How do you know what topics your students need help with? What can you do to make sure you’re prepared for each tutoring session? The School on Wheels Digital Learning Team explains how our academic assessments, the Khan Academy program, and our apps database can help enhance your tutoring sessions by providing more structure and personalization for your students. You will learn how to start with your students and make the most of all of your tutoring sessions. This workshop is highly recommended for all School on Wheels tutors in order to better serve our students.
Month: July 2016
Question: “I’ve found it very difficult to motivate my student over the summer. She doesn’t want to do the activities I bring because she says it’s not required–it’s not real homework. When we play a game or something she enjoys it but she doesn’t put any effort into the Academic Program worksheets. My student is 13, by the way. Any thoughts would be appreciated!”
You’re not alone! It can certainly be a challenge to motivate children over the summer, especially older students, who can be more skeptical. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you are maximizing the effectiveness of your sessions while also engaging your student’s interests.
- Plan your sessions with your student. Ask for her input. At 13, she probably has an idea of the areas she has difficulty with in school, and the two of you can decide together what to focus on over the summer to ensure she is ready for the next grade. Bring a calendar to your next session and plot out your remaining meeting dates, keeping short-term and long-term goals in mind. If your student knows she is working towards a definable outcome, she may be more motivated to participate.
- Incorporate student interests whenever possible. Use favorite song lyrics to discuss poetry, rhythm, and meter. Spend time reading your student’s favorite book series. Bring articles on sports or entertainment stars she is interested in. For math, try using real life examples. For instance, maybe she would like to save up to buy something that costs a lot of money. The two of you can work out how much she would need to save each week to purchase the item.
- Don’t rely on worksheets. While they are easy to prepare and definitely serve a purpose, worksheets can be dull for students, especially if that’s all you do during your sessions. Make sure you are incorporating other sorts of activities. You mention your student likes games–educational games can be a great resource over the summer. Try using an app from our digital learning database. Youtube is a great repository of informational and entertaining videos that can be used alongside more traditional methods.
If all else fails, ask your student to teach you something interesting she learned over the past school year. Having your student review notes and materials from the previous grade will keep the information fresh in her mind and has the added benefit of making your student feel empowered. And remember, don’t give up. The hour your spend with your student each week and the interest you show in her education will have a lasting impact, even if you can’t see it now.
About the tutor: Amanda Carr joined School on Wheels in early 2015. As engagement specialist at School on Wheels, she is dedicated to providing volunteers with resources to help them succeed. She has been tutoring her own School on Wheels student for 8 months.
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For July, we focused on promoting summer learning as our students begun our 2016 summer program. We featured an appeal from our Executive Director, Catherine Meek, sharing the issue of summer learning loss with our supporters and how we plan to combat it. This month, we also heard an inspiring story from one of our senior tutors, Jacklin DieBold, who volunteers in our Santa Barbara region. School on Wheels also took on a new location for its Ventura office with the help of Seabees–members of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces–to ensure a smooth transition.
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama
Joel Adriano Bautista
Skid Row Learning Center
– Dayeli, 4th Grade. Once in a blue moon, you come across a student who embraces learning with her whole soul. June’s Student of the Month, Dayeli, is one such special occurrence. Her stint at School On Wheels appeared inauspicious since she came into the learning center with virtually zero English ability. Unperturbed, Mr. Ryan and I used our bilingual skill set and Duolingo to teach her English and math. She soaked up both subjects like a sponge with the most infectious enthusiasm I’ve ever seen. Accordingly, I feel delighted to share my experience of Dayeli with anyone willing to hear about this radiant, diligent girl.
Brian Lopez, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor
Region 1 – East LA
– Diego, 2nd Grade. When I first met Diego, we had a one on one reading and Arts and Crafts session. Just five minutes into our first session, he decided he was done and wanted to leave. For the next week I researched day in and day out how to keep him engaged. Every week I applied a new technique; just a few weeks ago, he stayed involved through our entire session for the first time. We built windmills out of paper and pencils. He was so excited that he built two!
