by Brianna Anderson
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
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
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.