Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Preparing to Tutor--3 Simple Steps for the Summer

In addition to attending a CC Practicum, which is required for tutors and is wonderful, what can a Foundations tutor do over the summer to get ready for a great school year in Classical Conversations?
These are 3 things that I'm doing to make my life easier for this next year.  Take them or leave them as you need them, but as a prep-junkie (someone who is always prepared for just about anything) I find them to be my best tips for brand-new tutors.
1.  Go over the Timeline Song and the motions several times over the summer. 
This is not to say you have to have it perfectly memorized; it is very intimidating and took me a whole school year to learn it well with lots of practice.  But I'm so glad I became acquainted with it by playing my audio cds the summer before tutoring, since I was jumping into tutoring the very first year a CC group started in our town.  Go over the actions so that when you review them briefly before you teach each week they will be familiar.  Since I have a year of the timeline song under my belt, I'll spend this summer going over the Latin song and passage of Scripture in Latin so I can get the correct pronunciations down before I present it to my students.
2.  Map out a general plan for games for the year.
I came away from last week's tutor training with ton of new ideas for introducing memory work and for review games.  I also utelize this page and this page as well as Pinterest for ideas.  If I jot down enough ideas for 6 weeks, meaning 6 different review games and 6 very simple ways of introducing each subject on my board, then I can reuse that paper for every quarter, and the games will only be used 4x each during the year.
6 Review Games I Like:
Connect Four
Ping Pong Throw
LilyPad Toss
Target Shoot with Nerf Gun
6 Ways to Introduce Science:
Clap the syllables as we say our science fact
Jump up and down while reciting
Roll a potato around the table as we say it
Put our science fact to music and sing it
(Look for Kim Jaky's songs on CC Connected--they're great!)
Pass around an echo microphone (from The Dollar Store) and have the kids take turns saying it
Practice the science fact starting with a soft voice and gradually getting louder each time
In less than an hour you can have a year's worth of game ideas mapped out so that you are prepared when the busyness of back-to-school hits.  You can always change them and tweak them according to the needs of your students and the time you have left in class, but jotting down ideas is a great way to plan ahead.
3.  Get a Head Start on Presentations.
One of the most challenging things for me last year was helping my kids with their presentations.  I had 3 kids in Foundations last year and this year it will be 4 kids.  Because I was new to CC and new to tutoring, I had to learn how to help my kids get their presentations done in a timely manner while also prepping for tutoring a class.  Many of the topics they had to present on required lots of reading or study so that we could come up with enough for their report.  Often, it was a lot of work just to get them to decide what they wanted to do.  This year, I hope to discuss presentation topics with my director over the summer so I can get an idea of what they will need to be presenting on so that we can do some of the decision-making, reading, and preparation in advance.  Whether it's choosing a state they want to present on, reading about a favorite president, grabbing a historical costume from a yard sale, or drawing a picture of someone from history, extra time definitely won't hurt when I have 4 kids to prepare.  Since they are all in different classes this year because our community has expanded from two Foundations classes to four, I'm hoping that they can all present on the same thing to each of their respective classes and we can study that ONE president/state/event/etc. together instead of all choosing separate ones, like last year.
What tips do you have for preparing for tutoring a Foundations class?


  1. great tips! i utilized 6 different review games last year to repeat 4 times. it worked really well! if one game didn't go so well, then i looked up a new game. this one tip alone allowed for creativity while not overloading my brain. :)

  2. Wise idea Amanda N! I plan to do the same this year because even though there are sooooo many great ideas out there, it's easier on the tutor to keep things simple, but still fun!

  3. As a new tutor last summer, the most valuable thing I did was do a trial run of my new grammar on the whiteboard. I set up my new grammar on the board and then proceeded to teach nobody! It helped me figure out where my awkward moments and trouble spots were (such as counting how many times I'd have the class repeat it - this was awkward at first, until I figured out a way to balance it).

  4. I love the idea of prepping the kids for their presentations! Great ideas! Thank you! :)

    1. You are welcome! Hopefully this tip will help both of us out this year!

  5. I encourage my students presentations to be completely independent and they only spend about 15 minutes each day preparing. Day one, choose their topic, day two dry run, day three dry run with props, day four final run through put props into their cc bag for the next day. For example, "This week you are to persuade your audience; get them to do or buy something." Daughter, "Oh, I am going to persuade them to buy a webkinz." Me, "What are your three main points?" Only occasionally are the presentations more elaborate.

    1. That sounds great Dana! Our students' presentations last year were things like choosing a country to report on, with visuals to go along with it, presenting on a president, building a biome and sharing all about that biome, etc. There were a few improv days, but most of them required some preparation from the parents. I like your style of preparing!

  6. I tutored my daughter's foundation class last year, so my husband worked with her on her presentations each week so that I would hear them for the first time in class. She loved surprising me with her topics and I enjoyed it as well. It gave dad a meaningful role, gave them some good daddy/daughter time, and me a little break!

    1. That sounds like a great idea Geri! Although, my husband wouldn't like it, but that's what my friend Camilla's husband has been doing to help out with CC and it's a big help to her.

    2. Geri -- that is a fantastic idea!!

  7. Thanks for posting! I was wondering were you bought the binder in the picture with the timeline cards?

    1. I've gotten several of those shorter binders at Staples. Just thought I'd chime in. :)

    2. I saw some 5x7 binders and page protectors at Walmart too this week. My director gave me this set of cards, already in the binders so I'm not sure exactly where she found these.

  8. I'm new to CC, just registered for our first year starting in the fall. Can I ask where you got that binder and sheet protectors?

  9. Ben and Kay,

    Someone in the comments above said they got their binders at Staples. Sheet protectors can be found at Walmart.