Wendy Rodriguez, Tutor
Region 3 – Westside
– Derryon, 1st Grade. Derryon is 6 years old and has just finished kindergarden. He is such a pleasure to work with! In his own words: “I am nice and cool and awesome! I work hard. I like being people’s friend.” He is also an amazing dancer and singer! These past months we worked on reading and numbers. As a reward for Derryon being such a good student, we’ve also gone on a field trip to watch “Finding Dory” with his older sister Dakota and her tutor Tom. It has been nothing but a joy tutoring Derryon, and I’m so happy to see him getting more curious about learning with each session!
Zhanna Guzhavina, Tutor
Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena
– Tyler, 6th Grade. Tyler is very bright, perceptive, and quick to get a concept when it is explained well. He is a perfect example of a student with a lot of ability who sometimes needs a little extra help staying motivated. Sometimes Tyler wasn’t so into tutoring, but we try to talk his feelings through and see what we can do to make the sessions work better. I have found him to be a delight: he is by turns hilarious, cool, sensitive and insightful. He has many interests outside of school, and our main progress has been in getting him to turn more of that focus on his schoolwork. His reading and writing seem to have improved a lot since we first started working together, which has been nice to see.
Patrick Anderson, Tutor
Region 7 – San Fernando Valley
– Camryn, 8th Grade . Camryn is such a kind, loving, giving, bubbly and charismatic spirit. She can light up any room she walks into and start conversations with just about anyone. The day we first met, Camryn told me how much she loves animals and plans to be a vet after she finishes college. Camryn also loves sports! She is definitely an athlete but volleyball is her favorite sport. One of my favorite things about Camryn is her resilience. No matter what, Camryn will always try her best and she never gives up. Her toughness is something I look up to. I could not ask for a better student and I am truly blessed to be a part of her life and to have her in mine.
Darien Onori, Tutor
– Tyler, 5th Grade. What I realized about Tyler is something I see often in students who are fidgety and seem distracted in my own classroom: he is so smart that he probably found a lot of the work boring! I figured that rewarding Tyler with his beloved Captain Underpants was a way to motivate him to get through the boring but necessary homework and I saw a lot of improvement.I was touched to hear that he had read the entire Captain Underpants book that same night and then lent it to a friend. ) We did some timed reading passages in a workbook. Tyler liked setting the timer and trying to break his previous records. He is SUCH a fast yet careful reader. Tyler is also a talented artist. With some leftover time during an in-person session, I asked him to draw me something, and he obliged with the villain from Captain Underpants (see photo).
Finally, while going through Tyler’s backpack for the end-of-year clean-out, we came across a perfect attendance award. That is no easy feat for anyone, but it’s especially remarkable for a student in his situation. Tyler brings so much creativity, sensitivity and energy to everything he does and I feel lucky to get to know him better and to work with him every week. I could see him having his own popular comic strip one day!
Elizabeth Vitanza, Online Tutor
Skid Row Learning Center
– David Kagen. If you have tutored at the Skid Row Learning Center, then you have most likely met Mr. David. We are so grateful that Mr. David joined our team in 2009 and although his job sends him away on location, he always spends time with the kids when in town. Mr. David comes in two or three times a week when he is in town. He helps every age group in every subject, plays sports out back, does puzzles with the little ones, plays video games with the older kids and generally helps everyone with everything! It is impossible to figure out how many lives Mr. David has impacted since he joined our team because he leaves everyone he meets smiling and feeling happier. Mr. David could win the honor of Tutor of the Month every month!
Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor
Region 1 – East LA
– Wendy Rodriguez. Wendy is a wonderful tutor and Tutor Coordinator at a domestic violence shelter in Region 1. She oversees our Saturday reading/arts and crafts club and provides a welcoming environment for her fellow tutors and students. She’s passionate about our program, never shies away from a task and is always looking for new ways to contribute to School on Wheels. When she saw a need for more books at the shelter, she organized a book drive and collected over two hundred books for our students! Wendy’s commitment and hard work never cease to amaze me. I’m so fortunate to have her on my team.
Here is what Wendy has to say about her experience as a tutor:
“When I found School on Wheels I knew I just had to volunteer. I desire to help our youth find their passion. I love inspiring creativity, instilling the importance of education and watching them grow. I also enjoy teaching my students that they can realize their dreams with enough drive and perseverance.”
