Question: “I’ve been working in a small residential group home for three months where there are usually three-five male teens. The staff don’t seem very encouraging about continuing over the summer, when students don’t have any homework. I mentioned it to the students and they seem to feel the same way, but I know the School on Wheels program suggests working through the summer. I’m not sure what to do. I would like to keep tutoring there and I think the boys could benefit.”
Staff Note: First, contact your regional coordinator and let them know that there is some question about summer tutoring. They will follow up with staff and reaffirm that we tutor over the summer–and why. See below for some great ideas on summer tutoring!
Pa Bayha: Why not take them on an educational trip? This does not necessarily mean a physical field trip. When I work with the gifted program on the Navajo Reservation, I take my vacation pictures and some artifacts I’ve collected, and they love it. I have introduced students to the history of Borneo and the orangutans, The Silk Road, Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, and I am working on a slide tour of the Huntington Library American Art Gallery. Start with a discussion of vacations you have taken or do a Google search for a country they know nothing about. These kids need dreams for the future. If you have never heard of it, why would you want to go there? You can even plan a lesson on where in the world would you like to go and then research what to do, see, and eat there. With 3-5 boys that would be 3-5 lessons. Education is not just about homework, and you can have a lot of fun with your students doing these sorts of creative learning activities.
Jackie Romo: Tutoring in the summer can be tough for any student, but bravo to you for wanting to take the time to enrich your students’ lives! One approach might be to make the summer a ‘lesson study’ on a topic of their choice. For example, during one summer, my student and I did a series of science experiments to study the scientific process. We discovered how scientists make a hypothesis, test it out, and come up with some kind of conclusion. We read several books about scientists, conducted a few experiments, and kept a journal of all the information we liked from various science books. We also made a list of things we still had questions about. By the end of the summer, based on weeks of study, we decided to visit the Discovery Science Center where there was a “Bubblefest” that allowed visitors to do hands-on experiments–our favorite! It was so much fun and more importantly, it was a valuable learning experience. (Remember to follow field trip procedures.)
Depending on your students’ interests, you can focus on a concept based on a content area (math, science, history, literature, art) and study it the entire summer to become “experts.” Near the end of the summer, you, a fellow tutor, and your students can take your expertise and visit a museum to further your learning! It might help your students stay motivated for the summer if they know they’re working toward a museum visit.
About the tutors: Jackie Romo has been a School in Wheels tutor for nearly 9 years. Aside from tutoring, she teaches first grade in Rowland Heights and recently earned a MS in reading. She is happy to help in any way she can to make your tutoring sessions successful!
Pat Bayha has been tutoring with School on Wheels for over a year, and also tutors at Tuba City Boarding School on the Navajo Reservation. She is a former teacher with the Montebello Unified School District and has many years of experience teaching in inner city high schools, including advanced placement students and bilingual learners.
Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.