By Dominica Dela Cruz
Dominica Dela Cruz is a 2012-2013 corps member serving at the John Marshall Elementary School in Dorchester.
“Take one away from the eight in the ten’s column, then add the ten you borrowed to the two in the one’s column, it would make the number twelve. Now can you subtract eight from twelve?” I asked Kyle*.
The reason I work with Kyle one-on-one in math is not because working with him is considered “dosage” (tracked tutoring time spent with one student), or because he is on my math focus list (a list of students who could benefit from small group assistance). Rather, I work with Kyle because I know that he is a bright student with an even brighter future. He just happens to be a little behind on his coursework.
It all started with subtraction. Kyle and I began the year working on simple subtraction: eight minus one equals seven. Before Christmas break, we moved on to borrowing.
Right after winter vacation, the collection of classrooms, or pod, that Kyle’s classroom is a part of started to track student’s progress with multiplication. They did so by using ice cream cones and scoops as a visual. Every week students would be given a two-minute test, completely a times table starting with zero and going to twelve.
When that ice cream cone display went up Kyle called me over to his desk and explained that he was ready to start working on multiplication. He wanted to earn “a lot of ice cream scoops.” Even though he likes to take his time when he is trying to borrow, we moved on because he was ready for the challenge.
Even as classmates started earning ice cream scoop after ice cream scoop Kyle did not become discouraged. He used his empty ice cream as motivation to work harder. Every day during our afterschool program, Starfish, Kyle came up to me and asked if we can practice his multiplication by playing with the Spiderman flashcards or War, where we see who can multiply the two cards flipped over the fastest.
After working on multiplication tables for a month and a half, Kyle was ready to conquer his first timed test. He will have two minutes to answer fifty questions covering the zero to two times tables. I know that he was ready. He would earn his first ice cream scoop.
“Kyle, are you ready? You have two minutes to answer fifty multiplication problems. I know that you can do it. You will earn your first ice cream scoop. Ready? Set. Go.”