When kids are lagging behind and summer is an ideal time for them to catch up (which it isn’t for all kids), how do you fit in tutoring when kids are out of town? I am using Skype and Google Hangouts with those two kids for whom I made a commitment to move to grade level (or die trying). Setting up a Skype/ Hangout binder is a time-consuming but important process for delivering targeted instruction. Here’s how I go about it:
- I have a clear instructional plan based on goals that I’ve set. The kids are also involved in that goal-setting process.
- I create or use materials which will help us reach those goals as efficiently as possible. They are organized by type in the binder, with additional notebook or graph paper.
- The students have a rubric and/or reward system to improve motivation.
- Every lesson includes games and other favorite types of activities to provide some relief from the needed repetition.
- All supplies the students will need, from pencils to highlighter tape, are in an attached pencil case.
- Students review the binder with me prior to handing it over for safe keeping with their parents.
- I also create a duplicate binder for myself so that I won’t lose track of what materials they have. I can email materials if needed, but I’m hopeful that I have provided more lessons than we can actually cover. Better to have a plan for moving faster, if that happens. Here’s a cover sheet for one student’s binder:
When we are working together via computer, I make sure that the kids and I are on the same page, literally. I will ask them to hold up their work frequently. I keep a whiteboard handy for providing additional visual support. I also mark, highlight, or complete my copy of the lesson materials for help, when needed. I keep my tablet handy (a sweet Asus Transformer) so I can refer to online resources during the lesson if that would be helpful. Since the online sessions have a handy screen timer for reference, I can easily monitor our use of time. In my experience, the face-to-face instruction sometimes gives me better clues about a student’s involvement than sitting side by side at a table. On the other hand, we do have mix ups when kids are NOT looking at the same materials. One student today was so spaced out, having forgotten to take his medication, that he started writing his responses on the wrong problem, which I didn’t catch since we WERE on the same page. Then he snapped off the eraser as he fixed that error. Fortunately, I have provided a lot of pencils but we lost some time.
The medication issue can be problematic for families. Parents often prefer that their kids have a “vacation” from those meds for attention disorders. But as in today’s lesson, my student was in a fog. He could not remember basic facts, much less apply them to new concepts. It was quite challenging for both of us and I considered quitting the lesson. However, that student is pretty fragile, so I praised him for all the effort he made and kept plowing forward. He truly did make a valiant effort to command himself to focus, and I didn’t want to add to that burden.