Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Student Reflection

by Brianna Anderson

As I mentioned in my last post, my involvement with service-learning classes began with SPAN 232 in spring of 2010.  I signed up to tutor through the SOAR (Student Opportunities for After-school Resources) program at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.  SOAR is a program that runs for an hour after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and college students volunteer their time to help students from the bilingual classrooms with their homework and reading. When I first joined the program with 232, I was assigned to a first grade student who spoke very little English.  This was a great opportunity for me to improve my oral Spanish-- and throughout the semester I did.  Because the student I was working with did not speak much English, I had no other option than to speak Spanish 100% of the time.  I was lucky enough to have schedules this fall and spring that permitted me to continue to tutor with SOAR.  This is my third semester with the same student and the growth I have seen is amazing.

The average tutoring session consisted of two primary components: homework and reading.  The first 20-25 minutes or so of our time is spent on a worksheet—usually math.  After the homework assignment is completed, we read together for at least 20 minutes.  The student I work with really enjoys reading in the library, so we often go there and read together on the bean bag chairs.  When he was in first grade, the student I tutored read mainly in Spanish.  In the second half of second grade, the teachers in the bilingual program switch to teaching only in English and all work is completed in English, though we talk through the problems in Spanish.  If the students complete their assignments and read for a minimum of 20 minutes, they can receive a sticker to put next to their name in the reading log.  Once six stickers have been collected, the student can pick a prize!

After homework and reading are completed, the student can choose to play a game, if there is time remaining.  The SOAR closet has an assortment of games, including many classics from my own childhood.  One of our favorites is Perfection and my student almost always beats me.

I have really enjoyed being able to work with the students in SOAR.  One of the great things about the program is that there are so many opportunities to help out.  The majority of students in third grade and above are fluent in English, so many non-Spanish speaking college students volunteer as well.  There have been times when the student I help was absent, or when I came in on a different day than usual, and was able to work with other students.  This too has been a great experience—each and every student is different.  I can honestly say I have learned something new from each one I have had the opportunity to work with and my time working with the students in SOAR led me to decide exactly what I would be doing post-graduation. 

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