Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"While talking about what would work schedule-wise with the student, on Saturday morning, she let me know that she gotten her Lord of the Flies essay back and hadn't done as well as she had hoped. I reassured her that we would take the time to dig into her teacher's feedback and talk about some strategies we could employ for future papers once the two of us had a clear understanding of her teacher's expectations and where her writing may have fallen short. Some things of note: Her paper came back with a rubric. Because of discussions she and I have had in the past about how using a rubric to comprehend expectations from the get-go is vital (using a rubric throughout the writing cycle pre-writing phase, the many drafts of a paper, etc.), she was quick to say she is going to use the rubric her teacher provided to help guide her approach to future writing assignments or projects. I praised her for this. The rubric was pretty straightforward. It was broken down into the following sections: introduction (e.g., presence and strength of thesis), central paragraphs, conclusion, spelling and grammar/mechanics, and formatting. She was most penalized for her thesis and central paragraphs. Her teacher's feedback mostly centered around her thesis not being a direct response to the prompt, her paragraphs not being focused enough (a reflection of her thesis) or well connected, and the conclusion not summarizing how all the details in the middle support her thesis or main argument. I had her take some time with her thesis (put it directly next to the prompt and talk to me about which parts of the prompt were addressed within it) and we discussed, based on two examples of fellow students' A papers her teacher had handed out as examples of papers with strong thesis statements and evidence, where her teacher expects students to place the thesis and how connections between it and any points made in the paragraphs that follow need to be airtight. I talked about the importance of always thinking about the reader (the person responsible for grading your paper) as someone not well versed in whatever you're writing about. This way, you are less likely to throw opinions in your paper, make presumptions, to not clearly connect the dots (however obvious to you, the expert on the topic). She had a good grasp on where she went wrong (she admitted, and I agreed, her decision to use spiritual warfare as the overriding message or umbrella under which to analyze the boys' complex relationships was ambitious, rather advanced to where supporting it and developing it fully was something beyond a high school paper). At the end of the day, and it's something I continue working on with her, she has trouble working in the concrete, bringing in details and expanding on them in a straightforward manner. She is very good at speaking and writing descriptively and abstractly, in metaphor, but getting to the specifics is a challenge. My plan for next week is to continue addressing this (telling versus showing, and generalizing) via a Showing vs. Telling lesson. I am going to use the mind map she developed as part of the assignment I had her tackle in the second half of today's session. To get her creative juices flowing and to put her in a goal-oriented mindset, my task for her was to create a reflective mind map. Her job was to draft and reflect on the goals she had last year, this year (in the present), and for the future (she opted to include the end of high school as well as the end of college). She was expected to reflect on these using categories like relationships (with friends, with family, romantic) and academia (school). She did a phenomenal job mapping out some preliminary thoughts on these. We then talked about journaling a bit. Does she journal? How often? What does she use it for? Her assignment for next week is to do a free flow "write" or compose a journal entry, much like she does now when she journals, on her goals, pulling initial thoughts from the mind map, but obviously allowing ideas of greater interest or concern to expand naturally - in a free, unconstrained manner. When we get together next week I am going to use the Socratic method to try to extract the sort of details or concrete information that probably won't be included in her free flow since her inclination is not to talk or think this way."
"Today was the final session for the assessment preparations. The students completed multiple choice questions set on narrative passages."
"I had her read newspaper articles, I quizzed her on those articles, and we worked on crossword puzzles together."
"The student worked on answering procedure - what information the question is asking, whether the question requires detailed support, how to find the main idea and support details, etc. We continued to work with a text on Jackie Robinson. The student responds well and is always improving."
"The student read a little from the National Geographic book. He had a lot of questions about the material. Then we watched some educational videos; he had some comprehension issues, but I helped him by pointing out key points he'd missed. Finally, I did dictation with him, which he did good on."
"We reviewed some concepts needed to be successful on the fifth grade science state assessment exam. Both students comprehended most of the concepts covered. They were able to recall aspects of the material in fifth grade science. They were really excited about the session. It was a productive session."