Daisy Arce, Regional Coordinator
Region 3 – Westside
– Zhanna Guzhavina. Zhanna has been such a big help this summer. She has taken on individual students at two different sites and also helps at group tutoring in Venice and at the Skid Row Learning Center. The kids love Zhanna. I am really appreciative of all of her time, dedication, and passion for School on Wheels.
“After graduating from USC, I really wanted to volunteer teaching kids because I strongly believe in the importance of giving back and the power of education. School on Wheels was a perfect fit, and volunteering here has been such an exceptional experience! All the kids here are so bright and all of them deserve a bright future, which is why I admire School on Wheels and am so grateful to be a part of this amazing organization. My favorite part about tutoring at School on Wheels is getting to know every student and becoming their friend. It is so fun teaching them and spending time together, and there is no better feeling than when a student understands a concept! I learn from the kids as much as they learn from me, and this has truly been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator
Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena
– Patrick Anderson. Phenomenal, is the word that comes to mind when I think about this month’s Region 5 Tutor of the Month. Patrick started with School On Wheels in 2014 and he has been great! Patrick’s seriousness and attitude toward his commitment to our program is immediately noticeable.
He is not only a consistent tutor but he goes above and beyond to make sure his student is engaged during his tutoring sessions, and excelling in school. Recently Patrick has taken on a second student at a boys’ group home in Silverlake. I know his new student will benefit from his support. It is a great pleasure to work with such a wonderful individual and I look forward to him continuing with our program! In his own words:
“I first came to School on Wheels because I was looking for a meaningful and useful volunteer opportunity, and was also considering becoming a teacher. I liked School On Wheels’ mission and attitude, so I signed up to tutor and was paired with Tyler. Even though schoolwork wasn’t always his favorite thing to do, I could instantly tell he was a smart, witty, and thoughtful kid who was eager to learn,. Seeing Tyler get excited by an idea or figuring something out is always a thrill. He has challenged me to be a better teacher by showing me how much more a student learns when the material is made relevant to his or her interests and life.”
Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator
Region 7 – San Fernando Valley
– Darien Onori. Darien is a consistent and dedicated tutor! She first joined School on Wheels in December 2015 and has been working hard ever since. Darien is very patient and flexible with her student and has supported her both academically and emotionally. Last month Darien took on another challenge by becoming a Tutor Coordinator that helps lead first sessions. She has been a great help in getting volunteers started tutoring! Darien’s tutoring and mentorship with Camryn is admirable!
In her own words, “School on Wheels has changed my life. I don’t think Camryn realizes how much she helps me grow every week. I don’t just tutor her, she tutors me and has no idea how much she has impacted my life, for the better. I couldn’t have chosen a better organization to be a part of. I chose to be involved with School on Wheels because I did not have anyone to guide me or help me in academics as I was growing up, and it was hard. So I wanted to be that help for someone else whether it be tutoring or just having someone there every week, someone they could count on.”
Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator
– Elizabeth Vitanza. Elizabeth has been an online tutor with us since October of 2015. Her consistency is key; the energy, focus, and love she brings to her tutoring sessions have provided a foundation of success for the students she works with. A full-time teacher, Elizabeth has also dedicated her time in-person to surprise and support her online tutoring student, Tyler. We are lucky to have Elizabeth on our team.
In her own words:
“Beyond the obvious benefits of getting quite good at dividing and multiplying fractions, working with Tyler has made me look forward to Monday afternoons. I’m sure our faces both light up a bit when I log on or walk into the School on Wheels Skid Row Learning Center (SRLC) to work with him. I have seen firsthand that the students School On Wheels helps are smart, motivated, gracious, and resilient. They have caring, loving parents who want them to succeed, just like other parents do. The SOW staff are endlessly patient and provide the structure that children need and crave (even more so I’m sure in the context of being homeless). I feel much more passionate about finding solutions to homelessness in LA and I am hoping to encourage my coworkers and even some of my older students to sign up to tutor online. I work full time and have my own small child at home – if I can find an hour a week, I’m sure a lot of other people can too.”
Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator