Monday, September 1, 2008

September 2008, Special Edition: Labels, Shmabels


Background

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americareadslogoThis month's strategy was actually submitted to the Network back in 2004 by an America Reads Federal Work/Study tutor at the University of Utah in 2004. The tutor does a phenomenal job driving home the positive impact that a tutor or mentor can make in a young person's life.

We encourage a number of the organizations we serve to share this strategy with their volunteers during training workshops at the beginning of the school year.

While we normally only highlight brand new strategies to the Network here, given the number of volunteers this resource has helped, we wanted to share it with you today.

The Strategy

IT CAN BE DONE!
DON’T LET ACADEMIC LABELS BE A HINDRANCE

Created by: University of Utah America Reads Tutor
Topic: Engagement & Motivation
Grade Level Strategy Was Originally Used With: Third
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group; Large Group

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Situation: Motivating a child to learn math.

A NOTE FROM THE AMERICA LEARNS TEAM: Even though this resource was written in the context of math tutoring, its moral is applicable to every form of academic assistance (be sure to read the entire story!).
Step 1: I tutor kids in reading, but sometimes I also tutor them in math. I went to the fourth grade classroom that I work in and took one of the girls with me into the hallway to work on her times tables. Her teacher mentioned to me that I shouldn't worry if she didn't understand very well because she was in the bottom level of the class and should be in special ed for all of her subjects.
Step 2: Together, my student and I went over each set of numbers starting from the highest level that she hadn't passed. We made a deal that she would study between our tutoring sessions and she was true to her word. Within two weeks she had passed the sixes and sevens. When we got to eights however, it seemed that we had hit a road block.
Step 3: For three weeks we tried to understand how to count eights so that she could pass that level. She was doing wonderfully during our sessions, but couldn't perform during the test. During our tutoring session on the third week I stopped her a few minutes early so that we could talk about the test. I told her how well she was doing during our sessions and how impressed I was with her dedication to learning. I also told her that I was a little perplexed that she hadn't yet passed her eights. At this point I told her that I knew she could pass that test, but she needed to know that she could too. I told her that I had confidence in her. She knew those numbers forward and backward. She just needed to have a little confidence in herself.
Sep 4: Sure enough, the next time I saw her, she told me that she had not only passed the eights, but the nines as well. She even continued to brag and tell me how easy the tens and elevens were. It doesn't matter if someone tells you that your student is special ed or resource or reading recovery. With hard work and dedication on both parts and a lot of positive reinforcement from you, it can be done.

Any Thoughts? How Have You Addressed this Issue?

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