Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tutoring: Early Literacy, Bilingual Edition, and Holding Attention

Working with my preschool class, I can keep their attention in a group or individually as long as I need to in order to accomplish a task.  Some days it's a battle, but I know how to get their attention back when I lose it.  So it was a surprise to me when I began working with my preschool-aged English language tutoring student and could not seem to keep her on task.

Because her English vocabulary is limited, I was not at first opposed to working on conversation as much as literacy, but I have come to feel that we can accomplish more if we are more focused.  Then came the challenge of keeping her on task.  My usual tactic for working on literacy is making frequent trips to the library and keeping a healthy stock of books in the child's area of interest.  However, that tack did not work where we could not keep our attention on the book.

So last week I took a different approach, to successful results.  I took a package of pipe cleaners to our session, and we constructed our own tactile alphabet, à la this pinterest post:

Source: via Frances on Pinterest
As we worked through the alphabet, I formed a capital letter and invited my student to do the same.  I then repeated the same with the lower case letter, forming it with a new pipe cleaner and giving her time to follow suit.  We discussed which was the capital and which the lower case, when we use each type (she already knows how to write her name with a capital first, which was helpful), what the letter is called, and what sound it makes.  In a few cases, we had time to imagine words that begin with our letter before her attention wandered, but mostly we moved along at a brisk pace.

I was pleased with this method and plan to continue introducing projects such as this one: incorporating fine motor skills, movement, and review of the alphabet.  Next session, I plan to finish building our alphabet, then work on putting together words, starting with her name.

Here is a Kid Quote, the context for which I wish I had written down:
Six-year-old (whispered): "If it looks like a hat, you should try it."

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