say more here, but..."ù; his original sentence isn't properly constructed for that effect, it leaves the reader to infer the revised meaning. We discussed this ambiguity, and he understood the clearer phrasing. Paragraph one started with a description of what he would do on the beach in Hawaii. The paragraph had some good descriptive phrases "go boogie-boarding until I freeze;"ù however, it also contained some incomplete thoughts: "It would be hot, which would be awesome, except for the fact that I would have to put on sunscreen."ù He clearly stated what would be bad about the heat, but did not state why it would also be "awesome."ù We discussed close reading of each sentence to avoid unanswered assumptions. The second paragraph was a description of how curious the student was about the food in Hawaii. He mentioned pineapples and coconuts that grow in Hawaii, and even included a nice statement about how the locals must eat fish because Hawaii is close to the ocean. He concluded the paragraph with "I bet you ten dollars the food is good."ù While it is creative to speak to your readers, we discussed more descriptive ways to employ the same gimmick while describing the foods he hoped to taste, and what he imagined they would taste like: (e.g.) "I can see the yellow inside of the pineapple after it is cut, and I imagine its sweet taste, like a spoonful of sugar. How does it taste to you?"ù The conclusion of his essay is brief; it ends with another address to the reader, "I hope you enjoyed my essay."ù Creative, yes, but the rest of the paragraph is just a rephrasing of the introduction, with the same words slightly rearranged. We discussed ending his conclusion a bit more strongly, with a nice hook to appeal to the reader: "I can't wait for the beaches and the food in Hawaii; the vacation will be so much different than Seattle. I hope you enjoyed my essay. I am buying a ticket right now."ù The purpose of the travel essay is to make me, or any other reader, want to visit the area that the writer wants to visit. With these revisions and additions, his essay will have that effect."
"We had our second session today. We worked though half of the mathematics achievement section of the ISEE and talked about test taking strategies and ways to approach unfamiliar problems. It was a good session."