Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When I grow up...

I want to be older.

It's been a few days since MAM ended, so now we're back to regular tutoring entries with a few extra MAM bonus days thrown in.

For Math Rules! volunteers who are reading my blog, the following are my takeaway points:
  • Check in with them and ask how things have been going before you start tutoring. It's a good gauge of how the session will go.
  • Encourage your students in the following couple of weeks before MCAS, let them know they can do well no matter what happened in previous years.
  • Remind them to take their time to read the questions carefully, check their answers, and answer in complete questions for word problems.
  • If you can, take an extra five minutes at the end of your session to chat with them about college and careers. Talk about your college and/or career. For the most part, students are very interested in college but may or may not have someone to ask. Even if they're 3rd graders, if you get them thinking about the future it will help them in the years to come.
  • Help them realize that you're there for them and want them to succeed in everything, not just math!

Yesterday I worked with my fourth graders. They're preparing for the MCAS in two weeks so I helped two students who needed a bit more practice. It's sad because it seemed like my other two students wanted to work with me too. In the end, I think it was better that I was only working with two because I could focus and give them more attention. Also, my teacher has changed her schedule - to prep for MCAS the students are doing 1.5 - 2 hours of math until the MCAS.

MCAS prep means working off of last year's test and trying to figure out best approaches to problems. We went over the standard algorithm for multiplication and division (long division) computations. We also talked about alternative approaches to multiplication problems such as using the array to help with multipication problems. Finally we focused on word problems, which was a good exercise for them to take their time and carefully read all the instructions.

I tried my best to give them test taking strategies like checking answers, rereading the word problems, not falling for the time-wasting tricks, showing all work on the test, and making sure they knew their multiplication and division algorithms.

I found out that both of my students didn't get very good MCAS scores last year and I think it's because they rushed through and didn't check their answers. When we went through the packet, they seemed dejected when I told them their final answers were wrong. It's interesting because most of the work is right, but the final answer is wrong and then they assume they failed.

One of my students kept repeating that she hadn't gotten anything higher than 2s on practice tests throughout the school year. I tried to encourage her by telling her "that was last year, this year you can do better!" I'll see how her self-confidence levels are next week.

We also got a good chance to chat in between problems. I found out that one of my students wants to be a teacher or singer when she grows up. My other student didn't know, and when they asked me, I said I don't know either. :) She retaliated and said "What do you mean you don't know?" That's one of life's secrets, adults sometimes don't actually know what they want to be when they grow up, it's a self-discovery process. We also discussed college briefly which was a good thing, they brought it up and asked me if I was still in college and if it's hard. I told them that it is tough, but if you work hard, you'll end up learning so so much.

We also got off topic and one of my students asked to interview me for a job, which is ironic because I'm in the process of interviewing right now. I also got a chance to interview her and found out some things I didn't know before. She took on a different persona and told me she was a 21 year old singer living in Florida who was interviewing for a teaching position. It was a great chance to bond and talk about jobs and our personal lives. I told her about my new pet hedgehog (shameless plug) and I found out that we both have four siblings.

In a program meeting, we started talking about how to improve Math Rules! for next year and I'll definitely take into consideration how many students are working in a group and the length of math time. These longer math sessions mean more time with the students, more personal attention, and it gives me some space to chat between math problems.


1 comment:

  1. Oh man, that Kiwi is too cute! Linked to that blog in my blog!

    Also, I really enjoyed this post (and am glad that you were able to link these experiences to planning for next year!).