Tag Archives: tutoring

Smashing apart my comfort zone.

Standard

 

20132274374_45c4789091_n

Photo credit: Donncha O Caoimh

48 weeks ago, I was ready to jump off the nearest educational bridge (metaphorically speaking), never wanting to enter a classroom setting again. I was broken and had no desire to teach another human being as long as I lived. I resigned from my position effective from the last day of the school year.

But money is a necessary evil and I accepted a position 2 days a week at a local independent school providing extra release periods for their staff. Over the course of 2 days, I teach every single child from Prep to Year 6. I also spent time mentoring their first & second year graduate and I’m currently working on writing some curriculum documents.

And you know what? I absolutely love it. I cannot imagine what was going through my head last year.

So what has changed in the last 48 weeks? A lot. My comfort zone has had a major transformation, almost to the point of not being able to be defined as a zone.

Aside from teaching, I started a new direct sales business which involved public speaking. Not just public speaking, but going into other people’s homes and speaking to their friends…who were to me, strangers. For someone who refused to speak, let alone answer, the home phone until I was around 10…this was huge. That being said, I still hate calling people – email is my best friend.

I began tutoring students in their own homes after school. Dealing with a lot of special needs throughout my time I’ve come to appreciate the hard work that goes in to assisting those students who need it (when you don’t have 22 other students in the room crying out for attention too!!). I tutor 5 students per week, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Do I enjoy it all the time? No. It’s hard. But it’s probably harder for them.

I taught some secondary classes! Yes, the students were taller than me and yes, I survived. Phewf.

Tomorrow I take my biggest leap outside my comfort zone – presenting at an Educational Conference – EdTechSA at Immanuel College in Adelaide. There are over 200 people at the conference, but luckily for me the workshop numbers are capped at 25…so 25 will be the maximum number of educators I’ll be talking to. Well talking, but showing and teaching them some hands-on activities that they can try themselves in their classrooms! I’m actually going to be encouraging other teachers to teach – something I never thought I’d be doing 48 weeks ago. (In fact, I resigned the very day after my pre-service teacher finished her final placement, as I didn’t want to put her off teaching by doing it while she was still there!!) I’m going to be public speaking, to a room of people I don’t know, in a city I’m not from, in a state I don’t live in – here I go!

A comfort zone is something that everybody has. But everybody has the chance to leave it…or smash it apart!

 

Friends of Ten!

Standard

Tonight with my Year 1 tutoring student, we worked on our Tens Facts. Again. It feels like we are ALWAYS working on our Tens Facts…because they don’t seem to sink in!

We’ve played:

Ten Pairs – deal out a 4×5 array of playing cards, keep dealing until all cards are gone. Players take turns to pick up 2 cards that add to ten.

Concentration – similar to Ten Pairs, but cards are turned over to remember where cards are.

Roll to Ten (colour) – roll a die, colour in that many squares on a tens frame using one colour…then count on to get to ten. Colour the squares that you ‘counted on’ using a different colour, then write the equation.

10s frame

Roll to Ten (build) – roll a die, build a tower using blocks that many blocks high of one colour…then count on to get to ten using a different colour block. Write the equation.

10 Frame Fill (app: free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

While all of these ideas were good, there was no urgency to build on the accuracy and fluency of these skills, so she was dawdling her way through our activities.

So, today we drew a Tens Rainbow, to use in conjunction with a fabulous app I found, called ‘Make Ten‘. It asks students to choose the number you need to add to the number given to get to 10. My student propped this rainbow up in front of her to use with the app and by the 4th or 5th round, she was actually recalling the facts herself to try and beat her high score and going faster.

IMG_6029

Technology isn’t always the answer, or the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re aiming for speed/fluency – this really helped today!

I also found this Pinterest board for some more ideas – always looking for more!

I would love to hear your ideas for Friends of Ten!

Mnemonics for struggling spellers

Standard

When I first started teaching, I knew very little about mnemonics. I was a brilliant speller from an early age (my mother still has my Prep spelling book as proof), so I never needed to learn spelling mnemonics.

I soon learnt about ‘hear’ – “You hear with your EAR” and ‘friend’ – “FRIday ENDs the school week”.

For the words ending in ‘IGHT’, there was ‘Indians Go Hunting Together’ and for ‘because’, there’s either “Big Elephants Can Always Understand Smaller Elephants” or “Bunny Eats Carrots And Uncle Sells Eggs”.

But as we all know, homemade is more nutritious than takeaway – aka: it will be more meaningful if the students make their own mnemonics.

