March 21st, 2015
Today, I tutored a little girl named Evelyn who was in fifth grade. I also remember having tutored her last year. She is one of the only white students in the program.
Since Case Western was still on spring break during this tutoring session, the room for fifth and sixth graders was incredibly crowded. Many people were even on the floor, sitting on bean bag chairs and pillows. Luckily, Evelyn and I found a spot at the end of a table which was much more comfortable.
Evelyn mostly needed to work on math during the session. She was working on dividing decimals in her math class--something I hadn’t done by hand in a long time. At first, Evelyn was really struggling with this topic and had no idea how to do the problem. I am not sure if she learned it in school but still found it difficult or if it was brand new material for her. Either way, I tried to think of a way that would be the easiest for her.
One method that usually makes students more excited or willing to math is by using white boards. It also makes it easier for me, as the tutor, to show her example problems. I went over to the table in the room to grab some white boards and Expo markers, but almost all of the boards were dirty and dented. Additionally, none of the markers worked; in fact, most didn’t have tips at all. Because of this, I am thinking about donating some supplies to the Saturday Tutoring Program or holding a drive for next school year. Even though I will no longer be tutoring there at this time, I think that the program would benefit greatly from new school supplies.
Anyway, I’ll now get back to telling the story of Evelyn. While she could not initially divide with decimals, Evelyn was very good at normal long division. As a result, I showed her that you could move the decimal place over to make divisor a whole number. From there, you could carry out long division normally. At the end when you get the answer, you just had to remember to move the decimal place back to where it’s supposed to go.
This method made a lot of sense to Evelyn and I was glad that I found a way that made the process a lot easier for her. She had a worksheet with twenty-five problems on division with decimals and actually finished it rather quickly. As she went along, I checked her answers and almost all were right. The only mistake she made was forgetting to move the decimal back to where it is supposed to go at the end of the problem. However, after reminding her of this, she was able to complete the worksheet correctly.
After doing about twenty-five long division problems, I decided that it was probably time for a change of pace. I asked Evelyn what her favorite subject in school was, and she told me that it was science. I went to look for books that were about science and found them in a classroom set. However, these books featured writing that is typically found on a standardized test such as the OGT, so the content was not the most engaging or interesting in the world. Despite this, I ended up finding a book about cells and another about outer space, both of which Evelyn read for a while.
After completing the reading, Evelyn and I decided to tackle the writing prompt, which didn’t speak to her very much. The prompt was about doctors, nurses, and dentists. She had to write about her experiences at the doctor or the dentist, about whether she’s interested in these careers, times she had been sick or had a broken bone, or what the doctors and dentists did to make her experience as a patient nicer.
Evelyn said that she did not have an interest in a career in healthcare. She also had never broken a bone or been in the hospital. Despite this, she still managed to write a half a page about what doctors do to make her feel better, about why she isn’t interested in a health-related career, and how she didn’t really have any significant medical stories to tell.
Compared to many other kids in the Saturday Tutoring Program, Evelyn wrote very well and did not have many spelling or grammar issues. She also did not have trouble writing a substantial number of sentences. Because of this, she was able to finish the writing prompt very quickly.
Between math, reading, and writing, Evelyn accomplished a lot in the session, so we were able to spend the last few minutes enjoying juice and doughnut time and conversing.