Coming in over spring break…
There are basically two things to remember when you ask kids to come in over spring break:
Keep it short and sweet.
I don’t feel like the point of tutoring over a break is not to create any mind-blowing new understandings, but it is to keep the students from completely forgetting everything they’ve ever learned. If you get to sneak in a few reminders about common mistakes, that’s bonus.
I invite students who are just below passing, ones who I think could get to passing with just a little extra practice. This year, it was students who got 50% on the last practice test (you need 70% to be considered “proficient”).
A week before…
I usually send home a note with students on the day before break with the times that I will be at school. Then I will still have to come in even after spring break has started and I’ve realized that I really don’t feel like working. This year, I told the students that we would meet from 11 am to 1 pm on Thursday and Friday. When I first talk to them about it, I say, “I was wondering if you’d like to come in for some extra practice, AND we could make it like a pizza party?!?!”
The day before…
Even though you talk to them at school, most students will not “remember” to come in on their own. So I call everyone I’ve already spoken to. I make sure to speak to the parents, and I make sure to say that I’ll provide a pizza lunch. It is a good idea to call more students than you want to see (I called 12) because you may only be able to reach about half and you don’t want to come all the way in for only one or two students. I insist that students be responsible for their own transportation. This year, I worked with 7 students on the first day and 4 students on the second day.
The day of…
Coming in over spring break requires superhuman willpower so I keep it very simple. This year, we used student-size white boards (I got mine from a teacher who was throwing hers out, but I’ve heard of people making them by cutting up shower board you can buy at a hardware store). On the first day, we talked through what we had learned over the year. I gave the students practice problems as they popped into my head. When the eraser board markers ran out, we went to paper and markers. We basically covered: fact families, quadrilaterals, area, perimeter, missing angles and probability. On the second day, I printed out a practice test, and we did it together. Students took turns reading each problem; we talked about what to do, and they worked it out on their own. Pizza was a nice break right in the middle of our time.
Like I said, short and sweet. I don’t know that I magically changed anyone’s future math performance, but I built good will. Every student who came in will have an extra bounce in their step when they come back for real on Monday. They will smile at me like we have a secret, and they will brag to the other students about how great it was. Hopefully, it will be that little bit of extra engagement each student needs to be successful.