There are now 7 of us who have signed up for tutoring at Stanton Elementary -- Herb, May, Shaun, Gene, Veska, Herb Howe (a friend on my swimming team) and me. For the rest of you on the mailing list, if you do not want to receive these weekly updates, please let me know. In general, I think it will be useful to have a place (this mailing list) where each of us can contribute or be informed on what is going on and what is planned for our tutoring at Stanton Elementary. (Dr. Presswood's name is on the list as well as those of  some Rotarians who should know what's going on.)

1. THE GIUNEA PIG PERIOD IS OVER

After spending yesterday morning in the math teacher's classroom observing a 6th grade boys' session and a 5th grade girls' session, in the afternoon I had my first tutoring period ( about an hour). With agreement from Dr. Presswood and Mr. Washington (5th and 6th grade math teacher), we chose 2 boys, whose last year math test achievement scores were near the border between "basic" and "proficient". The 3 of us stayed in the classroom, in an out of the way place where we could work together while the rest of the class went about the regular afternoon session, which was kind of a review session, as best as I could tell.

The tutoring in this environment went very well, to the point where both students asked me if I "were coming back tomorrow". I said "no, but I should be back next week and the rest of the year to help them out".

Observations:

(a) -- Both students were pretty sharp, paid attention, and interacted with me easily in mutually solving some word problems and going through some routines, such as converting simple fractions to decimal equivalents and adding 2 fractions with different odd number denominators.

(b) -- I think a reasonable method for the future will be primarily to stay at, or maybe even a little beyond, the class's activities, following the workbook. Any ad hoc deviations, for example to add clarity to what something really means, would come about through the need to overcome some difficulty. For example, yesterday one of them was confused about how to set up a long division format for the conversion of a simple fraction to decimal determination. He understood the overall method, but was confused about the role of the denominator compared to the numerator. Once he got the knack properly, there was no problem in working out the arithmetic.

(c) -- The 2 student simultaneously method is a good one. Therefore, we should be able to handle 2 per tutor per hour of tutoring. Even if we stay at the 7 person level, we will be able to aid, I would say, at least 20 or maybe 30 students. This is a significant total considering that the student population from the 3rd through 6th grade is less than 300, and that we are concentrating on a sub-population of students who have tested recently "close to, but not quite, the proficiency level".  

2. WE ARE READY TO ENGAGE ALL OF US

As far as I am concerned, the upper level math work is the most difficult one to handle -- and it went well. There is a 2-fold effect at this level -- the age and general hyper behavior of the boys (as contrasted with the girls' classes) and the math being taught. So, I think the very encouraging result yesterday is all that is needed to go to the next step; that is to have all 7 of us begin tutoring.

3. PRELIMINARIES TO GETTING STARTED

The responsibility for the preliminaries to getting started rests with the school principal and some of the teachers. They will decide who the students should be for tutoring, what grade levels should be involved, etc. I've told the principal that there is at least one more of us who is willing to handle 5th and 6th grade math. If there are others of you who want to give it a try, please let me know. Most likely the bulk of the tutoring will be for  the "reading" curriculum at the selected grade levels.

4. WHAT ADDITIONAL PREPARATIONS SHOULD WE MAKE?

As I mentioned in last week's e-mail, it will be useful to review the text materail, work books, etc. that the particular class is using before working in detail with students. That's not necessary for an initial meeting; but over a semester and academic year it makes sense to follow what the grade teacher is doing. 

5. HOW TO GET TO STANTON

I've attached a map that should help. A textual rendition follows:

-- get on the Suitland Parkway from wherever you are getting started. It is in Anacostia on that side of the AnacostiaRiver, in sight on a clear day of the old Washington Navy Yard, near the new baseball stadium.

-- take the Suitland Parkway away from the river toward far southeast and eventually P.G.County.

-- after perhaps a couple miles there is a traffic light -- Stanton Ave. Keep  going.

-- shortly after the Stanton Ave. light there is a less than vivid sign for Alabama Ave. Make sure you're in the right lane.

-- take the Alabama Ave. exit (loops around 180 degrees and goes up a long, slightly graded hill.

-- traffic light at Alabama Ave. at the top of the hill. Stay to the right, and follow Alabama Ave. for 2 or 3 traffic lights (don't know how many; maybe a mile of driving).  

-- Alabama Ave. comes to a gentle "fork in the road" at 25th street by a traffic light. Stay to the left and take 25th St.

-- the school grounds are on your right -- first a paved playing field, then a light blue water tower, all fenced in with a chain link fence.

-- continue slowly along the chain link fenced area until you come to an opening where it says "do not enter"

-- violate the sign's dire warning, and "enter".

-- find a parking space and walk toward the back of the school.

-- since the back doors will probably be locked, walk along the pathway on the right to the front of the school, down the steps, and into the center door of the main entrance on Naylor Rd.

-- Dr. Presswood's office is right there immediately to the right after you get into the building proper. You will probably have to sign in at the desk; then wait for him because he's likely not to be in his office.

-- congratulations -- you've made it.

The actual school address is 2701 Naylor Rd.

Veska Kita and Herb Howe live close to me. I'd be happy to take them the first time in tune with one of the days I'll be going.

5. TIME TO START

If you care to start on your own soon, please contact Dr. Presswood first to make an appointment, etc. His e-mail is above, and his phone number at the school is 645-3522 and the main school number is 645-3255. He's peripatetic -- so don't be surprised if it takes a while to connect with him.

6. LIFE GOES ON

Late last night Jeanine and I got word that we have a new granddaughter. Some time soon we will have to head up to the Boston area where all the action is. Most likely that will be next week; so it's doubtful that I'll be going to Stanton then, except possibly at the end of the week. From the first full week in October, I expect to got to Stanton weekly, at least one full day.  

Sincerely,

Don Messer