Wednesday, June 5, 2013

SAGE ADVICE - Dealing with uncooperative students

Sometimes we are put in situations where no one gets along.  Although this difficulty can be frustrating and challenging to deal with as a tutor; there might be reasons for this behavior.  Sometimes the teacher may or may not be able to share them with you.  So we've put together a few tips to help you progress! 

1.     If a student’s behavior has been trying on you personally, use the 5– 5–5 rule.   Breath in for 5 seconds, hold it for five seconds, then breath out for 5 seconds.

2.       Don't argue with the student in front of the class or his/her peers. This might embarrass the student or escalate the situation.  Talk to the student in a calm and soft spoken voice. Do not accuse the student of not cooperating, instead state the problem and then the solution. For example, “There are crayons on the floor, don't you think we should pick them up?"

3.      Have a calm discussion with the student, explaining  the work or assignment in which you are collaborating.  If the child continues to refuse to cooperate, don’t keep asking or talking to the student, this attention may be just what they are looking for and expecting.  Just state that you will sit and wait for the student to tell you when they are ready to work.

4.      Ask the student for their attention for a short period of time.  Tell the student that you expect them to work for 10 minutes and then you can take a break and play a game or take a walk.

5.      Provide a great deal of positive reinforcement and many short breaks.

6.      If possible, ask the teacher for ideas about what strategies may work with the particular child.

Try one of these steps the next time you face a difficult situation and see what a difference in results you will have.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SAGE ADVICE - Planning Your Tutoring Session


Many times you may be asked to help a child understand a particular topic or problem area.  It is sometimes difficult  to know  “where to start” with such an open-ended request.  Here are a few suggestions to help you plan your tutoring session with a student.

1.      Think about your tutoring session in three sections or stages.  The three sections are 1) a motivational opening 2) the development of the lesson and  3) the closing. These stages will help the student remember the lesson more effectively and understand the concepts on a deeper level.

2.      Make sure your motivational opening is fun and engaging.  In this first section of the lesson you want to stimulate student’s interest in the topic or subject.  Students tend to think, “Why do I have to learn this?”    Thus, when you start a lesson try to include some element that shows the practical application of the lesson’s content.  You can tell or read a short story which highlights the concept in a practical application.  Another idea is to show a picture or diagram which visually shows the concept in action.  Or, you can start the lesson by asking the student some open-ended questions to peak their curiosity.

3.      Tap into the student’s background knowledge.   Make sure to ask questions to see what the student already knows about the subject.  They may know more than you think, but they may be having trouble integrating their knowledge or expressing it in the way the teacher is assessing. 

4.      During the development of the lesson break down the information in to small steps and praise the child for each step they accomplish.  Also, remember to assess the student’s knowledge periodically by asking questions By doing this, you know the students are retaining information and fully understanding the lesson.

5.      The closing section of the lesson should encourage the student to reflect on what they have learned and how they will use the knowledge.  Encourage the child to come up with their own ideas about how they can remember the information and how the information might be assessed in classroom exams or homework.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Working collaboratively with classroom teachers

Communication between  teacher and tutor is crucial.  With all the demands on teachers, it is sometimes challenging to have these critical conversations.  Teachers and tutors should work hand-in-hand in order to meet the needs of students and understand each other’s “worlds”.
Here is some "S.A.G.E." advice to initiate conversations:
       1.   Discuss what type of communication is best for the teacher and you (email, letters, phone
             conversations or meeting in person).

2.      Discuss the times of the day that are mutually convenient to have conversations about students or work assignments.

3.      Recognize that each year teachers may have different schedules and different demands put on them from the school administration.  Some years they will be coordinating programs and activities, in addition to their classroom work.  Some years teachers will have particularly large classrooms of students or large percentages of special needs students.  Both of these situations may impact the time the teacher has for conversations.  

4.      To make sure all questions and concerns are answered, keep a running list of your questions and bring the questions with you when you have time to talk with the teacher.  This will assure that all your questions can be answered in as efficient a manner as possible.

5.      Ask the teacher what types of reports or data they would like about specific students you work with, and how and when they would like to receive the information.

6.      Ask the teacher about any particular classroom rules or procedures that they want to make sure you follow.

7.      If appropriate, ask the teacher how they would like you to handle questions parents might ask you about their child who you are assisting.