So, here is what my Year 3 tutoring student and I created for some of his tougher spelling words:

wanted: “Water And Nuts Taste Extremely Disgusting”…or I also like to tell him that the ANT wANTed to eat him.

fairy: “Football And Icecream (are) Really Yummy”

scared: I am sCARed of fast CARs

beautiful: BE A yoU tiful person

No electronics required, just brain power. However, wouldn’t it be cool to make a class book/dictionary with all the different spelling mnemonics (I’m thinking ChatterKids + Book Creator…)

I’ve also been using the Spellosaur App on my iPad – I love that you can have multiple user names, edit your own word lists & the variety of activities to put the words together!  Of course, my student would love the App more if the dinosaur ripped the heads off people/animals and blood and guts were strewn everywhere, but you can’t win them all!

Any other spelling mnemonics that you use, or think are gems?

Bridging to ten for times tables

Standard

Making 7

Are there any tricks to learning the 7 times tables? They were my most hated as a child and are the times tables that my two Year 5 tutoring students find the most difficult. There is no repeated number pattern in the ‘ones’ column, until you reach 7×11 (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 73, 70, 77) – making it such a difficult pattern to remember that it’s pointless.

It seems that the most difficult part of the seven times tables is crossing into the next decade, going from the numbers in the twenties, to the numbers in the thirties, all while repeatedly adding 7. The girls are confident at adding numbers 1-10 to a number ending in a zero, so I needed to help them extend this skill into their times tables.

So today, I asked the two girls “Give me two numbers that equal 7”.

They came up with the 3 combinations that you would find on two dice:

1+6, 2+5 & 3+4

And then we skip counted by 7, breaking up the 7 into two components if we needed.

Like so:

7 + (3+4) : First, add the 3 to bridge to ten. Then, simply add 10+4.

14 + (6+1): Choose the number that will bridge to the next ten; in this case, 6. Then, add 20+1.

21 + 7. The girls knew what 1+7 was, so this was easy as we didn’t need to bridge to ten.

28 + (2+5). I began to ask the girls, “How many to get to the ten? What do we have left to add?”

As I explained to the girls’ mother afterwards, bridging to ten is such an important part of basic addition, but sometimes we forget that it still applies for repeated addition, that being multiplication.

I’m planning on using the same strategy to help the girls work on their 6 and 8 times tables, as they’re the only tables we are yet to master. Unless there’s some other easy tricks for those tables?

Tutoring with technology

Standard

This year I’ve taken on 3 sessions of tutoring per week. A set of twin girls in Year 5 for an hour each Monday and then a Year 3 boy and his Year 1 sister for one hour each on Tuesday and Thursdays. The twins actually requested tutoring as they enjoy learning and recognise it as being important. They’re easily motivated, competitive and soak up any new concept given to them.

The brother & sister require a little more motivation. I understand – they’ve already spent 6 hours at school…now they have to do an hour more? Like many youngsters, technology is a useful currency with these 2 children. I mix up our activities, from spelling to handwriting, board games, card games, times table races, reading…etc. But what apps could I use?

Apps I love using as part of my tutoring sessions:

Victorian Modern Cursive ($4.99) – practice correct letter formation with different mediums – chalk, jelly, chocolate pudding…etc

Gobbling Goblins  (free) – choose from simple skip counting by 2s to counting by multiples of 2,5 & 10, or more! Kids love creating revolting dishes for the goblins to eat!

10 Frame Fill (free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

Dyslexia Quest ($5.99) – provides a fun way of assessing a students working memory, ability to discern between letters and words and some thinking challenges!

Inference Clues ($7.99)- like it suggests, assisting kids to find the actual words or phrases which help them create an inference.

Number Pieces (free)- I find this wonderful as I don’t have a full set of MAB blocks to carry around with me, but having each piece to create numbers for place value work as proved very helpful.

Spellosaur (free, full version $5.99)- I’ve paid for the full version of this, as I can add multiple users and edit their personalised spelling words. Letter scrambles, missing letters, dictation tests etc.

Collins Big Cat storybooks (all books free) – I’m using this for my Year 1 student to focus on retelling the story as this has a record function so she can record her own voice as she retells it!

Zoombinis ($7.99)- This isn’t strictly an app that promotes a lot of literacy or maths skills, but I’ve noticed that my Year 3 students requires a lot of thinking skills, comparing and contrasting and problem-solving strategies. So we’re working on this…plus, I’m enjoying taking a trip back to my childhood when I used to play this at home on the PC!

Any other apps that are helpful for primary-school tutoring?