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Tutoring Tips. Presentation for the Future Teachers Program California State University Fullerton. Developed by V. Costa, Secondary Education, for EDSC 110. A good tutor is:. Helpful Positive Interested Enthusiastic Humble Respectful Accessible Idealistic.

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Tutoring tips l.jpg

Tutoring Tips

Presentation for the

Future Teachers Program

California State University Fullerton

Developed by V. Costa, Secondary Education, for EDSC 110.


A good tutor is l.jpg
A good tutor is:

  • Helpful

  • Positive

  • Interested

  • Enthusiastic

  • Humble

  • Respectful

  • Accessible

  • Idealistic


Tale of a tutor anonymous limerick l.jpg
Tale of a Tutor-anonymous limerick

A tutor who taught on the flute

Tried to teach two tooters to toot.

Said the two to the tutor,

"Is it harder to toot, or

To tutor two tooters to toot?"


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Who Could You Tutor?

  • Go to your local elementary or middle school and offer to help! You might:

    • Read to students

    • Help them with their homework

  • Get involved in peer-tutoring at your high school through

    • Avid

    • Afterschool Homework Help

  • Set up a regular tutoring session with a neighbor who needs help. You might:

    • Listen to them read

    • Help them with homework

    • Provide enrichment through reading and computer activities

  • The possibilities are endless!


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What Can Tutoring Do?

Tutoring is a great way to help children learn. It offers an opportunity for one-on-one interaction, focused support for children's problem areas and a welcome break from typical classroom situations.


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Purposes of Tutoring

  • To improve the educational achievement of the student.

  • To enhance student self-esteem and confidence in his/her ability to learn.

  • To introduce the student to the world outside the classroom through interaction with an experienced and concerned adult or older student.

  • To create new opportunities for reading.

  • To provide immediate and constructive feedback.

  • To improve student motivation and performance.


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Six Steps to Effective Tutoring


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1) Begin by introducing yourself to the student.

  • Take some time for you both to get to know each other. Questions can be asked by both you and the student to get to know each other, find common interests, and to initiate positive communication.

  • Learn the student's name and its correct pronunciation immediately. If you are volunteering in a classroom, ask the teacher for a class list to facilitate your learning process.

  • Make sure the student knows your name. Write it down for her/him and include your schedule. Introduce yourself again the next time.


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2) Restructure the learning environment.

  • Students are often easily distracted. Make sure you are in a relatively quiet area. Avoid areas that have popular attractions like a pencil sharpener or a water fountain.

  • Clear the desk of other materials so the student can focus on the subject at hand; put books for other subjects out of sight.

  • Some students might even benefit if you physically block out parts of the page or material they are not working with.


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3) Begin tutoring at a level well within the grasp of the student to provide an atmosphere of success.

  • Listen to and observe your students. Work with the student at his/her level. Be prepared to adjust your tutoring to meet the needs of the student as he/she encounters simple to difficult concepts.

  • Assess the student's understanding and grasp of the basic skills needed to complete the assignment. For example: If your student is having trouble with multiplication, you may need to find out if the problem is a lack of addition skills or poor number recognition. If the problem is not that basic, check if there is an understanding of basic multiplication operations.


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4) Take the time to understand the activity you are helping with.

  • Does the student have the ability to do the assignment?

    • It is a good idea to find out what the student knows before jumping in to help.

    • Ask the student if this type of assignment has been given in the past.

    • It is often helpful to look at similar assignments to see how you can best help the student.

  • If you do not understand the assignment or are not clear how to do it, be honest with the student.

    • Read the assignment in the book aloud and refer back to earlier sections as needed.

    • If there is no book, try different ways to do the assignment or ask the teacher for further explanation.

    • Your student will learn how to work through a problem by watching and participating with you.


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5) Give clear directions. with.

  • Explain the assignment to the student slowly, giving one direction at a time. It is helpful to ask the student to restate the ideas in his/her own words to check for understanding of the material.

  • Break the task into small pieces if possible, allowing the student to focus on one thing at a time. For example, if a student is working on 25 math problems, block out all but five. If the problems are complicated, work on one step-by-step.

  • Make sure the student understands what is to be done. Do the first problem or some examples together.

  • Encourage the student to work independently on material that comes easily.


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6) Be creative and imaginative in your tutoring methods. with.

  • Break your session into several shorter segments of various activities, i.e., 10 minutes of oral reading or discussion, 5 minutes for a game or other fun activity, 10 minutes for writing, math drill, etc. The length and content of your segments will depend on the attention span and needs of your student. Students will get less restless if they know in advance when the session will begin and end.

  • Remember that students take in information through different learning channels (visual, auditory and kinesthetic), and that one or two of these may dominate in your student. Use special, colored markers and objects to facilitate learning. Sometimes putting things in different colors, using manipulative objects or even physical movement to represent concepts can be helpful. Tape recorders can help students who have trouble deciding and remembering what they want to write about.



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1. Be Patient, Supportive, and Encouraging with.

  • Remind students that no question is stupid.

  • Remind students that they CAN do anything they set their minds to do.

  • Rephrase a student’s question in your own words before proceeding.

  • Find ways to help them help themselves.


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2. Have the with.StudentHold the Pencil

  • Try not to do the problem for the student, but have the student figure out the steps with you ‘leading the way’.

  • Ask questions, give hints, but have the student actually do the work.

  • Empower your students; don’t do their work for them.



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4. Make Appropriate Use of the Calculator and Resources with.

  • Students might be asked to show work in one course but may be allowed or required to use the calculator in another.

  • They may need to handwrite an essay instead of word processing.

  • They may need to use specific resources for their paper.

  • Ask the student what is required: they usually know or they may have an assignment description that could help.


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5. Creativity Helps, too with.

  • Use mnemonic devices, such as repetition, alliteration, and rhyming words Don’t go overboard, but it does help to find creative ways to help students learn.


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6. Be Supportive of the Instructor with.

  • Students often complain about their instructors. Be professional and do not share their complaints.


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7. Keep the Student Organized with.

  • Set up problems or questions in the same way, show all work, and circle the answer.

  • Have them title their notes and assignments and include the date.

  • Encourage students to be neat and organized. Help them keep their materials in a folder.

  • Have them record what needs to be done next.


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8. Help Them See the Big Picture with.

  • Remind them where they’ve been and where they are going (in the workbook, textbook, or assignment)

  • Summarize methods and steps – put them on a note card if that is helpful.

  • Show the connection to material they already know.



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Five Basic Steps for Assisting Math Students with.

  • Always look at the problem in the book. Never trust that a student has set it up correctly. 

  • Ask student to explain the procedure s/he is using to solve the problem. You can troubleshoot and listen for erroneous logic or incorrect procedures at that time. 

  • Reinforce any correct procedures (e.g. "This part is done correctly", or "You are on target here".) Then identify incorrect logic and ask the student to consider what else s/he might try. You can provide a hint, but avoid explanations until after the student has attempted a guess. (E.g. "When you evaluate an integral, what do you evaluate first, the upper or lower part?")

  • To check for understanding have the student re-explain the procedure to you. Avoid asking questions like, "Does that make sense to you?" and "Do you understand now?" 

  • Encourage the student to work the next problem on his/her own, but let him/her know you will check back.  Do not get drawn into working the next problem with an insecure student.  S/he needs to develop the ability to apply what s/he is learning without your supervision.


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Three Important Tips for Tutoring Math with.

  • Guide the Student

    • A math tutor should guide a student through the solution process by asking leading questions that direct the student towards the correct steps. 

    • Avoid doing problems for the student. 

    • If the student cannot get the correct answer and asks for help, the tutor should look at what the student has done and try to locate the error.  Then have the student work a similar problem to make sure he/she has the idea. 

  • Address Math Anxiety

    • Tutors deal with students with varying degrees of math anxiety. Avoid using phrases such as, "this is easy."  Such phrases intimidate the student.

  • Don't Confuse the Student!

