Saturday, January 8, 2011

Five Little Peppers

Tutoring re-started this week after a two week break for Christmas. Two of the first graders were moved to a different group and I picked up two off-site students, so I now see two kindergartners and a first grader in a group session, a fifth grader at his home, and another kindergartner (Juan) in his home. Juan's preliminary assessment test indicated that he didn't know his letter sounds, colors, or numbers, and basically didn't understand the material on the test. I was told to expect really low English comprehension. At our first meeting, though, I discovered he not only knows all his colors, can read numbers, can count reliably, can asses same/different, and can order pictures into a correct sequence; he can also correctly identify many letter names and sounds, come up with words that start with a given sound, eliminate words that don't start with the same short, I don't know what he was thinking when he checked out of that assessment test, but the kid is clearly a smart little dude. Also, he never accidentally switches to Spanish. He is all English when we're together.

In our second meeting, we began to review letter sounds again. He shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't know!" when I asked him letters he had known just yesterday. Suspecting he feigned ignorance, I circled back to a few of the letters he'd said he didn't know. "Ok, this is a really hard one..." I said. That successfully jogged his memory every time.

Thursday, I asked if he'd like to start with a story. He shook his head no. "No? ok, would you rather start with a game?" no. "Alright, well how about some letter flashcards to warm up?" nope, he didn't want to do that either. I said he had to pick one thing, so we started with flash cards (no memory problems today!), but any time I asked him for input about an activity, he said that actually, he didn't want to do it. I like that he's so frank, and I can hardly blame him! I wouldn't want to do an extra hour and a half of reading after school either! I also like that he didn't have a bad attitude, and when I said each time that I understood he didn't want to, but I wanted him to do it anyway, he got right to it.

I take a pile of books each day for him to pick read aloud stories. He picks long and complex stories like Owl Moon, The Three Little Javelinas and Lentil-- books that bore the the other ESL 5 year olds--and he stays engaged through the whole book and can answer questions and write a sentence about the story.

I think he probably is bored with reading material and exercises that are at his level (he's still learning to sound things out, and doesn't know all his long vowels yet). I picked up a set of "Bob Books" for him to start on - simple books that should be perfect for building his ability to sound things out, and I'm going to make a goal chart. Maybe he's motivated by lists, levels and prizes. I am. Also, I got a funny Skippyjon Jones book with some entertaining Spanglish:
"Ay, Skippito," said Don Diego, a purple dog. "It is good you are here. El Bumblebeeto has stolen our beans!"
"Holy guacamole!" Skippito Friskito cried. "We must get them back!"...
Skippito and his amigos found Bumblebeeto resting in a tree.
"Ay, Bumblebeeto," Skippito called out, "give Los Chimichangos back their beans!" But El Bumblebeeto didn't hear him. He was asleep!

I hope to see Juan reading independently soon!

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