I was presented with the unique opportunity to tutor bursary students. This program is being run through my school. To be considered as a member I first had to send the acting teacher an email, as shown below, outlining why I would be an asset to the program. Following this, I attended a meeting with other applicants to discuss the details of the program. I discovered that I would be tutoring another student for an hour to an hour and a half each week, once, at an agreed-upon time between me and my student. Currently, I am waiting to hear back from the program director, Mr. Quince, as to which student and what subject I will be tutoring, which he claims will be available to us by the 25th.
I believe that this program addresses several of the learning outcomes. These being:
LO1. As someone who has developed some academic skills at an accelerated rate, I recognize myself as an individual with the ability to help others who are struggling with refining the same skill set. In addition, I also recognize that this will, in turn, allow me to develop my communication skills, having to not only teach but organize and coordinate our sessions.
2. LO5. By working in a pair, I believe my student and I will be modeling the benefits that working collaboratively has. Specifically, I believe that it demonstrates how people can draw one another’s pools of knowledge to patch each other’s knowledge gaps.
3. LO7. I believe that this activity also addresses ethical dilemmas. Due to a series of pre-determined factors, the members of this group are at an educational disadvantage in comparison to the majority of their peers. A prominent way this manifests itself is in the wealth disparity between many of the students at my school and this group of students. Many of the students of Newington College can afford educational assistance, such as external tutoring. Unfortunately, for these students, this isn’t an option. However, by engaging in this program, especially as someone who has had these other options open to them, I am making an effort to bridge the gap between these differing education standards.
Below is a screenshot of the email I sent to Mr. Quince, outlining my skillset as a tutor -
In the following weeks, Viliami and I have prepared for his Trail by Media examination. This is a timed essay that requires students to respond to an unseen question on how the media can distort and affect public perception and social institutions, such as the judicial system, ability to operate. Since this is the case there have been two main areas of concern. Firstly, ensuring Viliami familiarises himself with the appropriate source material, this is paramount as this forms the underlying base from which he can quote in order to provide evidence to his substantive. Secondly, the form and structure of his response need to be refined to make his points concise and accessible.
Over the coming sessions, we have targeted the first problem by reviewing the source material he has covered in class. This has been divided into two parts. Before writing anything I have had a brief 5-minute brainstorming session with Viliami to allows him to reflect on what he would write about and what he could use as evidence for a potential question. There has been some prompting by me but I have tried to make this as directed by Viliami as possible. This is because, as he won't have the sources in the exams and will have to commit them to memory, he is more likely to remember his own ideas but also because I don't want him to parrot my responses. Following this, I have given Viliami 10 minutes to write a full paragraph on one aspect of the source. This process has aimed at developing Viliami's ability to structure responses - with me editing and returning his responses - and helping him become more comfortable writing about this subject matter. Below are three examples of the many sources we have used.
It was apparent to me that these are mainly visual sources. While some of them contain text that can be quoted, they wouldn't allow a student to reflect their knowledge of literary techniques or figurative devices. As such, Viliami and I also watched an Amanda Knox documentary from which we found a number of quotes Viliami could use. This was another important step as otherwise Viliami would be faced with the challenge of answering a question with only one type of evidence. This often results in underdeveloped responses that don't reflect a broader understanding. An example of the quotes and analysis we did is shown below.
Finally, in preparation for Viliami's exam, we discussed examination preparation. I explained to Viliami that he will have to commit this knowledge to memory as doing so will improve his ability to respond to a question as he can pick evidence that best fits the question. We also discussed how to time each section of his response, with each paragraph likely taking 10 or 15 minutes depending on whether he has 3 or 4. Finally, we discussed the strength of using the reading time effectively to create an essay plan which will help him organize his thoughts and articulate his thesis. The main issue with this was Viliami's ability to memorize evidence. As such, I suggested he print off all the sources and quotations we had covered along with the accompanying analysis in dot point form. I told him to hang them on his door. By doing this, every time he walks past or enters his room he can quickly skim over the material and use the dot points to trigger his understanding and allow him to elaborate on each piece of evidence. This is a memory technique. It tricks your brain into relating the analysis to the image or stimulus so that when you think of one you are reminded of the other. Viliami said this worked really well and he found it a useful strategy.
Viliami and I had a session today and he said he was confident and ready for his exam Thursday, three days from now.
A return to term four has marked some challenges for myself and my student. Up until now, our tutoring sessions have commenced weekly on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:45. However, there have been exceptions when extenuating circumstances caused us to reschedule. Nevertheless, we have continued to sustain a regularity as to best aid my student, Viliami.
