Apr 10, 2014

Tutor Idea - Around the World (and Being Replicable)

Yesterday was our final day of CC for Cycle 2. 

(can't believe I just wrote that!)

I knew the kiddos would probably be very excited, so I wanted to do something different to keep them interested while also giving them the freedom to move around.

So, we went around the world! 

(which was really just around the room to different 'stations')

We always start with Geography at the table, and then we moved to Math, the red sign in the back.

King Arithmetickle was happy to explain the final Math law of his kingdom. (You can see me holding that puppet, right? I mean, I can see me, too, but the kids act like I'm not even there! They're mesmerized by this crazy puppet!)

Then we continued our trip around the world by moving six feet to the left and arriving at History. ;)

I taped the History Sentence cards for Week 24 under the sign, and we said the sentence with some motions. No frills, except the cards.


I usually use my iPad to play the history sentence song, but I'm not going to do that anymore in class. For me, it breaks the flow (and eats into the 4 minutes) to say, "Okay, now that we said the sentence, let's listen to the song and sing along."

Changing it up like this was a BIG HIT with the class - and me! Moving around so much let them get their wiggles out, they appeared to be more engaged because it was something new, and I liked that I didn't have to add 'extras' to keep their attention (aside from a puppet or two). I felt much more stick-in-the-sandish!

Another sidenote:

I'll be leading Foundations tutor training at a couple of Parent Practicums this summer, which means I've been getting lots of training myself. As a tutor, one of my main jobs is to model for the parents how they can review the memory work at home, and I think I've really missed the mark sometimes on this.

I am supposed to be replicable

Parents are supposed to be able to go home and replicate (if they so desire) what we're doing in class.

With my Mary Poppins bag of tricks, I don't think I've been very replicable at times. I don't know...

If a parent sits in my class and thinks, "I could never do that," then I don't think I'm doing my job.

This is why CC's so big on 'stick-in-the-sand.' We should be able to introduce new grammar on a beautiful tropical island, next to a clear blue lagoon with our toesies in the water, using just a stick in the sand (this is my secret mental picture every time someone says that!). If we add a bunch of bells and whistles, are we really being replicable?

I know that no tutor feels like this picture with the stick-in-the-sand analogy, right? Right...

Ha! I know, I know, but we have technology now, what's wrong with the iPad and PowerPoint and my phone?! Hello! This is the 21st century!

Yes, yes, I hear you.

But, the truth is, Tutor, not everyone has what we have. If we make introducing new grammar look hard or 'magical,' as in something only we can do, our parents may become discouraged or overwhelmed. And I know nobody wants that to happen, because if you're a tutor, you love these kids. And because you love these kids, you love their parents and want to equip them for success at home.

Please don't think I'm preachin' to you, because I'm really thinking about myself here. I'll definitely be making some tweaks to my class for Cycle 3. I'm just bringing it up because if these thoughts are crossing my mind, maybe they've crossed yours, too? 

And, I'm not talking about review games. I love me some bells and whistles and hula hoops and bean bags and sticky hand slappers during review time. Bring it and bling it, I say!

So, as tutors, that's just something to think about...

Are we replicable?
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  1. I wholeheartedly agree with the last section of this post regarding being replicable. I came to this same conclusion at this same time last year, which was the end of my first year of being a Tutor. I wanted it to be fun and memorable for the kids but realized that some of my creative ideas probably were intimidating to the parents. Thus, they were probably stifled rather than encouraged by what I was doing in class during the New Grammar time. Plus, at the end of last year I was ONE WORN OUT Tutor and burned out! My expectations of myself and what should happen during New Grammar were unreasonable--the papers, crafty things that I made to use in class--and not necessary. In addition to undercutting the parents motivation to try things at home (because the things that I did in class were too labor-intensive!), I was also completely--physically and emotionally--spent. It took me the entire summer to recover, and honestly, I don't know that I was completely recovered when we started CC back this Fall. I made a vow to myself this year that I would scale it WAY BACK during New Grammar, use simple pencil and paper stick figure drawings, the "erase a word at a time" method and lots & lots of songs (I teach Abecedarians.). I have seen the proof in the pudding that LESS IS MORE. I had many of the Moms tell me how they practiced songs, drew their own stick figure cards for history statement and practiced the hand motions from class with their kiddos at home. Honestly, I knew, even before they told me, that my Moms were reviewing with their children at home with what we had used in class; it was blatantly obvious each week during Review Game time. My little 4, 5, and 6 year olds remembered the New Grammar from week to week! Another plus to my "scaled back" approach for my 2nd year of tutoring is that I do not feel the level of burn out that I felt last year. By giving myself boundaries and vetoing the "over the top" tricks for New Grammar and using "stick in the sand" methods, I am ending this year more energized. Of course I am tired and will be ready for a break this summer, but I do not feel physically and emotionally decimated as I did last year. Thank you for this post, for putting your ideas into words and for sharing this with our CCers. This is wonderful wisdom that I'm thankful you shared! :)

  2. Melody - Awesome post! Yes and yes! As Tutors it shouldn't look like Wonderful Wednesdays! (That's for home!) It takes me all of 20 minutes to prepare on a given week to Tutor because I stick with easy frameworks any Momma can do and I don't do any bells and whistles, like making labor intensive materials. I even try to keep my Review Games to simple things that require an imagination and not much else - like the Orchestra Review Game, human tic-tac-toe or duck duck goose! I have a few voice changers, some silly dice, container of silly balls, and a plastic ball/cup catcher! I have the kids do silly stuff that doesn't take much time but is "fun" to them and keeps them engaged. I think as Tutors we have to strike a balance between keeping it engaging and not boring for the kids (I believe parents do have an expectation that we bring ideas other than just chant with their kids and erase the board) -they are looking for creative, easy to implement ideas, so they can engage with their kids and enjoy this journey of homeschooling. I could teach an entire class outside and not need a prop and it be fun. It just takes imagination and creativity to think of things to do that make it silly and memorable for them - they are kids after all and this is the Foundations stage :) So glad to hear you are doing the Foundations Training! You will be great, friend!

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart on this, Melody. It's so easy to lose sight of the "stick in the sand' model when we tutor, and I appreciate your encouragement to keep it simple. We want to encourage parents, not intimidate them! :)

  4. I like your posts. I’ll surely be looking at it again soon!


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