    • If the tutor is unsure of a mathematical procedure or concept, check with a math instructor. 



When tutoring english learners l.jpg

Watch your language. with.

Speak simply and clearly. Use short, complete sentences in a normal tone of voice.

Use actions and illustrations to reinforce oral statements.

Use visual aids, prompts, and facial expressions to help convey meaning.

Avoid using slang or figures of speech; they often confuse learners.

Model correct usage, but respect that English language learners are trying to apply what they know about their first language to English.

Value the culture of the learner. Ask your students to teach you about the language and customs of their country of origin. Then try learning a few words in their language.

Ask for help. The number of languages spoken in the United States is astounding. You may be able to find someone who can give you more information about the culture and language of the students you tutor.

Encourage conversation. Have them read the problem or question and then tell you what it means in their own words.

When Tutoring English Learners . . .


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Let’s Hear from a with.Tutor and a Tutee!

  • Check out the following story of Mayda and Ashley

  • http://www.educ.uidaho.edu/bestpractices/peer_stories.html

ASHLEY and MAYDA


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Activity 1: Ask a Tutor with.

  • Interview someone who has been a tutor or who has been tutored. Ask the following questions:

    • If you are interviewing a tutor:

      • What strategies did you use that were successful?

      • What did you like best about tutoring?

    • If you are interviewing someone who has been tutored:

      • How was the tutoring session helpful?

      • What do you think is important for a tutor to do?

  • In your Blue Book, summarize what you learned about being a tutor.


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Activity 2: Reflect on Learning with.

This presentation focused on

how to be an effective tutor.

  • In your blue book, please describe what you will do to be an effective tutor. Include 3-4 strategies you will use with your students.

  • Identify two concerns or questions you have about tutoring You may wish to discuss these with your Future Teacher Advisor.


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Activity 3: Find Out More with.

  • Review two of the resources on following pages.

  • In your Blue Book, identify at least new three tutoring strategies you’ve learned.


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Sources and Additional Information with.

  • Tutoring Tips K-2

    • http://scs.student.virginia.edu/~madison/migrantaid/k2.html

  • Tutoring Tips Grades 3-5

    • http://scs.student.virginia.edu/~madison/migrantaid/35.html

  • Tips on Tutoring, San Francisco

    • http://www.sfsv.org/tutor.html#topics

  • School Volunteers

    • http://www.sfsv.org/tutor.html#topics

  • Tutoring Tips, Fresno Reads

    • http://www.csufresno.edu/scs/reads/tutortips.html

  • Effective Math Tutoring Tips, Boise State University

    • http://www.educ.uidaho.edu/bestpractices/peer_train_math.html

  • Tutoring Techniques

    • http://www.trcc.commnet.edu/ed_resources/tasc/Training/Tutor_Techniques.htm

  • Tutoring Tips

    • http://www.stolaf.edu/stulife/sa/readscounts/media/manual__tutoring.pdf

  • Tips for Working With English Language Learners

    • http://www.sa.utah.edu/bennion/americareads/PDF/workingwithenglishlanguagelearners.PDF


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Sources and Additional Information with.

  • Open the Door to Reading

    • http://www.sfsv.org/tutor3.html

  • Eight Tutoring Techniques

    • http://www.trcc.commnet.edu/ed_resources/tasc/Training/Tutor_Techniques.htm

  • Common Computational Errors Made by High School Students

    • http://www.mathandchess.citymaker.com/f/Article_-_Math_Tutoring_Tip_-_Common_Computation_Errors_Made_by_High_School_Studetns.pdf

  • Math Tutoring Tips from America Counts

    • http://www.ed.gov/inits/Math/roadmap/5/tips.html

  • Tips for Tutoring Middle School Math

    • http://www.designastudy.com/teaching/tips-0802.html

  • Tips for Tutoring Reading

    • http://www.stolaf.edu/stulife/sa/readscounts/media/manual__reading.pdf

  • Peer and Cross-Age Tutoring

    • http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/9/c018.html - this is a research article on the merits of peer-age tutoring


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