8.      Be open to suggestions and supplemental material that the teacher may provide.

9.      Ask the teacher to be included in academic award ceremonies, if there are any, to exhibit collaboration between yourself and the teacher.  This will reinforce to the student that you are working with the teacher for their success.

Applying these steps will lead you down the path of success in the classroom and out!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Inaugural S.A.G.E. development training is a huge success!

Our volunteers enrich the learning experience for the schools they serve - from helping a child learn to read to demonstrating chemistry techniques.  We understand every experience is as different as the students and teachers with whom S.A.G.E. members interact.  We at the board of directors, are arming our wonderful members with the tools needed to thrive. Through a series of  2-3 hour training sessions, our members will become a further asset to their schools.

Our first training session was held on February 23rd at the Northampton Library. 22 volunteers participated in "S.A.G.E.'s Ages in Stages" which focused on child development.  Participants were a mix of new and seasoned volunteers.

Board members Christine Moran and Samantha Zirolli organized and headed up the training.    Samantha shared some of the training details.  "Specifically, we covered the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual characteristics of children ages 5-12. We focused on this age group because most of S.A.G.E.'s volunteers are placed in an elementary school setting, and these ages represent grades K-6."
Christine and Samantha used a PowerPoint presentation and worksheets to present information.   Seniors also had the opportunity to share their experiences in the classroom which was a valuable connection to the material at hand.  The training's closing activity allowed seniors to pair up and write a cinquain regarding their experience with SAGE. "Being board members, Christine and I appreciated the volunteers sharing bits and pieces as well as their opinion of their experience as we don't get to see them within the classrooms," Samantha adds.
The seniors really enjoyed themselves at the training.  At the moment, Christine and Samantha are throwing some ideas around for the next training.  A suggested topic is "technology in the classroom" but we are open to anything.  It really depends on what our seniors are most interested in learning about. We have the resources so why not tell us what will help you out the most!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chemisty calls, Council Rocks answers - Part 3

After two hours of intense questioning on March 6th, the YBTC Challenge for the Philadelphia region was narrowed down to four students.  I’m proud to announce that with the help of S.A.G.E., parent, teacher and other volunteers, two students moving on to the state competition are from Council Rock. 

Elementary and middle school students from surrounding Newtown and Holland participated in the second round of the YBTC Challenge at Dow Chemical facility in Spring House, PA.  These students competed against several other districts in this nationwide, interactive scientific competition.

This time, I had the pleasure of speaking with 2 outstanding volunteers, Sandra Kiselica and Mary Evangelisto.  Sandra has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State University and is a consultant to the chemistry publishing industry. Mary Evangelisto, majored in chemistry & education and teaches chemistry at Bucks County Community College and Holy Family University.  Last June, Sandra attended the national challenge in Philadelphia to see how the program worked.  She was so inspired by the dedication and willingness of young students to learn about science that she knew the YTBC was something CR had to try. 

Outside of work, both women have a special interest in creating opportunities for young people to learn about science. Every year, Sandra provides chemistry demonstrations [geared towards getting girls enthused about chemistry] while Mary routinely volunteers as a judge at science fairs. 

Mary played a vital role in the preliminary round.  She and Wally Ropchan, another S.A.G.E. volunteer, attended study sessions and helped students prepare.  “We couldn't believe how much chemistry the students absorbed, probably more than most high school or even college students,” agree Sandra, Mary and Wally.  Mary goes on to say “Wally was a big help.  I’m sure he’ll be doing more with S.A.G.E. in the future and I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity as well.” 

Sandra had the chance to attend the second round of competition.  She was impressed with students’ level of knowledge and their confidence. Council Rock hopes to continue the YBTC next year and in order to grow the program, has applied for a grant to award prizes.  Sandra hopes to increase awareness and gain involvement from local chemists in the future.  “In this manner, they would be able to mentor and do more hands-on demonstrations with the students, quite an attraction.”

The two students moving on to the state competition at Penn State main campus on April 27th are Rishi Mago, a sixth-grader from Sol Feinstone Elementary School and Henry Liu, a seventh-grader from Newtown Middle School.  What a wonderful achievement for them and the Council Rock school district! 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chemistry calls, Council Rock answers - Part 2

When cool lab demonstrations mix with fun facts, Chemistry can be a fascinating science.  Just ask any Council Rock student participating in the You Be The Chemist (YBTC) Challenge.®   

On February 12th, elementary and middle school students participated in the first round of the YBTC Challenge at Council Rock North high school.  The YBTC is a nationwide, interactive academic competition that teaches students in grades 5-8 about important chemistry concepts, scientific discoveries, and laboratory safety.

