Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New activities!

Monday was very exciting.  I had my first "in school residency."  I'm volunteering with an organization that provides a lot of different tutoring services for kids, including sending you into the schools to work in classes on their writing.  I'm working with three other people in a fifth grade class and, funny story, their teacher is married to a girl I went to elementary school with.  We're doing writing conferences with the kids.  They write something, we get them to tell us about it, read it to us, and then give them suggestions for making it better.  We aren't correcting grammar or spelling, just getting them to do things like add more detail, be more creative, explain things more.  It was a lot of fun!  It seems like a great class of kids.  They're creative, smart, well behaved, curious.  I think this is going to be a really great opportunity to learn more about being in a classroom environment.  The teacher, Mr H, even said that we're welcome to come up with our own lesson plans if we want.  It wouldn't be a very involved lesson plan, I'd pretty much just give them a writing topic, but you know, it's still practice, and I'm still getting time in a classroom.

On Monday I also got assigned a learner from the literacy organization I'm working with!  Since I'll be tutoring an adult we call the person we're working with a learner rather than a student, to keep the relationship on equal footing as a partnership rather than as a teacher-student thing.  My learner, K, just graduated from high school but according to my information on her, she only has a beginner reading level.  That means that she reads somewhere between a kindergarten and second grade level.  She has trouble sounding out words, doesn't read much, and is scared of writing.  How kids like this just get passed through the system without getting additional help is completely beyond me.  A beginning level reader has trouble filling out basic forms!  How can a teacher think that's okay?  You have to give her credit, she must be very clever to have done well enough to be passed through her classes despite her low reading and writing levels.  I haven't met her yet but we set up our first meeting, which will be on Friday morning.  I guess I'll find out more then!  At our first meeting we'll mostly be getting to know each other, going over her long term goals and what she wants to work for the next year.  I'm a little concerned that her dad is going to try to be too involved.  When I called to set up our meeting she wasn't there so he set up the meeting place and time with me.  She is 18, still living at home, and she just finished high school, so it's normal that he thinks he should still be in charge of his little girl and her education.  I'll just have to make it clear to her on Friday that I'm working with her, not her dad, and that she and I will decide things together.  I guess we'll just see how it goes on Friday!

I'm really excited to be doing things that matter, and not just filling my day with "stuff" like going to the pharmacy, going grocery shopping, whatever.  I'm actually doing things that make a difference, doing things that I like, that are connected to my future education and career plans.  It makes me feel like my life is on play again instead of being stuck indefinitely on pause.

15 comments:

shannon said...

That sounds like a really good way to pass your time! Plus gain some good experience.

kiwi in france said...

This sounds like so much fun and also so rewarding too! You are so inspiring :)

kiwi in france said...

There were so many "so"'s in my comment!! haha, I really shouldn't have drunk a bottle of wine with dinner...

getyourselfconnected said...

Sounds great! You should have a T-shirt made up that shows your GRE verbal score and a line that says:
"I know my stuff kiddies"

Glad you are making moves.

Zhu said...

I agree with the others, it's a great way to keep busy, keep your sanity (the past year haven't been easy, I know!), help other and gain experience.

On a side note, I notice you leave two spaces after each period: is that a U.S thing? Sorry about noticing, I guess I should explain I do a lot of proofreading these days and my eyes are just trained to notice these things :-)

au soleil levant said...

Shannon - I hope I'll get some good experience! I'll enjoy it no matter what though.

Kim - LOL, you and your bottle of wine! Thanks!

GYSC - Maybe I'll do the t shirt after I take the GRE. Show those kiddies who knows what around here. Thanks!

Zhu - Do other countries not leave two spaces after a period? I was taught two spaces after a period and one after a comma. I have noticed that when I change the language in Word to French that it corrects me to only one space after the period. What did you learn, and is it different in France vs Canada?

Animesh said...

Know this: I am jealous of you for the work you are doing :).

Keep it up!
-A

getyourselfconnected said...

I do the two spaces thing as well. As you can tell.

au soleil levant said...

Animesh - wow, no one is ever jealous of my life! Score!

GYSC - Glad I'm not alone! That's two two-spacing Americans.

Andromeda said...

You are mighty courageous to help people with reading and writing, I wouldn't even know where to begin! A foreign language is supposed to be hard, so I expect people to have trouble. Doing the same thing with the native language just seems so complicated! Way to go!

And I am a one space period person. Though in France, paper-writing has 1.5 spaces between lines not 2, and it makes me crazy because I have to write just a little bit more to get to 10 pages than I had to in college. Like writing in French isn't hard enough already, lol.

au soleil levant said...

Andomeda - interestingly enough, I got 1000% more training for this than I ever did to teach in France! I had basically no training at all there, and here I have this nice book with all kinds of cool strategies for teaching reading and writing. We'll see how it goes!

Interesting that you only leave one space. So that's what you were taught in computer class? And good info on the French papers, I had no idea!

Zhu said...

As far as I know, in both France and Canada there is only one space after a period. In France, there is a space before a "?","!" and ":". In English there is none, and Quebec French follow the English rule.

On a side note, you may be interested in that: http://www.termiumplus.gc.ca/

It's a great tool to learn all the tricks of writing in both French and English.

au soleil levant said...

Zhu - You know, it wouldn't surprise me if in America there isn't a hard and fast rule about how many spaces go after a period. We're anti-establishment like that :) Thanks for the info and the link!

Monique said...

In English classes I always learned to double space after a period. The journalist in me gets super upset, because in AP formatting, it's just one. I am lazy so I just do one :)

It's great to hear how busy you're keeping now and that you have exciting things going on in your live! I'm happy for you :)

au soleil levant said...

There's different formatting in different styles?!?!?!?! Wow, I'm going to have to take a look at those dusty style books I haven't cracked open since college...

Thanks for being happy for me!