Thursday, December 3, 2009


After a few weeks of volunteering, it seems like I'm slowly but surely building relationships with my students.

One of my groups has been touch and go because the math format changes from week to week. Sometimes we're working on reviewing for a test and playing a Jeopardy game, and other weeks we're doing group work on a new topic. This week we worked on arrays and played a game with different size arrays. Only two of my students were at school yesterday which was nice. I had more attention to give to both of them, and I felt like I got to know them a lot better because of the small size.

One of my students shared stories with me while we were playing the game, and it's really helpful to connect with them. I talked with her about the Nutcracker and how their class is going to the Urban Nutcracker performance in a few weeks. She also told me she practiced her multiplication tables in the morning before coming to school and the roles her parents play in getting ready. I'm glad she feels comfortable enough to share with me and to talk freely. My other student I hadn't had much of a chance to talk to, but he's an energetic and eager young man who knows his arrays and multiplication tables well. He also enforced taking turns "I got the game cards, you gotta spread them out now." Overall, it was a very productive session. I also let the kids pick arrays for me to do with them and they tried to stump me, but it didn't quite work. :)

With my Horseshoe group, we moved out of the classroom and working at a table in the hall. I got to chat with them as we were walking from the class and found out their ages and got to connect with one of my students who wrote a story about his favorite animal.

This session was a little more tough because we were working on fractions, changing to decimals and adding different denominator fractions. It's tough even for adults, so explaining to the kids was difficult. We started with decimals first and the kids seemed to know what they were doing when we went over it as a group, but when I asked them to do it by themselves they struggled quite a bit. I was a crutch for them in guiding them through the long division, but I couldn't get them to understand the long division steps on their own papers.

We managed to get through maybe half of the problems, then we switched to adding fractions. This worksheet seemed easier for the kids and we walked through those steps to get their answers. I skipped problems that would've taken more time to explain so that we could understand the process clearly.

One of my students took it upon himself to try the hard problem and got frustrated. He didn't quite finish the problem and seemed down, so as we were walking back to class, I helped him go through the rest of the problem and he did just fine. I wish there was more time to work with each student one on one because he wouldn't have gotten to that frustration point if I had been sitting right next to him. He's independent and didn't want to ask for help, but if he had had the help, he wouldn't have been so disappointed in himself. I tried to cheer him up and told him he tried a really hard problem and managed to get pretty far, which I think he appreciated, but I'll try to give him more attention next time.

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