HTM Blog

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The Holyoke Tutor/Mentor program connects volunteers to adult education classes in Holyoke.



Things on my mind, and popping up in conversations with volunteers and with colleagues....

​When a student asks a question, say, 'What's 3 + 8 ?" (To give a simple example. For imaginative purposes, substitute the appropriate question for your subject - ​What punctuation do I use? What's the main idea? What's the hypothesis? What's the answer to #3? etc. etc.) 

I hope our volunteers' answers sound less like "11." and more like "Good question, lets figure it out together" 


​When saying "11" is so much easier,  so much quicker; when it's what the student wants, and when we want to help, why not do it? 

Because, contrary to the feelings of many students working hard to write down correct answers, the goal of the class is not to write 11 in the right spot on the paper. It's not even, really, to know that 3 + 8 = 11. 

The goal is to know how to figure out that 3 + 8 is 11 (and, therefore to also figure out that  4 + 8 is 12, and 14 + 18 is 32, and 3x + 8x is 11x and so on....) 

There are a bunch of ways to figure out 3 + 8   ranging from  finger counting through drawings and manipulatives to calculators. Asking someone else 'what's 3 + 8?' is in fact one strategy, but there's not always someone to ask, so it has it's limits. 


​Coaching a student through the process of answering a question, might sound like ... 

... Have you done any similar questions we can look at?  What did you do to get that one right? 

... Wanna make a guess to get us started?

... What do you think the first step is? 

... Nice start! The next step is ____. Do you remember how to do that?

....Do you have anything in your notes/papers/books that could help? 

... What do you remember that (the teacher/class discussion/reading materials) said that might help? 

... How could we draw/act this out? 

Resources from our training library: 

Questioning strategies for math tutors (Which are mostly not specific to math) 

Feedback for thinking

Questions to get students talking

(Apologies, my source for most of these is "it was in the training files when I got this job")

Thoughtful v.13: Math
Staying (pt. 2)

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Saturday, 25 June 2022

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