This is Council Rock’s first year participating in the competition and they came to play.  Renee Devlin, District Science Coordinator for Council Rock, along with a team of volunteers, headed up the event.  According to Biology and Astronomy student teacher, Justin Kapusta, there was an overwhelming response for participants.  The district had to limit participation to 100 students after reaching that number almost immediately!  About 50 students took the qualifying test in round one and 10 students moved on to Round 2 which will be held on March 6th at the Dow Chemical facility in Spring House, PA. 

The outstanding students moving on, both male and female, represent diverse backgrounds; two 5th graders, five 6th graders and two 7th graders.  These students from Sol Feinstone Elementary, Goodnoe Elementary, Churchville Elementary, Holland Elementary, Rolling Hills Elementary, Newtown Middle School, Holland Middle School, and Richboro Middle School will now face off against other area districts. 

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this fantastic enrichment experience,” says Kapusta.  My role in assisting Renee Devlin quickly evolved, almost overnight.  I became the main contact for participants and their parents, set up the WikiSpace (website) and ran every event with the help of our terrific S.A.G.E. volunteers, high school volunteers, Sal Colosi, Nancy Tillery, Dr. Sandra Kiselica, and many others.  The YBTC Challenge is great because it introduces younger children to a more advanced science subject.”

The inaugural YBTC Challenge at Council Rock was an overwhelming success.  From all of us at Senior Adults for Greater Education, congratulations to all participants and good luck on March 6th.  We look forward to more good news! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chemistry calls, Council Rock answers - Part 1

What is the difference between a scientific inquiry and the scientific method?  Name a scientific element that’s a good conductor of electricity but not heat.  What year did Niels Bohr win the Nobel Prize?  Could you answer these questions?    Elementary and middle school students from Council Rock South can. 

For the first time ever, Council Rock South is engaging in a science competition of epic proportion.  The You Be The Chemist (YBTC) Challenge® is an interactive academic competition that teaches students in grades 5-8 about important chemistry concepts, scientific discoveries, and laboratory safety.

The YBTC challenge competition was inspired by the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of the science and value of chemistry. These types of competitions encourage the collaboration of industry members, schools, and community organizations across the country, to educate students about the value of science education and the role of chemistry in everyday lives.

Renee Devlin, District Science Coordinator for Council Rock, along with a team of volunteers is heading up the inaugural event.  The Council Rock Qualifying Challenge, (the first round of the YBTC challenge), will take place on February 9th at CR North from 11AM-1:00 PM.  90 students representing CR elementary and middle schools, interspersed with some private school students, will complete a written test of 50 multiple-choice questions.  The test will be followed by some cool chemistry demonstrations.  The top 10 students will move on to the Local Challenge that will take place on March 6th at the Dow Chemical facility against other area districts.

Devlin elaborates on the importance of the YBTC Challenge initiative.  “Like all science enrichment programs we offer, we hope the YBTC Challenge engages students and gets them talking about science at home and becoming more excited about science in the classroom.” 

Her volunteer team has done a wonderful job advertising the program and providing facilitated study sessions.  Renee’s outstanding team consists of teachers, parents, teachers, Sal Colosi and Justin Kapusta, Science National Honor Society students from both CR North and South and S.A.G.E. volunteer, Dr. Wally Ropchan, a retired chemical engineer.   

Dr. Wally Ropchan, a new S.A.G.E. volunteer, has had a tremendous affect on the program, coordinating study sessions, visiting schools and walking students through chemistry demonstrations.   When asked what he enjoys most about the YBTC Challenge, Wally says, “I enjoy the enthusiasm of both the teaching staff and students for having me work with them on STEM centered activities.  (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics activities.)  These great students keep me on my toes with their focused questions.  In addition, it is truly inspiring to see how progressive the Council Rock School District is in its support for the S.A.G.E. program as a valuable community-oriented approach to education. ”   

The YBTC Challenge is inspiring the next generation of scientists.  Be sure to follow this “mini-series” and see the outcome of the CR Qualifying Challenge on Feb. 9th!