Until now the biggest concern has been helping Viliami with classwork and preparation for his exams. Originally, our work centered around developing his skills in the ‘trial by media’ unit, which used cases such as Oscar Pistorious’ and Amanda Knox’s to investigate the multiplicity of ways the media can distort and misrepresent information and the effect that has on public perception. Following this, I helped Viliami develop his ability to analyze satyrical poetry, which was necessary to his ‘satire’ poetry until. Finally, now having entered term four, Viliami has started his final unit for this year, a study of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The first two units required similar approaches. Firstly, it was important to advise Viliami as to how to advise for English exams. His year ten English exams are comprised of two major components. The first is a short response section that requires brief commentaries on several unseen short extracts. The second is a response to an unseen essay question about one of the texts he has studied. Viliami’s first problem was that he didn’t memorize quotes, as such his essays lacked the necessary paragraph structure as well as the evidence to develop his thesis. As such, we have developed a two-part system, not only have we established that Viliami should copy down important quotes discussed in class, but in our sessions, he also writes practice responses to questions I give him. This way, he can practice analyzing some of the quotes which are important to developing his analytical skills but also so that during timed exams he doesn’t waste time thinking about how to analyze his quotes as he has already done so. Finally, we have organized a technique bank for Viliami to refer to. This bank consists of a series of literary techniques and their effects. This means, for the unseen comprehension, he can recognize the effect of a particular line and then recognize its literary effect and the technique it corresponds to. This has proven effective and helpful in allowing him to analyze unseen passages. This list was originally minimal but we have added to it over time so that it is more extensive.
Viliami has seen a great improvement not only in exams but also in his ability to synthesize information and express his thoughts. His verbal reasoning especially, he feels, has developed particular because apart of our sessions involve Viliami responding verbally to questions I ask him about particular ideas or themes; forcing him to articulate himself. I’ve also seen a dramatic improvement in Viliami’s weakest area, his ability to use evidence to support his arguments. This has been by far Viliami’s weakest area, causing him to originally resort to narrative and general essays where he describes his ideas in extensive-length without reference to the text in order to demonstrate them to be true. However, more and more, he has become comfortable substituting unnecessary description for analysis of literary devices.
Viliami’s new unit similar to his previous modules in that it requires the same set of underlying skills and is the same style of exam. The only difference is the text for which Viliami needs to apply these skills to. As such, I feel he is well prepared to deal with these aspects of his term four English course. Term four does, however, present a new and unfamiliar challenge in the form of an English research essay. This requires students to investigate an aspect of literature, whether covered in class or not, and write a comprehensive report of 2000 words that answers a research essay question set by each student for themselves. This exposes Viliami to a series of new challenges pertaining to research skills, time planning, and argument formation.
We met at the end of the last term, term three, to discuss his interests. Viliami told me he was interested in developing his understanding of Macbeth for two reasons. Firstly, it would allow him to gain a greater appreciation of the work he was studying in class and as such possibly better prepare himself for the upcoming examination. Secondly, coming from the Tongan educational system where methods of teaching, as well as types of texts, differ greatly, Viliami outlined he wanted to investigate the reasons we still study Shakespeare in western education. I advised him to pursue this style of question as it, firstly, was of personal interest and so was unlikely to become laborious and result procrastinating. Additionally, it was an opened ended question that had a variety of information that he could easily access. I did, however, suggest he reframe his approach to just Macbeth as oppose to all of Shakespeare’s works as this seems far too large an issue to tackle. Over the holidays I asked him to prepare a draft that outlined his general line of argumentation that also reflected knowledge he would have gained from research. Despite my advice, Viliami has failed to record his sources and as such has a sound draft, but without the sources to make his arguments credible. Our meeting this week stressed the importance of how to do this and why. Although he assured me he had received helped from our school’s librarians, our refresher seemed necessary. Finally, I asked what his plans were moving forward as exams are fast approaching and the final submission is due only shortly after. He told me that not having a timetable made it harder to plan ahead and so we had to quickly design one for him.
Over this weekend I have also attempted to aid him by taking his draft and giving commentary feedback in a shared google doc. I have been careful not to make any direct changes but rather make suggestions or demonstrate issues so that he has direction but must still employ his own skills to resolve any issues. Below are some screenshots from the google document showing this.
Our meeting next week will hopefully reflect Viliami’s generally diligent nature when he comes with a revised draft with more extensive and comprehensive development.