The third grader that I tutor continues to struggle (thus the need for a tutor) and I continue to struggle to help her. Some days she gets it and other days she doesn't. Some days I think she gets in and then she brings home tests that say otherwise. I can never get a good read on whether or not she really doesn't understand the topic or is she just rushing through and not putting in much effort. After I saw her score on her last math test, I knew we needed to review big time for her next test on fractions. I also know she has been sitting at school all day by the time she gets to me. I knew I needed to try something different to get her excited and motivated. I also wanted to check on a few things:
1. Did she understand the material?
2. Did she guess when it got hard?
3. Could she correctly transfer the correct letter to her answer sheet (she has to do this in class and I always wondered if she was messing up on that part of it since she isn't allowed to write on her test)
I decided we need to do a practice test to make this happen but I didn't want her to shut down on me so I decided to create task cards. To make it a little more fun for her, I added QR codes and let her use my phone to check her answers. She was SO excited. She jumped up and got right to work before I could even explain what I wanted her to do.
I printed and taped (yay for washi tape) the cards to the wall of the library where we work. It was a little space and I didn't want to waste too much time with her wandering and looking for the next number so I just put them all in a row.
She quickly went through the task cards. There were a few she questioned or asked for help but for the most part I tried to stay back and let her work. There were several that from listening to her think outloud, I thought no way is she understanding this but then she would get it right. I don't know if it was a fluke or just a good guess or if she really understood it but articulated it incorrectly. This is why I generally like to use more open ended questions but since multiple choice is the format of her math tests, I figured we should practice that way.
I left a space on the answer sheet for work to encourage her to show her thinking. This girl does NOT show her work for anything. When she does, she erases it. I have tried to explain over and over how awesome it is to show your work and it is showing how smart you are but she doesn't do it. Fractions and these questions didn't really lend itself to too many pictures so I didn't get on her too much about it. When we went over the three she got wrong, I showed her how to draw pictures to help her solve.
Hopefully this helps her with her test. If nothing else, it got her excited and working the entire time, which is hard to do. And her sister was begging me to make something similar for her to work on. Well, I guess I see some more 3rd and 4th grade task cards in my future. Whatever works, right?
I added these task cards to my store in case any other teacher (or parent or tutor) could use them with their students.